What Type of Intelligence Do You Have?

We have already beaten it into everyone’s heads. The only way to get *wealthy* is to start a Company. The only way to become well off is to go into Silicon Valley, Sales or Wall Street. The rest is non-sense. No performance, no money, no exceptions. With that horse beaten to death, lets see what you’re good at and determine which industry you should work in.

1) Why You Need to Determine Your Intelligence Set Early

2) Intent – The Broadest Talent

3) Numerics – The Most Difficult to Replicate

4) Synthesis – The Most Adaptable

5) Artistic – The Call Option

1) Why You Need to Determine Your Intelligence Set Early

You simply do not have time. We tried to explain this in our post on living a balanced life but it needs to be a non-debate. You do not have time.

We hope that the vast majority of our readers are young because we can prevent them from ruining their lives chasing skirts at the expense of their future. You are going to get more physically attractive from 20 to 35 if you eat healthy and stay in the gym. However… It will become exponentially difficult to learn new skills as you age that are **equivalent to your competition**.

We highlighted part of that sentence with 4 stars because it is paramount to understanding that you do not have time. Lets assume that you believe you can learn a new skill at 20 just as fast at 30… Great.

It doesn’t matter! Too Late!

Why doesn’t it matter? It doesn’t matter because everyone starts from *zero*. If person A is equally as smart as you but starts building his salesmanship skills at age 20 and you start at age 30… Good Luck! While you may improve at the same rate as the 20 year old, you won’t be as good as him until you are 40, you’re cooked.

Now that we have spooked everyone… even if you’ve made some bad decisions… there is nothing you can do but fix it (take action). If you’re 18 (hopefully) or if you’re 30 (long-road ahead) the only way you’re going to get better is to find your primary intelligence and leverage it immediately. Get into the ring and get ready to take all of those losses.

2) Intent – The Broadest Talent

Some of you are going to read this section and believe it means “Emotional IQ”. That is certainly close. The difference between intent and Emotional IQ is that you don’t need control of your own emotions to have an amazing ability to recognize intent. Intent is an all encompassing skill that is fully transferable to every aspect of your life (except one): Business, Sales, Social Environments.

The elephant in the room? Minimal transfer skills to Silicon Valley/Quantitative Finance.

Do you ever wonder why Quants and Engineers are usually the two groups with the worst social skills? Do you ever wonder why they are so brilliant… yet… have a hard time in group environments? Well now you know. They have low abilities to read intent.

The good news is that intent is the easiest skill to learn. You can go from zero skills to moderate abilities in a year (maximum). The trick? If you recognize that your talents do not lie here, don’t bother going into a pure sales role! You’re going to be better off in a specialized business, Silicon Valley or Wall Street (Remove Investment Banking and Sales within Wall Street).

With the basics out of the way. here’s a good bullet point checklist to see if you’re good at recognizing intent:

1) Can you correctly read the difference between passive aggressive behavior and dis-interest?

2) If you are shown an advertisement can you determine if it is “good” without seeing the numbers?

3) Can you correctly read the difference between insecurity and an outright lie?

4) Are you able to tell when someone is lying about their achievements (up or down)?

5) When an acquaintance of yours says he/she is going to do X do you know with certainty that he/she will or will not do it?

Now that you’ve read these five questions you can now test yourself. You can use this as a quick quiz over the next 6 months and see if you have a *talent* for intent.  Find at least 10 situations where you will have to ask *each* question to yourself and you need to try and get 50/50 correct. This is next to impossible. Try it anyway.

If you are able to correctly recognize these behaviors 50-60% of the time (you’re at the median). IF you can correctly recognize these behaviors 70-80% of the time (you’re at the 1.5 standard deviation). If you clear 85%… You’re extremely talented. If you’re at 50% or below, ignore it as a primary talent, if you’re at 70%+… Get ready to invest aggressively in your salesmanship.

For fun, lets go ahead and assume that you’re good at this. You are able to correctly determine the *intent* behind what someone is doing 70% of the time. Congratulations! Now you can move on to building up your encyclopedia of reference points.

1) The best way to determine if someone is being passive aggressive with you… or is dis-interested in you… is to give them something they need. We would wager that everyone meets at least 5-10 of these people per day and don’t recognize it.

Once you’ve got your list of people, you can see if you were correct. Give them an item worth about $20 that they *need* and see how they react. If they feel uncomfortable? They had no interest in you. They were not being passive aggressive. If they are extremely excited (fake) or they don’t even say thank you (blunt) they are being passive aggressive. It really is that simple gentlemen.

If you don’t want to spend anything and want to do it the long way, here’s another method:

For the most part, when people give you short answers (assuming they are not meaningful) they don’t care about you. If they try to gossip with you… You’re likely talking to a passive aggressive person (hence why the vast majority of women gossip and are usually passive aggressive).

2) We put up a tweet of a fantastic advertisement we saw on Yahoo! It was for a skin care product with a “free trial” <– affiliate 101. It was so good you can view the advertisement below.

This one was an easy one to peg as “good” because of the advertisement copy: 1) *horrifies surgeons* (ie: fake bias of positivity), 2) *shocking trick* (IE: laced with emotion), 3) *weird solution* (IE: targeted at morons looking for a magic cream), 4) *younger* (IE: solution to the problem, clearly targeted at women 25-40 or so).

Untitled 2

After clicking on the headline copy you enter the sales page. The sales page is also beyond fantastic. The details in the woman’s face are extremely close to looking “real”. That’s what a good sales page should look like. Looking down you find the following: 1) “botox injections” (Ie: pre-selling the product at a higher price point since botox is relatively expensive – cost of most generic skin products is below $1.00!); 2) “recent clinical study” (IE: again, biasing the reader into believing in positive results), 3) “contraction of facial muscles” (IE: how morons would understand how skin ages – making a connection by talking in this form of prose), 4) “free trial” (IE: set them up for recurring billing).


That is how it is done! If you can correctly see solid ads, you’re going to be swimming in money later… by writing them! This ad is simply fantastic. It is targeted at an extremely lucrative market as well.

Insecurity (decline of looks) + Income (women 25+ or married with access to hubby’s $) = Cash Flow Machine

***Pro-tip: As you can see… all good businesses target insecurity & fear. A great example is “Investment Banking Modeling Courses!” anyone who works in the industry knows that these courses are useless (you are trained on the job). But. Everyone wants an “edge” on their competition! In *fear* of not being able to perform up to standards, they sign up for modeling courses that won’t help them at all.  They could have just learned how to model *for free* sitting at their desk. But… That’s too much work. Everyone wants “hand holding”, making them less self-reliant and weaker performers in general… Sigh.***

3) If someone is insecure and you need to befriend them… You know what to do. Highlight the insecurity as a positive. The person is so insecure about topic X that you should simply big him or her up on topic X. Lets say your acquaintance has a lot of contacts that you want to sell your product to. Unfortunately, he is an extreme liar when it comes to getting girls (you know this). In order to get him to like you… Ask him for tips on picking up women!

While it may sound counter intuitive… it works every time. He gets to give you “tips” while you get to build a relationship with him. He claims to be good at this (he’s not) but here he is giving you advice. As you do this over the course of a few weeks he is incessantly lying through his teeth about how good he is and how you should do X, Y, Z. Unless the person has no heart at all, he is going to mentally feel bad about this. Over time as he lies to you about his conquest and you “believe it” he is going to feel bad about lying to you every single day. Then you pitch your product. He’ll say yes.

Finally, if he was outright lying to you and it wasn’t an act of insecurity… He won’t give you any tips.

***Side Note: This piece of advice was by far the most uncomfortable part of the entire post. It seems down right crazy. The problem is that you’re going to have to *bend the rules* a lot as you go into higher stratospheres of income. In the end, if you’re selling a legitimate product that you know he and his friends need… You’ve done nothing wrong. Your approach was slippery, but the end result was beneficial for *everyone*. As always, art not science.***

4) There is not much you can do here. If someone is a colossal liar, so be it. If someone is lying up or down by 10-15% about their achievements… They are probably normal. In fact, when your resume is handed to someone, everyone in the recruiting department assumes a “15% exaggeration factor”.

The real benefit is catching the people who *lie down*. These people are the smartest ones in the room. They lie down because they want to see how you react when *you believe* you’re doing better than them. As you all know… the guy who tries to “convince” you that he’s rich… Is never rich. If they have to tell you they are ____ then they are not. Other people will tell you.

5) This is the easiest game to play during new years. When someone says they are going to do X for their “new years resolution” keep a quick journal and see if they follow through. If someone actually follows through with what they said they were going to do… Get ready to bring out the recruiting forces.

Anyone who says they are going to do X and actually does it consistently is already in the top 10%. They may never make it to the 1% or become exceedingly wealthy, but they will *never* be average. Why? If someone consistently commits to a task and completes it, they are of value.

The only exception to breaking a resolution, is in exchange for something better. (Example: guy says he will increase his income by $20K after switching firms. Instead. He starts a side hustle and makes $40K. Clearly this is a perfectly fine reason for avoiding the firm switch).

Concluding Remarks: This type of intelligence must be cultivated. Even if you’re scoring below the 50% marker in our “exam” it is a necessary skill to at least develop. Develop your skills to the 60% marker and move onto numerics and synthesis. If you’re scoring in the 70%+ range out of the gate… here are the obvious career choices for you: Affiliate Marketing, *Sell-Side* Wall Street, Enterprise Level Sales, High End Promoting/Marketing <– only if it can be scaled, no hourly wages.

3) Numerics – The Most Difficult to Replicate

Ahh it finally hits you. Why in the world does everyone assume that being good with numbers is the end all be all of intelligence? Now you have the answer. It is nearly impossible to find this type of talent. This is both a blessing and a curse if your skills lie in numerics.

99/100 times we will wager that someone with numerical skills (enough to become a Quant or high level engineer) has social issues. They consistently use logic to explain *emotional* behavior of humans (practically no one you meet will have control of their emotions). Out of frustration, they end up being outcasts, particularly when it comes to dating.

With the negative paragraph out of the way… They are going to clear low to mid six-figures (or more) every single year without skipping a beat. Why? This type of talent is nearly impossible to learn. We will go so far as to say that it *cannot* be learned to the 1% level. You’ve got the gift or you don’t. You can try to fight reality and claim this is a “limiting belief”, but we’ve simply never seen it.

If you know someone who was not very good at math land a career at Renaissance Capital coding as a software engineer… Please let us know! (hint: they don’t exist).

Fortunately, if you’re good with numerics, you can quickly see if this is your talent because the stair steps are clearly laid out for you.

1) Are you blowing through the math section of your SAT (lets draw the line at 750)?

2) After blowing through these exams did you step on the gas pedal through an elite university? IE: you were not studying hard yet landing A-‘s or better in complex courses?

3) Can you read a statistics report and immediately laugh at the findings?

4) Did you get through the 5+ round process to work at Google or as a Quant? (obviously you’re good, ha!)

