I’m not one to divulge personal thoughts onto digital paper. I never have been one to keep an totally open dialogue with the world. Although, over the years, with the advent of social networking and the merging of technology with friends and loved ones, much of many of our personal lives, mine included, are becoming more and more public. With mixed feelings on that subject, essentially being social networking and privacy, I write this.
These are my thoughts as they come about my life. The short spurt of experiences which shape who I am becoming, having recently turned 23. This post aims to talk about areas of my personal and professional life, as well as the economy and many gray areas in between.
To launch this consortium of random thoughts, let me first say how lucky and blessed I feel. Now I’m not going to tell you my life is perfect, after all, show me someone promoting a perfect life and I’ll show you an actor who promotes a chocolate coated turd as a Snickers.
No, I’m blessed because of the wealth of love that surrounds me. Being born into a large Italian family and growing up surrounded by people who care and offer guidance has and will forever be priceless. I strive to acknowledge their love with every opportunity I can and give back whenever possible.
Sometimes this means visiting my aging grandmother fighting Alzheimer disease for an hour a week, doing the simple things like arts and crafts, talking about the past, and always reaffirming our families love for her. Other times it is babysitting my uncles wonderful four children, or the eight total extended family that currently are all under the age of 15.
Then there are the friends that have enriched my life. This includes my wonderful girlfriend, who really is my best friend. She could bring a smile to my face at the dreariest of times. Above all, she supports me and her love has never been taken for granted. Naturally, neither of us do not face weekly challenges, sometimes because of each other. But, at the end of the day, she is the person I want to talk to, truly my best friend.
Then there are my parents. I can’t say enough about how difficult their lives have been. Both have been dealt difficult hands among countless others in this recession-extended economy. Yet, there resilience and ability to roll with the punches is finally beginning to pay off- I believe. Their ability to maintain has been invaluable because essentially they gave me a soft spot to land in after graduation. I entered the worst economy since the great depression and had to learn to survive. I”m now to the point where very soon my financial independence from them will be complete
And on another personal note on parents and children, they’re so many young adults I know that have such difficult and strained dialogue with their parents. For us, we have worked to maintain an open and sometimes heated platform to discuss each others problems and share in the successes. I look forward to speaking to them.
Gathering opinions from adults with incite and experiences vast beyond your years is truly a surefire personal growth method to utilize. In America, I am convinced that our culture does not give enough stock to our elders. No one wants to grow old, to retire, to lose their power and place in this world. It truly is a sad state of affairs. But, for someone young like myself, my number one recommendation is open up to the thoughts and advice from older professionals. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and what they do, or used to do.
One final note, to the friends that share the dinners and drinks with me, thank you. Each and everyone one of you has been and continues to be a blessing.
Now I want to shift gears to the economy and what my thoughts on my career is, has been, and what I have learned thus far. First, I’ve consistently stayed in a state of incredible change since I graduated. Opening up to new ideas and opportunities that before were far off the radar. First and foremost of these, is law.
My experience with law has taken me to Suffolk Law school, where I shook hands with the dean. It has taken me through numerous books on trial law and ethics. It has taken me through a grueling and time consuming trail by fire LSAT preparation course, where I drove an hour a day for 5 weeks straight, six nights a week to sit through instructor driven courses and practice tests. It has even taken me to a beautiful place called Duxberry outside Boston where I meet family lawyers who added another dimension to my family tree.
For better or for worse, my experience has taken to regard law with many varying dimensions. I drove far past the illusion of the wealthy and powerful perceived image of the lawyer and learned about the day to day struggle for clients, hardships faced in the courtroom and the struggles law school and the bar exam really are. With this knowledge in hand, I made a choice to postpone law school while I weighed other options. As the dean of Suffolk told me, “I waited five years after college and working in the real world before I went to law school. There is no reason you should think this is your only course of action, Adam. You are obviously a motivated individual and I know you will succeed here, but you have to really want it, because it is not easy.”
So, after the LSAT test grades came back, allowing me to move afford, I made the choice to explore other options. I know that Law school is not going anywhere. In the end, not diving 150,000 into debt for the education remains in my mind a good decision. After all, one day hopefully I can pay for it without interest on loans. In addition, there is zero guarantee that practicing Law will lead to financial bliss. But, if I do pursue this one day, I feel a law career in estate planning, fiduciary responsibilities and securities are all possibilities.
