As an entrepreneur myself, I’m always interested in seeing how others got started. Marc Perry and I have connected in the past but I never really knew about his life prior to creating BuiltLean.com and considering he used to work in finance as a hedge fund manager no less, I thought it would be interesting for him to share his story with us. After reading the story myself, Marc and I have very similar values and I can fully understand why he left a very lucrative career in finance to start his own company from scratch. Marc recently retooled his first major product that I actually used last year as a test case to lose 30+ lbs, BuiltLean Transformation.
How Much Money Do You REALLY Want?
Do you know the answer to this question?
I’m going to share with you how my experience working in the hedge fund industry, which is one of the most exclusive, high paying industries in the world shaped my perception of money and how much money I want to make. I hope that sharing my story will help you think critically about how much money you really want.
I was able to break into the lucrative hedge fund world right out of college, primarily because the man who hired me (who was worth tens of millions of dollars) liked that I played lacrosse at Yale. It turned out he loves lacrosse too and loved the idea that I could help coach his son’s lacrosse team. I got lucky!
So why are hedge funds so lucrative and what the heck are they? Well, a hedge fund is simply an unregulated pool of money in which only wealthy individuals and institutions can invest. It’s the creme de la creme of the finance world, even after experiencing a tidal wave the last couple of years. Hedge funds are so lucrative because they make money by charging a percentage of their total assets as a “management” fee and then also take home a piece of the profits, known as a “performance” fee.
So let’s say you’re a hedge fund manager managing a $1B hedge fund and you charge the standard 2% management fee and a 20% performance fee . Let’s further assume that you had an investment return of 10% for the year on the $1B you manage. In this scenario, you would take home a cool $40M ($20M for the management fee and $20M, or 20% of the $100M investment return). Not bad, right?
I met too many managers to count who were making this type of money, saw their estates, and was able to peak into the lives of the super wealthy. I came from an upper class household with my dad being a successful doctor, but he didn’t make anywhere near the kind of money these guys were making. I had a buddy who received a $200K bonus from the hedge fund where he worked, and he was only a couple years out of college.
I originally went into the hedge fund industry because I wanted to get some financial experience so I could one day start my own company, but I was quickly lured into the promise of making millions and having a lifestyle you see on TV. I became obsessed with making a killing and anything less would be a disappointment. I was just out of college, and I couldn’t believe I was interviewing CEO’s of major companies who were themselves multi-millionaires and twice my age, and they were courting me.
One day, my boss asked me if I knew about the Golden Rule, to which I confidently replied, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. He paused for a second, looked at me like I had four heads, then replied firmly, “No!”. He continued, “Those with the gold make the rules”.
It turns out hedge funds have a lot of gold. When you work in finance, and especially a hedge fund, your job is about money; you manage money, you invest it, you come up with ways to make more and you think about ways to hedge your risk of losing it. Most people don’t go into finance because they think it’s fun, because it’s not. The hours are brutal, on average at least 12 hours per day and it’s a high pressure job. The decisions many finance professionals make directly earn, or lose money on a daily basis so you have a lot of highs and lows. It’s all about making money, that’s the culture. If you make a lot of it, then you are well respected. If you don’t, well than you’re not going to get much respect to say the least.
After my second job at a hedge fund 5 years into my career, I considered looking for another to make more money and find a more established fund. I went on a bunch of interviews at some high profile funds, and when I came home, I thought that each position looked less interesting and more miserable than the last position. It became painfully obvious to me I didn’t want to be a hedge fund manager.
I could probably find some way of being happy in the hedge fund industry making a great living, but I really didn’t enjoy the work. It was just too intangible and analytical for me and I’m a very right brained, creative kind of guy. I wanted to build something and help other people in a more tangible way. I also couldn’t stand the prospect of being tied to my desk for the rest of my life just because the markets were open, obsessively checking stock quotes. I wanted to have more control of my time and how I spend it, which is simply more important to me than a certain amount of money.
I ended up doing the unthinkable and left the hedge fund world despite a solid 5 years of building up equity in my career and spending too many late nights working to count. I went from eating filet mignons at investor meetings, to running around New York City as a personal trainer training clients in their apartment gyms in order to barely survive. There were many reasons that I left the finance world, but I honestly believe the greatest thing I can offer the world is my passion for and knowledge of fitness. I believe I have the ability to help inspire millions of people to improve their health.
So after this whole experience, what money means to me is freedom to spend time on things that I enjoy. I’ve never gotten a lot of satisfaction from buying “stuff”, I would much rather spend money on experiences. One of my life goals is taking friends and family on a once in a lifetime trip (still working on the details) where I pay for everything. That’s something that gets me really excited.
While I believe that relationships and experiences is what matters most to me, I must admit I’m a workaholic and sometimes I feel like a slave to money, which ends up affecting my social life and my relationships. Right now, I’m struggling to grow a business while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I can tell you with certainty a HUGE motivator is to one day have the freedom to go on vacation when I want, hang out with friends and family on a whim, spend time with my kids when I start a family one day, and make a difference in the lives of others.
Sometimes the financial pressure I feel is incredibly intense and I often feel overwhelmed, but I know what I’m doing is worth it. I know what I want, how I want to live my life, and the amount of money that would allow me to have the freedom to enjoy life to its fullest.
I think understanding how much money you really want is not a simple question because it requires that you understand what makes you truly happy and fulfilled, and how you want to live your life. If you don’t have this understanding, you’ll be running on a treadmill, stressed out, and unsatisfied no matter how much money you can acquire.
Marc Perry is the founder of BuiltLean.com, which helps busy people lose fat to reveal their potential with time efficient workouts and nutrition strategies. You can follow Marc on twitter @BuiltLean, connect with him on the BuiltLean Facebook Page, and watch him on YouTube, BuiltLeanTV. br>