The Saga of Echo (Briefly)

I generally dislike talking about myself much the less writing about it, but I always find the backstory of any author useful in coloring the story. Below is a short chronicle of experience and background. Hopefully this will be the last such needed.

I grew up in of New York City’s. Born to an immigrant father and a Brooklyn Italian Princess, it was a standard North-Eastern helicopter parent childhood. My mother was locked in the “Keeping up with the Joneses’” lifestyle, but we had a comfortable lifestyle and they afforded me all the books I could possibly read. I credit my love of books to much of my happiness and knowledge in life.

I attended an expensive Northeastern private university with no rational consideration other than it being one of the top business undergrads in general. Failed my way through most math related courses unfortunately, and proceeded to graduate with a degree in Marketing. . As I exited college Post-Great Recession; I had zero job, roughly 40$ to my name, and the added benefit of a perfectly timed parental divorce – and thus unexpected student loan debt.

Unemployment sucks. It somewhat seems cool, and sometimes it may well be. Some of you may have varying experiences, from good ranging to horrible. For me – being unemployed post college when everyone had somewhere to be all day and you are flailing and falling behind in the game of life…sucked. The psychology of that state in life is crushing and the 3 months I was unemployed is up there with the negative associations with “work” that has left its mark on my psyche. I can’t stand the thought of such a feeling again and this likely shapes my opinions making me more risk averse than I should be.

I eventually ended up getting my first job through a Facebook posting. Terrible. 35,000$ flat a year – it was my first foray into Sales but  it was a no name company with no future for me. The dying industry the company was in had me applying to jobs constantly and I quickly made my exit thanks to a college friend in a satellite office at one of the Big Banks. When they say college is worth it for the networking – it absolutely is. This is one of the people I purely drank with and never showed any real skill or value to any company, he was just looking to get a referral bonus out of me. This connection likely was worth the cost of going to school alone, as having a reputable name on your resume truly is powerful in terms of people taking you seriously for no reason. I have had many job interviews purely based on that company name, and up until I moved into my current job I literally and figuratively had nothing of value to offer a business.  

I managed to struggle through a few years of back and mid office positions in a few offices in the Metro area. Though it did suck as i was being paid 47,000$ in basically the highest cost of living location – to be honest I was lucky to have gotten in at all. I lived at home with my father, paid down loans, bought a cool used car cash, started mild savings and did whatever wasteful stuff kids do. Getting your feet under you post-college and establishing some financial base  is extremely helpful. Also,  being with family is worth a million times more than wasting money immediately moving out for “independence” sake. The jobs were pretty menial, data monkey stuff. One of the key things I got practice at was talking on the phone for extremely long periods of time. I would say I can’t currently recognize much of my personal growth during this period, maybe it will be more apparent later.

Having survived numerous rounds of layoffs at Big Bank I figured I would quit while I was ahead. I took what I saw as a large risk at the time and I went to work in sales at a small Technology Startup. A colleague of mine had gone there half a year prior and explained the wonder that is startup land. I finally bit the bullet and it is difficult to imagine going back. Switching from a salary to a commission based compensation plan is something that I advise everyone to do at some point in their lives. Being paid for the value you provide is empowering and the freedom and personal responsibility is fantastic. You can feel the value you provide at a small organization, and it is so inspiring to be around the crowds those HR teams carefully craft. Monthly quotas with a short sales cycle product, I ramped up quickly and saved most of my large commission checks. I had moved out at this point – finding a bedroom for 700$ in a nice nearby neighborhood. The easiest way to ramp up quickly is to just work more than anyone else. I had broken up with a girlfriend and just sat in the office six days a week eating free PB and J’s and Microwaved Grill Cheeses. I broke six figures somehow at 25 and it is a constant fight to stay at the top.

In the interests of brevity, that about gives you more background than needed. I have continued to focus on being within the top 5 sales agents at all times, while avoiding most other responsibilities and enjoying as much time outside of work as possible. Living in NYC it is difficult to maintain constant financial vigilance, but I do my best to maintain a 50% or more savings rate. Through simple seemingly easy decisions about saving I have gone from roughly 30,000$ in debt to roughly ten times that in various investments and no debt over a period of 7 years. Now though as I age, I am more concerned with diversifying my income and have a number of different plans in varying degree of development which I expect to document here. I have attained a reasonable amount of savings with little financial knowledge or math capacity, and I want to help you do the same!