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from waiting tables to wall street

how i built my career

this is the first time sharing my story in a public way...i hope you enjoy it.

it all kicked off in the summer of 2008. picture this: i just graduated college in new jersey, buzzing with the kind of optimism only a fresh young naive college graduate can have. my university picked me to speak at commencement, which was pretty cool, quite the honor. leading up to all this i was hitting the job application grind hard...i sent my resume to every single hedge fund and private equity fund in new york...maybe not all of them...but at least 30. guess how many got back to me? zero, zilch, about a reality check.

turns out graduating in 2008 wasn't ideal for me...or anyone, really. it was the global financial crisis. jobs were about as scarce as an alien cryptopunk, especially in finance...but i didn't quite grasp the magnitude of the situation until after graduation. that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks - i was about to enter the "real world" unemployed. not exactly the plan i had mapped out.

fast forward a bit, and i find myself at a job fair, clutching my resume like a lifeline. and somehow, by some stroke of luck, i land a job offer. the catch? it's in raleigh, nc, working with a company called ADP and handling major accounts for them in the southeast...not exactly wall street, but hey, a job's a job. no worries though...i was battle tested after working full-time and going to school at night for most of my college career...the hustle wasn't new to me. but this? this was a whole new ball game...all i knew was new jersey...friends, family, relationships - everything.

i take the plunge. i move down to north carolina, buy a new construction townhouse (because why not add a mortgage into the mix), and start counting down the days until my new job begins - i had about 3 months until the start date. and here's where things get interesting...i'm out exploring my new neighborhood and i stumble upon this shopping center with a restaurant that's about to open...there was a sign in the window that said "coming soon".

curiosity got the best of me, and i wander in, only to be greeted by the general manager. he mistakes me for a vendor at first, but i quickly clear that up..."no ser, just new to the area checking everything out," i tell him. he mentions they're opening in two weeks, and without missing a beat, i offer to help out. "you know, i moved here for work but my job doesn't start for 3 months, if you need help waiting tables i would love to do it." he asked me if i have ever waited tables before and i remember his look of surprise when i said "nope, but hey, i've dined in enough of them to get the gist." he told me that all of the staff was already through orientation but would take my phone number down in the event he ever needs any help.

he takes down my number, not promising anything since they've already hired their staff, but hey, it was worth a shot...and would you believe it? not even a week later, i'm at home depot (side note, i only shop at lowes now), minding my own business, when my phone's the general manager from the restaurant...they need an extra pair of hands for their grand opening bc one of the kids who went through orientation never showed up...and guess who's up? me lol. i race home to get changed and head over to the restaurant.

that night was a blur. the restaurant was slammed, and there i was, diving headfirst into waiting tables for the first time in my life. talk about trial by fire. but somehow, i made it through, and the manager even asked me when the night was over if i'd like to stick around and work more shifts. "sure," i said, "but just so you know, i've got a full-time job starting soon."

now, here's where things take a turn for the serendipitous. the next time i'm on shift a few days later, i wait on this couple in a hurry. they're polite, know exactly what they want, and need to be in and out in no time...they were heading to see a show downtown and made it clear this needs to be a quick one...the real shocker comes when the meal was over and i go to swipe their card - an amex black card...made of metal...heavy. never saw one in my life before then. the tip they left on their $47 bill...$100. i got a $100 dollar tip...and was absolutely floored. "thank you so much, ser," i managed to stammer out. "all you need to say is thank you, everything else falls into place after that" he replied...i remember it like it was yesterday.

but me being me, i couldn't just leave it at that. i needed to know more about this guy...i googled him when i got home that night, and lo and behold, he's a big deal in the finance world. tons of SEC filings...hedge funds, private equity, you name it. so, i do what any determined job seeker would do...i call his office the next morning. i actually called twice over three days and was screened out by his assistant and sent to voice mail both times (if you know me feel free to ask and ill tell you what i said in the voice messages, lol). i didn't get a response to either of the voice messages.

