The first and only time I had a microphone ripped from my hand was while speaking to a Goldman Sachs summer MBA class. It was held at an eclectic restaurant in Chelsea. Very casual — dinner and drinks, talk shop for 15 to 20 minutes and then a Q&A. No problem. The firm had asked me to present to their, big-brained kids pretending to be interested in what I was saying. I knew the drill. They were used to an hour or two of "Bond Math" or the A to Z in product courses they were forced to sit through — emphasis on the Z's.
Maybe it was the shots of tequila at the bar, but the urge to tell them what they weren't going to hear from their famous author faculty back at school was tempting. The truth would be refreshing, I thought. But I ended up keeping it PG-13. I mean, it was Goldman Sachs after all. When I wrapped up my speech I noticed a raised hand in the back of the room. The question came from a young man wearing glasses. "If I'm your broker and I want to increase my business with your hedge fund, what's the best thing for me to do?"
"Well," I said, "You can start by taking me to Vegas."
That's when the microphone magically disappeared from my clutches. I guess the Q&A was over.
Maybe I was wrong. Or maybe Goldman Sachs should learn to go commando once in a while. But in the spirit of telling the truth, here's what I wanted to say that day. My core curriculum for a degree in Wall Street Sales and Trading:
INTRO TO BACKBONE REALIGNMENT. This course focuses on intensive lip-biting techniques, skin-thickening treatments and early morning mediation methods to remind you of how great your bosses and customers are. In today's Wall Street world, success can often be attributed more to the things you don't say than what you actually do say.
FUNDAMENTALS OF RESEARCH & ANALYSIS. Students learn the mechanics of how to copy and paste emails, instant messages and Bloomberg messages.
FAUX FRIENDSHIP BASICS. More than ever before, the ability to pretend to like someone is critical for success in sales and trading. Achieving a fake friendship today means not only being adept at smiling and paying compliments, but also understanding likes and dislikes from a strategic point of view and knowing how to effectively present to your target audience. In this course, you will develop and refine these capabilities. If your client or boss is a Cleveland Browns fan, you'd better know they selected Pierre Desir, cornerback, out of Lindenwood in the 4th round of the draft.
CREATIVE ACCOUNTING 101. Expense accounts can be tricky. This course systematically explores the inventiveness necessary to maximize entertaining. Additionally, the course will examine critical opportunities and threats that arise from internal compliance and that freeloading buy side account who never trades for his tickets. Students will apply strip-club scenario planning and synthesize trends in the external environment in the presence of risk and uncertainty.
KING JAMES RETURN STRATEGY 2. If you've ever worked at Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, you've surely heard someone say, "You can only leave this firm once …" It's their job to make you feel grateful to have a job on Wall Street. This class provides the tools to play the gratitude game while leveraging the fact that you could be FOR6IVEN in a Cleveland minute and get your old job back.
THE BOX OUT MASTER CLASS. Inevitably you'll be invited to a charity event or Wall Street pow wow. This course surveys the fundamental concepts and methods of boxing out other sales traders. Application of key techniques including position circling, soft-elbow delivery and conversation dominating are thoroughly examined and practiced. In the cutthroat world of sales and trading, this course is mandatory.
VELVET ROPE MANAGEMENT. One of the keys to success for today's trader is their ability to develop, implement, and accurately evaluate bouncer and wait staff policies. In this course, you will integrate the knowledge from legendary trader stories and prior nights out to develop and sharpen your skills for formulating, deploying and assessing all velvet ropes. The objective is for achieving competitive advantage in the club scene.
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF THE LITTLE THINGS. We all know assisting in a client's hook-up maximizes returns, but in FMOLT, we focus on the small details that are critical to closing a deal. A perfectly great night can be diminished by faulty car service pick up. (A 15-minute delay might cost you 300k shares.) We also discuss the importance of making the call the next morning to ask for the unfilled orders from the previous day. Sales traders also must fully grasp sophisticated concepts and be able to apply them with ease in handling the "I was wrong" phone calls.
BATHROOM ETIQUETTE. Expands on the core principles from the first-year course Elevator Etiquette. We implore a strict no-talking policy. But in the event a managing director makes urinal small talk or asks market question through a bathroom stall, we provide our students with simple tactics to get in, flush and get out.
Commentary by Turney Duff, a former trader at the hedge fund Galleon Group. Duff chronicled the spectacular rise and fall of his career on Wall Street in the book, "The Buy Side." The paperback edition comes out June 17 and Sony bought the TV/movie rights to the book. Duff is currently working on his second book, a Wall Street novel. Follow him on Twitter @turneyduff.