Seth Klarman's Career Advice

We recently transcribed this wonderful interview with Seth Klarman. Members can view it here.

In the interview he was asked about work-life balance and gave this wonderful story and anecdote.

When I was graduating business school there was a huge peer pressure to go to an investment bank, that the goal of every single person in my class of 82 HBS seemed to be working for Goldman Sachs. When I looked around and I had those interviews to see what everybody else was so excited about, and you looked at the partners, I thought there was huge information there, that the partners were basically a 100% male, almost a 100% divorced, almost a 100% fat and almost a 100% bald, and that didn’t seem like something to give away your best 10 or 15 years, and then you’d be so lucky as to join that group.

I also thought I’d be good at certain things. Competing a 100 hours a week won’t be one of them, because there’ll always be someone else that can do a 110 hours. But being recognized for what the things I can bring to the table are, in terms a certain investment perspective, a certain discipline, a certain risk aversion that maybe other people didn’t have would be a good thing. All I would say is try to hold out. If you have to work for a couple of years to get the next offer or to get int business school, fine. But remember, your goal’s not to be working a 100 hours a week, your goal is to get into a situation that recognizes you for who you are. If you ever are going to work that hard, try and have it be on your nickel, try to be an entrepreneur, and at least you’re doing it for you, not for somebody else who … You can hold you a better accountable than you can hold a boss accountable. And if you do work that hard at least the rewards will also go to you, so if you can, be an entrepreneur, especially if you’re gonna work that hard.

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