Julian shot off some bullets of wisdom the other day and one in particular got me thinking:
The founders of HP once said good companies don’t die of starvation, they die of indigestion. I couldn’t agree more. And great teams are the key to handling growth for great companies.
Doing great work really is all about the team. And it can take up to a couple years for a great team to coalesce.
This reminded me me of the most important lesson from the first couple years of my career:
Just like teams take time to form, you have to spend some time sucking at your job.
I’m 26 so the shock of transitioning from the carefree college lifestyle to the workforce is still clear in my mind. The hardest part of becoming a Real Adult is coming to terms with how out of your depth you are.
I sucked at my first job for a long time.
I went from being an intern writing news stories to managing a newsletter with 10,000 subscribers, running a series of conferences that made millions of dollars, and closing big enterprise sales.
Well, trying to do all of that.
I spent college thinking deep literary thoughts, not learning how to translate spastic emails from clients and bosses.
I spent years producing work that sucked, stumbling through presentations, recommending awful hires, and forgetting crucial things.
In weak moments, I’d look at call center jobs since I figured I just couldn’t cut in a more dimensional finance career. But I kept coming back—I didn’t want to settle for sucking.
Then I finally made peace with sucking during massive learning curve intervals.
How else was I going to take it all in?
Fast forward to about 2 years on the job and I realized I didn’t suck any more. Not so much a Eureka moment as an ability to assimilate most situations in real time.
Daily landmines didn’t make me panic. Instead, I’d become the office warhorse.
Now that I’m on a new tour of duty at The Basis Point, the feeling of sucking is coming back to me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m treading water on our sprawling consumer finance and real estate topics.
I sometimes get caught up in feeling like I need to be the authority on all these topics, but this is where the team part comes in.
Our founder Julian reminds me that the whole point is to be open and show people that figuring out financial matters is harder than it looks, and needs a relatable human voice.
We all kind of suck at finance when we’re early in our careers.
But I’m getting better.
I’m proud of learning how housing data works and using Eminem’s 8 Mile to help you house hunters make sense of it all.
I learned that if you’re too focused on the big national picture when looking for your dream home, you’ll miss out on the critical local stuff right in front of your face.
And I figured out how to translate massive changes in the real estate industrial complex into something you can school your crew on at the bar.
Before joining The Basis Point, I thought I knew a thing or two about consumer finance and real estate. But the more I learn, the more I realize how much more my broke-ass self needs to learn.
At times, this makes me freeze up and I feel like I suck.
But then our team and our deep network of finance experts, economists, and executives comes in and propels me — and our financial literacy cause — forward.
So I’ve learned to embrace sucking at finance. Because in admitting this, I open myself — and hopefully you — to a whole new world of what it takes to build a career and a financial life.
Hope you stay tuned, and below are some recent handy pieces to suck into your brain.
Spencer’s Personal Financial Journey
The Basis Point on the State of Work