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Brandon Kissinger

Imagine, if you will, a time when you decided(or maybe even forced) to make a drastic change in your life. At first, you probably went through a few negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and doubt or maybe you are one of the few who tackled this new found change head-on. I wasn’t one of those people...


When it happened. I was young, and I mean young when I had my son. I was 18 years old when I found out, still in high school, and, for the better part of the month I was convinced that the sky was falling. How could I, an unemployed adolescent, possibly take care of another human being? This would most definitely fall into the category of being forced to step up and start making some drastic changes in my life.

But what may surprise you, is that for the 9 months of the pregnancy things just happened “naturally”. I graduated high school, got a job mopping floors at a local fast food restaurant, , restaurant and things were moving forward. Even if unguided. You see, I never knew any successful people in my life. I never had a framework for me to analyze and say, “ok if put in x effort, and accomplish y, I will reach z”. That never existed for me. Luckily for me I knew that if I outworked everyone else I would get ahead. Slowly but surely I was promoted to shift leader, then assistant manager, before finally becoming the general manager of my own store! I was 22 and the youngest general manager of the company's history. It wasn’t terribly hard or mentally straining, I just simply set my sights on becoming the general manager and plugged away at it. I worked under 2 different general managers while I was on my way up and I can only imagine how annoying I must have been always asking what I needed to learn to move up and then once accomplishing that feat, asking when I would be promoted. I was young and impatient, which in part I think led to my quick rise, and became frustrated by the process more times than I could remember, but never-the-less I stayed the course. Over those 4 years I became more and more confident in my ability to take on any task that was laid out in front of me.  


Now I was The General Manager. Ruler of all I surveyed. Even if it was fast food. It felt good. I did it! The problem was, like anybody who accomplishes their goal, I went searching for the next one. I looked around at all of the other General Managers working for the company who were in their early 40s to late 50s, and I started to look at my next promotion to District Manager being 10 years away. I said to myself, “There must be more to life than this, but what to do...”


Again with no basis to draw from, except what little life experience I had, I decided successful people were either doctors, lawyers, or worked in finance. Since the only profession I could enter without a degree was finance (go figure), I locked in my sights and I was on my way.


Everyone told me I was nuts. I was even told that every person has their place in life and that I should be happy to be where I was. Could you believe that? What a thing to tell somebody who is trying to accomplish more than what could ever be expected of them!


I remained undeterred and kept putting my feelers out there. I told everyone I met that I was looking to start my career in finance and that if they knew anybody who could help me to please, please let me know. It took about a month, but finally I met a derivatives trader who was willing to put up me, over coffee. I remember this encounter so distinctly. He spent the first 30 minutes telling me everything he could to persuade from me from going on my present course. Then after that didn’t work the most amazing thing happened. He started telling what I needed to do to get hired by a financial firm! He even drove me over to Barnes and Noble to pick up what people in the finance industry have deemed the “Option Trader’s Bible” - Option Volatility & Pricing: Advanced Trading Strategies and Techniques by Sheldon Natenberg.


What a nightmare of a book! It might as well of been written in a different language. I had to reread each page three times just to comprehend what the author was trying to say. But armed with determination, I pressed on. While reading the book I was applying to any and every financial firm that was hiring. This was one year after the ‘08 financial crisis and to say getting an interview was difficult would be an understatement.


Then it happened. I got called in for an interview! I was living in San Francisco at the time and interviewed at a small commodities brokerage firm in San Jose. I leaped at the chance and was hired after my first interview.


I worked my tail off and became a licensed broker in record time. I was elated. I now work in finance and would proudly proclaim this fact to everyone I met who’d ask. I plugged way successfully for two years in what I can only describe as the never-ending grind of being a retail broker. After some self-reflection I decided that what I saw was the prestigious world of finance still eluded me. So I went back on the job hunt in what I was hoping would be my next big leap forward. Then I found it. A large multi-billion dollar money management firm in San Meteo that was hiring! I applied and was denied an interview. Denied?... They just don’t know what I’m capable of, I thought to myself. So I jumped on LinkedIn and tried to find anybody in my small, but ever growing network, who may know someone who worked there. Turns out a good friend's sister personally knew one of the Top Account Executives who worked there. After a brief phone call he was more than happy to hand my resume into the HR department, which he told me would at least get me a phone interview.


What a nice guy, I thought. He doesn’t really know me or owe me anything and here he is helping me advance my career. It probably helped that if I was hired after his referral, he stood to make an extra $2,000! (On a bit of a sidenote, many companies have a policy similar to this and this method is the perfect way to start getting a ton of interviews!)


I crushed my phone interview, as well as my 4 in-person interviews. Soon after, I received a call and was told that I landed the job and would become an Account Executive at a prestigious money management firm! The job would require me to make over 300 phone calls a day and try to bring in as much money to the firm as possible. I knew it would be one hell of a grind, but I was so ready to tackle the challenge head on!


To say it was a rocky start would be an understatement. After 6 months, I was dead last in the company…. It wasn’t until I started analyzing my own production numbers and asking the top sales guys/gals on the floor what led to their success, that I was able to turn things around. I was a little nervous to ask, but a funny thing happened. They told me! Part of me couldn’t believe it, but think about it. All successful people had to start from somewhere and most of the time they are more than happy to help someone on their journey to success. It took a lot of hard work and tenacity, but after 6 months I was able to become one of the top Account Executives in the firms very prestigious 30 year history. I had a very successful career there for three years, helping to bring in over 100 million dollars in the last twelve months alone. I even taught sales classes and mentored new sales people. It was quite the turnaround.


I was on Cloud 9. There was a period of time where I thought things couldn’t get any better. Then, like all great accomplishments, the euphoria wore off and I started looking for my next great adventure. The problem was that I got bored. I mastered my job, but I wasn’t growing. So I decided to look around and see what was around.


Living in Silicon Valley, it is hard to ignore the undisputed fact that Technology is in it’s Golden Age and I knew I wanted to be apart of it.


I have now landed at one of the most innovative tech companies in the world and it’s at this phenomenal point in my life that you have decided to enter my story.


Today is going to be a good day. I have a feeling...




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