We only get to experience 2021 once. Q1 has already ended, so how would you like to conclude the year? Have you thought about your approach to 2021?
When I first joined Bloomberg, I didn’t have any background in finance. It took me a long time to understand our clients and products. I worked hard at it, and eventually specialized in supporting our equity derivatives products. Sometimes new hires or interview candidates may ask, “Does it matter that I don’t have any finance background?”. You can always build technical knowledge. What matters most is your resilience to overcome the challenge of learning. The second thing which most people neglect to think about is your approach.
"That’s why it’s so important to carve time out each week to actually think about your approach."
The thing is, learning can’t be done in a haphazard way. There has to be an outline for every milestone. Take equity derivatives for example, I started with the book “Options: The Plain and Simple Guide to Successful Strategies” written by Lenny Jordan. I was at the PageOne bookstore in Hong Kong, thumbing through the derivatives books on the shelves. While most books are written in English, it wouldn't have made a difference to me if they are printed in Russian... I just couldn't understand 99% of the stuff written. But that's okay - I picked this book because most sentences made some sense to me then, and now that's a good start.
So the first step is to understand concepts in the book. The next step is actual application - so each week, I’d load up OVME, Bloomberg's OTC derivatives pricer for equity underlying. I was determine to learn one strategy per week. How does payoff look like for that strategy? How does delta change when I shift that volatility? How does gamma change? When someone enters that trade, what are they betting on?
Once you are consistent, it would just click at some point.
The first step is having the right mindset.
The second step is to think first, then have a goal and plan in getting there.
The third step is having discipline and resilience in your follow through.
Often, I feel that the second step is the hardest for me. Why? Because you don’t know what you don’t know. So you don't even know where to start. That’s why it’s so important to carve time out each week to actually think about your approach.
We’ve already wrapped up Q1 in 2021. Have you thought about your approach to 2021?
It’s so important to spend some time thinking about it because it determines whether you’d have a successful year and the new skills you’d pick up.
Here are some questions for you to think about this week:
How many quality books have you read this year?
This question determines whether you are feeding yourself with new perspectives or knowledge. It's not limited to non-fiction. Even good fiction feeds you with empathy and points of view.
What’s one new thing you want to achieve in Q2?
This question provides you with a milestone to stretch yourself in next 3 months, a time frame that’s not too long but not too short either. Personally, I wanted to learn how to build a website in Q1 and this is the outcome from 12 weekends. Woooohooo!
What’s your plan for personal growth?
This question lets you evaluate the gaps you might have in an objective manner. I’d like to increase my range in coaching and mentoring. This means flexing communication style more in people 1 to 1. Having a website now allows me to reach to a wider audience, but it’s also a platform that lets me learn how to write better, position a message better.
What can you do that no one else can do except you?
This question identifies your niche, your own brand. For example, when you don’t understand an equity derivatives question and your first thought is to think of me (hypothetically), I’ve successfully build my brand in that space as the go-to person. What’s your brand?
What does your team leader want from you this year?
This question allows you to align your goals with your team leader. The great thing is, once you are aligned, you can get the coaching from your TL to stretch you to the next level. If you don’t know the answer to this question, you should ask. Seriously.
By thinking through these questions, you are not just going through the motions blindly. It will create a nice momentum into Q2, that ideally helps you build you new perspectives & skills to stretch yourself further in Q3, then Q4. I wish you the best in crafting out the most optimal 2021 experience for yourself!