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#003 Fireside Fridays - Career Fast Track, True Wealth & Making Economy Flights Suck Less

The stories I'll share in this and the upcoming newsletters pick up where my book, School Dropout, Chimney Sweep, Investment Banker:The Art of Pursuing Goals That Seem Unattainable at First Glance, ends. It's the epilogue that didn't get printed but happened in the chapters of real life.

Brokerage Beginnings: A Rookie's Journey

I was staring at the screen for hours, reading through hundreds of pages without taking my eyes off even for a minute. The book was telling the story of Philip, a trading rookie who had just started out on his internship at a brokerage firm. As an aspirational hobby stock trader, he knew the Wall Street Journal inside and out, watched all the finance news channels, and had already made a bunch of trades. In short, he thought he had a profound understanding of how financial markets work. It didn't take long to realize that he had no idea, and his mentor showed him the bits and pieces of how stock exchanges operate, how price discovery works, and the most interesting part, how to use chart analysis to make trading decisions—aka what and when to buy and when to sell.

Every chapter had a fiction part leading the reader through Philip's journey and a non-fiction part explaining the lessons learned, underpinned with facts, figures, and real-life examples. I was blown away. Until this point, I thought the stock market was a casino-like playground for rich guys and trading was akin to taking bets at the roulette table. Now, it seemed more like a skill you can actually learn, but I still had no idea how to put this newly acquired knowledge into action. Eagerly, I looked forward to meeting Eddy.

The next day, I woke up early even though I had only slept a couple of hours—too excited to be tired. On my way out the door, I gulped down a cup of coffee and grabbed my MacBook. Heading to Eddy's place on my bike, I was already picturing my future self, sitting on a beach with a coconut in hand and my laptop in front of me, enjoying the sunset while making a fortune.

Finally, I arrived at his doorstep and rang the bell. He invited me in, and we had some more coffee in the client zone of his new office. The questions burst out of my mouth. "How did you even hear about trading? How long have you been into it? How much money did you make? How can I start?" Eddy was an insurance broker, and his favorite topic was educating people about financing their retirement, explaining how inflation is eating into their savings and how much they need to invest to maintain their desired standard of living when they retire. So, he naturally had to learn about financial markets and investments, and his newest discovery was day-trading.

He asked if I had already had the chance to have a look into the book. "Are you kidding me? I almost finished it," I replied. "I love that spirit! You are a crazy dude, let's jump right in," Eddy said. We headed over to his computer, where his brokerage account was already displayed on the screen. "That's the first thing you need," he told me. "A brokerage account is like a bank account, where you can send money to and from, but you also have access to financial markets. Simply explained, the broker allows you to buy and sell securities by placing orders with them, which they then forward to the exchanges." To get started, most of them offer demo accounts where you can familiarize yourself with the platform and place trades in a test environment with digital money. He showed me how it works, switching from his live trading account to the demo account. The test environment looked exactly the same but displayed a large "DEMO" label in the upper right corner of the screen. It was an intimidating sight, with countless green and red lights flickering on the screen, changing every second. Eddy showed me around and explained what the different boxes, lines, and symbols meant.

Finally, we worked our way down to a section called "Indices." There, I spotted a familiar ticker called "DAX." "Hey, I know this!" I shouted excitedly, "I recently read an article about the best-paid DAX roles. It's an index of the (back then) 30 largest stock-listed companies in Germany. Let's place our first trade there."

"Alright, buckle up and let the magic unfold," Eddy said. What happened next left me speechless...

1. Level Up Your Career Game: The Fast Track to Maximizing Your Career.

Have you ever wondered how someone in their mid-30s made it to Vice President or Managing Partner?

Why is it that some individuals rise seemingly effortlessly through the corporate ranks, while others struggle despite doing a fantastic job and working very hard?

There is one key element to hitting it big in the corporate world that nobody is telling you:

Finding a "sponsor".

But what exactly is that?

Let me explain:

Back in 2018, I had just left my role as an investment banking analyst. I was looking for a more balanced role within the finance industry, closely related to the stock market. I found myself interviewing like crazy at some of the most prestigious banks on the planet, such as UBS, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley.