Now the questions above seem ludicrous… Because they are. This is the only form of intelligence that is easy to test and easy to measure. This is also why society focuses so much on it, they can easily *prove* if you’re good at it so it becomes a primary measure of intelligence.

No matter how many people read this post, we can easily say that less than 2% will say “Yes” to all four of the questions above.

Now before we sign off on this topic we can create a baseline of understanding without becoming a Quant. So here are some quick math questions:

1) A person earns $100/hour and works a full time job. How much do they earn?

*You should be able to do this in 5 seconds or less*

The answer is: ~$200K. Instead of taking a calculator out… the answer is simply 2,000*hourly rate. Now you will never be fooled by BS claims of riches.

2) A stock goes up 10% on day one and declines 10% on day two. How much is the stock worth in 50 days?

*You should be able to do this in about 10 seconds*

The answer is: ~75% of original value. Regular people will need to take a calculator out. They will never understand the power of compound interest. The “true answer” is closer to 78% but once you realize that it is losing 1% in value every two days, the number pops up after one iteration.

3) You invest $25,000 at age 25. It grows at 5% per year. How much do you have at age 40?

*You should be able to answer this one in 5 seconds*

The answer is: ~$50K. The true answer is slightly higher but you simply know that it would take ~14 years to double. You round up so call it a wash. Double.

Concluding Remarks: Wow. This is by far the most boring section we have ever written on the blog. Numerics is likely interesting to a very small subset of people (the ones that are extremely good at it). Positively, if you have mediocre skills when it comes to numbers, the door is wide open for a wide range of careers or business opportunities.

If you are extremely good with numbers… congrats! You’ll always be well off (financially). Become a Quant or a high-end Software Engineer.

If you are mediocre with numbers: Investment Banking, Merger Arbitrage Hedge Funds, Sales and Real Estate are all up your alley. If you’re “good” with numerics. Engineering is still on the table, but becoming a high end Quant at a competitive Wall Street firm is not.

If you found the questions above to be difficult… You should immediately improve your baseline understanding of numbers.  Once basic algebra becomes easy, the high level numbers when looking at a business will be easy to calculate.

While you can go ahead and try to bring a calculator and excel with you to every meeting, it is *much* better if you don’t. Why? You can synthesize the data on the spot and play dumb if they give you too much information.

4) Synthesis – The Most Adaptable

Similar to intent, synthesis is the second unspoken form of intelligence. In short, you’re probably a fantastic person when it comes to networking. Why? You can quickly make a connection with someone. You synthesize his or her skills and put them in contact with the right people to fulfill their needs. (transaction complete!)

Ever notice that solid real estate agents are always able to network like it was engrained in their brain to do so? They are natural synthesizers and of course… this leads to solid “leads”.

The real interesting part about being able to synthesize information quickly is this: What *type* of information can you synthesize quickly?

If you can synthesize 1) numbers, 2) emotion and 3) intent all at the same time… You have a wide range of career and business options ahead of you. If you’re heavier on one versus the other… We still have solutions for you. 1) If you’re able to synthesize basic numbers and intent – You want to steer towards transactional work (Investment Banking, Private Equity); 2) If you’re able to synthesize emotion and numbers – you should look into portfolio management; 3) If you’re able to synthesize emotion and intent… but you are not good with numbers – every single product sales position is yours for the taking.

Similar to the other section lets see if you’re good at synthesizing:

1) Can you correctly predict who will like each other in your phone? Everyone believes they can do this, very few can do this accurately.

2) Can you determine what type of asset your friend(s) are willing to purchase? Everyone has a different investment strategy, but can you figure out the next “big move” someone is going to make?

3) If you have twenty meetings in a day, can you remember all of the numbers you were given without checking your notes? How accurate were you and can you connect the dots to see if anyone is lying? (Fun fact: if you meet at least 20 people, someone lied to you in the meeting and the numbers will prove it)

4) You read an in-depth statistics report and compare it to a report you had read 6 months ago that contradicts the new data. Without referring to the second report are you able to determine which one is accurate *without* emotional attachment to either?

The first two items are easiest to test as you have access to information at your finger tips: the contact function in your phone. If you can correctly predict the moves of your friends, you’re going to be very good at sales, Sell-side Wall Street, fund raising for a Private Equity firm and selling real estate.

On the other hand… If you find the first two tasks to be difficult, but find the next two tasks to be easy… You’re better off working as an engineer or at a quantitative heavy hedge fund.

Intelligence/Skills Overview: What started out as a “quick post” has somehow ballooned into a much more lengthy article. The good news is that the post can be summarized by the Venn diagram below.


For fun, here are some clear examples of the overlap:

1) James Harris Simons – would clearly fit into synthesis and numerics, Renaissance Technologies (purple)

“Why don’t we have enough teachers of math and science in the public schools? One answer is well, if they knew the subject well, they’d also know enough to work for Google or Goldman Sachs or God knows where.” – James Harris Simons (No surprise he is a mathematician!)

2) Ken Griffin – would fit more into intent and numerics. (yellow)

“We manage risk and provide liquidity. We are not a hedge fund… We use our capital base to provide liquidity to capital markets and to absorb the risk of risky assets… Our goal is to find underpriced and mispriced assets and hedge away the risk… We mitigate the macro risks that global macro managers take. We are the inverse of macro fund managers.” – Ken Griffin (no surprise they run a market neutral book!)

3) Frank Quattrone – Would fit into intent and synthesis (light blue)

“I did nothing wrong. I am confident that the investigation will show that.” – Frank Quattrone (Unquestionably the best Tech Banker today, unsurprisingly cool as a cucumber when being investigated)

4) Pure Intent (green) – All sales all the time. Zig Ziglar. Affiliate Marketing.

5) Pure Synthesis (dark blue) – Head Hunters. Glocap.

6) Pure Numerics (red) – All of the quants and engineers gathering and organizing data but not yet in position to “pull the trigger” on the meaning of said data.

If you have no skills in any of the three categories… You should get to work immediately. Of the three skills, Sales and Synthesis are the *easiest* to learn (numerics is the hardest to improve upon).

Now you see why it is so important to find out where your “intelligence” is the highest. You can quickly steer your life into a specific career or business model. If you know at age 20 that your skills are in sales and synthesis… Don’t bother with becoming an engineer or working at a numerics heavy hedge fund. You’ll get paved.

Instead, go into Banking or Private Equity and suddenly you’ll find yourself moving up the ranks! The belief that everyone should go into X career is simply non-sense. If you can make Vice President or above in any of the fields mentioned here you’re not going to be hurting for money. You will be raking it in. Making at *minimum* $300-400K a year and you won’t even be thirty.

Finally, if you’re older… Then time is not on your side. You need to find out which area is best for you… starting yesterday. Get cracking on improving your skills in that arena. You need to work *harder* than everyone your age since you are playing catch up.

5) Artistic – The Call Option

We’ve separated this section out for a reason… It is a winner take all market. We can throw athletics into this category as well. If you’re truly at the top of the food chain in terms of artistic abilities or athletic abilities… You’re going to make a lot of money.

While Lil’ Wayne may fail a standardized test… He’ll make more money in a year than most people will make over 5, 10 or even 100 lifetimes. If that’s not a form of “intelligence” we don’t know what is. We’d happily trade his artistic/rap abilities over a 90th percentile score on some meaningless aptitude test.

The Action Bullets:

– If you’re not where you want to be financially, time is *not* on your side. This is a stone cold reality. It only gets harder. If you don’t take action today, you’re simply giving the competition a head start.

– What are you good at? Intent, Synthesis or Numerics? You don’t need to be good at all three (if so congrats!).

– If you find out you’re not great at any of the three (scoring below 50% in all categories across 100 test runs) then you should invest in Sales first. There are too many products that need to be sold and there are too many ways to make money in sales. It is also the easiest to learn.

– Do not fit a square peg in a round hole. If you’re great at numerics there is no reason to change your life and try to become a real estate agent. *leverage your talents*. There is money everywhere. Again. Leverage *your* talents not what other people are “telling you” to do.

– If you’re in the top 1% when it comes to the arts… Congrats!  Go ahead and go up the food chain and make that $$$.

Importantly, for those that are serious about developing multiple streams of income and a high net worth, we can recommend Personal Capital. The Company offers *free* software tools with the following four key features: 1) ability to avoid losing money by tracking all fees associated with an investment product allowing you to choose the best possible fund for your future, 2) portfolio analysis where your risk profile is stacked up against your current age and retirement goals, 3) in addition to these free tools, you can also track your net worth and path to becoming a millionaire and 4) when you hit $100K in networth you’ll receive a free one time consultation with an investment professional at Personal Capital. After linking up all of your accounts you’ll be able to sit back and watch as your net worth goes up and your fees remain minimal over the next several years. We strongly believe that Personal Capital is the premier personal finance software tool when compared to its competitors such as Mint.


  1. Mark IB says

    “If person A is equally as smart as you but starts building his salesmanship skills at age 20 and you start at age 30… Good Luck!”

    Man this is the truth. I see all of these kids running around at night clubs trying to impress girls 3-5 days a week while the guys I am mentoring are getting so good at their careers it is not even funny. One of my junior workers is going to be in line to make VP and there is no doubt in my mind none of his peers will be able to catch up to him at this point. How can someone really beleive they can make up the lost time when they are older and slower?

    I think you can add a few points to really drive home the point you’re trying to make:

    1) if you’re 25 and make a mistake the MD is likely going to forgive you more because he will think it was “immaturity/learning curve”. You make this same mistake at 30 and you’ll be seen as stupid. Double standard? Sure. Reality? Yes, sir.

    2) maybe you should write about the inverse situation. If you made the right decisions and are well off by thirty, the competition in terms of social life for dating drops off a cliff. As you mention the guys in their 30s suddenly realize they need money and bite and claw to clear $150K while you’re already making $350K+, work less hours and have more free time. It is like watching a purge!

    3) I also think there is such a thing as emotional intelligence that should be added to this post but I guess you guys are sticking with the phrase intent. As you have tweeted about many times, controlling your emotions gives you an edge over your competiton.

    Great post overall guys!

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Ha! *Purge* is a great description. Or parting of the sea hahaha!

      Would add that even those guys who made the smart decisions (financially well off) a large number of them end up married so it really is an open field. No competition in sight!

  2. Le Bro says

    Wait, are people actually dumb enough to click on those adds? I thought no one did…is this the type of business you’re running WSPs, selling a scam product? Not that I disagree with doing this…people can buy whatever they want to and if they are dumb enough to buy this, then more power to them.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      No we don’t sell any of those products.

      That said, you can recognize a legitimate good ad when you see one.

      Of course people click on those ads. Do you know how expensive it is to get that ad space? They are not paying that type of money for nothing! That is an extremely well placed ad targeted towards women.

