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A Phone Call That Changed My Life For Good

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Despite the pandemic and a bear market making things difficult for so many, there is still so much to be thankful for.

We need to all be thankful for the luck we’ve had so far. Personally, I’m thankful for luck. The more we can recognize luck in our lives, the happier we will be.

I’ve been a super-optimist all my life and I plan to continue being one until the day I die…. a 100 years from now.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to re-share one extremely lucky event that occurred in my life. Without this lucky event, my life today would be totally different.

Thankful For Luck That Changed My Life

The year is 2001 and the Nasdaq, down 50%, just celebrated its one year anniversary of hitting its peak. I’m finishing up the second year of my analyst program at GS, paranoid that I won’t be getting a offer back for my third year.

I always knew my chances for getting a third-year analyst role were slim since only strong performers get to continue. Unfortunately, I was an odd duck who didn’t belong at one of the best investment banks in the world at the time.

I dressed poorly because I didn’t know better as a public school kid who never had to dress up. Once, my VP barked at me, “Get that dog collar off your neck!” referencing a Hawaiian puka shell necklace my girlfriend had given me. I guess there is a benefit of going to an expensive prep school after all.

I annoyed people. 

One time, I was humming something indistinguishable while reading some research material. An MD on the Latin America desk named Michelle told me to keep quiet. She was the same MD I had had to get permission from to buy an MCI Worldcom call option. The option quickly went to zero after my purchase.

I’m sure she thought I was an idiot.

There was a reason why I had to go through 7 rounds and 55 interviews to get my job. No desk wanted me. I was an outsider who was forced into their vaunted club by a recruiter named Kim Purkiss. She plucked me out of a career fair and I owe her so much.

The Secret Phone Call That Determined My Fate

As an analyst on the sales trading floor, one of my jobs was to pick up and screen phone calls for all our senior colleagues. Our desks were arranged in I-formation, with my boss sitting at one base of the I and me sitting on the side. His face was always obscured by a couple Bloomberg trading monitors. We communicated by shouting.

At 9 am, my boss’s phone rang and I hit his button on my large 20-line turret as quick as lightning. The trading floor was buzzing with activity in anticipation of the market open at 9:30 am.

Hello, can I speak to Tom, please? It’s Jim,” said the man on the other end. Jim was calling from Hong Kong, where it was 10 pm. Jim was the Head of the Asian Equities business at the time. He was the big, big boss.

Hi Jim! It’s Sam. Nice to hear from you. It’s late there. Hope all is well. Let me see if Tom is available. One sec.” I blurted out, nervous like a middle school boy trying to talk to a girl.

I zoomed in between Tom’s monitors and saw he was staring at his screen while pounding away at his keyboard.

Tom! Jim is on line one!” I yelled as the buzz on the 49th floor of 1 New York Plaza started to crescendo.

Wall Street Trading Desks In
[Sales traders sat in I-formation]

Overheard The Danger Of Being Let Go

Tom didn’t acknowledge my call, but he picked up the line by saying “hello.” Not wanting to hang up on big bossman Jim in the middle of the night in Hong Kong, I stayed on to ensure they connected.

In the past, I had sometimes accidentally hung up on the caller before a teammate hopped on. Our phone turrets were confusing as hell.

Jim immediately blurted out after Tom said hello, “I need to talk to you about new third-year analyst opportunities, including Sam’s. We need to make a decision on whether to keep him or not.

My ears perked up! Ethically, I should have hung up. But out of sheer curiosity and survival, I pressed mute instead. My future depended on it.

Jim, it sounds like we have a position open in Taiwan? But I don’t think Sam would be a good fit, despite his Mandarin skills. He’s unfocused because he’s always trading stocks while at work.

Oh crap! I knew all my day trading would come back to haunt me.

I was already given a talk a couple times before about how I was spending too much time trading stocks, and not enough time focusing on my job. It would have been a dream come true to move to Taiwan to work.

OK Tom, we’ll look elsewhere to fill these open positions. Guess that’s it for Sam. Goodnight.

My heart sank. My boss didn’t like me and I knew my days were numbered. It was mid-April, 2001.

On The Hunt For A New Job

Knowing my last day for employment would be sometime in June was depressing. It felt like I was waiting for the electric chair, especially since we were in a bear market.

Some people I knew were starting to get laid off and I was starting to panic mentally. Tom, my boss, hadn’t explicitly told me I wouldn’t be asked back. But I wasn’t going to wait to see if he did.

That evening I went home and brushed up my resume and looked for new job opportunities in New York City. One opportunity did come up, another analyst role on Bear Stearn’s Asian Equities desk.

