Monday, June 22, 2009

The game changes

Have you lost the entrepreneurial drive?

Three years ago, when I was still doing co-op at my University, I got to know a really good friend at EY. At the time, I was a junior staff accountant and was working for a really cool intermediate. He was a very bright, talented individual who had a huge appetite for entrepreneurship.

I don’t really make “real” friends at work. But this was probably one of the only "real" friends that I met. The type of senior where you don’t care to screw up in front, because you know he’ll understand. We actually even went out to eat together a few times outside work. That’s something I call, “friendship in auditing.”

He was writing business plans and had all sorts of crazy ideas about how to “make” it in the real world.

I asked him why he was doing his CA. He told me, “I don’t really want to be a CA.” In fact, I hate it here. I want to be an entrepreneur. The CA is just a plug solution. I’m going to put in my 3 years and get out. Don’t worry about it. It’s 3 years and I’m gone. You’ll understand soon enough. Put in your time and leave."

Flash forward 3 years.

I see him again, and start talking about the good old times….

The man is completed changed.

Gone is the entrepreneurship. Gone is the ambition, the passion. Our hatred for our work bonded us together. Our entrepreneurial spirit. Our bond is broken.

He’s still a good guy and about to get married, and I’m sure dropping close to 80K. But he looks so defeated and miserable.

I yell at him, “You have your CA.” Why don’t you go out and start your business now? Your entrepreneurial dreams?

He responds, “I think I was just being foolish as a kid. Lets face reality. I wasn’t going to make it. It’s better to just accept it. If I’m not at EY, I’m out in industry elsewhere. I’m getting married now. I have new priorities. It’s just not worth the risk. It’s not too bad here. You get paid nice salary and I’m comfortable. You don’t have to like your work. You just have to do it, and get paid for it.

You’ll understand soon enough.”

I’m sorry, but WTF? Does Big 4 change a person like this in 3 years time?

So it really bothers me when people tell me now. “Get your CA and then leave.” You’d be stupid to not get your CA. You already put in so much investment.” It’s only 3 years. Just get it and get out. That would be the smart thing to do”

Sorry, You’re wrong, and you’re stupid if you tell other people this. In fact, if my friend didn’t listen to all the “industry BS advice” about how he “Must Get his CA”, I’m sure he’d be a lot better now. He wanted to start a business 3 years ago. He listened to other people. He didn’t leave when the time was right, and now what? He has his CA.

How exactly is his life so magical now that he has his CA?

The game changes. 3 years is a lot of time.

When I was 8, all I cared about was Candy. When I was 11, Candy was bad for you. I wanted video games. When I was 14, video games were a waste of time and I was after girls. When I was 17, girls were…., well, I was still interested in girls. I won’t lie. =P

But today, I want my own business. I don’t want my entrepreneurial drive to die. I don’t want to be my friend.

It is important to go after what you want. Go after it today. Do not let some silly “You must get the CA” rule dictate your life.

Because, in 3 years…

The game changes


  1. That whole "getting married" thing probably changed his risk aversion profile a great bit - that's probably one of the big things that happened during the 3 years! (Aside from getting 'comfortable' and all that other jazz.)

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  3. Does this mean that we will be reading "I want to be an Entrepreneur" blog from now on? :P

  4. You are right krupo. The risk aversion profile must have changed a bit. nikola,It won't be "I want to be an Entrepreneur" haha, Maybe, I will start a new blog

    However, the point I wanted to stretch home was. Do the things you want to do now and love, rather than letting some 3 year rule "must get CA" rule handicap you.

  5. This is exactly what I'm going through right now - I want to use the CA designation as my "ticket" to move on to bigger and better things...a part of me wonders though if I'll eventually "settle" and decide to "climb the corporate ladder" to make partner. 50 bucks says I'll probably end up having a mid-life crisis by then and running away to Mexico to find a cute pool boy. ;)
    For now, I'm going to keep an open mind and wait for opportunities to present themselves.

  6. Marriage is a big thing. I hate to say it, but marriage and maybe even a gf/bf could restrict you.

    Furthermore lots of people want to make excuses and "delay" things.

    Kind of like most guys with girls. I know friends that are like "Oh I'll get my degree first and then I'll worry about girls. Oh I got my degree but I need a 100K job before I will be able to support her."

    People make excuses and don't take charge

    One excuse leads to another to the point where you just settle.

  7. Alright, $0.02 from down South for you adorable little Chartered Accountants (or future CAs!) from the Great White North... I can't claim to be an expert or even novice when it comes to what you guys have to go through for the CA but from the little I have discussed with Krupo, it seems it's MUCH harder for you guys than the CPA exam.

    With the CPA, you HAVE GOT TO WANT IT. I tell this to our students CONSTANTLY. They call me and go "Adrienne, I don't know what I did wrong, I sort of studied and got a 65" (you need a 75 to pass) and after a little digging "Did you do all the multiple choice? did you watch all the videos?" etc etc, 9 times out of 10 I realize that they JUST DON'T CARE. They don't even WANT to be a CPA! Well WTF! Why would you put in any effort, then?

    well they don't, obviously, because they fail. Over and over. And finally I'm like "Listen, is this what you want to do with your life?" sometimes that's enough to get them to commit the time and effort. Sometimes not. I can only do so much.

    Point being, please don't let public accounting dampen your goals. Screw them. if they want to be miserable and make all the new hires miserable, let them.

    Only YOU know what you want to do. The problem in public accounting, at least from my view, is that people are doing things because their parents want them to, and then they get married and their wife wants them to and the partner wants them to and who wants to walk away from a safe paycheck even if you're TOTALLY miserable?


    do not trade your goals for other people's. Only YOU know where you want to go and what you want to do with your life.

    And get your license already! (it DOES help). but only if you want it :)

  8. Yes - going out there and just doing what you want is key. Hence why I didn't even bother becoming a regular auditor in the first place. :)

  9. Hi, I just stumbled onto your blog and reading through your achrives.

    I passed the UFE in 2008. But wasn't sure I wanted to continue and spend those 2-3 years getting my CA when I don't even know if I really want to do accounting.

    So I decided to go overseas for a year and try to figure out what I want to do with my life. I was always so worried and wondered whether I should just stick it out 3 years, get my CA and then go on with what I do in life.

    After reading your blog, I'm finally convinced that I don't want my CA. I know I've gone so far, even as to passing the UFE that sometimes it seems like a waste, but your blog reinforces what I've always believed deep down. Thank you very much. You don't understand how great it is to finally get an answer. =)