Young Money - The book, not the music label
I just finished reading Young Money and I really liked it. As a former ambitious student comfortable in the structure of school, banking seemed like a prestigious and lucrative route that was made for people like me. Desirous of a high income and stable job.
Learning about the underbelly of the finance industry really dampened my enthusiasm for making money. And learning to cultivate an appreciation for non-monetary rewards in college fully steered me away from this career path.
But I always ponder what my life would be like had I gone down this very rigid path. A lot of my classmates went this route and I always wonder if I truly made the right decision to eschew this industry.
This book really drove home the idea that Wall Street finance is far too competitive and soulless for me. Throughout the book, it narratives that each person tried to build to justify their actions was always shattered by the mantra of "making money"; the correct answer of what one's goal should be always devolved to profits above all else.
Even for the people who did it for two years as a stepping stone and a money boost, it hardly left them unscathed. They experienced deep psychological trauma that fundamentally shifted their world views. Even if they hated their jobs, co-workers, and bosses, they always found ways to justify what they were doing. All in the name of money.
The one chapter that really struck me was the meeting of a secret society where people normally of high power were hazed in front of other elites, while making off color remarks in a weak attempt at humor. It was shocking how disconnected these individuals were to the reality that most Americans face. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/i-crashed-a-wall-street-secret-society.html
One of the things I've tried to avoid in my life is complacency. I want to be light on my feet so I can shift directions at a moments notice and seize an opportunity. I don't want to become complacent in collecting a good paycheck. Even with their high salaries, it's very easy for greed to get to you and make you want more.
At this point, I still love the tech industry. It's not perfect, but it's the most aligned with my values and priorities. It might not be as earth-shattering as the hype, but it's an industry that fundamentally exists upon innovating rather than re-allocating.