How to Break Your Car Window and Your Fist in One Fell Swoop: Recession-Induced Rage

13 Comments | Investment Banking - Random Misfortune & Mistakes

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90% of my questions lately have been related to the recession, banks failing, and all the other bad news this year.

And while it is traumatic to find yourself suddenly unemployed, it’s also worthwhile to take a step back and find some humor in the bigger picture.

Humor?

Whenever layoffs begin, everyone gets nervous about their own job security – and that can lead to some great stories.

Sometimes, you can even get a broken car window and a broken fist out of it.

Say What?

One senior banker was in the midst of some growing pains on his way from VP to MD.

That’s a tough transition because you go from managing deals (execution) to winning new clients (sourcing), and there’s a constant struggle to balance your time.

This particular VP was quite fearful of losing his job since he hadn’t brought in any business lately and because layoffs were starting.

One day he finally caught a lucky break: one of his old business school buddies worked at a media company that was thinking about a sale.

They had been approached by a much larger company and were considering the acquisition offer on the table.

Step 1: Bring Banks Into the Fold

They thought they were in need of a bank (hint: if you get a good acquisition offer in a downturn, take the offer – you don’t need a bank), so they called this VP and asked him to pitch for the business.

With renewed hopes of not getting fired, he immediately told his Managing Director and seemingly had his job security back – and he hadn’t even used a lifeline yet.

Step 2: Gather the Troops

Luckily I was not involved in this one, having long since “checked out.”

After a weekend of all-nighters, they had a 157-page pitch book for the prospective client. When someone’s pitching to save his/her job, you know you’re going to suffer.

Step 3: Carry the Books Yourself

Normally, Analysts or Associates carry pitch books to meetings.

And then they don’t say anything the whole time.

But the VP was so excited that he made the unprecedented decision to carry the books himself.

This is a bit like an MD jumping into an Excel file to “check your work,” only far more dangerous.

Step 4: Forget the Books

Books in hand, he drove to the meeting (this is LA, everyone drives).

When he got out of his car, he realized he had locked himself out – with the stack of 157-page pitch books left inside!

Panicked, he considered his set of strategic alternatives – just as any true banker would.

Step 5: Retrieve the Books… or Fail to Retrieve Them

There was no time to head back to the office and re-print everything because the meeting was starting in 45 minutes.

He weighed the possibility of leaving the books in the car and losing his job against the possibility of looking stupid and injuring himself.

Concluding that the risk was worth it, he attempted to punch through his own car door window and retrieve the pitch books.

I wrote “attempted” because although he managed to break the glass, he didn’t create a large enough hole and therefore still couldn’t get the books.

This poor risk management ability also explains why bankers tend to be terrible investors.

Step 6: Find Kinko’s… Fast!

He ended up printing everything at a nearby Kinko’s.

Don’t ask me why he didn’t just go there first – I still don’t understand that part of the story.

Miraculously, the VP’s team won the deal and began advising the company in its sale.  All was going well… for the time being.

Step 7: Due to Economic Conditions…

A few months later the VP was laid off anyway.

There were some rumors that this incident was the cause, but others speculated that he was given a different reason altogether:

“Sorry, you’re just not a team player.”

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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13 Comments to “How to Break Your Car Window and Your Fist in One Fell Swoop: Recession-Induced Rage”

Comments

    • says

      Everything on this site is true, though names and details have been altered to protect the characters within, some of whom still work in banking…

  1. IB'er says

    Hey,

    You’ve never told what you’re planning on doing now that you’ve finished your term at your bank. Whats up ahead for you?

    • says

      See the About page and my article on my last day as a banker.

      I am doing a mix of freelance consulting (via this site and other sources) and building my own online businesses, sometimes partnering with others and sometimes doing it independently.

  2. V says

    What exactly is the role of the staffer and his / her role within the hierarchy of banking? Are staffers below associates technically and above analysts?

    • says

      Staffers are usually either Associates or VPs. Basically they assign work to Analysts, and aren’t really “below” or “above” anyone – they’re just there, because they’re just normal Associates/VPs.

      It’s a very unpleasant job and anyone who is not sadistic usually tries to run away from doing it.

  3. Tom says

    This is a pretty comical article. Though it pains me to read of such “successful” individuals with no common sense, when I am doing everything in my power to break into IB with no luck. Now I know there is ‘nothing common about common sense’ but you would figure he would go pick up a rock, brick, or anything else around him to break the window instead of using his hand…SMH

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