Never prepare

. 1 min read

In investment banking, most of your colleagues actively want you to fail. I guess in the pamphlet we would call it a "competitive" environment.

The most hated task in my team was assembling the "takeovers of the week" newsletter. It was the most feared task, because everyone on the floor would try to make the author look stupid by asking tough and obscure questions at the next department meeting.

I was the newest recruit, so naturally the task fell to me. Honestly, I enjoyed the challenge! And I knew exactly what was going to happen. Investment bankers might be cruel, but at least they are predictably cruel.

Before I read out the report, I memorised every detail of every deal. All of the interesting deal structures and all of the tricky legal tactics. Heck, I even went as far to memorise offer prices stretching back months.

I kept up the effort week after week, and slowly built a reputation for being a prepared person with a "good memory" for numbers. Suckers, I can't even remember my phone number! I simply spent more time and effort memorising price points.

Preparation is critical for software engineering too. Move fast and break things is a nice phrase, but that doesn't excuse a lack of preparation or thought. Yes, we're all sort of making it up as we go along, but not reading the agenda before a meeting is wasting everybody's time.

Build a reputation as someone who is always prepared. Be the person who always finishes the action items. Be the person who follows up. Do this week after week, and you'll soon be trusted with more important tasks.

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash.