As I write this post it’s Tuesday lunchtime Japan time and the World’s stock markets are having another bumpy day, downwards. Anyone with a significant portfolio must be feeling a tad queazy.
And then my thoughts turn to the tech bubble and the Y2K froth of 1999. (Isn’t it amazing how the mind flits around time and space by just association and emotion!)
Midsummer of that year I remember meeting with a number of headhunters in Tokyo -as I’d been downsized due to a takeover by a conglomerate run by Dennis Kozlowski Tyco.
I figured I would aim for a job with one of the Foreign Banks in Tokyo because a) they pay well and b) they have big, complex networks, and value the technical skills necessary to keep them running.
And if I couldn&‘t find what I wanted by the turn of the century (lol!), then my family and I would head back to the UK and say sayonara to Japan. (All this assumed that the clocks would keep working and the planes stay airborne after 1/1/2000. How funny it seems now!)
Most of these recruitment guys and gals offered the well intentioned advice that it would be difficult to break into Financial Services IT without industry experience.
Well, I didn’t see it that way since networked bits and bytes behave the same whatever the industry. I decided I would just keep knocking on vaults, I mean, doors.
And then I knocked on Annie Chang’s office at IT Consulting.
While she didn’t get me a job, she gave me advice which was far more valuable than a paycheck.
I don’t recall the exact words but here is the jist of it:
Mark, you can certainly get into a bank here. But you might never get out.
The significance of those words hit me two months later when I got the investment bank’s offer letter. Base salary up by 30% from previous company, excluding annual (discretionary) bonus. I was feeling giddy working out how much net income I could accrue.
Do you copy me, Houston?
Just like Parkinson’s law dictates that work expands to fill the time available, the same wisdom applies to increased disposable income. The temptation to spend it and enjoy the lifestyle can be irresistible in the rarefied air of the buyosphere.
Now far be it from me to tell anyone how to spend their hard earned yen /dollars / euros. And if you came to me for career change coaching I would certainly not be telling you what to do with your cash.
Remember, good coaching doesn’t tell you what to do with your life or career, but it can help shine a light on your present reality, and on your potential. Ultimately, it’s still up to you to connect the dots and follow through, with or without a coach.
And that’s how I look at Annie Chang’s words.
She made a telling statement about the reality of working inside the unique salary bubble that is foreign financial firms in Japan. I chose to act on those words and saved most all my bonuses and a % of net income. Seven years of that type of financial prudence (or maybe it’s me Scots roots) go a long way to weakening the yoke of wage slavery and long term debt (aka mortgage). Certainly it’s not the financial independence that comes with ongoing passive income nor the enormous bonuses of front office star traders, but hey, every little helps.
And in a world where no job, career or salaried role is permanent anymore, it is a mind set worth pondering every time your paycheck makes it’s monthly descent through your spending and debts.