A successful Wall Street career requires people skills. In the first place, you need to know who to avoid. Unfortunately, however, it’s not enough to avoid people. There are some people you absolutely have to make your allies.
1. The IT Guys. Everything you do in the office is done on your computer or your blackberry. These guys can make or break you. When you call the IT department, and they tell you something is 'impossible' —like getting access to Facebook or some feature you want installed on your office computer—99.95 percent of the time 'impossible' really means against company policy, or just far too much work for them. But for a friend, the rules can be flexed and the time can be found.
2. The Compliance Department. Compliance departments are the most overworked and underappreciated people on Wall Street. When something is in the 'Pending Compliance Approval' file, having a friend in compliance can mean the difference between being at the top of the pile or the bottom of the pile. Time is money, and greasing the skids with a little good faith will get you a long way. Don’t take this too far: taking a compliance officer to a Knicks game isn't going to keep you out of federal prison if you're ripping off your clients.
3. Maitre d's. Getting a table at a hot restaurant on a Friday night is a skill whose value can't be overestimated—on Wall Street or anywhere else, for that matter. Here's how you do it: Pick a restaurant or two where you'd like to ingratiate yourself. Then start showing up regularly at six o'clock on a Monday or a Tuesday night. Be friendly to everyone, memorize names—and tip generously. Within a few weeks you'll be getting waved to the front of the line when your boss can't get a table. Priceless.
4. Your Boss's Spouse. Having your boss's spouse hate you is a career killer. Common sense tells you that the opposite would likely be highly advantageous. Of course, on the flip side, no one wants to answer this question: "How come you keep writing on my wife's Facebook wall?" Tread lightly with this one.
5. The Cleaning Crew. These folks have the keys to absolutely everything. Literally. Main doors, private offices, storage facilities—the whole shebang. If you ever lock your wallet or your laptop in a conference room, you'll thank me.
6. Security Officers. You definitely want the benefit of the doubt wherever these guys are concerned. Let's say, for example, you show up drunk at the office after the holiday party— to 'punk' a co-worker's desk. Being in their good graces may mean the difference between leaving in handcuffs and getting off with a stern warning.
7. Shoe Shine Guy: This guy goes around to every desk in the office. No one even thinks twice about continuing conversations in his presence—which makes him treasure trove of information. He knows who is meeting with whom, who arrives early and late, and who is spending a lot of money on shoes.
8. Graphics and Production Department: I'll let you in on another Wall Street secret: Nobody actually reads those long and tedious reports you slave over from cover to cover. The trick is to have pretty graphics and fancy paper with expensive looking faux leather binding. Then you just focus your energy on writing the executive summary and you're golden.
9. Executive assistants: Because ninety-eight percent of the executives on Wall Street would be hopelessly lost without them. If you don't know this by now I probably can't help you.
10. Junior Analysts: Here's the thing: The lower down you are on the Wall Street food chain, the more abuse gets heaped upon your head. The smallest acts of kindness will generate the largest return among those who are the most habitually exploited. Make a habit to doing these folks a solid and they'll never forget it. Someday, it may even redound back upon you in a major way. (Note: Contrary to popular wisdom we do not live in a small world: It's a very big world—but we do live on a very small island. The wheel of fortune is fickle: You never know who you might encounter on your way back down.)
Bonus: The guy with the doctor who isn't afraid to prescribe pills. You might think that drugs are only for recreation. You're wrong. The odds are good that you can greatly increase your performance with pills designed to help insomniacs sleep, attention deficient children sit still, or panicky or depressive types remain level headed. Knowing the guy who goes to the doctor who has a flexible diagnosis process is important to getting the right pills. Get yourself an appointment. It's far better than self-medicating with illegal substances.
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