      As we have mentioned we’re not selling junk anything. If we wanted to make money off of “junk” we would start a financial modeling program targeted at investment bankers and charge them $500 a pop for it instead of selling facial creams. Instead we give away the information you need and have not charged a penny for anyhing.

      The point remains the same. You should be able to recognize a high quality ad when you see one. That is a high quality ad targeted at imbeciles.

      100x better to sell legitimate products and not worry about it. But if you just want to make money… Now you know what people click on.

      Similarly, look at all the ads on facebook. Those ads are not cheap and they are there for a reason. Charity is never the answer.

      • Le Bro says

        Thanks, this clears is up. I assumed that those types of ads were low quality because I could easily tell that the product was shit. But I guess it’s appealing to the masses.

        Thanks for all your work on this blog btw, I’m a Freshman in college and hope to get a job in IB that I can later use to leverage into a career in Venture Capital or a PE Firm that invests in new technologies/startups.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        It is actually the reverse. That’s an extremely *high quality* ad.

        A high quality ad is one that *converts* everything else is junk.

        Would also add, just because the advertisement looks like crap does not mean the product is crap. It is entirely unrelated. Just go watch television. Those ads work *extremely well*.

        Yes some of the products suck but many are also legitimate. So who cares “how it is sold” so long as the product works.

      • Jan says

        Would you have moral obligations with selling a product like advertised in the ad above?

      • Wall Street Playboys says


        Why? Simple. You already have a negative bias to the product

        If you are selling a legitimate product do you care if it is sold via stupid ads or “smart” ads? Again no.

        We answered this in the 3rd or 4th comment here. If you are selling to the masses you have to communicate to them right? Right. The masses are not bright.

        If the product works, who cares if it is sold through stupid ads or “smart” ones? No one gets hurt. The only smart ad is the one that converts.

        If the actual product sucks? Then yes, would have an issue selling that. If the product works and is great, then there are zero issues.

  3. Nick says

    I’ve been waiting for this article. Thanks, I’ve learned a lot about where I’m at in these 3 types of intelligences.

    You’re likely going to get a lot of people asking about their specifics so I won’t bore you with mine.

    My question is about synthesis. You’ve offered a solid way to improve sales, and told us the reality about quants. I’m interested in knowing more about how to improve synthesis skills.

    Synthesis seems to be a skill that many people lack, seeing how many only use what they’re taught and not outside info. It also seems to be similar to Charlie Munger’s mental models system.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      This is why it is imperative to read and take action daily. The “system” to improve synthesis is boiled down to this.

      Learn skill 1, 2, 3 applicable to your interest.

      Learn random skills 4, 5, 6.

      Now… Find a way to use 4, 5 or 6 to *improve* the quality of primary skills 1, 2 and 3.

      This is clearly a simplistic answer. But it is the easiest explanation.

      After reading this people should already know which bucket they are in. They should feel a pull in one direction, maximum two.

  4. Rob says

    I guess I’m more into the sales part (although my numeric skills ain’t that bad!).

    After reading Zig Ziglar and Harry Browne’s book I realised that I used to do sales all the time. Something simple as befriending the big / though guys in high school (I knew what they wanted: better grades, as I was a skinny guy back then I used to have an whole army if something happend) to my internships where I ask the client what do they want and convince them with my skills to sell a product what they want, but still creative in my way.

    Sales is fun.

    • Rob says

      I want to add this: it’s fun because it can be applied to almost anything in life. From relationships to friendships. What do they want? Do you have it? If yes: go for it, if not: work for it and then try it again.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Ha spoken like a natural salesman!

        If you’re extremely heavy on sales try to find high ticket items to sell (biz to biz, software recurring etc).

        We’ll take your first commission check if you land a good one! (Joke).

  5. East Coast Month 10 says

    Do you know of any thirty year olds who have turned it around, or is it quite the long shot? One thing I’ve discovered is being considered “smart” and “talented” loses its meaning when you’re being compared to a bunch of 18-21 year olds.

    Might have learned the game a bit too late. Any advice?

    • East Coast Month 10 says

      To be a bit more specified (as I know the blog is made for 18-25 year olds). Is there any brief, specific, actionable advice for someone who is thirty playing catch-up (school, then MBA over the next few years)?

      Or do I just put my head down, control emotions, work my ass off, put in my honest bid and see where it takes me?

      I’ve already forgotten the past and present moment (stoicism) but do want to make great future decisions.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        1) of course you can make the pivot at 30. We’re clearly just drilling it into people’s heads that learning isn’t gettig any easier.

        In Felix Dennis’s book he summarized it pretty well.

        20s = lots of energy huge upside
        30s = if still smart enough to turn it around they usually do
        40+ = still mediocre? Probably not to be honest. Not being pessimistic, sure there are exceptions it is just insanely rare.

        2) we purposely put in synthesis as a piece of intelligence because that is where the *leverage* is for a 30 year old. If you can remain calm cool and collected you can *appear* more mature than a 20 year old and what does this help with? Networking. The one huge advantage for someone at 30 vs. 25 is that people will respect you when you say hello. (Just don’t make mistakes or appear immature because that defeats the point!)

        It’s a great question and we would recommend recording your tone of voice and speech so you sound mature it will give you an edge compared to younger guys.

        Based on your previous comments in the past
        1) you sound extremely serious about succeeding which is a positive
        2) don’t let this come off as immature by “panicking” if you panic it will make you look immature.

        Yin and yang. Hope that helps!

  6. Gustav says

    Hi. I am 18 years old. I live in Denmark and I only just discovered this blog, everything resonates with me. I want to work a lucrative career later on, but my immediate concern is the big possibility that my math grades (I finish math in school this year) will completely suck, and therefore the average of my grades will degrade, which means something when I want to go to university. What plan of action besides just accepting my loses and moving on to get good grades in every other subject, will help me out next year? I am finishing school next year, and I’ll have to decide whether to take a year off to work low-wage jobs until I can afford travelling for 6 months or so or if I should just go straight to university to study finance, buisness etc

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Traveling to find yourself at 18 is like putting a bullet into your foot before a 1 mile foot race. Do not do that.

      Unfortunately we don’t know how Denmark works… Maybe there is a way to retake courses to improve your university choices.

      As we have mentioned before you practically *need* to go to a top school or at least an above average school otherwise college is a waste.

      Wish we could help more but we don’t know how to “work” the school system in Denmark. Only the usa where there are a ton of loops.

      • A says

        One big thing that’s different: college is free for everyone, so lower barrier to entry.

        Also, Scandinavia is a bit more credentialist in general, I think, and a bit less oriented toward performance in general due to the consensus-seeking (doing a lot of generalizing here). Denmark is more “American” than Sweden, though.

        Context: I’m a late 20s freelance software engineer in Sweden making around $110k gross (half after taxes and social fees). No college education. Believe it or not, I am quite well off compared to my peers here… Typing that out reminds me that I have a long way to go.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Wow free? Never knew that!

        Learn something new everyday. Wish we could help more but we don’t know the area so it’s dishonest to give any advice.

        Kind of like a guy who makes $100K a year giving financial advice (ie: anyone who listens is nuts!).

      • A says

        Reasons why I have been able to make more than the average software engineer here:

        1) Jump thru hoop of starting my own company, learning tax code, loopholes, etc. Big part of why I can earn more is that I can escape progressive taxation by paying myself a dividend instead of salary. I can also write off a lot of expenses, it adds up.

        2) Being willing to jump from contract to contract, no stability at any one place. Treated like an outsider and never being part of the group. Goes against typical Scandinavian mentality.

        3) Being willing to ask for money and not budge. As a contractor I am constantly dealing with deceptive brokers who want a cut in order to introduce me to the client. They always want to lower my cut and increase theirs (usually 15-20%).

        4) Planning my CV smartly and reading the market. Right now Angular is the hot new thing, so I make sure to have a lot of Angular on my CV (not lying, mind you). That the framework has a ton of problems and a lot of companies aground of it past the initial learning curve, means there is a market for my services.

        5) Doing a lot of networking. It takes time and effort but eventually it leads to business.

        I’m basically good enough at Numerics to get top 10% coding jobs, good enough at Intent to get business, and good enough at Synthesis to run a business and try to go somewhere else by testing different things. Synthesis also helps in keeping abreast with the crazy flood of new frameworks and methods that sweeps through my field (mainly frontend dev).

        Long term, though, this is not the solution. Making 1.5-2x yours peers is a very dangerous trap. You get addicted to the relative status but you’re always “well off”, not wealthy.

        Hope that helps.

      • A says

        And, yeah, Scandinavia is a shitty market for high-paid jobs. Just typing out my numbers above makes me realize I need to step up my game ASAP. I’m doing relatively well, but in absolute terms I’m not.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Interesting comment.

        On a glance it seems you may be running yourself thin. IE: you’re trying to be fantastic at all three levels of intelligence. Maybe you’re burning the candle out too much and should give someone the synthesis work (networking for you for your biz) while you get Into the top 2-3% in the other two categories (intent and numerics).

        Just a tought but you know yourself better than we do.

        Many people can’t get past a rut because they refuse to delegate (control freak issues ha!)

      • A says

        Yes, I believe the next logical step is to bring in other people.

        I’ll share my blueprint, and I welcome feedback.

        Some realizations:

        -I may be a 10% coder, but am not 1%. Even if I were, income potential is not THAT much higher. Like 50% ($100/h vs $150/h).

        -I am good at enough selling myself in a job interview but not good enough to sell on a greater scale.

        -I vastly prefer more “meta” work such as leading a project/others, rather than low level technical stuff. I can do the latter to satisfaction but don’t find the geeky side that interesting.

        What I am imagining as a way to scale up:

        1. Bring in sales guy who lives and breathes getting business. My own attempts at making direct contact with companies have not worked (which means I have to go through the brokers and lose out on cash). Eliminate the need for middlemen and immediately make more cash. Also, and more importantly, it may lead to more sources of business. The brokers are kinda lazy, they like to focus on the big corps who need a lot of bodies.

        2. Use the fact that 1) I know a lot of people in the industry who could be convinced to join me and 2) I can actually tell if someone is a good coder. Which means, no need for HR bloat and inefficient hiring. I will only hire people I trust and know to be competent. This will scale up to 5-10 people, if my assumptions are correct.

        3. Said people are not motivated by income but rather by security. Which means I have a challenge in the beginning to have enough buffers to keep everyone on payroll (with sub-contractors it’s much easier but less lucrative also). But it will pay off in the end.

        4. Once I have good cash flow and some ops experience, transition from body-leasing (selling contractors to other companies) to taking on entire projects and doing so in-house. This is where employee loyalty can really kick in, as I can provide a cool office, show up when you like, drink beer at your desk, etc. Stuff that is not done here because of culture.

        5. Use experience gained from that, and customer contacts, to develop and test our own in-house SaaS products during downtime.

        6. Build up Monthly Recurring Revenue from SaaS and eventually switch over to doing that full-time.

        7. …

        8. Profit? (Ie sell the company for a lump sum, get your “event” as WSP say).

        Just a rough blueprint to follow. I imagine this will take 5-10 years.

