Friday, June 07, 2019


I recently ran across an article on the blog of Better Investing written by Vitaliy Katsenelsom, CFA and CEO of Investment Management Associates. When I first began publishing articles on our blog in 2006, Vitaliy was an individual who early on connected to some of my content from his blog, ContrarianEdge. Over time our careers paths varied but were driven by our passions. Vitaliy's writings continue to be worthwhile readings.

His recent article caught my attention as I have had an opportunity to have conversations with a few younger colleagues in our firm and we discussed the importance of having a passion for one's career aspirations. Passion for what one does can supply the drive and lead to the success one desires over time. The importance of passion is the fact a key component is it is a strength developed by oneself and that it can't be taught and it is doing something one loves and is developed from within.

In Vitaliy's recent article he writes about his firm's effort to hire an intern. In the past his firm would advertise for the openings and then receive hundreds of resumes. What his firm found was, "We have learned from experience that educational background, prior experience, and even working toward the CFA designation had very little predictive power as to whether a person would end up doing great or just mediocre research." So what change did they make. The firm's approach was focused on finding an individual that had "passion" for investments, the position and learning. Passion can be hard to measure so the application process required:

  1. List the books you’ve read over last 12 months (not limited to just investment books)
  2. Provide a sample of a stock idea analysis
  3. Write a few paragraphs about two people (dead or alive) who impacted you the most and tell us why
  4. Tell us about three books that have impacted you the most and why; and finally, 
  5. Write us a cover letter to tell us why we’d be making the biggest mistake of our professional lives by not hiring you
Instead of receiving hundreds of resume's they received four dozen and most were simply resumes with a standard cover letter. A dozen met the above noted requirement. The entire blog Vitaliy wrote is a worthwhile read and contains a final "Letter to a Young Investor (or my younger self)"

Recently, I have had the opportunity talk with a couple of graduates looking for jobs and we have talked about the importance of doing something one is passionate about and how important this is in one's long term success. In short, if you love what you do, you have a high likelihood of being successful and the monetary rewards will follow. Conversely, if one is doing something just for the money, life will likely be filled with more disappointments as monetary success does not occur in a straight line.

Whether one is getting started in a career or looking at a career change, pursue your passion.

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