Crowdsourcing, Procrastination, Maturity & Punctuality - Early Observations From Coaching

My coaching business is approaching its 3-month launch anniversary. I want to share with you some observations based on my client interactions. To be clear, this article series is not about the inner working of my business, which you could not care less about. Instead, I want to highlight what problems that could impede you from achieving your career goals.

Crowdsourcing

Why pay when you can get things for free. I get it. Despite the high ROI of paying me no more than $2,000 in your lifetime to get a job that pays at least 50x your investment (for buy-side, ever higher ROI), you think you can achieve your goal as efficiently by crowdsourcing free career advice.

Forums are great for taking care of your first-level questions. However, many issues exist:

  1. “Blind leading the blind”: I can tell so many responders to threads have never worked in the profession they are giving opinions on. It’s very dangerous to strategize your job search based on that information.
  2. Garbage in garbage out: There are many pro contributors on forums like WSO and Reddit (yours truly is on them). But I would not respond to a low quality question. If you ask a first-level question, you will attract low-quality responses, which does not help you.
  3. Crowdsourcing brews lazy behavior: The proliferation of internet has made everyone lazier. Not being a self-starter is a cardinal sin in the research profession. Stop acting so entitled to expect information gets fed to you. 

Even the portfolio managers, who are great analysts to start with, are great analysts at heart, so you really haven’t earned that right. Do some digging before you ask that question on WSO / Reddit / Twitter, it’s your job as a research analyst to find quality information anyways, might as well start now.

Only when you cannot find that information, you know it’s a second-level question, then you could ask on the forum, I can guarantee you a more qualified contributor including myself will respond.

To give you an example, I gave free resume feedback to a client. I marked it up so much that she decided to pay me to thoroughly revamp her resume. I was shocked when she disclosed that she had crowdsourced resume edits on Reddit so what I saw the first time is the version after she incorporated 30 sets of Reddit comments.

Tying back to the “blind leading the blind” comment I have made – You get what you did not pay for because people don’t care about you without skin in the game (I suspect some malicious members might even make your resume worse).

It’s no wonder doctors are infuriated when patients come into the clinic pre-diagnosed themselves on Google without consulting a highly qualified professional (A cautionary tale that Google might not be so credible sometimes.)

Deep specialist knowledge is unlikely to be free of charge. So be very careful about using forum and social media when you are strategizing for such a high compensation, high expectation profession. 

Procrastination (at your own risk)

Preparing for research job search takes a long time because it’s a technical skill-based profession. Almost all research interviews will involve a stock pitch at certain juncture. There is no better way to weed out the uncommitted candidates who lack the bare minimum work ethic or competence.

For sure, I can better bulletproof your pitch and dramatically improve your delivery (the importance of the latter is vastly underestimated by candidates). However, you are doing yourself a disservice by engaging me last minute before the interview.

I get it – I was once a college student who procrastinates. But there are not many shots on goals in this lucrative profession. For each opportunity, you must put out your best work. And one of the best ways to ensure that is to start early and over-prepare.

The more you know about the business you are pitching, the more confident you will be in front of the interviewer, and the better you can defend your thesis. THERE IS NO SHORT CUT.

If you only spent two days on a pitch, I can tell and your interviewer for sure can too. Be prepared for your pitch to suck. Do yourself a favor – start as early as you can.

Maturity

When I launched my business, I did not anticipate to serve a role of mentoring clients. It turns out many clients asked me career advice on how to deal with a senior analyst / portfolio manager who is disappointed in their performance. I should have known better given most of you have not worked full-time professionally.

So I promise to elaborate more on how to hold your fort at work, especially given all of you aspire to begin your career in a high-pressure work environment in finance without having adequate time or a good manager to train you on soft skills.  

Tying back to the point on punctuality, I remember a WallStreetOasis (“WSO”) post where a sell-side research associate fearing her boss hating her because the associate was late few times when she was supposed to be on earnings calls. This is absolutely NOT okay and it’s 100% the associate’s fault.

As a working professional, your actions impact not only yourself but also everyone around you. Your manager depends on you, that is especially true in research where the senior analyst or the portfolio manager is already inundated with many things. Step up and be dependable. If not, how would you expect your manger to 1) like you 2) let you take on more responsibilities?

Develop good attitude and habit early on in your career because they carry with you no matter what career path you choose – be on time, take good notes, understand the big picture, have attention to detail, etc. I will put out more contents in this area going forward.

Punctuality

I am positively surprised that most of my 50+ clients are on time (minus a few chronic-rebook-and –cancel types and few no-shows). I am very grateful because I have to both serve clients and build my business – I cannot afford to care about why you do not honor your commitment, which is why the 5-min grace period exists.

I am always on time, not just because I respect others, but also because I have failed many times in my career. My mindset is every chance I have gotten could be my last, so having positive attitude is one way I can make a strong impression against competitors who have better resume.

For those who couldn’t honor your commitment, please do not disrespect a more important person’s time, because you don’t want to miss the few once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Research recruiting is one of the most unfair competitions in life. You just never know your punctuality can tip the scale to your favor when your competitor (with 5+ years of relevant experience and target school degree) strolls into the interview 10 minutes late and thinks it’s okay. Think The Hare and The Tortoise.

Tell me what you think in the comment section below. Alright, enough for this week. I will talk to you next week.

If you are interested in learning more about professional equity investing (the "buy-side"), I have two other great articles for you:

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