        Kind of a long road, but I don’t see any better alternatives right now. Seen this done, and know it’s a viable model, even if a grind.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Fantastic plan. As mentioned in previous comment it is clear you’re trying to focus too much in each three segments. Choose two, outsource the rest!

        You’re going down the right path.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        No problem. As aways get the opinions of a few successful people and see where they believe your talents lie. Now you know where to focus and where to outsource.

        Hopefully this post gave you an idea of which one (or two) you are better at. Sometimes it’s clear as day, other times, like in your case… It isn’t.

        Build a mosaic.

        (Obviously only ask people who have already succeeded)

      • Gustav says

        Thank you for the answer. I really appreciate your honesty although your answer might not be the answer I “wanted” .

        I think that I have a gameplan:

        We have study counselors, so I’ll use her to help me decide what majors to take leading into sales and/or stockbrocking, there from I’ll see what access requirements are for the major I Want to study and the university I want to study at.

        Here in Denmark our grade system is way different than in America, ours grades go this way (From shittiest to best): -3, 00, 02, 4, 7, 10 and 12.

        From 02 and up, it is a passing grade.

        To get access to a Danish education there are two ways: quota 1 and quoata 2.

        Quota 1 is only based on meeting the requirements in terms of grades and ESPECIALLY the average of all your final grades, this the most secure and definete way to get in.

        Quota 2 is when your average grades is below the required number. You will have to show the university that you are still a good “investment”, this means that you might have to take a year of secondary completion to brush up on the most important subjects (Such as math, economy) for the education you want. You’ll also have to go to free introductory arrangments at the university, do some sort of internship, maybe get a part time job in a relevant industry (Sales?).

        The problem though, is that even if you do a secondary completion of some subjects, the average of your grades WILL not change, because it’s decided from the school you went to.

        My plan:

        The next two months, I’ll study math harder than I’ve ever done before, being REALLY engaging and participating in classe, and making sure that I know enough to AT. THE. VERY. LEAST get a 02 in my exam, but aim for 4 or hopefully 7. I’ll make sure to dedicate all of next year to bodybuilding, saving up money, quitting my cigarette habit and acing all of my other subjects, so I become more healthy and my average is good enough for quota 1.

        If quota 1 in the end is still an impossibility, I will still do a secondary completion of math, while taking a personal trainer degree (to earn money on the side, and invest my future/a possible future buisness) maybe do some small-time investments myself, do internships/projects for free and attend everything introductory of the university to show them I am dedicated (I’ll probably aim for copenhagen buisness school or copenhagen university) and to show them that I am more than ready to learn whatever I want to learn.

        I won’t have to take any student loans this way (Especially not if I earn some money part time on personal training and sales).

        What do you think?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Would copy paste this and send it someone who is successful in Denmark.

        We have no idea if that is a viable path and it is not fair to you if we gave advice based on pure guesswork.

        So copy paste it and send it to someone who knows what they are doing (ie: someone successful in Denmark)

        Good luck!

  7. Paul says

    Thank you for the post, it makes a lot of intuitive sense. Also it shows that aptitude tests don’t really determine if you can make money, I was reading some studies that hard work and grit determine net worth and this post gives readers a direction to apply their efforts.

    Now to forget all of those poor writing scores on my old aptitude tests!

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Those tests do not determine much in terms of your ability to make money.

      A high GPA from a top school is a significantly better measure.

      Why? It show’s you’re willing to work hard over the course of 4+ years and you were able to navigate all the hurdles in the college system.

      A random test usually doesn’t determine much.

      Also, yes, effort is an even better indicator assuming the person is willing to adapt.

    • Anoteros says

      They don’t determine whether you can make money. I took a very expensive one as a senior in high school and scored 95% or more in every category except hand-coordination (drawing, etc.)

      Three years later, hand-eye coordination is one of the main aspects of my job and I seem to have absolute shit business sense.

  8. b says

    I was thinking about trying to be a quant when I was cracked out on nootropics for a year during engineering. Seemed like fun at the time.

    • b says

      You’re right on the social issues. I learned game, and it fixed my issues pretty quickly. Though it took ~3 years of seriously going out.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Interesting so you’re likely in the nunerics and synthesis bubbles and away from intent if it took ~3 years.

        The good news is you got the intent skills up to par and now you can make it rain with your nunerics and synthesis abilities! Good work, make that $!

        Note: to emphasize, not having a *primary* talent in one of the three forms of intelligence is never a bad thing. It simply means you don’t earn your bread from that ability.

        Everyone is good at one of them (many times two) then outsource the third…

  9. Kurtis says

    Wow wish I had seen this years ago

    numerics is not my strong point I’m average at best.

    Having done low level sales the past couple of years I can say it’s not my strongest point either but I have improved. I know exactly when I’m being sold to. The funny thing is though despite never being the best salesman in the office everyone wanted to work with me. I never been able to explain why but people have always wanted to be around me, perhaps synthesis is where my talents lie.

    Maybe I should look into a career in recruitment, headhunting or private equity. I’m 22 so I have a reasonable amount of time to turn it around.

    Any recomendations on degrees and qualifications that would be ideally suited to these areas? Having not acquired a degree already it would be relatively easy for me to go and apply (no current or previous debt)

    Thanks guys, smashing it as usual.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Based on that your clear natural intelligence lies in networking

      “People want to work with me I don’t know why”

      That means you do a good job of managing chaos.

      You should try the sell side of Wall Street (working in sales and trading).

      Private equity is probably a bit too much, you’re too young to jump that far already.

      That or you should try to see if banking would be good.

      Do not try to go to a hedge fund, you’ll get crushed by guys who are naturally numeric.

      Perfect solution. Use your networking skills, get a few meetings with real estate people, banking, private equity, sales and trading… We which shoe fits.

      We can’t help you with that last part but you should notice you “like” someone’s personality relative to another. They will also naturally like you as well.

  10. Matt X says

    Great post. I personally think my talents are more in intent and synthesis, yet I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to develop more numeric/synthesis-related skills to the complete detriment of my “intent”-related skills.

    This is because I attributed “real” intelligence to numerical ability; you (WSPs) allude to this in this post. I was, and still am, insecure about my intellectual capacity. But it’s time to shake things up, and focus what I’m actually supposed to be doing!

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Ha it really is funny.

      If you’re rich + happy… In our view that’s “smart”.

      Don’t see the point in being a number whiz and having an awful social life or having incredibly good intent skills but stuck in an accounting job you hate.

  11. Zoloo says

    Wow. Two great posts in short timespan.

    Also higher education in state universities in Germany is for free( besides yearly ~$600 semester fee)

    I landed my internship, by chatting with manager of financial company in the bus. Later he gave me his business card and it was done with handshake.

    Entered couple paid seminars, through contacting organizers and negotiating with them, and at the end getting free pass for small physical help, or paid just 30% of the ticket price.

    I am Intent and Synthesis. Am I thinking correct?

    Got an opportunity to work under MD of financial/insurance company in Mongolia, who seems to be a happy person and a right mentor for me to build skills, and is like me in the future. Should I grab it?

    Got the dillema to stay in Europe or go back to home country?

    Was more thinking about starting biz, but the truth is I do not have the skills and the monay.

    More realistic for me is to start a solid career and hustle on side as an freelancer, and start small .

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Sounds like intent and synthesis.

      We will not go so far as to tell you what to do with your life because that is simply too much responsibility and too much guess work (we don’t know you).

      Instead we suggest you find which of the three buckets you fit into and steer your decisions in that direction.

      We’re certainly not going to give advice if the two paths you are mentioning are completely opposing (they are) we would only be able to help with minor discrepancies (ie: realizing you have great sales and deciding to be a VP in banking or go to a numeric hedge fund… Clearly the answer is banking in that case).

      Hope that helps!

  12. w says

    Hi, right now I’m 20 going into junior year at a top public university with the intent of majoring in CS.

    Lived with people that were strong on the intent side for a year so I would say I’m *above average* in that area. My strongest area right now because I feel like I know exactly how to improve upon this skill.

    SAT Math = 780 but I know for sure I’m not touching the top Quant/engineers in terms of raw numeric skill. Weeder math classes weren’t hard but I definitely didn’t skate through them. If I maxed out this area I’d say top ~10-15%. Would probably be a great but not elite coder.

    Signs that I have potential in synthesis: Easily connect with strangers. Generally well-liked. Already linked skills 4,5,6 with skills 1,2,3 before I saw that post above. Have played the “connector” role between two parties.

    Intent is one. I have talent with numerics but know I won’t be elite. I feel like I have potential with synthesis, but can’t be sure. I was committed to CS but it seems I can do well in Sales as well. (already thinking of ways to connect these two)

    Right now my plan is to do both a sales and computer science job and see how it goes from there. Free time spent on learning how to code + sell better.


    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Easy solution. Summer internship in technology or Wall Street.

      Then figure out if you were good at it.

      If you hate it then you know to go the other direction.

      Alternatively, get a sales job(right now) get a engineering job for the summer.

      If you hate the sales job… Then you know sell side Wall Street isn’t for you.

      If you love the sales job, don’t bother with the engineering position and go straight to sell-side Wall Street.

      Problem solved!

      • w says


        One more thing. Right now I have 0 internships (will change once summer is over). Question is if I want to do sell side Wall Street don’t I generally need prior Wall Street experience? I’m assuming without prior experience my best route would be networking with alumni / wall street employees since I’m not in the B-school.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        In that case you are slightly behind.

        You absolutley need an internship in either engineering or sell side right now. Since you’re at a top tier school you should be able to get some interviews.

        If you get a tech job and hate it, you apply to “technology investment banking” we have covered that sector in two posts.

        If you like it (your internship)… Well then it doesn’t matter you found your calling.

  13. says

    Are there any resources (Ex: books, courses, etc.) you recommend to get better at Intent and Synthesis (I’m much stronger in sales/networking/social skills than Numerics)?

    I’ve read the Ziglar sales book you’ve listed as an approved product, but I’d like to know if you have any additional suggestions.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      The best answer is always practice. We don’t know what type of synthesis you are good at.

      Instead take a career path in synthesis (heavy networking sales job such as headhunting). Then you’ll be forced to develop the necessary skills.

  14. ibsales says

    “If you’re able to synthesize basic numbers and intent – You want to steer towards transactional work (Investment Banking, Private Equity);”

    75% intent, 25% numerics when you’re young (after reading this post), seems like starting in IB to build a great skill-set, experience, and bank-roll WHILE learning affiliate marketing seems like a no-brainer

    Great post, they keep getting better.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      To be honest this is a huge red flag. If you cannot even remember the names of important people we’d put you at a zero on synthesis.

      Forgetting someone’s name (assuming they matter) is worse than cursing at them.

      We suggest you meet more people and practice memorizing names the very first time you hear it. This is simply rude and detrimental to your life.

