Talent? Pshh. Try, hard work!

By: Sasha Sabowitz, Foster Undergraduate

Today was so inspiring! My Trading in Financial Markets class had a guest speaker. He was a Danish trader who lives in London and is quite well known in the financial world.

In his short 45 minute speech, he backed up many thoughts that I had already played around with.

The presentation started out by him showing the success he has achieved so far. He was confident, but not cocky. He showed us simplified charts and calculations so that we could follow/understand complex financial graphs quite easily.

Then he told us he actually flunked out of one of his years of high school. But, during a bout of pneumonia sometime before college, his dad went to the library and got him a  book called “Liar’s Poker.” We were told that book changed his life and inspired him to study hard so that he could work in trading – at this point not even knowing if he had what it took to “make it. ”After reading the book, he said, “I thought, if this guy can make it, so can I…”

Soon after, he left Denmark for England to study at the London School of Economics. He said there were many nights that his friends would want him to come out to the pubs with them but he was very focused on his studies and he attributes his success both in school and his career to his hard work and dedication.

Which brought him to his next slide of four famous public figures known for having talent.  Mozart, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and Andre Agassi. After being asked as a class if these four people had talent, we were told that they, in fact, did not. We just perceive them as talented. Tom believes we do not emphasize enough the hard work and dedication that these figures spent to get where they are today.

Take Mozart for example. He was perceived as a prodigy, a musical genius! But when you look at the facts, it turns out his father was a musician just like him and had forced him to practice since he was a wee little lad. It is estimated he had logged 3000 practice hours on the violin and the piano by the time he was SIX years old.

There is a similar theme with Tiger Woods. His father also played golf and was completely obsessed with the idea of “practice makes perfect.” He even had Tiger enrolled in golf lessons when he was only one year old.

The bottom line is, success/greatness/achieving goals and dreams is not about talent that you are either born with or without. It’s about timing, a bit of luck, and PUTTING HARD WORK into whatever you want to excel at.

Of course this type of determination will take time and trade offs in other parts of your life. For example, Tom said he “unfortunately” doesn’t have kids but he’s good at what he does and that makes him happy. He knows the trade off and is okay with the sacrifices he has made. Very interesting.

Afterwards, I went up to him and introduced myself, even though I was a bit nervous since he is so tall and bold and successful! But he was very nice and thanked me for thanking him for the motivation and inspiration. Today is one of those days that is crucial to remember…