Sitting on a plane from Vienna to Zurich, on my way to one of these interviews, I began visualizing my success. I created vivid images in my mind of receiving the call from the recruiting team offering me the role I had worked so hard for, of what it would look like when I arrived at the office on my first day, and how it would feel to hold my brand-new business cards in my hands.

At that point, my mind began to wander, pondering the next steps. Working at one of these large corporations, with tens of thousands of employees, how could I stand out? How could I ensure recognition? I recalled a TED Talk I'd saved a few days earlier, titled "How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work," presented by Carla Harris. Back then, Carla was Vice President of Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, and she shared a personal experience that had changed her life forever.

Carla talked about an eye-opening experience at a roundtable discussion on Wall Street, a meeting where employees were categorized into different buckets based on their performance.

She had been a firm believer that hard work and intelligence would lead to a smooth ascent up the corporate ladder. However, what she witnessed was completely different.

Bonuses, promotions, and layoffs were determined not based on facts and figures but rather on the sympathies and biases of the decision-makers in the room. This realization led her to question who would advocate for her in such settings.

Ultimately, she understood the critical role a “sponsor” plays in one's career. A sponsor is someone who not only advocates for you behind closed doors but also possesses the influence and power to advance your interests and career.

Carla's story blew my mind. As I was leaving a job where I had worked incredibly hard, I realized that I had the exact same beliefs. The finance industry is a highly competitive field, attracting the brightest minds from top universities. Everyone is working hard, but hard work alone will only take you so far.

I incorporated Carla's advice into my professional life, which helped me tremendously. I made it form entry-level to Associate Director, managing more than 200mm in client assets, in less than 3 years.

Here you go with proven principles tested in the field to fast-track your career:

#1 Understanding the Roundtable Process

- Learn what a roundtable is - it's a meeting where people discuss how well others are doing at their job and decide what kind of bonus they should get.

- Understand that at these meetings, people are grouped into different categories based on how well they are doing.

#2 Questioning Meritocracy

- Know that a meritocracy, where people move up based on their abilities and hard work only, is an illusion.

- Think about who might speak for you in these meetings and how they might present your case.

#3 Discovering the Concept of a Sponsor

- Learn that a sponsor is someone who fights for you in these meetings, using their influence to help you succeed.

- Understand that it's important to have a sponsor because decisions about your career are often influenced by people's opinions, not just facts.

#4 Getting a Sponsor

- Know the two kinds of "currency" in the workplace:

Performance currency: the reputation you build by doing your job really well.

Relationship currency: the good relationships you build with people who can - help you in your career.

- Work hard to earn performance currency and build relationships with people who might be able to sponsor you.

- Don't be afraid to ask someone to be your sponsor if you think they can help you.

#5 Choosing the Right Sponsor

- Find a sponsor who:

Has a place in important decision-making meetings.

Knows your work well.

Has the power to help you. - Ask for sponsorship in a way that shows you value their help and believe in your own abilities.

2. Retire Early: Making Money Will Make You Rich, but Buying Assets Will Make You Wealthy.

Many people dream of hitting it big and getting rich.


Because they think getting rich solves all their problems.

What they don't realize is that money does not solve problems, but rather amplifies them.

Yes, if you are dirt poor and don't know how to put food on the table or where to sleep, that's something money can solve easily. Once you've covered that, more money tends to increase your anxiety if you don't know the ground rules of playing the money game.

Let's look into an example:

You've just started out on your career journey, living in a small apartment, either driving a substandard car or using public transportation to get to work. Once a year, you're able to afford a two-week vacation in an average holiday resort. Naturally, you strive for more.

So, you work very hard to earn more money, get promoted, and eventually get rich. With every salary increase, you match your expenses to your new level of income: buying a new home, a fancy car, and a shiny watch. The vacations become more and more exclusive as you spend your days off at a 5-star resort in the Maldives. Your Instagram feed resembles a collection of snapshots from a Hollywood movie.