I visited Bear Stearns the next week to meet with Toby and the rest of his team. The space was even more cramped than the cramped offices we had at GS.

Bears Stearns felt like a let down, but I had no choice but to play along if I wanted to remain employed.

The Lucky Break Came

There didn’t seem to be a sense of urgency for Bear Stearns to hire me in the current environment. As I was waiting on a next round of interviews in early May, another phone call came in. This time, there was no need for me to pick it up because Elaine, the GS VP sitting next to me did.

During my job interview process, Elaine had been my harshest interviewer. A graduate of Barnard College and The Wharton School of Business for an MBA, she was a strong woman you did not want to cross. Just when I thought I had gotten the job, she requested to interview me again over coffee and asked more grilling questions.

My lack of pedigree didn’t seem to sit right with her. But she eventually gave me the green light. More than two decades later, Elaine is still working in finance as a senior managing director. Impressive!

She Passed Over The Phone

After about a minute of conversation, Elaine said while on the phone, “I think you might want to speak to my colleague here.” She turned to me, told me to pick up the phone and have a chat.

I was confused, but I did as I was told. On the line was a guy named Michael. He had a nervous stutter.

Hi there. Your colleague Elaine said you might be interested in working for a competitor covering west coast clients in San Francisco. Are you interested?” Michael said.

Are you kidding me? Hell yeah, I’m interested! I thought to myself. But I didn’t tell him that. Instead, I responded calmly, “I’m not sure Michael. I’m in a really good spot here. The offer would have to be extremely compelling for me to leave.

Sure, I understand. Let’s talk more in private when you’re off the desk about what it would take to make you move.” Michael responded.

I was thrilled! I turned to Elaine after I had hung up and thanked her. She was looking out for me because she also knew my days were numbered.

The Job Offer, So Thankful

A couple of weeks later, I took a day off in order to fly out to San Francisco and meet the team at Credit Suisse on a Friday. This was at the end of May 2001, a month before I was to be let go from Goldman.

They were a great group of fellas and I especially liked the guy I was going to work directly under. Bart was intelligent, hardworking, and loved to enjoy life. At Berkeley, where he went to undergrad, he was the Bud Light rep on campus. Everybody loved hanging out with him.

One thing led to another and the new firm offered me everything I had asked for:

  • An Associate title, reserved for those who had gone to business school or those who continued to be strong employees after finishing their third or fourth year as an analyst.
  • A 64% base salary raise to $85,000 from $55,000.
  • A guaranteed bonus of $50,000 for the year, even though there would be only six months left if I joined.
  • Subsidized housing for two months and $6,000 for relocation expenses
  • More responsibility and career upside

I went from being out on the streets in a month to getting a raise and a promotion in a new city with a new firm! This series of events was absolutely one of the luckiest turnarounds of my life.

When it’s all said and done, that one phone call may have been worth tens of millions of dollars.

Didn’t Waste The Opportunity

Getting a better job right before I was about to get laid off felt like I was playing with the house’s money. Therefore, I decided to take full advantage of the opportunity.

For the next seven years, my boss and I competed against my old firm and we often won. When my boss decided to leave to a large client, I ended up running the business and hiring a couple of people to work for me for the next four years. That was another lucky break.

Of course, since my boss and I had such a good relationship, we ended up doing a lot of business together. As we get older, our network gets stronger.

I ended up working at Credit Suisse for 11 years. It was a fantastic ride that culminated with me engineering my layoff in 2012. I was so thankful they allowed me to keep 100% of my deferred compensation.

In retrospect, I may have had the opportunity to join Bear Stearns if I stayed more patient. However, if I did, my career would have been cut short given Bear Stearns went under on March 16, 2008.

Be Thankful For Luck

It’s easy to get down on ourselves, especially during a bear market or a pandemic. I’m my worst critic by far. But sometimes, we’ve got to look back and appreciate all the good that has happened to us. Let’s not take our good fortune for granted.

If you want to be more thankful, try give writing a go. Being able to write about my time earning only $40,000 a year in Manhattan reminded me of this lucky memory that had so long been shelved away. Writing will extend your life because you will remember more of it.

Finally, I strongly believe the more thankful we are the happier we will be. When we have unreasonable expectations, don’t appreciate what we have, and constantly compare ourselves to others, we lose our happiness.

Stop focusing on the negatives. Think about all the lucky breaks you’ve had in your life. If you do, I’m sure you’ll become more thankful and happier as a result.

