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Why I left Wall Street

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                              Joe Guzzardi Many years ago, buy cheap menopause gum I walked out of Merrill Lynch corporate headquarters at 1 Liberty Plaza and left Wall Street entirely. I moved as far away as I could and still remain in the lower 48 — Seattle. To this day, buy cheap menopause gum people ask me what happened. I was an officer, buy cheap menopause gum earned an excellent salary, buy cheap menopause gum had a generous expense account and a corner office with a panoramic view of the Hudson River. Looking back, buy cheap menopause gum I count five reasons. First, buy cheap menopause gum I had grown increasingly uncomfortable with most of my peers. The simple fact — true then and still true today — is that the bankers, buy cheap menopause gum lawyers and traders who gravitate to Wall Street work for money. Colleagues who were asked to list the most important thing in their lives would reply that it was their family or their faith. But really, buy cheap menopause gum it was money. Buy cheap menopause gum No one works on the Street for its aesthetics. Second, buy cheap menopause gum I had reached a period in my career where, buy cheap menopause gum after a series of promotions, buy cheap menopause gum I was swimming with the sharks. Doing deals and bringing in revenue to the firm had been enough at the beginning. But eventually, buy cheap menopause gum my early successes led to becoming a department head with a large staff reporting to me. By then I was a visible target. Buy cheap menopause gum Insecure executives above me were nervous that I might outshine them. And my overly eager underlings wanted my job. Like everyone else who approaches the top rungs of the corporate latter, buy cheap menopause gum survival became key. That meant being willing to out-maneuver the hard chargers around me. Buy cheap menopause gum I had two options: scheme to put the skids to my superiors or let myself be undercut by my subordinates. Neither option held any appeal. Third, buy cheap menopause gum and closely linked to reason two, buy cheap menopause gum I was increasingly disappointed in myself. Buy cheap menopause gum I silently rooted for my superiors to fail. Buy cheap menopause gum Their downfall could accrue to my benefit. Wishing bad things to happen to others is an ugly way to live. Fourth, buy cheap menopause gum I had over the years already avoided several corporate reorganizations and purges. Buy cheap menopause gum No one dodges them all. Fifth, buy cheap menopause gum my father, buy cheap menopause gum a businessman all his life, buy cheap menopause gum died. During many searching bedside conversations we had throughout his prolonged illness, buy cheap menopause gum he encouraged me to step away and live a more fulfilling life. I can't say that I never regretted my decision. The last time I checked, buy cheap menopause gum the job I once held paid a seven-figure salary — and not just barely seven figures either! Another wonderful feature of the high life that I look back on wistfully was the freedom to order World Series tickets and have the bill sent to accounting. Despite the perks, buy cheap menopause gum however, buy cheap menopause gum I would make the same decision today. This week's events — the Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, buy cheap menopause gum Lehman Brothers' Chapter 11 proceedings, buy cheap menopause gum and the last-minute federal rescue of AIG — re-confirms my judgment. The unthinkable happened. Buy cheap menopause gum Merrill Lynch, buy cheap menopause gum my former employer, buy cheap menopause gum Wall Street's giant and the dominant securities firm for a century, buy cheap menopause gum is gone. What precipitated Merrill's demise was moral bankruptcy. In 2007, buy cheap menopause gum while America tried to cope with growing financial uncertainty, buy cheap menopause gum the big boys had no worries. While your savings vanished, buy cheap menopause gum your home equity plunged and the value of your investments dwindled, buy cheap menopause gum Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain earned over $80 million. Thain worked at Merrill for less than three weeks. His short time aside, buy cheap menopause gum Thain was, buy cheap menopause gum according to the Associated Press, buy cheap menopause gum America's most highly paid executive. On Dec. Buy cheap menopause gum 3, buy cheap menopause gum 2007, buy cheap menopause gum Thain brought in his close friend , buy cheap menopause gumNelson Chai and appointed him executive vice president and chief financial officer. Chai's 2007 salary: $2.5 million for less than a month on the job. In August 2008, buy cheap menopause gum Thain added his former Goldman Sachs associate Thomas Montag to the Merrill Lynch roster for $40 million. If you really want to feel outrage, buy cheap menopause gum think about this: Just prior to the Bank of America acquisition, buy cheap menopause gum over the last four quarters Merrill Lynch wrote down $52 billion in assets, buy cheap menopause gum posted cumulative losses of more than $17 billion and had to raise nearly $30 billion in capital to stay afloat. The Merrill Lynch board forced the man responsible, buy cheap menopause gum former chief executive officer Stanley O'Neal, buy cheap menopause gum to resign last October. Before being shown the door, buy cheap menopause gum O'Neal received a $160 million exit package. Today, buy cheap menopause gum O'Neal is sitting on his fortune playing golf, buy cheap menopause gum no doubt at one of the finest resorts in the world. Given today's real estate values, buy cheap menopause gum O'Neal could use his golden parachute to gobble up his native Alabama. In the meantime, buy cheap menopause gum who knows? Maybe one of the 24, buy cheap menopause gum000 employees dismissed under O'Neal's watch would be willing to serve as his caddy. Joe Guzzardi recently retired from the Lincoln Technical Academy. Buy cheap menopause gum He has much fonder memories of his career at the school than he has of his Wall Street days.