The Importance of Follow-up

Recently, I finished reading a book called "Confidence Game". 

It's a book about a famous hedge fund manager (and currently my role model) Bill Ackman. This person, to begin with, has outstanding features. He's tall. He's very handsome. He went to Harvard for both undergrad and MBA. He's worth $1.3B. Yeah, that's almost 7 satellites.

And he started his own hedge fund right after he graduated from MBA. If my memory serves well, he was 26. By the way, I'm24, soon to turn 25.

But what stroke me the most about this guy wasn't his credentials. Rather, it was his diligence, his willpower and mostly, his perseverance. 

So the book is about his hedge fund (then Gotham Partners) casting a doubt on America's biggest bond insurer, MBIA. He was saying that it guaranteed too much CDOs when it had limited assets, and he thought the odds of these CDOs going bust was high. The only reason they were able to stay in business was because of the triple-A ratings the firm received from rating agencies such as S&P, Moody's and Fitch.

Even from the start, it was an uphill battle. Being the biggest bond insurer, the entire country doesn't want the company to fail because they are the insurance provider for bonds when they default

And there is this really young guy claiming that the system is rigged. 

It reminds me of a battle between David and Goliath, except the Goliath is the biggest economy in the world.

Without going much into the details, the battle lasts for a few years. During that time, he reads about 750,000 pages of documents and financial statements on MBIA. He has numerous meetings with important people. What was truly interesting was that once he has an opportunity, he just goes for it. 

There was a part where he haphazardly runs into an influential figure in the elevator. The guy leaves the elevator saying "we should meet up." Maybe he meant that as an amicable, polite way of saying goodbye. But Ackman sets up time the first thing he goes back to his office.

In addition to that, there are multiple other instances where he does something that's so unconventional in terms of following through. That includes sending multiple rounds of emails to people who scoff at him and criticize him severely for being a short seller. Of course, his ego would have hurt. After all, he's just a human being too. 

But he's different from other people in that he never gave up. for a few years. And he was losing money too! But he did not give up. 

I saw a video of him giving a talk at Oxford University. Somewhere in that video, he says "I'm the most persistent man in the world". That moment, I realized persistency is what it takes to be a billionaire. It's one trait that distinguishes a person from the pack. 

As I start applying for finance jobs, I realize that with my credentials and background, it's almost impossible to break into that field. I've sent out LinkedIn invitations, found email addresses and reached out, but I rarely hear back anything. 

If I were still old me, I would've given up. I would've thought "fine, I don't have what it takes. I'll probably have to do something else." But this time, I'm going to do things a little bit differently.

I started keeping a spreadsheet that has the name, email address, and the position I applied to. Next to these fields, I have 4 columns. One for initial outreach, three for follow-up. 

So for every email that I send, I plan to follow up about three times before I pass on. I read somewhere that some people intentionally ignore the first email to see if that person follows up. If he does, then he's truly interested. If not, he's just a mass emailer that bothers people and then disappears.

We will have to see what happens to my job search. But I'm prepared to what's come. After all, I got nothing else to lose. The best case, I get a new job in Finance. The worst, I've brushed off my resume and practiced on my persistence that would serve me well for a long time.



Taeyang YouComment