I’d love to hear about your lucky breaks in the comments section below!

Manage Your Luck Better

One of the best things about investing is that the longer you invest, the luckier you will feel. At some point, the money you make will feel like free money since you didn’t do anything to earn it.

As you build your wealth, you must diligently track your wealth. Check out Personal Capital, my favorite free tool for tracking your net worth, x-raying your portfolio for excessive fees, and planning your retirement.

I’ve used Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket since, partially thanks to better money management. Link up all your financial accounts and feel the power of managing your finances all in one place.

Personal Capital is free to sign up and use for everyone.

Personal Capital Market Movers Tool

Related posts about being thankful:

The Best Financial Move I Made Is Something Everyone Can Do

The Best Time To Work May Be During Or After A Pandemic

Readers, what are you thankful for this holiday season? Please share a lucky break that you may have forgotten or taken for granted until now. If you’re interesting in reading more finance-related stories, you can join 55,000+ others and sign up for my free newsletter here.

A Phone Call That Changed My Life For Good is written by Financial Samurai for

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IRS Out For Blood More Than Doubling Penalty Interest

IRS taxes increase

In a blatant act of financial tyranny, the IRS is intensifying its assault on hardworking Americans by shamelessly jacking up the interest penalty on underpaid taxes from a pitiful 3% to an exorbitant 8%. This calculated move, recalibrated quarterly, serves as a stark reminder of the insatiable appetite of the IRS, an oppressive behemoth relentlessly extracting every last penny from citizens already shackled by burdensome taxation.

Specifically targeting non-corporate taxpayers, the IRS demands the federal short-term rate plus an additional three percentage points, a blatant money grab that directly targets struggling self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and gig economy workers. These individuals, already grappling to make ends meet, find themselves in the crosshairs of a government voraciously hungry for more of their hard-earned wages.

For those daring to resist this blatant financial coercion and falling short on their payments, brace for the punitive underpayment penalty. There’s a meager concession – if the amount due is under $1,000 after begrudgingly considering credits and other tax factors, citizens might receive a temporary reprieve from the claws of the taxman.

This audacious maneuver puts the self-employed and independent contractors in the IRS’s oppressive grip, coercing them to make quarterly estimated tax payments under the looming threat of severe financial retribution. The January 16, 2024 deadline for the fourth quarter of 2023 is fast approaching – a date that casts a dark shadow over those grappling with the suffocating weight of government overreach.

While the regular W-2 employees might momentarily sigh with relief as taxes are conveniently siphoned from each paycheck, tax experts issue a stern warning against such complacency. Joseph Doerrer, a CPA and financial planner from New Jersey, challenges individuals to scrutinize their tax situation, posing the provocative question, “Are you where you should be?” A question that echoes as a stark reminder of the government’s overreach into the pockets of hardworking Americans.

One taxpayer, Sameet Durg, found himself blindsided by an underpayment penalty reaching into the thousands – an unwelcome surprise that serves as a chilling testament to the relentless demands of the IRS. Durg, a marketing executive, now watches his finances with unwavering vigilance, refusing to endure a hefty hit come April.

As the IRS unabashedly cranks up the interest penalty, taxpayers are left grappling with the heavy-handed tactics of an agency that seems insatiable in its quest to confiscate more of their hard-earned money. This move underscores the urgent need for citizens to vehemently resist the oppressive tax regime, actively defy the IRS’s overreach, and reclaim sovereignty over their wages.

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GUILTY! Sam Bankman-Fried Faces Over 100 Years in Prison

GUILTY! Sam Bankman-Fried Faces Over 100 Years in Prison

( – Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty of all charges related to the collapse of his Bitcoin exchange, FTX.

“A New York jury in Manhattan federal court agreed with prosecutors that Bankman-Fried defrauded investors, customers and lenders in connection with the collapse of his crypto empire,” reported Fox Business.

“Prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried, who founded and controlled both FTX and sister hedge fund Alameda research, of misappropriating and embezzling billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits, scheming to mislead investors, and instructing other executives at his businesses to do the same,” it added.

Bankman-Fried was charged with five charges of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud in the first two criminal trials.

The maximum sentence for each crime was 110 years in prison.

The hearing for Bankman-Fried’s sentence has been scheduled for March 28.

The Southern District of New York’s U.S. attorney, Damian Williams, commended the decision and said that Bankman-Fried “perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.”

“The cryptocurrency industry might be new, the players like Bankman-Fried might be new,” Williams said. “But this kind of fraud, this kind of corruption, is as old as time.”