but then...little did i know...fate would throw me a bone. i'm at the restaurant again, not working this time...just grabbing some dinner, when the general manager comes over with a glass of wine. "this is from the guy you've been calling looking for a job," he says. i turn around and look...yeah, the same guy, dining with his wife again. i was pretty embarrassed, thinking i'd overstepped by calling him, but he was actually impressed by my persistence. he came up to me after his meal, "you need to call me three times," he joked. "the only person who gets a callback without calling three times is my wife." so, i did. i called again the next morning and this time got him on the line...he invited me in for an hour interview.

i went in, prepped to the nines...with my cheap oversized boxy looking suit...ready to impress. and impress i did...or so i thought. two days later i got a call from his assistant telling me that i am not qualified to work there and that they need someone experienced, licensed, and ready to hit the ground running...i only matched with one of those criteria lmao.

i was pretty bummed that he didn't call me back himself to break the i called him back...screened out again and sent to voice message "ser i dont want to wait for the door to open at your firm...i want to knock the door down...give me a chance" among other things...he still has the voice message saved to this day...epic. he called me back and said "i want you to come back in for another hour interview"...and that i did.

this second interview lasted abt 30 minutes (not an hour). we talked about everything under the sun except what you'd expect in a job interview. it was more like a chat about life, ambitions, and what i wanted out of my career. then he throws me another curveball – "i want you to go find mark robertson...mark is the top guy at an institutional consultancy firm i co-founded...when you find him, ask him what he needed to do to get an opportunity with me...and if you think you can do it i'll give you a shot" i replied "great can you share his contact info with me" - the response i got to that question were the last words of the interview and absolutely classic: "you'll figure it out"...i remember them words being spoke to me so clearly, as if he was sitting across from me speaking them at this very moment.

and figure it out i did...i went down to my car and googled the firm on my blackberry, remember this is 2008. turns out the firm was only a couple miles away so i went straight there basically barging in asking to meet the guy. and just like that, i'm sitting across from robertson, telling him my story, and why i was sent there. robertson got a kick out of the whole ordeal and shared his own story about breaking into the industry, and it's like a lightbulb moment for me.

so, i head back to my car, and i'm back on the phone with the hedge fund guy from the restaurant, telling him i met robertson, and i'm ready for whatever comes next. he was shocked that i was able to get a meeting with robertson literally minutes after he told me "you'll figure it out". i told him what robertson told me and said i want a shot....and just like that, i'm sponsored for the Series 7 exam. there was a catch: pass the exam and i'm promised a job at his firm for one year, fail the exam and "we part ways as friends". two weeks of non-stop studying later, i pass with a 92%. i was basically in tears walking out of the testing center...immediately called my parents to share the of the best moments of my life.

on the drive home i call the hedge fund guy from the restaurant to tell him i passed...he offers me a job for one year, just like that. "when do you want to start?" he asks. "how about tomorrow?" i reply, half-joking. he suggested that we settle on the following monday, and the rest, as they say, is history...

i dive into the world of hedge funds and private equity, learning everything from fund accounting to compliance to investment management to marketing. it's hard work, long hours, but i'm soaking it all up. even had moments of doubt where i wanted to quit, but the hedge fund guy from the restaurant wouldn't let me. and thank god for that. because five years down the line, i make partner. a decade later i was still at the firm...but ready for the next challenge.

crypto was calling my name, and despite my partners at the firm not being on board, i knew it was where i needed to be. so, i resign, and start my own firm...diving headfirst into institutional crypto. fast forward three years, and my firm's growth catches the eye of none other than the company i started with (the hedge fund guy from the restaurant). they're ready for crypto now, and they want in. so, he acquires my firm, and my entity becomes a new division within his company. talk about coming full circle. what's next? we shall see...

this is the condensed version, believe it or not. the details, the ups and downs, the moments of doubt and triumph – it's been one hell of a ride. but if there's anything i've learned, it's that if you want something, really want it, you've got to go after it. no holds barred. so, to anyone reading this, wondering if they should take that leap of faith, do it. the path might not be straight, but the journey? it's worth every step.

the rest of the story and things left out will be worth sharing at some be continued.

(actual names removed from the story to protect the identities of those involved)

in closing, i would like to share a special deep down heart felt thank you to a handful of people that not only inspired me on my path, but changed my life forever...thank you.

-Mark Yusko
-Ben Forman
-Santiago Roel Santos
-David Perkins
-Michael Hudson

forever grateful...and just getting started.


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