Seeking an investment professional who has experience building an investment thesis from start to capital deployment.
The adult world is filled with confusing terms. Or, that’s what Jake thought when he was still in school. Growing up, Jake watched his father, an executive at a big bank, use big terms he never understood. Investment Thesis; Derivatives; Capital Deployment; Three Statement Models. Big words, some of which Jake thought he knew but still couldn’t fathom.
That was years ago. Today was Jake’s graduation day. He was graduating from the country’s, nay, the world’s top business school, on the recommendation of his father. He studied finance, much like his father, and he was set to go into his father’s practice of hedge fund management, specifically in the practice of derivatives trading. This was the day he was looking forward to all his life. The day when he would take up the family mantle, the trade of his forerunners, and become the fertile foundation upon which the next generation of his family would start. This was supposed to be the moment of transition from boyhood to manhood. Or so he thought.
Jake awoke to the calling of his name. It was coming up from the theater’s audio system. He rose from his seat, and made his way to the podium. He shook the dean’s hand, and made himself comfortable in front of the microphone. He opened up the folded sheets of paper, and laid them in front of him. And, true to his demeanor, he read those words, and acted out the script he so carefully crafted for himself in the nights leading up to this moment. Applause, laughter, tears, and the seldom interjection by the crowd culminated with the final message on the final page.
“Fellow classmates of the class of 2017, this is the final message I want to leave behind with you. If there’s one thing I want to remember about our experiences here, during the past 4 years, it’s this –” Jake paused. Nay, he full on stopped. It was as if a stage actor suddenly broke out of character, and was fear stricken by the situation he was in. Jake realized he did not mean anything he had written on those sheets of paper — that it was all a big ruse. But the show must go on. He mustered up the courage to finish the play.
“We can do whatever we put our minds to. And we can achieve whatever we want. The world is ours for the taking, so let’s go out there, and do something crazy.”
Those were his closing comments. And, cliche as they may be, it garnered the applause that was so suited to an event such as this. The audience gave a standing ovation. Whistles could be heard accompanying the thunderous claps and the yelling of the school chant. It was euphoric. But not to Jake. He returned to his seat, and wished it would all be over.
He contemplated his emotions throughout the rest of the night. Even when he was celebrating with his family on a much needed vacation to the Caribbean, the haunting feeling did not leave Jake. He was possessed, consumed by the devil that was this enigmatic feeling. And it persisted, even to the day he began his job.
Jake was good at his job. He was an excellent analyst, seeing trends before anyone else, and working out the numbers quicker than even the most seasoned of veterans. Moreover, he had the people skills to match. He was everything his father had envisioned, and then some. His capacity was, possibly, beyond any of his peers, perhaps even superior to his forebearers. But the demons that filled his head on that day kept persisting. Thankfully Jake was able to keep his demeanor about him in public.
Jake climbed through the corporate ladder at a steady, albeit a very brisk, pace. He was promoted far earlier than his peers, which was, according to those peers, more indicative of his lineage than his abilities. But that’s how things went. By the age of 33, he was at the top of his game, heading his own fund, and married, perhaps happily, with 2 children. But the happiness this was supposed to bring him was always short lived. It never won the battle against that chasm that persisted in his soul. Jake would routinely return home late, when all others in the house had fallen asleep, in an effort to hide this crippling depression. Most nights, he drank himself to sleep. Others, he would give up on sleep altogether, until his body gave out of exhaustion.
This lifestyle persisted for years.
Pretty soon, he saw his children off to college. Both sons ended up going to the same school he had attended decades prior, and they, too, decided to take up the family trade. And, soon enough, they, too, were ready to graduate. It was the weeks leading up to the graduation of the oldest son, and the college had asked Jake to deliver the commencement speech.
Jake sat in front of his computer. The world had moved on from the PC, on to mobile technology, and even biological enhancements, but the humble PC had a special place in Jake’s heart. He used to get lost, for hours on end, just playing on the computer, making crazy worlds using rudimentary coding he had learnt from online tutorials. He used to recreate Space Invaders and give copies to his friends. He opened up the game file on his PC. It was just as he had remembered it. The end product was messy, and filled with glitches, but Jake played for hours that night. And, all the while, he was happy. The feelings of emptiness and fear dissipated from his heart.
The day of commencement came. Jake was back up on stage, preparing to make a speech, 30 years from the day he had made his appearance as a valedictorian. But, unlike then, he was unprepared. He had spent the nights prior indulged in nostalgia of the days when nothing mattered. Soon enough, it was his turn to take the podium. His heart pounded like there was no tomorrow. Perhaps this was how it all ended. But by the time Jake realized what was going on, it was far too late. He was already at the podium, with an audience that was far too attentive for his liking.
“I first want to start off by saying, I do not have a script prepared for this,” he started. “30 years ago, when I was valedictorian, I had a 5 page script prepared, but today, I have none.” The audience fell silent. Perhaps it was from shock at the fact that the commencement speaker was so ill prepared.
“And I’m terrified right now. Quite justly so, too. I’m terrified because I have no idea what I’m doing.” The professors sitting behind him began whispering to each other. Jake could sense the panic going about the stage.
“When I was a little lad, I had no idea how the world worked. The world was filled with jargon that I never understood. Terms that you all are, now, familiar with, like capital deployment, were empty words to me. And that terrified me. But, by the time I graduated in 2017, the jargon soon became every day speech, and I was more than ready to take on the world. Or so I thought.
“When I stood on this stage 30 years ago, it hit me hard that life was a huge play. And I was but an actor in that play. I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, I knew the words to my lines, and sure, I knew the jargon, but they were all empty words, hiding the fact that I was making my job seem artificially difficult to the masses. I was scared inside. And that was the day I realized just how scared I was.
“Before that day, I was confident in what I was doing. Because I was executing on instruction. Sure, college gave you a lot more freedom than high school, but you were still given general guidelines concerning the general direction you should begin to walk. But then came graduation day, and I realized those instructions would disappear. The ruse had come to a stop, and I was, for the first time, off to fend for myself.
“College classmates were my friends. But, my peers in my career were my rivals. The dynamic there was very different. I remember, I didn’t hesitate a single moment to be weak in front of my friends. But the first moment I appeared weak in front of my rivals, I was taken advantage of, and cast aside as road kill. An unfortunate casualty of collateral damage. Thus, I had to keep up a facade of strength, and determination, even when I was at the lowest point in the troughs of life.
“That disparity of my appearance and my reality did not stop at work. It carried on to my personal life as well. At home, I was the only child. I never wanted to be a disappointment to my father. I had appearances to keep up, and I played the part, like a courtroom jest. And, when I got married, and went off on my own, I was now the head of a household. I now had to care for people whose lives depended on my very existence, and my subsequent actions.
“Today, I know, and you also know, the meaning of meaningless jargon that’s so often thrown around on Bloomberg TV. We use it in our conversations to make ourselves sound smarter than we really are; to make our jobs sound more difficult than it really is. But the truth, at least for me, is that I have no idea what I am doing. I am a fraud. An actor on the stage of life, pretending to be something he might not actually be.
“But that’s alright.
“Because there’s no answer to the journey of life. There just is the journey.”
A heavy silence filled the auditorium as Jake finished his speech.