NBC News gave some background information and historical context before the decision:

“FTX and Alameda quickly collapsed in November 2022 after some of their financial liabilities were exposed.

The fact that Alameda had taken billions of dollars from FTX’s customers and that much of Alameda’s balance sheet was comprised of digital currency assets it had created was central to the case against Bankman-Fried.

Unnerved by disclosures about the firm’s financial position, many of FTX’s customers tried to get their money back. That set off the equivalent of a bank run.

The value of Alameda’s investments crashed, and FTX couldn’t return much of that money because it had been given to Alameda. Some went to the fund’s lenders, and billions were spent on sponsorships, commercials, and loans to top executives. That, too, was a major part of the case against Bankman-Fried.”

Following the collapse, more FTX and Alameda executives were prosecuted, including former CEO of Alameda Caroline Ellison, co-founder of FTX Gary Wang, and chief technology officer of FTX Nishad Singh.

All three pleaded guilty, agreed to cooperate, and testified against Bankman-Fried.

In exchange for their cooperation, they will receive less severe punishments.

In his defense, Bankman-Fried stated that he never intended to deceive anyone and that, following the failure of FTX and Alameda, the government had been searching for someone to blame.

“Mr. Bankman Fried maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him,” Mark S. Cohen, counsel to Bankman-Fried, said in response to the verdict.

Williams stated that he hoped the conviction would be an example for others.

“It’s a warning, this case, to every single fraudster out there who thinks that they’re untouchable, or that their crimes are too complex for us to catch, or that they’re too powerful for us to prosecute, or that they could try to talk their way out of it when they get caught,” Williams said. “Those folks should think again.”

Copyright 2023.

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Brutal ‘Bidenflation’ Has 1 in 6 Retirees UNRETIRING

Brutal 'Bidenflation' Has 1 in 6 Retirees UNRETIRING

( – According to an analyst, “Bidenflation” may be a long-term issue, leading one out of every six pensioners to contemplate retiring early.

It will undoubtedly persist if Biden wins re-election.

In the far-left USA Today, Patrice Onawunka laments the possibility that the “financial insecurity” brought on by inflation—which was brought on by “reckless federal spending”—will last forever.


“People have connected the dots between ill-advised government policies and harsh economic outcomes. Spending nearly $2 trillion on government transfers to almost every household during supply-chain disruptions and exacerbated labor shortages caused inflation to accelerate. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and other production disruptions worsened it.

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats passed a climate change bill that they falsely labeled the Inflation Reduction Act in hopes of fooling Americans, especially seniors.

The bill never addressed rising food, housing, or energy prices — households’ most basic and critical needs. Any climate savings would take years to come to fruition and could be offset by new costs for families — tens of thousands of dollars — on new electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, the green subsidies cost more than three times what the law’s supporters claimed.”

What could be crueler than adopting a law that does the exact opposite and is titled the Inflation Reduction Act?

55 percent of those who have already had to un-retire claim it was because they needed more money.

The White House and corporate media continue to lie to us by promising that the inflation issue will pass quickly, yet nothing ever appears to change.

Everything’s cost is skyrocketing especially housing. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is exerting every effort to keep inflation high. The federal government spends like a drunken sailor, which cheapens money.

Even worse, Biden has permitted countless millions of illegal immigrants to enter our nation, which raises the price of housing by increasing demand for limited items like housing.

Housing is a necessity, Onwuka tells us, unlike other discretionary expenses. Rent costs in America are rising, disproportionately affecting older folks and those with low incomes, especially those on fixed budgets.

In addition, she states that “10 million households headed by people aged 65 or older spend more than a third of their income on housing, and half of these pay more than 50%.”

See what happens when you factor millions of illegal immigrants into the housing problem.

Biden punishes Americans who have lived by the book, paid their taxes, saved money, and worked hard. He is putting the interests of millions of illegal aliens—who raise demand for everything and drive up prices for everything—above the interests of those Americans.

“In a little over four years, I intend to retire. I’ll never be wealthy, but since I started my first 401K in 1994, I’ve been setting money aside for that moment. I enjoy both my job and my coworkers.”

That isn’t the problem. The dream is the problem… the desire to live out your third act with the freedom and resources to do whatever you want.

Similar actions are taken by many working Americans who save money and forgo immediate enjoyment to prepare for their elderly years. As a result, I find it difficult to understand what it must be like to enter a dream before having it destroyed.

The anguish of coming out of retirement, returning to the grind, and facing Monday mornings all over again escapes me.

The only idiots, child abusers, and masochists vote Democrat.

Copyright 2023,

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