      The only exception is if you know they will be of no value to you. Then your mind won’t process it.

  15. realisation says

    I just realized that *I’m* passive aggressive. (I’m a man who gossips a lot when I’m bored).

    Also, realized that all my friends are passive aggressive too. (They gossip back).

    Implementing strict turnaround.


  16. pogy says

    I would add that the ability for you to correctly identify talent sorting into the 4 categories is best description of what synthesize is. so if you can easily identify people you meet into the 4 categories then you have great synthesize.

    if I’m from a BA degree (huge mistake) and have done no internships. (yup) where should I go? just scrap any job possible in the marketing and sales department?

    I’m not so good at either synthesize and numeric. and I’m learning copy writing on my own time currently

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Spend half your time improving intent skills, the other half on synthesis.

      You will improve faster in one category over the other… Now you know what direction to steer towards.

      Intent = sales
      Synthesis = networking/ability to build a team

      Can’t get any easier than that!

  17. Detail says

    So where does attention to detail fit into these categories?

    Seems like it would be a bit like a component of synthesis, i.e. ability to quickly scan a document and pick out errors, discrepancies, etc. But it also seems similar to numerics in that you’ve either got the gift or you don’t, and if you don’t its a difficult skill to develop.

    You guys got any thoughts on this?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      That’s not really a form of intelligence it is just repetition and how much you care.

      Hence why you’ll find typos here (this is a free blog) but you wouldn’t find any in an actual business document.

      *at most* it is an extremely low form of art. You’re just making the document look pretty.

      If you mean the ability to find loopholes (tax loopholes, bugs in a system) then that is synthesis. You’re finding the rules that contradict each other and making the system work in your favor without doing anything illegal.

      • Detail says

        I know what you’re saying, but attention to details still seems like it’s a learned skill. I might care about having an error-free business website far more than I care about having an error free personal blog, but that won’t make me better at spotting mistakes quickly. It just means that I’ll spend far more time proofing one than the other.

        Guess I should clarify, I’m referring more to the innate or acquired ability to quickly proof something for errors.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Yeah in that case we’d say it’s not a form of intelligence at all.

        It is just a low level skill acquired after years of practice. By simply writing or typing or number crunching consistently you’ll get faster over time.

        There is no way to really leverage “attention to detail” skills into anything lucrative. Maybe there is… If so congrats if you find it!

        As an example of this, the people who proof read and clean up earnings transcripts don’t make any money and it is primarily automated.

      • Detail says

        Yeah, obviously attention to detail skills can’t stand on their own, but if a friend was strong in intent and synthesis/networking, yet had poor attention to detail, I wouldn’t recommend IB as a career for instance.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Strongly disagree because you can learn how to look for commas and typos in less than 3-6 months.

        Being able to find the meaning in the pitchbook >>>>>> commas.

        Maybe you assume attention to detail can’t be learned? It certainly can, you can teach that stuff to a high schooler (being honest here).

        The people who suck at it simply don’t care about the work.

        Therefore if you’re saying attention to detail can’t be learned we’ll agree to disagree. We’d argue it is dependent on if you care about the project or not

        (Exactly why a general meeting/quals book would have more errors than a management presentation once the deal is secured)

        If someone can’t improve on their error checking… They are pretty dumb ha! Funny thought. Maybe there *are* people who are so unskilled they can’t even learn to format charts! In that case just fire them.

      • Detail says

        How would someone go about learning attention to detail? Perhaps I’m just projecting here, attention to detail has never been a large problem which has helped enormously as an analyst, allowing me to focus more on the skills that actually matter in the long run, particularly synthesis in my case.

        But I have also seen other guys wreck their political positioning because for some reason they have poor attention to detail and don’t proof their work well. Or if they do proof their work well, it takes them forever. I don’t really think it’s that they don’t care about doing a good job, so I just figured it was a primarily innate skill they were weak in.

        Though I suppose it could just be that they’re lazy and I’m not quite as good as reading intent as I’d like to think.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        In order of likely causes:
        1) don’t care enough
        2) lazy
        3) Stress themselves out and don’t work well under stress
        4) they are really dumb.

        Again it’s not a talent at all. You ether care or you don’t, you get freaked out or you don’t (that case would be no emotional control).

        Have never seen anyone like that survive more than 2 years in the business to be honest.

        You’re probably giving them too much credit, they don’t care or don’t work well under pressure.

        How do you practice looking at graphs? No idea. You care or you don’t. Since you’re good at it… Don’t worry about it.

        If they really are “smart” in that case they would realize banking is not for them and go into a pure sales role (assuming they are likable).

    • Detail says

      LOL, you should tweet that last line, “How do you practice looking at graphs?”, gave me a good laugh.

      And yeah, you’re probably right. Point taken.

  18. Checking says

    So, if I am in the 99th percentile on the Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT without even having studied much and I have a very diverse circle of friends, both culturally and professionally, I would assume that my strengh lies in synthesis, am I right?

    After all, VR is about SYNTHESIZING and INTERPRETING diverse information and my diverse circle of friends is an example of “synthesizing” diverse people. Did I get it right?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Sounds like it.

      If you are more confident in your synthesis skills and have solid sales (intent)… Then you’d make a better M&A banker than ECM banker.

      Subtle but makes a difference.

      Also explains why many lawyers make great M&A bankers.

      • Checking says

        Ha, M&A is exactly where I’ve been trying to get into. But I also have interest in Equity Research, because at least from outside it looks like there’s less mundane work like changing fonts in pitch books and more of actual analysis of businesses.

        Is it worth trying to break into? It’s clear to me that with an M&A gig on your resume you have a much broader range of exit opps. But are there any other caveats in ER?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        M&A is more synthesis than intent: less sales more structuring, also tied to if the team likes you

        Research is more intent, more sales on the phone all day with clients and your entire future is in the hands of one person. If the analyst is hated politically, doesn’t like you or isn’t well regarded… You’re stuck and won’t move up.

        We’ve covered all the segments on the blog, may do one major post update (much later)

  19. b says

    Top 1% numerics studying petroleum engineering. What would you reccomend?

    (35 ACT Math, destroy math classes). Etc.

    Pivot to an Oil and Gas Hedge fund?

    Ideally running my own shop in 10 years A fund or oil company…

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Ha! We don’t know you so it is impossible to tell you which of those two options is best (petroleum engineering vs numeric HF)

      You answered your own question though, you’ll do great in a numerics based field.

      • b says

        What would you reccomend to find a HF based in the mountains (For example I’d love to work in Aspen or Vail after college…Working on an O&G hedge fund…).

        I’m sure some rich guys run their funds up there.

        Call them and see if I can grab coffee/go on a ski/fishing trip?

  20. East Coast Month 10 says

    “Networking. The one huge advantage for someone at 30 vs. 25 is that people will respect you when you say hello. (Just don’t make mistakes or appear immature because that defeats the point!)

    It’s a great question and we would recommend recording your tone of voice and speech so you sound mature it will give you an edge compared to younger guys.”

    This is some of the most spot on advice I have ever received. Absolutely describes the situation I am in.

    Jesus, when you’re used to hearing shit (or no) advice, this is just unbelievable.

    Don’t want to take up Q&A space but I had to leave this comment.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Thanks! Appreciated.

      Instead of focusing on how the competion has an “edge” ask where you can find your own leverage point.

      1) find your edge *first*


      2) find out your competitors rebuttal

      First part gets you in the door, the second part helps you when you’re in the interview.

      Hope that makes sense!

  21. Reader says

    This article made a lot of sense. And fits with my current scenario.

    I’m currently doing a double major in Engineering/Computer Science. Going into IB + long term politics (sales on steroids). The moment I realised I would never be Top 5% in terms of my software engineering long term I decided to jump ship.

    Yeah I’m pretty good. But what about that kid next to me? My friend who just got into CERN who makes me look like I have no talent. The type of individual who has a smile on his face every time his program works. He goes to sleep and thinks about code. Makes jokes about code. Lives, breaths and bleeds it. And wait – he’s been doing it nearly a decade longer and will sacrifice sleep and woman for this passion (Power to him).

    Simple formula: Results = Natural talent x Hours put in.

    Find out what you have potential to be great at. Find out whether you will bleed and lose sleep for because you enjoy it. Then go forward will full force.

    Most people do the opposite and don’t follow this formula:
    (1) They find they have no natural talent for but can put in loads of hours in because they enjoy it. Example American Idol and all those other talent shows. When these people actually go to sing, they get embarrassed when they realised they aren’t as good as they thought. And all those hours were wasted.
    (2) OR people do something they are naturally talented at but don’t enjoy. Example: Research scientists/Doctors who like being perceived as highly intelligent OR moral for not wanting money but don’t actually like their life or lifestyle.

    Thanks for the work.

  22. J says

    Fascinating post – reminds me of Gladwell’s Salesmen, Mavens, and Connectors. I’d like some advice, and you guys seem to be good at giving it.

    The “Numerics” problems weren’t difficult for me, and that didn’t surprise me. I like to spend at least 2 hours every day doing complex math “to relax…for fun,” and I feel a bit “off” if I can’t, like how you feel if you miss a regular workout. Math in HS was a joke, and I was in the top 1% of a top uni’s Comp Sci program. Tested at around a 140 IQ at http://www.highiqsociety.org/ and got a perfect score at my uni on a short term memory test (nobody else got more than 50%). I’m not bad at “Intent” and “Synthesis” either, and have worked in Real Estate.

    The problem is that my life got massively, massively thrown off course, and I ended up doing all of these things and going all of these places without finishing my degree. I’m about to turn 30 and I can’t go back to school for anything engineering-related anytime soon, if it’s even worth it at this point. I can’t seem to get hired doing anything I actually want to do because anything involving complex math requires a certain degree. I could get rich doing something else (lots of options), but I really just want to be working with numbers on challenging problems, particularly in computing. If I’m not doing that, I feel like part of who I am is being denied me, which I guess is similar to the feeling artistic people get when they are not able to express themselves through art. I don’t think the lost years matter as much for me because I know of very few people who are remotely like me.

    What should people like me do?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Your best bet is to start a small scale company. You’re running out of time and quality of life begins to decline in your 40s/50s (health etc.)

      Since you stated you can’t go into engineering and you’re too old for Wall Street the clear answer is sales. Your only option. Direct sales ie: work for yourself.

      If there is a way to freelance for numeric work you’re set. We don’t know what that would be though.

      • says

        There’s actually an established space of technology consultants who have maybe 10%higher skills than some random ‘freelancer’ (who charge $30-$50/hr) but make $300-$1000/hr as they have enough marketing and sales skills to position themselves as solvers of *business problems* not bodies for rent to sling code/design. Brennan Dunn and Patrick McKenzie are the prime examples here. I would start by reading/listening to everything they have produced.

