Rat Race (agenda set by others – 1968-2014)
When I turned 16 in 1968 my father took me to our car mechanic and said, “This is my son. He needs to learn how to work and get his hands dirty. I’ll drop him off every Saturday. Here is $100 to cover any damage he does. Don’t pay him anything; he’s not worth anything.”
So for a year I learned how to work, get my hands dirty, and be worth something. That was the most important job I ever had and it did not pay a cent. After that I had jobs as a produce clerk (learned politeness), camp counselor (outdoors and soul-satisfying), stage crew (learned to see celebrities as people), copy-camera operator for newspaper (learned to pull all-nighters), teacher (learned to put thoughts in heads), movie projectionist (boring), and one night I earned $49 loading trucks in a warehouse and then my girlfriend and I spent it hitch-hiking around the country for 3 weeks.
After graduating from Rutgers (Math, 1974) I stuck around the computing center as a programmer for three years (relaxed) before taking a job (1977) in operations research at American Airlines (loads of free travel). AA left me (moved to Dallas) so I joined Interactive Computer Systems (small; entrepreneurial) as head of systems.
Left ICS in 1982 to establish my own consulting firm and my first Wall Street client was Morgan Stanley (they wanted a user’s manual). After a stint at Mobil Oil (bleh) in 1984 I became a full-time consultant to Merrill Lynch (exciting). In 1986 I got an MBA in Finance (expensive waste) and Merrill hired me full-time to be a sort of free-lance inventor of new products and trading strategies (unfocused). Sixteen ideas went nowhere but one finally took off and in 1988 I created Merrill’s first Statistical Arbitrage trading desk (hyper-focused). In 1990 I transferred to Tokyo (grueling and political) and in 1992 left for a brief stint at CS First Boston (very unpleasant).
I consulted to Merrill and Morgan Stanley again from 1993-95 (piece of cake) before coming to Maple Securities from Dec 3, 1995 to found and run a quantitative trading group and staying through Feb 10, 2014 (blissful and rewarding). At the time I retired the business unit we had a $600MM book and all but one year (2002) had been profitable.
Businesses and business units I founded during this time:
Brooke Allen Information Systems, Inc. Founder, computer consulting.
APL PI, Inc. Co-Founder, Consultant’s co-op.
Education Technology Center, Inc. Co-Founder, Education and Seminars.
Bravo Alpha, Inc. Founder, Consulting.
MANE Fund Management, Inc. Founder, Hedge Fund
QTG, Co-Founder (Quantitative Trading Group within a Broker Dealer in which I had an employment contract that simulated ownership)
Independence (agenda set by me, 2008-Present)
My thoughts have been published here on my blog, in Quartz, Science, Medium, Wall Street and Technology among other places. I own the copyright on all almost all of my work and will allow you to reprint it if you wish, but please ask first.
My company, Viral Virtue, Inc. develops economically sustainable ways of helping virtue to go viral.
My projects include:
No Shortage of Work (NoShortageOfWork.com): An exploration of work for its own sake and re-framing of unemployment as opportunity. Motto: Even when you’re not doing something for pay, do something anyway.
Humongous Shortage of Work (HumongousShortageOfWork.com): Parody of No Shortage of Work. Motto: No teaching without tuition. No learning without grades. No work without pay.
Questions for Colleges (Q4Colleges.com): My attempt at getting the people who run and teach at colleges to demonstrate critical thinking with self-reflective essays. This was the hardest job I’ve ever tackled and I’ve pretty much given up.
Q54Club (Q54Cllub.org): Fifty-four questions you can ask yourself to help you create a design for your life so you don’t just live by default.
Danke Notes (DankeNote.com): A currency for gratitude.
Staffup Weekend (StaffupWeekend.org): Like Startup Weekend only with jobs.
Durable Dreams (DurableDreams.org): A role-playing game under development that you play in the real world in the service of a noble purpose with a character of your own design endowed with powers forged by experience.
Ethical Financier (EthicalFinancier.com): My case for a new class of finance professional who puts morality, ethics, and the law above personal gain.
Burning Man projects: Various fun things I take to the Playa every so often. If none of this makes sense then ignore it.
Discussion Groups: Every so often I organize meet-ups such as this Cruise to Bermuda where 22 people discussed 14 books, learned game design, and invented games to be played in Bermuda.
If any of this interests you then please get in touch.