But somehow, you find yourself becoming increasingly stressed and anxious. The more success you have at your job, the harder you have to work. More responsibilities, more pressure, and more pointless meetings pile up. You start to believe that more expensive stuff is the reward for your hard work.

The problem is, in reality, you can't afford all those things and don't even need them, but you haven't realized it yet. The ability to buy a home by financing it with a significant amount of debt because your salary allows it doesn't mean you can truly afford it. The same goes for the car. Paying hundreds of dollars a month for lease payments and insurance for a vehicle that loses 50% of its value within 4 years simply makes no sense.

You're building up a mountain of debt that chains you to your office desk, forcing you to work even harder. With every salary increase, the problem gets bigger as your debt load and expenses increase in lockstep. You end up constantly stressed and irritated, with no time for your loved ones, caught in a game you can't win. Should you lose your job tomorrow, your only cash flow stream – your salary – dries up, and you face bankruptcy, losing your house, your car, and everything else you worked so hard for.

Eventually, you realize that there isn't much difference between now and when you started out in your small apartment. You are still running in a hamster wheel, but in a golden one.

You are rich, but not wealthy.

What's the difference?

True wealth is measured in time, not in the dollars in your bank account.

How many years can you maintain your desired lifestyle if you stop working today?

That's how wealthy you are.

The only way to achieve true wealth is by owning assets that earn money for you even while you sleep. Decoupling your time from your income is the name of the game.

Here are a few examples of income-producing assets:

  • Stocks, which offer partial company ownership and the opportunity to receive dividend payments

  • Bonds, loans you provide to a company or country, rewarded with interest payments over the lending period

  • Rental property, real estate you own and rent out for a steady income

  • Digital information products like e-books, online courses, or subscription services with automated fulfillment

  • Owning a business, a system that leverages people, money, and technology to generate income for you.

So, instead of elevating your lifestyle every time you get a raise, maintain it and use the extra funds to invest in income-producing assets. Before we dive into the next topic, one last question:

How wealthy are you?

You might be shocked by the answer.

3. Travel the World: How to Make Long-Houl Flights in Economy Class Suck Less.

I hear you guys, long-haul flights in economy class just suck. You're crammed into a small space with hundreds of other people for hours without a chance to escape. The food is bad, you can't move, and you wonder why it's freezing cold although you are on your way to a tropical country. The day shall come when economy class is just a dark memory of the past, but meanwhile, I have some hacks for you which have helped me make traveling in economy suck way less:

  1. How to be the first to get served food: Preorder a special meal. Even if you have no dietary restrictions, preorder a special meal. There is a variety of diets you can choose from, and I'm sure you will find one you're happy with. Special meals always get served first.

  2. Choose your seats wisely: Hours have passed and after watching the third movie, you finally manage to fall asleep, only to be awakened a few minutes later because your seat neighbor needs to visit the bathroom. Many planes have a few seats at the very back with only two instead of three seats in a row on both the right and left-hand side. These are usually available and you don't have to deal with annoying neighbors.

  3. Stay hydrated: Bring enough water with you. The air on planes feels as dry as the Sahara, and the flight attendant will only come by so often. Bring multiple bottles of water with you to stay hydrated, avoid headaches, and reduce jet lag.

  4. Avoid catching a post-flight cold: The temperatures on long-haul flights can be freezing cold. Make sure you have warm clothes with you, even if you are flying to or from a tropical country.

  5. Plan for disaster: Have you ever gotten stuck on a 12-hour flight with a broken entertainment system? You won't want to be that person. Grab your iPad and make sure you download all your favorite Netflix shows and films before boarding.

There are many additional hacks that can help, but for me, these are the most important ones. I hate nothing more than arriving in paradise only to spend three days in the hotel room with a fever and headache, or staring for twelve hours straight at the seat in front of me, which tells me the entertainment system is broken. Hopefully, this will make your next economy flight suck a little less.

Adventure Awaits,

Kevin Schwarzinger

Founder, ChimneyCapital

Author, World Explorer & Solopreneur

Refer Like-Minded Friends

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