BYRON WIEN: These Are The 12 Lessons I've Learned After Decades On Wall Street

Byron Wien

Photo: Bloomberg

Byron Wien was almost fired from his first job as a security analyst, and he barely made the cut at Morgan Stanley 1984 where he eventual became the firm’s top investment strategist.Today, when Byron Wien talks, all of Wall Street listens at full attention. Wien’s annual ‘10 Surprises‘ list has been circulating for nearly 30 years.

This year, in addition to offering market insights, Wien offered some life lessons. It’s the type of wisdom that only comes from decades of experience on Wall Street.

Create a defining product, and put yourself at risk.

'Concentrate on finding a big idea that will make an impact on the people you want to influence. The 10 Surprises which I started doing in 1986 has been a defining product. People all over the world are aware of it and identify me with it. What they seem to like about it is that I put myself at risk by going on record with these events which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end. If you want to be successful and live a long, stimulating life, keep yourself at risk intellectually all the time.'

Source: Blackstone

Make useful friends because it'll increase your luck.

'Network intensely. Luck plays a big role in life and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible. Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you're thinking about them. Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications. organise discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.'

Source: Blackstone


Get enough sleep. Seven hours will do until you're 60, eight from 60 to 70, nine thereafter which might include eight hours at night and a one hour afternoon nap.

Source: Blackstone

Crunch numbers while you're young. Develop concepts when you're older.

'Evolve. Try to think of your life in phases so you can avoid a burn-out. Do the numbers crunching in the early phase of your career. Try developing concepts later on. Stay at risk throughout the process.'

Source: Blackstone


'Travel extensively. Try to get everywhere before you wear out. Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life. See them when you return to a place'

Source: Blackstone

Ask people what they learned when they were young.

'When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen. It is my belief that some important event in everyone's youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.'

Source: Blackstone

Help those who actually need it.

'On philanthropy my approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy. Music, theatre and art museums have many affluent supporters, give the best parties and it can add to your social luster in a community. They don't need you. Social service, hospitals and educational institutions can make the world a better place and help the disadvantaged make their way toward the American dream.'

Source: Blackstone

Underplay your accomplishments.

'Younger people are naturally insecure and tend to overplay their accomplishments. Most people don't become comfortable with who they are until they're in their 40's. By that time they can underplay their achievements and become a nicer more likeable person. Try to get to that point as soon as you can'

Source: Blackstone

Let people know when they're doing a good job.

'Take the time to pat those who work for you on the back when they do good work. Most people are so focused on the next challenge that they fail to thank the people who support them. It is important to do this. It motivates and inspires people and encourages them to perform at a higher level.'

Source: Blackstone

Pen and paper, not email.

'When someone extends a kindness to you write them a hand-written note, not an e-mail. Handwritten notes make an impact and are not quickly forgotten.'

Source: Blackstone

Make New Year's resolutions and keep them.

'At the beginning of every year think of ways you can do your job better than you have ever done it before. Write it down and look at what you have set out for yourself when the year is over.'

Source: Blackstone

Don't retire, live forever.

'Never retire. If you work forever, you can live forever. I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this, but I'm going with this theory anyway.'

Source: Blackstone

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