Sliding Doors

Famed behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman died two weeks ago at age 90. You probably heard about it even if you live outside the finance and economics bubble. Kahneman is a Nobel laureate who co-authored the seminal paper Prospect Theory with his research partner, Amos Tversky. Prospect Theory identified loss aversion for the first time and quantified that financial losses hurt twice as bad as equivalent financial gains. You can trace almost every irrational human behavior regarding money back to this concept. Kahneman and Tversky were the first to observe it.

Side note: One of the most underrated Michael Lewis books, The Undoing Project, tells the story of the beautiful research partnership and friendship between Kahneman and Tversky.

While running errands this weekend, I heard part of an interview Danny gave to Shankar Vedantam on NPR’s Hidden Brain. The host asked him a beautiful question; “How much of your career success do you attribute to skill versus luck?” The perfect question for the perfect guest. Kahneman replied that, of course, some skill was required, but he enjoyed studying how much luck is involved in all facets of human life. He defined luck as the people you meet and interact with along the way.

Would Daniel Kahneman be the grandfather of behavioral economics if not for his relationship with Amos Tversky? Likely not.  My mind began racing with how luck has shaped my career thus far.

As I think through the series of lucky events that led me to become an advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management, I am reminded of the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. If you’ve never seen this late 90s fantasy drama, I won’t ruin it. Suffice it to say there are two alternate realities for Gwyneth’s character: the one where she makes the train and the one where she misses the train as the sliding doors close her out on the platform. “Mind the Gap” has never had such a poignant undertone.

There have been many sliding doors in my career, so I’ve tried to narrow them down to a few that seem critical.

Broker-Dealer Start. If I hadn’t started my career at a major wirehouse, I might never have worked for the broker who was friendly with Barry Ritholtz. Luck in the universe works in mysterious ways. Meeting Barry early in my career made a significant impact on my eventual decision to join the firm more than a decade later.

Moving to New Orleans. If I hadn’t met my husband, I’d still be working at a prior employer in New York. Career-wise, I would take this option. That firm has grown into an impressive firm over the years, and the founder, Michael Goodman, remains a mentor of mine. I’d be an advisor and planner, working with amazing clients and talented co-workers. I wouldn’t be writing the Belle Curve, but I have no doubt I’d be writing some form of client communications. I cannot choose this option because it means not marrying my husband and having my children. I may have another family in this alternate reality, but they’d be different. I cannot imagine it.

The Bird App. I owe so much of my career to the little social media app with the bird logo that allowed us to share messages no longer than 140 characters. Without Twitter, I would never have found an audience to share my writing. Jerry Kerns of Morningstar might never have featured me in a magazine profile. Media appearances snowballed into speaking engagements and an op-ed in the New York Times. One such media appearance was a spot on the Investment News 40 Under 40 list with none other than Ritholtz Wealth’s CEO, Josh Brown. Occasional meetups with Josh at industry events led to a friendship, and I inevitably joined the firm.

Appearing on CNBC with Kelly Evans and Dominic Chu after publishing my op-ed.

Without these three sliding doors of serendipity, I would still be an advisor. I’m sure I’d have pursued the CFA Charter and the CFP(R) designation to further my technical skills. I’d likely have a successful and fulfilling career. But it would lack the excitement and sizzle factor of being onboard a rocketship startup from the semi-early days.

Love pushed me out of my comfort zone, where I built a new life in New Orleans. Twitter allowed me to amplify my voice and build a brand as a leading voice in the industry. Luck brought introductions to Barry and Josh years before I knew I wanted to join their firm. I am grateful daily for the opportunities that luck has provided me. In this big universe of colliding atomic particles, I bumped into a couple of stars, and the rest is history.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This content, which contains security-related opinions and/or information, is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in any manner as professional advice, or an endorsement of any practices, products or services. There can be no guarantees or assurances that the views expressed here will be applicable for any particular facts or circumstances, and should not be relied upon in any manner. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment.

The commentary in this “post” (including any related blog, podcasts, videos, and social media) reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Ritholtz Wealth Management employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded the views of Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. or its respective affiliates or as a description of advisory services provided by Ritholtz Wealth Management or performance returns of any Ritholtz Wealth Management Investments client.

References to any securities or digital assets, or performance data, are for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others.

Please see disclosures here.

No Responses