There is no one secret sauce for success on Wall Street. Let us say that there are several secret sauces.
In the last 12 months, three young women of friends of mine have been accepted for jobs at prestigious Wall Street firms. Two in investment banking. One in a law firm.
Three unique women, from seemingly different backgrounds. Yet all three share the same extraordinary qualities.
This is what they are not. They are not from wealthy backgrounds. Their fathers or mothers were not themselves, Wall Street lawyers or investment bankers. They were not legacy children. They were not even from New York. Perhaps that is a good thing.
Here are some of the qualities they share.
They are smart, intelligent, very hard-working. And their first priority was high academic achievement.
Okay, those traits can be easily attributed to thousands of young American women.
Coincidentally, each of these women were raised by single mothers who were career-oriented professionals.
I am not suggesting for a moment, that in order for your special daughter to succeed on Wall Street, you, as a mother, must be a career-oriented professional. Or you should separate from your husband, before your brilliant daughter hits middle school.
On the other hand, I am a silver linings type of guy.
If your “good for nothing” husband has been stepping out with his secretary. Or you are tired of supporting your slacker husband while he lounges at home, trying to complete “The Great American Novel”.
It may be time to dump his sorry ass. And instead focus on your brilliant daughter.
In other words, the end of an insupportable relationship, may create a silver linings opportunity to further assist your daughter. Which may be much more rewarding for your daughter and for you, in the long run.
The more salient point is that each mother significantly focused her efforts on providing enormous personal and emotional support to her daughter. Each mother also created a stimulating environment from which these naturally ambitious women could grow and thrive.
In addition to stressing academics, these mothers stressed participation and success in competitive sports.
One young woman became a competitive figure skater and tennis player. Another young woman was also a competitive tennis player. The third young woman was very non-athletic. But like the other two women, she possessed natural drive and motivation. Essential qualities. And she became a kick ass 10K runner.
Being a competitive athlete is not a precondition for success on Wall Street for a young woman. But it helps.
Competitive sports require incredible hard work, dedication, personal sacrifice. But also such sports generally produce a hard-driving competitive spirit, the will to win and the thrill of winning and defeating your opponents.
Qualities critical to the “dog eat dog” Wall Street, male-dominated, environment.
On a personal note, I highly recommend that your daughter, participate in competitive sports with young men at an early age. The sooner young women understand the male psyche, the better.
Let me illustrate.
I knew a young woman who played on my son’s hockey team since the age of nine. She was one of a handful of girls in an all boys’ hockey league. To her credit she did not want to dress in a separate girls’ locker room. She wanted to be treated equally with the rest of the boys on her team. She wanted to dress for each game in the boys’ locker room.
I recall one time, when she and my son were nine, some other boys on the team were trying to embarrass this girl, by showing off their little members in the locker room. This tough little girl was unflappable. And not impressed either.
She called them dicks. And laughed at their small dicks. The boys never bothered her again.
The moral of the story, is that Wall Street boardrooms, or any boardrooms of bankers, lawyers, accountants and businessmen, are just little boys’ locker rooms, with money.
If your young daughter can feel comfortable in a boys’ locker room, she will then feel comfortable in any Wall Street or Main Street boardroom.
Returning to the three young subject women, their three mothers also ensured that these young women were given a variety of opportunities to meet a wide variety of young men and women in many different situations. Through summer camps (tennis camp, band camp, space camp and math camp). Through family and school trips. Through interesting summer jobs in banks, law firms and hospitals. Through travel and research in Europe and Asia. These mothers constantly challenged their daughters, to get out of their comfort zones. To dive in to new experiences. And learn quickly to swim, or sink.
Basically these women were encouraged to engage in activities that forced these young women to experience different social/business situations and be forced to adapt and to constantly make new friends and acquaintances. And to be comfortable talking to and relating to young men and the strange male-dominated business/banking world.
Notwithstanding the Sheryl Sandbergs of the world, to date and for the foreseeable future, Wall Street is still a male-dominated, testosterone-driven jungle, on crack, ( literally and figuratively) motivated by success, money, power, and more money.
So in addition, to being smart, intelligent, hard- working, a very high academic achiever, with a competitive drive for success, the superior candidate for Wall Street, must also be engaging, charming, self-assured and very comfortable around a phalanx of high-powered male masters of the universe. Tough, but warm. Interested, but not needy or desperate.
One of the above young women, having already secured a job offer at a good Wall Street investment bank, sought my advice prior to her final interview with one of the top Wall Street investment firms.
I told her that smart and very qualified women like her, were the future of Wall Street. She had the potential to be one of Wall Street’s future leaders. This top firm needed her more, than she needed them. Go into the room of these high-powered bankers, as if you own them. As if you own the room. Be effective. But be cool.
I am not sure whether this young woman took my advice. But she nailed her interview and this prestigious investment bank hired her. I predict Wall Street will be a better place because of these three young women, and women like them.