  23. J says

    Wow, thanks for the VERY fast reply! I was afraid of that, and I’ve been making moves in that direction already. For someone like me, do you think app development would be a fast and enjoyable way to get rich? Other than that, what kind of business would you recommend?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Unfortunately that is a bit too specific (as stated to a few commenters – we don’t know you personally).

      If you are good with developing apps then you could maybe freelance by helping people with the apps they want and then try to build your own on the side.

      The freelancing pays for your food and sanity while the app on the side is your call option.

      This is just off the top of mind though, you know the space 100x better than us. We don’t write apps so again we can’t give advice.

      There must be forums for that somewhere?

      Good luck J!

  24. Distro says

    Why do you guys mention that quality of life declines in the 40s and 50s, health, etc? If you have money and in shape during that time then why would it decrease? Not everyone has the same genetics or habits.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Simply energy levels.

      Correct if you have a lot of money and are stress free then it doesn’t decline much. 35 is generally peak looks, 45 is generally male decline begins, 55 it really took hold, 70+ it’s real ugly. No one can deny the fact that we all die eventually.

      The point is that your energy levels by definition decline, we have a post on this explaining that money is all about how much you can *spend* before you die and *enjoy it.* (spending $200K at 35 for example is much more fun than spending $200K at 85 when you’re struggling to get by – work at a hospital to find the realities of this situation)

      Hence get rich before 30-35. Then who cares! Do what you like!

      Search the term “ALS” in the search bar.

  25. East Coast Month 10 says

    Thanks again! Hopefully the following will help the younger cats out.

    I was literally crying earlier when I realized that I had never, ever truly pushed myself to any limit, that I was just floating through life, wasting time and potential.

    This type of regret, I don’t wish it on anyone. It fucking hurts. Have to turn it around.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      That is awful (no sarcasm and honest answer). We agree that it is an extremely painful realization (have seen it 100x before).

      “Never trade what you want the *most* for what you want in the *moment*

      ^ encompasses a broad theme of the blog.

      We really hope you make it. As you know there are no promises in life, this is why you grind grind grind. Improvement is never linear.

  26. says

    I fall into the artistic category but I’m unsure if I’m in the top % or just slightly above average. My problem is I haven’t invested 1,000% of my grind in the pursuit out of fear I’m making the wrong decision. I’m 29, know time is running out, and am annoyed of not going full speed in one direction.

    *Hints* I have so far that art is the right choice:
    –In HS I made comedy videos and got featured on MTV (not a big deal now, but in context it was a big accomplishment)
    –Everyone I know tells me this is my true talent / calling (friends, teachers, girlfriends, coaches)
    –I do stand-up comedy, and took a writing class recently taught by a working (and respectful) professional who told me I’m almost ready for TV and have jokes that are easily pro-level

    I wasted a lot of time in my 20’s, realized this, and moved to NYC — where I can get on stage more often and can get better by working in front of the hardest audiences. Also, it’s where the opportunity is: TV/writing work/networking opportunities, etc. I’ve networked with comics who are working on the level I want to be working, and they’re helping me with strategy / connecting me with people in the industry.

    I do this at night, and to survive I’ve worked in marketing. This has been my ‘day job’ but in the last five years I got myself to director-level. It was for a small company so likely junior at a larger one. All the marketing / sales / networking skills I’ve learned are transferable to a career in comedy since it’s basically running your own business.

    I’ve been putting in uncommitted effort into art, and uncommitted effort into a ‘day job,’ and want to just commit to whatever my true talent is and go all in.

    I know you guys aren’t experts in art, but what would you suggest for testing my ability. Basically, how do I know if I’m good enough to commit 1,000% or if I’m wasting my time and should jump into sales?

    • Vince says

      I’m a musician, I have sales as my day job. I haven’t gotten to where I want to be yet so feel free not to read the following, I only comment as I am following a similar path.

      Put every remaining hour you have into what you love.

      If you take Gladwell’s 10,000 hours as a benchmark it would take 6 years of 5 hours a day to reach that level. I’m assuming you already have a lot of hours under your belt due to your successes. 7 hours of sleep, 12 hours work, 5 hours artistic pursuit.

      There’s no reason to not keep doing your day job and follow your artistic pursuit. The amount of great men who have done it is staggering.

  27. C says

    Relief to see that I’m on the right track (21). I’m mostly a quant (graduated 2 years early and landed a good job as a software engineer), but I’ve always had a keen interest in finance and the stock market since I was about 13.

    One thing I do know that I have in excess is presentation ability. As in, I can pull together and give an incredibly good presentation, and I’m always working to hone my ability in that area.

    Is there anything outside of just engineering where that could come in handy that I could apply it?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Presentations are for investment banking.

      We don’t know about engineering since that is the path you took so cannot comment. As usual we do not talk about things we don’t know.

      Either way sounds like you made the right decisions!

    • b says

      I talked to a lot of older engineers. A lot get mad because you generally cap out around 200k (depending on the industry ofc).

      A lot of engineers I talked to got mad around 28-30 y/o, got their MBA, and went finance to make more.

      Maybe enterprise software sales? If you’ve been around engineers for any extended length of time you know how bad they are socially.

      If you know your stuff and can present I can imagine there’s a lot of $ to be made with the right company.

      • POW says

        Engineering caps off because it is fundamentally not a “career” as described here. You make decent money off of it, but fundamentally you are always trading your time for money. It just doesn’t scale well. In general you will start at 50-100k and work you way up to 120-200k depending on what branch of engineering whether you are willing to go management (pays about 10k/year more). In general your reward for doing good work is getting to pick the projects you want, not more pay. Plus management does their best to “collude” against engineers because well, they can (search apple, microsoft, google intel poaching). The only way to avoid this trap is to start your own company. Then you aren’t doing pure engineering work anymore; you are doing business. Engineering is a path to a comfortable life, but not an exceptional or wealthy life but the skills can be very useful and I personally enjoy the work (plus they rarely make you work more than 40 hours a week).

      • POW says

        I should have added this in my earlier post, significantly more money is made in engineering sales and marketing. As a baseline, at the career fair I went to a couple of years ago, the engineering sales (right out of undergrad) made the same baseline salary as the engineers plus 10% commission. I only have second hand information about marketing, but my father attempted to make the switch from development to marketing when I was younger due to the significant increase in pay. I haven’t discussed the actual numbers with him, so I can’t comment on that.

      • b says

        You get time to work on your side projects also. 40 hours a week leaves a LOT of room for side projects.

        Sales is where it is at though.

    • zed says

      One thing I do know that I have in excess is presentation ability. As in, I can pull together and give an incredibly good presentation, and I’m always working to hone my ability in that area.

      Maybe. Lots of Engineers can talk to other Engineers about engineering stuff.

      The need in big-money computer anything is the sales people are always desperate to bring someone who can speak to both the non-technical and the one or two technical guys in the room. That’s different than presentations. You have to pound out code for a few years in the belly of the beast in most situations. Then the sales people will give you one or two opportunities if you are actually vaguely social.

      You have to be careful with your interest in presentations because it’s neither straight sales (intent) nor Engineering. You end up like Edward Snowden in this interview with John Oliver. You need to be John Oliver (understands with some depth), not Edward Snowden (typical Engineer) Watch the whole interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVlyP4_11M

      • zed says

        The John Oliver analogy I posted is not very good.

        You need Snowden’s level of expertise with Oliver’s ability to identify what is important. Turning Snowden’s big ideas/technical mumbo jumbo into a plain description. With that skill, you talk to both the c-level non-techies and her engineer that’s in the room for technical matters/B.S. detector.

        But, you have to be careful here because the job can go away and you need to be able to code to get into the same position starting in the belly of another beast.

  28. zed says

    Regarding your “numerics” category, you actually lump two groups together.

    1. Numerics (your name)
    Excel at math. Not much room for these people in tech outside algos and that’s a tiny segment of all engineering. It’s the hardest problem to solve for sure, but their success rates aren’t great despite their gifts. A numeric outside finance, is pretty rare because if they don’t deliver repeated breakthroughs then the business is swamped by discounters who copy the work.

    2. Engineer
    Excel at logic. These people are the coal miners of the tech industry. Most of their work uses basic math, lots of logic an d knowledge of lots of software tools.

    One is not the other. Again, the most valuable ones in both groups don’t hide in their cubicles churning out code/documentation/tests/tickets. They get out and meet people and serve them in a manner they are most productive, not the way the tech wants them to work.

    • zed says

      For example, Twitter has lots of engineers. What they are doing is hard to scale. That’s solved by Engineering, not a Numeric.

      Google’s **core** search system is an algo. You need a talented Numeric to develop the method so a computer can
      -sort Internet content in some special manner.
      -divine what a user is asking for when they enter search terms
      -find stuff in all that sorted data

      Engineers then scale Google’s search up to serve billions.

      I hope that makes sense.

    • says

      This is in part what I wanted to comment after reading the whole discussion here.

      First off: top software engineer here (might be 1%, but this kind of number don’t really make sense – read further).

      Most software guys here are mistakenly putting their job in the numeric category – that might be true if you work on Wall Street and write trading algorithms, but it’s absolutely not true for most software engineering work.
      Sw eng is very different from other engineering (I know mechanical engineers, electronic engineers – those are heavy numeric jobs).

      Of course I cannot speak for other, and they might very well be a numeric type (I score high there too), but most top software engineers are heavy on the synthesis. It’s all about building systems and abstraction to solve problems. That’s what the job is. Never used much fancy math.

      More generally I think most people in this discussion are giving the numerics category much more breadth than it actually has.

      The big truth from the trenches is that if you think that you need over the top numerics aptitude to become 1% in the software field you are sorely mistaken. Top numerics people are usually weirdos, and very rarely you see one of them become successful – unless you consider successful as being a researcher with good reputation and *some* hope to see tenure (in which case you might be in the wrong crowd here).

      Nah, the field is mostly synthesis. Abstract, see the big picture, go down to details and solve problems.

      Numerics is great, and it helps, but unless you are doing heavy scientific (financial, statistical, algorithmic) work it won’t be a limiting factor. I’ll go further and say that who cares really, unless you want to top out at $200k in a basement you DO NOT want to do pure numeric work in the software field.

      What is the key to go over average and break really big? Intent. IF you have good intent and you manage to really understand clients and businesses, you can provide a fuckton of value to pretty much everybody because most of the technology solutions out there SUCK HARD.

      The moment I quit thinking like a numeric and started putting my synthesis skills to work to serve what my intent said, I started making cash hand over fist.

  29. RS says

    Re: synthesis-one thing that helps particularly well is improving memory and abstract thinking. Any suggestions? IQ is correlated with both and can’t be improved more than marginally…thoughts? I don’t trust the majority of brain supplements and other bullshit out there.

    also curious about Citadel’s “market-neutral book”

    Googled this but am not exactly sure about what this means-does market-neutral mean having a 50-50 security split between positive and negatives betas so the portfolio has an overall market beta near 0?

