A How to Guide…

"Do not seek praise, seek criticism." – Paul Arden

Month: June, 2010

A Little Night Music

1-01 Nocturne No. 1 in B-Flat Minor.mp3


Sleep on it…

"People who sleep after processing and storing a memory carry out their intentions much better than people who try to execute their plan before getting any sleep."

Click to read article…

Castles Made of Sand: The Big Short (Must Read)


I recommend this book to everyone; whether you are in finance or not.  Michael Lewis does an excellent job of not only explaining the cause of the current U.S. financial crisis, but writes a captivating storyline.  Lewis writes in a way that puts those who are daunted by arcane financial jargon at ease by clear definitions and illustrations.  The story is about several unique individuals who recognized the corruption of subprime mortgage lenders, the negative effects of the derivatives that were based off of them, and figured out how to short (profit from a decrease in) the market. 


Conversations Aren’t Contests


Running and Reading

Progress Update: Denouement

This is the last of this series of blog posts sharing some of my post graduate experiences.

Denoument [dey-noo-mahn] noun

1. The outcome or resolution of a doubtful series of occurrences.

Last week I was scheduled for my third and final interview to determine whether or not I would secure the investment banking internship I had been pursuing.  As you will recall, leading up to this point I had realized that relevant work experience was really more important thafurthering my education at this point.  If I were to finish my MBA and have no work experience it could actually be viewed as a detriment to future employment.  The first interview was conducted on the phone for screening purposes.  The second interview was a meeting in person with the CEO in a restaurant.  This last interview was conducted in the office so that I could meet the Senior Vice President and be interviewed by her independently.

My first impression of her was that this is a woman that is accomplished and refined in her personal tastes.  The questions she asked me were straight forward focusing on why I wanted to break into the industry.  She was also curious about my musical background and how I was planned on blending both business and music into my career, if at all (future blog post).  She then asked me if I had any questions for her.  I asked her if she thought the impending financial reforms would have a negative effect on their current operations.  I also asked her about her background and her charitable work.  At the conclusion of the interview we went to the CEO’s office to finalize the terms of the internship.

I am pleased to say that I have secured an investment banking internship with Brookwood Hill Group, Inc.  Due to the confidential nature of our business dealings I will not be blogging about my work with the company.  Suffice it to say, I am humbled by the generosity and the trust that has been shown to me and I will not betray it.  

I had been so focused on getting work with a bulge bracket firm that I had not appreciated the advantages of starting out with a boutique investment company.  I have already been fully engaged on projects throughout this week where I would have otherwise been behind the scenes.  I have also gained a mentor who can advise me throughout my career.

I leave you with an interesting quote:

Men who have attained things worth having in this world have worked while others idled, have persevered when others gave up in despair, have practiced early in life the valuable habits of self-denial, industry, and singleness of purpose.  As a result, they enjoy in later life the success so often erroneously attributed to good luck.  – Grenville Kleiser

Food For Thought

If you died right now, what would you be remembered for?

Shakespeare Says…

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women are merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

Add This To Your Lexicon

arcane [ahr-keyne] adjective

1. Known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric.


She knew a lot about sanskrit grammar and other arcane matters.

Progress Update: Interviews

This is the third of a series of blog posts sharing some of my post graduate experiences.

When we last spoke I was eager to follow up on three leads that I had gotten from my new strategy for getting a job in the investment banking industry.  I knew that I would need to get work experience if I were ever to be taken seriously as a candidate for full employment in this competitive environment.  I did follow up on all three, but as it turns out one of these leads has eclipsed the other two.  I landed a series of interviews with a veteran investment banker who has broad experience and connections in the industry.

As I think about it, I really wasn’t as nervous going into the interview as I probably should have been. After all, we’re talking about a guy who has held multiple senior management positions and partnerships, not to mention his service on corporate and academic boards and his leadership in sealing major business deals, but something about the way he interacted with me put me at ease.

It started last Friday when I found his contact information on the web and decided to give him a call.  He answered the phone and said, “This is_______.” I responded and said, “Hi Mr.______, my name is Ruben Harris.  I am a recent graduate and I was wondering if there was a deal or a project that I could work on as an unpaid volunteer with your firm.”  He proceeded to ask me from which school I had graduated.  Then he gave me his e-mail address and asked me to send him my resume.  I had spoken to so many people that day, but this was the best response I had gotten.  He wasn’t the only one to ask for my resume, but the tone of his voice was encouraging.  I quickly posted my Evolving Strategy blog update before taking a day off to spend some time with my family.

On Sunday he replied with an e-mail to set up a phone interview later on that evening.  He also added that if the conversation were mutually successful, he was prepared to meet me in person on Tuesday.  This was the moment I had been waiting for.  I didn’t want to read too much into it, but it felt right.  I replied with a thank you e-mail and began to do some research in preparation for the interview.

I started by reading his bio. Then I asked an analyst friend for advice on what he thought I should do to get ready.  He told me that the most important thing I need to know is why I want to get into investment banking and why this would be a good fit for me and my personality.

Sure enough, the first thing that I was asked in the phone interview was, “Why do you want to get into investment banking?”  I gave him an answer (blog post coming soon), and the rest of the phone conversation went smoothly.  This led to the face-to-face meeting on Tuesday he had mentioned in his email.

The face-to-face interview was more in depth.  He began by telling me the positives and negatives of our phone conversation.  Then he asked about my family background, how I feel about graduating from a non-target school and my extracurricular activities, among other things.  Finally, he asked me if I had any questions for him.

I asked him how he broke into the investment banking industry, what things he liked to do other than investment banking, what charitable work he has been involved in, and questions related to his current and past businesses.  This all went well and we agreed to call each other in a day or two after having a bit more time to think things over and to see if we were both still interested.

The next day he asked me for two references and to answer two questions:

1.  What are your strengths?

2.  What are your weaknesses?

I forwarded my references and responded:

1.  My greatest strengths are creativity and tenacity.

2.  My greatest weakness is a tendency to overextend myself.

After he checked out my references, we agreed to a third and final interview on Monday at 2 pm.

Closer than ever…just gotta stay focused. See you next week.

“Well, life all comes down to a few moments…this is one of them.” – Bud Fox, Wall Street

Ruben A. Harris
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