I have been sitting here trying to find something positive and uplifting with regard to this business of ours. How many times in a week can we talk about the rating agencies, the bond insurers, bank balance sheets, consumer fraud, the incompetence of the Fed, etc.. After a while you just become Debbie Downer and I don’t want to be her. So I am going to come up some positive things, specifically to me and in no particular order.
1. Getting laid off in early Autumn – If you are going to get laid off, Autumn is a pretty fantastic time to get laid off. The weather was still nice, the baseball playoffs started and I got to watch entire games without having to worry about not getting enough sleep for the next morning. Then of course there was the football.
2. Spending time with family- Fantastic. I have had a blast hanging with my wife and our 3 boys. You get to go to all the football and hockey practices and games, school plays and concerts etc. After a couple of weeks when you get over the screwing you got from your former employer you start to come down from the stressed out, bitching, whining, pain in the ass that you started to become, and the family likes having you around again.
3. Getting blown out actually makes you explore different career opportunities that you always wanted to pursue, like this blog! Richie and I always wanted to break into the media biz and now we are doing it full time. For the record, Richie retired, I “was retired” by my firm. Let’s face it, working on the Street has become less and less fun every year. Now 2007-8 is a particular bummer because the business is melting down, but still, every year it seems that the divide between management and the rank and file has grown. Even when things are good you can feel their grubby little hands in your pocket, not to mention some of your co-workers. So breaking away and trying different things..fabulous.
4. Health-wise, despite the fact that I am now paying for my own benefits, being away from the biz gets you on the treadmill (or whatever you do), improves the diet (its amazing how you can improve it when you are not on a trading floor filled with bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and free Chinese food!). Come to think of it, in 2007 I think management bought us (us as in the entire floor) pizza or some other delights a record amount of times. It became a great indicator. With every free meal you could increase your odds of getting whacked or having the bonus pool slashed by another 10%. Anyway, a positive for health…and what’s more important than that.
5. Finally, new hobbies and friends. Let’s take yesterday for example. In the City for a nice sit down breakfast with two Street buddies to talk about a potential hedge fund. Then it was off to Connelly’s on East 47th street (rumored to be the site of ABS East this year!) to meet Richie, with friends in tow. What a great time it was! I met a great new bartender. Richie and I discussed business and then we got down to my new hobby (an old hobby for Richie!). Ever since I met Gary Contessa (see our show from January 6th) I have been reading up on horse race handicapping. I spent all day on Monday with the Daily Racing Form, trying to handicap the Tuesday races at Philly Park. Now get this, you can sit in the bar (as opposed to going to OTB) and watch your races and call your bets in!! I had exactas, exacta boxes, trifectas…etc. and lost on every race. But it was a learning experience and we all had some fun.
So there’s 5 really good things that have come out of the great “purge” of ’07-’08. Family, friends, health, new careers and hobbies. Can I get an amen??!!