When I tell people that I used to work for the NYSE, I either get one of three reactions:
- WOW, that’s amazing. What was it like?! Can you tell me what stocks to buy? Can we go?
- Oh. (judgmental “Occupy Wall Street” stare)
- Oh. (glazed-over look that says I’m-not-quite-sure-what-that-is-but-I-feel-like-I-should-know)
So, if you fall in the camp of #2, this probably isn’t the post for you. You can email me separately and I’ll lovingly respond the best way I know how. But if you are Responder #1 or #3, I’d love to share with you a bit about my experience and what I learned from each impactful moment there.
For context - I joined the NYSE back in 2013, right in the midst of the IPO boom. Honestly, I really loved working there. The exposure I had to C-level executives internally and externally is probably something I will never have again in my life (unless I get my own talk show, of course…) During my time, I got to meet and interview a host of influencers, nurtured my creative juices and learned the importance of company culture and great leadership.
Here are some bits from my NYSE "highlight reel":
The Alibaba IPO
I had the honor and privilege to work on the biggest IPO in the history of the world. Yes, history of the world ($21.8 BILLION big to be exact). IPO day was insane, but not as insane as the work leading up to it. There was so much preparation that went into that deal, with so many departments working together to make sure we didn't have a Facebook debacle on our hands. (Note: we didn't.) What I learned: Our world is so big, yet so small. Working with a global team was one of the coolest things I have gotten to experience. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is also an incredibly fascinating man. He came from literally nothing and built this massive empire that is putting Twitter, Amazon, and eBay to shame. It just goes to show that drive, vision and the right team can help propel a dream forward. Nothing is impossible.
(Kinda) Eating a Shake Shack burger on the Trading Floor
One of the last IPOs I got to be a part of was Shake Shack. Not only did I get to meet Danny Meyer, but I got to have my face on a bus (see below) as I live streamed the IPO Price Discovery process to Wall Street. Inside, the marketing and events team did a fantastic job making the IPO Day an experience like nothing I had seen before. And, I got some free Shake Shack out of it. What I learned: For all of the companies that make it to this stage, it's a huge accomplishment. Most of the time, companies go belly up before they are even eligible to go public. It was cool to meet the founders and talk to them about their company culture and how that has made Shake Shack the success it is today. Oh, and by eating a burger, I realized I didn't want to be a vegetarian anymore.
Meeting & Interviewing Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon came to the NYSE to celebrate chemical company, Axalta's IPO. I got to sit inside his car, painted by the IPO'ing company, interview him and then chit chat with him a bit after the filming. After we went off camera, he started up a conversation, "So, how'd you get into this?" You're interested in how I got into this?! I'm pretty sure I mumbled some answer about them just throwing me in front of a camera and saying, "Go!" He was so humble and kind. What I learned: Famous people are still people. I know this may sound obvious, but growing up watching these "heroes" on television, you begin to think they are superhuman. But in actuality, they are just like you and I. They just happen to have chosen a profession that is a bit more popular and a lot harder to be successful at.
Spending Thursdays with my co-workers: Every Thursday our group would leave the office at 5PM on the dot. We called it TKR - Thursdays at the Killarney Rose. It was a ritual that I miss quite a bit. It was a bonding experience where I got to learn more about my co-workers - not just on a professional level, but a personal level as well. We’d even get a little adventurous and invite “Special Guests” to show up and join our QT (quality time). What I learned: Culture matters. And it starts from the top. The head of our group who was and is an amazing leader was the first person to rally for TKR every week. Without his support, I don't know if we would've been as tight knit of a team as we were. When I moved on from the NYSE, I made sure that I landed at a place that valued culture as much as he did.
Giving my friends tours of the NYSE
Regardless of what you think about Wall Street, the NYSE is a historical landmark and is full of rich, American history. The building itself has gone through so many transformations. If the walls could talk - I’d love to know what it was like on September 11th, during the Stock Market crash(es), when traders didn’t have technology and what the other traders thought of Muriel Siebert. Inviting friends to tour the Floor was one of the ways I got to share my piece of New York. Not only did I get to show my workplace, but I also welcomed them into snippets of American history. What I learned: A little goes a long way. What seemed so commonplace for me, actually was the highlight of my friends' trips. I learned that even the mundane can be extraordinary.
Honestly, writing this post makes me nostalgic for the NYSE. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have worked there. Who knows what the future holds for the Exchange (and the US economy for that matter), but I’m excited to eventually tell my kids + grandkids about my time there, debunk the myths that the media will probably be feeding them and tell them stories about the people that made/make that place a magical workplace.
I know that I’m an anomaly - someone who left a cool place to work for another great place to work - I recognize that I’ve been very blessed. But. Even if you didn’t like your past jobs, I’d encourage you to think back on them. I bet that if you really reflected on them, you would see how your experience led you to the place where you are today.