  30. sdsd says

    Just turned 26, been doing construction for the last 3 years and my pay has went down every year despite my skills…Dropped out of high school to Get a G.E.D…

    Is it too late to go to college? I’m very logical, reasonably interested in computer science.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Ha! Colleges are always happy to take your money.

      The point of this is to find what you’re actually good at intellectually then find a way to leverage your *ideas* not leverage your time

      We cannot do that on the internet without knowing you and we will never trade time for money. So we suggest you find what you’re good at then go and find a mentor. Good luck out there!

    • zed says

      If you aren’t fixing friend’s computers, basic networking for free or a beer then get busy.

      Go the community college route, get an AA, then that should bootstrap you into a slightly better paying gig. Pick up a cert or two, but don’t go crazy. Then do the BS at a commuter college while you work. If you do it right, it’s a two-fer. You have the experience and you’ll have the diploma. This will set you up to never stop learning, which is key to the field.

      But, know that the highest pay is above average, but not spectacular. What this site is talking about is above average pay. You’ll need to find a valuable niche to rise above average in the industry and that takes time.

      Go for it and never apologize. You’ll discover you are far better than many in the industry if your bosses liked your work in construction.

  31. Andy says

    “…time is *not* on your side” = avoid information obesity. It’s not so much that there is “too much” information; it’s more so that acquiring any bit of information comes with a cost (time, brain-strain, lack of focus resulting from constantly seeking the rush of new information). Does it make sense to spend your entire day eating everything that comes across your path? Hell, no – you’d be one fat ****. Same thing goes with socializing = information consumption. Cut the information crap (“7 Reasons Why You Should Not Read this Complain-o-sphere Article”) and aim only for the highest quality/utility; your focus will increase>>productivity skyrocket>>stress decrease (even if you work in a information-intense biz, ex. law). Don’t be an information fatty; it will catch up with you and your life will suck.

  32. Stealthy1Percenter says

    Great site and great post. I rarely comment online but wanted to say that this post should be required reading for any high schooler, college student, or recent graduate starting their journey in life.

    IMO, finding your strengths and leveraging them is much more productive than working on your weaknesses (unless you have no strengths, which means you have a lot of work to do, so better to start early).

    Reaching into mid 30s, so I’m not the target audience for your site. Just wanted to commend you guys on a job well done. Wish this were around a decade ago as I went through my 20s.

    Can’t be to upset as I’ve made it many times over already based on your benchmark of 1 mil by 30, but had to stop for a moment to think about how much more could have been achieved if I had read this post 10 years ago.

    Anyhow, no time for regrets! Onwards to 10 mil (or 100).

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Ha! Once you have enough money… we set the bar at ~$1M at 30 (plus minus 2 years)

        You should *never* work a career or business you don’t enjoy.

        If you’re financially stable for life, being unhappy at 30 is a *choice* (assuming you are in good health)

      • Stealthy1Percenter says

        “Also, we will have some new posts for older people over time”

        Wow, that made me feel really old for a second there. I know it wasn’t your intent.

        $1 M by 30 is nothing. If someone were to apply even half the principles set out on this site, or land a six figure paying job without making idiotic spending decisions, the power of compounding alone should take you to the promised land.

  33. Rob says

    Re-read the article today and I’m still 100% sure that I’m more intent and a bit of numerics.

    What would you advise europeans that don’t have that easy access to Wall Street? I’m thinking about taking the job at my latest internship as the sales person (selling the services of Digital Marketing to potential clients), but I still have room and time (21 now) to start a Wall Street career.

    • Rob says

      I know you guys don’t comment that quickly on this because you don’t know a lot about the European field. I hope you can make an exception 😉

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Under no circumstances will we ever make an exception.

        1) we don’t know
        2) it hurts our credibility and it is bad advice since we don’t know.

        Your ip has been flagged as a potential spammer. You are young so we try to give small free passes. Do not ask questions when you know we won’t give an answer. Everyone wastes time which we never get back.

  34. Anon1 says

    Fantastic Article, which i’m going to read several more times.

    At a glance i think my intelligence lies pretty firmly in the Recruiting/synthesis bucket.

    Its very easy for me to recognise skills in others and also to notice analogous areas between completely different topics and areas.

    I think what that mostly comes down to is pattern recognition, both social, physical and mental.

    (I’m open to learning some tips on how to fully exploit this)

    Weakest is numerics, which is kind of ironic given i was a nuclear physicist. Never that great at fast math, but i do like rule sets and applying logic to situations.

    Sales, now this is an area i want to improve in. i am good at giving the initial pitch to high value people over skype and especially email correspondence, but in person/on phone is something i want to get better at.

    Cheers for the article, its forced me a little to face up to what my strengths really are, and not what i wish they were. I’m not a product man though i try to be. I’m a connector.

    Now figuring out how to exploit the hell out of that comes next.

  35. AJ says

    Great post. I found this really useful.

    It’s made me realize that although my most natural skill-sets are in intent and synthesis for some reason I find myself working in Statistical analysis/numerical consulting.

    For me numerical ability isn’t actually something I find naturally easy, I’ve just put many hours into developing those skills and that’s why i find myself using that skill-set on a daily basis.

    I think it is time that I look to develop in the areas of intent and synthesis since I know that’s where I actually have the comparative advantage over everyone else. It makes sense to play to my strengths.


  36. D says

    You guys should start a forum… it’d be awesome to find some like-minded individuals.

    I just turned 23 and it’s definitely difficult to find people who want to live a non-mediocre life

  37. PeakOil says

    Great post WSP, this post has been extremely useful.
    I happened to come across your blog this weekend and I am regretful I did not encounter it earlier!

    I have a question with regards to a career plan (caveat: I also understand that your writers do not speak about what you do not know). I am currently studying petroleum engineering at a top 5 university for this major (stateside) and on track to graduate in 3.5 years (interned with the same company since freshman year => 3 internships over 3 summers). I expect 1-2 offers upon graduation.

    I am interested in IB, specifically the energy sector. The career plan I was shooting for was graduate, work in industry, obtain an MBA before 25 and then use this to transition to IB. Is this plan realistic/favorable or did I take the wrong path to begin with?

    Your insight is much appreciated, and of course, it is better to be punched in the faced with truth than kissed with a lie.

    • b says

      Which School? Mines, A&M?

      Mines and A&M IMO are the best, then again all the schools think they are the best.

      You don’t need an MBA. Oil knowledge trumps all. All the major banks have M&A sectors that would hire you for your engineering knowledge. Same salary as the bankers (talked to an associate at JPMorgan about this when I was considering IB).

      Most suggested industry first.

      And for your own benefit, go get drunk with your classmates. Oil is about connections. Not GPA’s. Get your 3.3 (All you really need for any company, unless you want to do research), and go party and connect.

      You would be surprised how many of the shithead drug addicts have parents as oil presidents. One connection like that is amazing.

      I went to 2 different schools for the PETE program and party a bunch. Now I can namedrop like a motherf*cker.

      3.5 years is impressive.

      Don’t be that weird nerdy kid in oil. Have some fun, more than likely your boss is a raging alcoholic. Oil is a social industry. 3.2 with good friends > 4.0.

      Connections trump all in oil. (Yes, even GPA a lot of times).

      • b says

        Then again if you can get that GPA get it, but the trust fund kids who party are often the ones to know (they come from oil money).

      • PeakOil says

        Gig’em b, I appreciate the advice.
        I agree that most schools claim that they are the best, one of the best metrics is job placement: A&M supposedly had 99% job placement for graduating students (undergrad), but that’s a far cry in this market.

        Would you say that the major banks expect experience with a major operator instead of independents, partially due to the name? And it is wrong to suppose that reservoir experience (especially within reserves booking) would be favored over operational experience (D&C + Production)?

        Also, I agree with the importance of connections and networking. Coincidentally, I have heard the same thing about bosses being raging alcoholics… especially in the Bakken!

      • b says

        All schools have that… there’s a lot of oil wells and a finite amount of petro engineers.

        All the idiots get hired by Halliburton and put in as field engineers. (Which is a great start to an oil and gas sales career. Free car, free meals, company credit card…yes please).

        All the majors hire the smart people (3.3+ Although the large independents pay more).

        You want to be in Houston. You may be out one night and run into executives. In the field the only people you are going to meet are roughnecks and probably a few other engineers (roughnecks are an interesting breed. They are the complete opposite of people on this blog. Terrible, terrible life decisions.)

        Plus the only girls you meet in the small towns are majorly trash. Houston has hot ones. And higher quality.

        Oil is really the only industry I know of where management makes a crapton of money and is almost purely an engineering background. Sit at a desk, don’t piss anyone off, and bank hard.

        As far as I have seen with my research go for the reservoir experience, that’s much more important for banking (though any industry exp would help massively).

        My research indicated that reservoir and M&A go hand in hand. Investment bankers are clueless when it comes to oil stuff. That’s why they hire us for sector knowledge. Lol.

        (Straight from the words of an M&A guy — get the reservoir skills for M&A and you can write your own ticket doing oil deals.)

        People are always like “You can’t just go straight to M&A”. Yes you can. No one else knows how the fuck how to decline a wells life over 40 years let alone which type of decline curve do you use. Which it turns out is directly how you figure out what the damn thing is worth.

        But really make friends with the big partiers. Not kidding. Hang out with them enough and you’ll see all that money for cocaine is really coming from a VP at Conoco, or BP, or a few oil wells somewhere in Texas. They may be fuckups but their parents will help you out if they know you.

        Plus they do crazy shit. I had one friend who flew around in a private jet his girlfriend’s family. She wasn’t that hot but who says no to private jet trips to vegas. I got free trips from them for their birthdays and such.

        Also, oil you won’t make as much (maybe 200k vs 250-300k at 30. Ask the investment bankers what a typical banker makes at 30). But you only work 40 hour weeks, and “work-life balance” is really important for some reason. Most people have families.

        Try to get in with the Saudis at your school also. They all get 2k a month (maybe 3-4k now?. One told me the new king raised it) to blow as their stipend. It usually goes to booze, drugs, and girls.

        If I were you I would take up binge drinking and meet everyone at your school and not worry about the 4.0. It’s a very small industry. There are enough idiots with 2.5s and smartasses with 4.0s.

        Be the coolest guy who knows and talks to everyone — while maintaining somewhere in the 3’s.

      • PeakOil says

        Thanks again for the insight b.
        I will most likely end up in Houston after all is said and done.
        Drinks are on me.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Please read our Faq it covered networking and majors.

      Also read our post on oil and gas.

      Finally read b’s responses, you’ll be set.

      As mentioned many many times here. It is best to go straight into Wall street (out of undergrad) and simply move up the chain and never get an mba.

      That said, if you’re already in the industry. You have to network (read b’s posts) and then get the career or .. Yes, you may have to get an mba.

      Good luck!

      • PeakOil says

        Thanks again for the heads up WSPs.
        I did read and consider the FAQ and the post on O&G (no sarcasm intended).
        PETE is (or was) in demand, employers do (or did) recruit, and the major would payoff in less than one full year. Perhaps I did miss something though.

