Twofish's Blog

September 16, 2006

New York City is insane

Filed under: new york city, stress — twofish @ 3:36 pm

One of the things that I’m trying to think about it that if I want a job in quantitative finance, I have to pretty much move from Austin to NYC.  The trouble with NYC is that it is just crazy.  Not that there is anything wrong with being crazy.

But what you have is a city filled with the worlds most hypercompetitive, type-A, achievement oriented people and you put them into a gigantic cauldron.  The waiter at the restaurant in Chinatown had his family raised a few tens of thousands of dollars to people in the Chinese underworld to be put into a container, where he spent two weeks in a freighter evading customs and coast guard, so that they can work under slave-labor sweatshop conditions and make more money than anyone back home can imagine.

Someone like this is not going to be a laid back personality content with their fate in the world.  And the entire city of New York is filled with basically that same personality type.

The thing that I’m trying to figure out is do I want this.  There is a part of me that is driven and hypercompetitive.  This part of me requires a lot of very, very careful management, because it can be very self-destructive.  The big risk that I’m worried about is what will happen to be if you put me in a room with other hypercompetitive borderline insane people.  On the one had, I’d much rather work in a city like San Franscisco and Austin that isn’t quite as driven or as crazy, but on the other hand, this desire is self-contradictory because you just don’t become the worlds financial capital if you are not borderline insane.

What is amusing is that I’m basically in the same career path/situation as the waiter in the Chinese restaurant that gets smuggled from Fuzhou.  A Wall Street trading floor is just another sweat shop, and I have this suspicion that if you put a Wall Street headhunter versus a Chinese underworld snakehead, that you’ll find that they are basically the same people.

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August 1, 2006

Room 101

Filed under: academia, Career, personal, stress, wikipedia — twofish @ 6:30 am

I’m scared out of my mind right now, and that’s fine.

Fear is a normal reaction to the unknown, and since I have very little idea what my life is going to be like in two years, it’s natural to be more than a little afraid.  However, I think that what is different about me than I was when I was an undergraduate, is that I’m less afraid of being afraid.  My personality has been to charge forward into the unknown, because I’ve found the possibility of failure and humiliation is far less damaging than wondering what would have happened if you had made the leap.  For me, regret is far more painful and difficult to deal with than fear and public humiliation.

You have to acknowledge the fear, and you have to look closely at it to see exactly what the source of the fear is.  But I don’t think it is a good idea to be controlled by the fear.  So what am I afraid of?  I’m afraid of losing health, my family.  I’m afraid of public humilation (but curiously less so than most people).  Most of all, I’m afraid of being a bad person.  Those aren’t irrational fears, but they have to be managed.  The big problem with fear is that it lets you be controlled by other people.  In any real negotiation, the only way you can get something is by not being afraid to leave the table and walk and not being afraid that the counterparty will leave the table and walk.

But there is one big difference between fear and regret.  Fear is temporary.  You face the fear, and it goes away.  Regret?  That lasts forever……

July 26, 2006

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