Sucker Punch

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Sucker punch, n. An expression that comes from boxing, used to describe an unexpected blow.


Photo Source:; Alive Film

It's been over a decade, but I still remember where I was sitting in our 71st and 2nd Avenue Manhattan apartment, as my fellow Wall Streeter Luanne Zurlo shared with me the the pros and cons of moving from investment banking to equity research.

I was excited by the possibilities, and making this career move felt right, but there were so many aspects of equity research (all of them actually) that I feared: constructing the valuation models, writing research reports, making stock recommendations, marketing my ideas to investors, and the overall building of an award-winning franchise.

As I found myself putting in 80-hour plus work weeks so as to make my mark, my fears had not been unfounded.

But you know there was one aspect of the job that I didn't fear. In fact, the question of “What about the people I'll be working with? Can we all work together?” never even entered my mind. Not for one second.

Enter the sucker punch.


The most taxing aspect of my job as an equity analyst (both at Salomon and Merrill) was — without question — learning how to build consensus in a high stakes setting amongst Type A personalities (myself included).

What's interesting, however, is that in the receiving of and recovering from the blow of the sucker punch, I learned (we learn) lessons, lessons that are quite possibly more valuable than what we learn as we face the obstacles that we fear early on.

I don't mean to discount the skill needed to make a stock recommendation, but who can doubt the importance of building consensus, whether on Wall Street, Main Street, or in our own homes? After all, as Harvard Business School's Rosabeth Moss Kanter once said, “power is the ability to get things done.”

Can you think of a situation in which you've been thrown a sucker punch? What lessons did you learn?

As you are daring to dream, what obstacles do you foresee?

Any preliminary thoughts on from where the sucker punch might come?

Photo Source:; Alive Film

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