        The posts I’ve read focus on Finance/Engineering/Tech as majors, however petroleum engineering doesn’t fit in the Sales, Silicon Valley, or Wall Street categories.

        Most starting offers as an entry level engineer with independent or operating companies range around 90-100k… however the career progression I’ve seen ends up being ENGR I, II, III etc. unless you have the opportunity to move into management or transition into finance. There’s just fewer cases of PETEs accomplishing the latter, hence the post.

        Thanks again, if I ever encounter WSPs or “b”, drinks are on me, assuming it wouldn’t be a waste of time 🙂

      • b says

        Finance — Oil and Gas Banking.
        Sales — Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes (~Revenues 100b+ combined). Someone needs to understand the shit and sell it. Commission on a mutli million dollar frack job? Yes please.

        Business ==> Start own E&P, investment company, service company, etc.

        Most engineers get golden handcuffs and get too comfortable. Don’t get comfortable.

  38. z says

    Been feeling a pull toward sales for a while. Any books you recommend for S&T, specifically the *sales* aspect of sales & trading? Internships, breaking in without b-school, relevant job experiences that help with recruitment (sales vs. finance), etc. Seems like there’s a lot of info on the trading aspect, not as much on the sales.

    • z says

      To clarify, there’s not much info on sales aspect of sales and trading. I’ve heard it’s not the same as a person who does internal/external sales. Also been researching institutional sales roles on Wall Street and was wondering how that fit in.

      Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  39. neocrummer says

    I would put myself at numerics and synthesis. people tend to overestimate my numeric ability (my sat math was below 750). After reading this blog I realize it was because I could actually apply “complex” math into completely different situations, which impresses a lot of people. I have taken what I learned in my classes and applied them to clerical/low skill work.

    Even in large classes the professors always knew me by name, and like me. Finding references and people to vouch for me is never hard. If my grade is borderline, I get it bumped up and one professor even bumped it up a full letter grade.

    I’m not the most charming guy and my networking leans more towards bringing value to the table than producing fireworks. Guess I need to work on intent.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Don’t do that!

      Leverage your synthesis and numbers. Get someone else to do the intent items for you if needed.

      Yes learn the basics but it is not your talent. Working on weaknesses instead of focusing on strengths is the fastest way down the wrong path. Whole point of this post is to leverage your talents.

      • RE Guy says

        I came here to post something similar to what I’m going to post, but this gave me an opportunity to give a counter-opinion.

        I would say it depends on what you mean by “basics” and also in intent (I’ll say EQ because I don’t see the point in focusing only on knowing others’ emotions and besides you’ll wind up learning about yourself as you learn about them anyway) that’s the biggest one that stands to screw someone over as they go along if they don’t have a decent mastery over it (i.e. you can’t get around dealing with people at least to some extent, but you don’t need to invest large sums in stocks if you suck with numerics).

        I’m going to say focus on whatever you need right now that will get you the greatest ROI, and go hard at it so that when you return to other areas, more will stick long term.

        Mentioning networking, if you need to get a job right now and that will make a critical difference to where you are heading for the next few years, focus on intent for a while. Further if you aren’t going to be prepared for office politics then keep going (in other words define what you want to accomplish in intent for now). But once you are done revert to working on your natural strength(s) which are the ones that should be making you the most money.

        The reason I thought of this is that recently as I work on a renovation I realize how much the work on social and emotional skills benefits me with contractors (who often have a good degree of the former but very little of the later). However my natural strengths are in numerics and synthesis so as I go along I want to move on to a slightly different type of investing (commercial vs. residential). But in order to run a business and especially to have my hand in a few, I’m benefiting from being “Good at everything”.

        So my hard work on the “intent” area both paid off for it’s direct purpose (social), has an immediate indirect benefit (residential RE) and will also serve me well much later because I went much deeper than my immediate needs, such as in negotiations (commercial RE).

  40. Ian says

    After finding you via D&P posting about working so hard you break; Once I began reading your content. This is the first post I’ve read through as it seems of high relevance at my age (22). I had been a numbers only person for all of high school and loved math with passion (highest level of study I went into) but even there I was no elite. After being out of school for over 3 years now and failing to get any of the numeric answers correct in time. I’m realizing I’ve worked on my weaknesses and it’s unsettling.

    I’m sure if I refreshed with math studies I’d have most of that skill back but even then it wouldn’t be much better than some advanced algebra or low level calculus (maybe). So now I’m on a crossroad as I find myself still rationalizing things with my cold detached thoughts but being able to work with people far better than before when I was a dedicated introvert. I’m looking at sales right now because I think it would push me outside of a comfort zone which in turn will result in growth.

  41. sp500 says

    Very engaging article. I had a difficult time figuring out what type of “intelligence” I possess out of the categories you described. I find that I might just be average in most of the categories.

    For example, I feel I am good at picking up on intent and discerning the different types of behavior (passive aggressiveness vs disinterest, etc) however I don’t know how to utilize this to my advantage. I’m aware of people with good social skills and when I interact with them I detect a certain fakeness (charm I assume) and ability to cover their asses with plausible deniability. I’m envious of people with fluid social skills like these and I’d like to develop mine.

    I am generally good with numbers, so I have some nascent skill in numerics, however I never enjoyed calculus or higher level math in university.

    I’m the kind of guy who scored high on his PSAT/SAT (top 1%) and MCAT (top 5%) yet I still feel incredibly inadequate academically. Those weren’t a result of natural talent however, I put forth an immense amount of effort to do well on those exams. Maybe I’m just insecure of my abilities? I’m good at taking tests or one time high octane examinations such as standardized tests but not so good at courses (low gpa in HS, high SAT score/ low gpa in college, high MCAT score, etc)

    For the record, my bachelors was in Biochemistry at a top 30 and I am pursuing a Master’s in Pharmacology. My ultimate goal is a career in Medicine however I find myself reading more and more about finance/investments/economics. Everything I read online generally says that medicine is a poor investment of time and resources.

    Regarding sales ability, I now know that everything in life is sales. I’m good at interviews, good at persuading people, decent at chatting up girls/getting short term hookups, good at bluffing in poker. So maybe my strength lies in short term “events” as you describe?

    I just turned 23, I know I’m young, but I feel like I’m running out of time in the sense that I need to find something to commit my energy to. I apologize for the wall of text and would appreciate your take on all this.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      We don’t know. To be blunt your post was simply a rant. It is up to you to find out what you’re good at.

      We are not going to be able to figure it out based on a 3+ paragraph essay where there was no takeaway.

      We strongly suggest a class on communication skills. You’re young so a rant is fine for now but nothing came from it besides saying you’re “decent at everything”.

  42. Ib says

    if you’re currently an IB analyst and think you would likely be better at sales and like it more – what do you do when you’re only a first year? would likely make a ton less..

  43. talent says

    Question: Even if you recognize you have an intelligence in intent, is it normal to be initially weak in practicing the “tools” of intent, ie. Copywriting (actually writing copy to cater to what you KNOW a person want from intent)? Or is this basically a sign that you’re lying to yourself and don’t actually have that intelligence?

  44. quakeroats says

    Numerics guy here. I’m just outside the 1% in my field (I know this because I’ve been in the 1% for other competitive activities) however I make a good living out of college.

    I have a pretty unique situation and would love insight. My (smart) friends have told me that my engineering skills isn’t the one that stands out the most. (730 on SAT math, 790 on SAT2 math) They say that I’m really good at leading people (listening to their problems, aligning goals), and am really good at explaining complex topics to other people. In your articles, you mention that one should aim to maximize their *greatest* strengths.

    I’m stuck between committing to get a 200k salary within 5 years engineering, or start building a side business sooner so that I can leverage my greatest skills.

    What’s your opinion on this?

  45. Mehh says

    I’m 26, working in tech (sales) here in the valley. Make ~$130k PA (after taxes) and side gig ~$300k gross PA (~$60k net). Work 9-5, and then 10-2 on weekdays. Take Saturday off and back to work 12+hrs on Sunday. What else can I do further to pivot myself into $1M by 30.

    PS: I joined post IPO and don’t get mind boggling RSUs like some of our engineers do. Current networth excl. RSUs $250k. Not married, no kids, no property, no loans. 50% in VTI, 20% Elon et al, 20% cash, 10% BND.

    Best case ~$500-700k by 30 (pathetic). Not even enough to buy a fkin 1 bedder.

  46. Big 4 Software Engineer says

    “It is nearly impossible to find this type of talent. This is both a blessing and a curse if your skills lie in numerics.”

    The dichotomy between Numeric and non-Numeric types is shockingly large, to the point where both groups seem to greatly resent each other for no good reason. I’m not claiming to be the best Numerics guy out there, but since you guys aren’t pure numbers people, let me shed some light on why that 99/100 bet is accurate.

    Put simply, engineers are a socially awkward bunch because risk taking has never been necessary for them to succeed. Anyone engineer in the top 5% of both math and CS talent will easily be making $300k by the time he’s 30. Yet that $300k is not the result of generating cash flow by client acquisition or product development but rather the result of an incredibly skewed labor market that cannot keep pace with the demand for the profession. You pay him $300k because you will not find someone capable of doing that work for anything less. I phone screen candidates every month that were approved by our tough HR process and in a good month maybe 20% get to the next round. The talent just isn’t there.

    Being social in any capacity requires taking risks, even if they’re small. Dating especially requires taking risks and failing multiple times before you finally start getting the hang of it. Having more or less cruised through high school and through top math and CS programs, the best Numerics guys are loathe to do things that require actual risk taking to be rewarded. They’re used to the easy gratification of academics that persist into the software job market. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’ve met many engineers who see asking a woman out or throwing a party as unbearably risky propositions. It doesn’t help that many successful engineers have these flaws (they reinforce the idea that this behaviour is normal).

  47. Software Sales Guy says

    Interesting dilemma:

    Going into a B2B software sales role, so obviously ‘intent’ will be what I spend 90%+ of my time on.

    My ‘numerics’ skill level is probably 7/10. I’ll never be good enough to be a quant, but I’m good with numbers and have no trouble with the math that was involved in investment banking.

    Given this, would learning programming/coding be a waste of time? I’ll never be good enough to be a high end software engineer…but should I still have some substantial understanding of computer science so that I’m not completely blind as to how the software product I sell works?

  48. Beckett says

    Thanks for this article. I’m already studying computer science at college and in my free time I do affiliate marketing.

    What I’ve realized is that I’m not very good at programming and I’d like to work in the affiliate marketing space in future and not in programming.

    What would you advice guys, keep studying and get a computer science degree or dropout/change major to marketing ?

  49. Andrew says

    Just asking for guys of my age here (20 years old):

    is any of you studying engineering and found out that your main intelligence is Sales instead of engineering ?

    What did you do guys in this situation ? Changed major or dropped out and got into Sales?

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