This time, I asked for some direction from the guy in charge of Bassmaster.com because I struggled with what to write about next, and he said to write about how I got here, my path and to not be afraid to “show warts”…
I was born in 1987 (yes, I am 26 years old), named after George Strait (they dropped the “S” off of “Strait”) and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Though my address says Fort Worth, I am actually a product of a small town west of Fort Worth called Azle. I played competitive basketball my whole life but my body started going through some changes my junior year. So, after graduating from Azle High School in 2005, I chose to go to college as a normal student and not play sports. I attended a small university in Southern California my freshman year, then transferred back to Texas to spend the final three years at SMU in Dallas studying Political Science. During my final semesters of SMU, I realized politics was not a way to make money, so I took a job in finance for Raymond James. Finance, for me, is when life started.
“Life is a series of experiences, each of which makes us bigger, even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.” -Henry Ford
My title with Raymond James was Associate Financial Advisor, but as my boss would say, I was getting a real world MBA while all my friends were holed up in a classroom buying a paper MBA. He was right. The 2 1/2 years at Raymond James was the best thing that happened to me and is the reason why I now fish competitively. In finance, I did it all… answered phones, paid office bills, filed, handled contracts, dealt with clients, opened accounts, handled trades for individuals and institutional clients, and analyzed stocks for managed portfolios. I worked in a cut-throat man’s world, rarely had a lunch break, and more rarely got a bathroom break. Everyone wanted everything done right and immediately… no room for error, no time to wait, and no being a girl.
The thing about finance is when you put your time in, learn the industry and pay your dues, the money is inevitable. The paying your dues part involves a lot of tough decisions, a lot of cut-throat actions, a good deal of not getting paid or even acknowledged for time and work you put in. In the beginning, you are the low man on the totem pole and you take blame for everything, no matter whose fault it is. You accept exhaustion as normalcy but justify the grueling environment as a means to the pot of gold down the road.
In 2011, I considered changing positions within Raymond James, so I had lunch with one of the head guys who divulged something I will never forget. He said, “Trait, if my daughter said she wanted to do what I do, I don’t think I would want that.”
That stung. That stung hard. I have four nieces and that’s immediately what went through my head. Yes, I may be able to handle this job, but would I want any other female, especially one of my nieces, to do what I do? Would I want one of them to go through what I go through? I’m not saying what I went through in finance was bad, but it was a harsh place to be, and no, I would not want my nieces in that environment.
Finance hardened me. I was not a happy person. I became a very pessimistic, blunt and negative person … the type of person who was quick to disclose why something would fail, quick to point out all the flaws. It was my job to tell my boss why a company sucked or why investing in something would not be profitable. Hope would not fatten my pocketbooks; being right would. When you read the books or listen to investors, the majority are all about the numbers. What I learned, though, is real success was not all about the numbers.
Eventually, my boss started allowing me to pick my own stocks to be reviewed for possible inclusion into the managed portfolios. In the past, he would provide the company for me to research, but now I had freedom to choose companies to pitch to him. It was a chance to show my senior how much I had learned and to really earn my keep and help make the portfolios money. In the beginning when I would analyze his stocks, I was focused on the company’s numbers, their financials for that current period, for that year. I quickly learned when picking my own stocks that it had nothing to do with what was going on right then, but more to do with the company’s history. The best companies were the ones whose numbers were terrible at the moment, but that had a history of success… companies that had previously experienced good times or had executives involved who had been successful in past careers and were clawing through the current slump on a mission to win again. Generally, those companies were facing changes in their overall environment and had to figure out how to make adjustments within to become competitive again.
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” -- Helen Keller