Thus, I took my eggs out of one basket and started to explore other options. Turning this time I must add, I remained employed at Staffmark and managed to bring in a steady income to maintain.
At first, I called News Channel 5 to see if they needed help with Ad sales representatives. I met with their sales manager and she like many others opened up to the world of Ad sales. “You can make 100,000 a year doing this, but you have to work for it.” She asked me why I wanted to do this, I said what I thought she wanted to hear. She quickly said, “Adam, the only real answer I want to hear to that question is because of the money.” I kept in touch with her and had the opportunity to give it a shot, which had I not met my next prospect, I probably would have taken.
My next professional contact of note actually came from my father. Through his store, World Music Nashville, my father has the opportunity to interact with professional in many areas of the economy. With the common interest of music, he met a man who is essentially a headhunter. He has run a successful business doing this for the past 18 years. After hearing the level of income that can be generated from this my interest was spar-kt. But, honestly, I was more interested in meeting a professional in the financial industry. My knowledge at the time was very limited in this area. After all, how many 23 year-olds know about things like the stock market, estate planning, capital gains taxes and global economies?
I cold called him and we spoke for 38 minutes. I remember the conversation like it happened yesterday. We talked about all things financial, his life, my life and somethings just for laughs. Now, I’m going to make a short story shorter because I want to get to the meat of my thoughts on this subject, which is my future. After a few meetings, I started to learn more and more about his trade. Then I started to do what he does on a part time basis.
Essentially, we represent three of the major wire-houses out there, two investment banks, three regional firms and a number of broker-dealers and independents. I spend my time, currently part time, on the phone with financial advisers throughout the country. Through cold calling many of them, I scout for prospects for our company to move. You would be amazed how much a firm like Bank of American/Merrill Lynch will offer a financial adviser who meets their criteria. We take a percentage, which varies, of the “deal” offered to the broker.
Now here is the hard honest truth, it is a very challenging job that I do not believe anyone can just do. Cold calling is an art. It takes balls and the utmost control of your emotions. It is also a numbers game. For me, because I’m a natural sales guy, I have had some success thus far. Enough to give me hope as I continue to build experience with more and more conversations. The rules I follow are to be respectful, honest and not afraid to say I don’t know- but I do know someone who does. The bottom line is, if you can cold call with success, you can do anything with it. You can sell and promote whatever you want.
This leads me to what I have been giving a lot of though to, becoming a certified financial planner (CFP) or even go forward and become a full-fledged FINRA wealth manager. As I talk to more and more brokers, I’m constantly learning more and more about the industry. I’m sorry but you can’t convince any ego-centric broker to make a move to another firm without first proving you know what you and your company are all about.
Thus, I have fully integrated my mind with the financial world. What does this mean? It means I have taken my type-a personality and applied it to gaining knowledge about this industry. I have recently read 5 books from authors such as John Spooner (“Sex and Money” and “Do You Want to Make Money or Fool Around” and learned all about the CANSLIM method of investing in stocks from William O’Niel. I have read Warren Buffet’s “How to Read Income Statements” and utilized vast amounts of information out there on the Web. Sites like Investopedia, The Street, WSJ, SmartMoney, OnWallStreet, Fast Company, Motley Fool have been very valuable.
I currently monitor over 70 stocks, a personal portfolio and deal with brokers, as I have said, on a daily basis. I find myself watching Fast Money and MSNBC more than anything else. I also find myself wondering where I will take all this knowledge one day. Truth is, whether I pursue a career in the investment or financial world, having knowledge of it all only helps. Because now I have more control of an area of my life I don’t need to outsource. I know something that most people don’t, adding value to my personal contacts and family.
In the next few months I pray income is generated from this commission only sales job. I also hope to take the first steps in preparing to become a CFA. At this point, it is hard to say if I will pursue the grueling trail period and training at a major firm, or something else. I can guarantee I will attack it with the same tenacity I once pursued advertising and law. I know that I have set very specific and challenging goals for myself this year.
In the end, as I come to a close having felt my thoughts have come full circle, I’m happy. If you are out there and want some free advice, I’m happy to share, meet for a drink or just answer an email. Call me crazy, call me young, call me naive, but I believe, in America, you really can do anything you put your mind to. You just have to want it bad enough. Forget the down economy, the drama of family and work, just believe in yourself and be fearless.