We caught up with an old friend of our CEO and New York Times best seller, Turney Duff, to learn more about Global sensation The Buy Side – Turney’s very honest depiction of Wall Street. Reflecting on his life as a trader, Turney reveals all about his journey through the ranks of Wall Street firms, as well as the dark side of after-hours Wall Street culture.
‘In the mid-2000’s, Turney Duff was, to all appearances, the very picture of American success. One of Wall Street’s hottest traders, he was a rising star with Raj Rajaratnam’s legendary Galleon Group before forging his own path. What few knew was that the key to Turney’s remarkable success wasn’t a super-genius IQ or family connections but rather a winning personality – because the real money wasn’t made on the trading floor or behind a computer screen, but in whispered deals in the city’s most exclusive nightspots, surrounded by the best drugs and hottest women. For Turney, this created a perilously seductive cycle: the harder he partied, the more connected and successful he became, which meant he could party even harder. In time, he became a walking paradox, an addictive mess after hours, and King of the Street from nine to five. Along the way, he learned some important lessons about himself, and the too-wild-to-believe world of Wall Street trading.’
Turney’s career path has had many twists and turns along the way, from studying Journalism at the University of Ohio, to becoming a Partner at some of Wall Street’s biggest trading firms. Looking back at such varied professional experience, we wanted to know what advice he would give now to young professionals just starting out their career. Turney said that, as a young professional, he was constantly thinking about how he was always wanting more to make him happy. He would always be after another promotion, if he was earning $2 million, he’d want to be earning $3 million, he got caught up believing that if certain things happened then he’d feel a certain way. He found it easy to feel like a failure watching what other people his age were doing. He now knows that it’s easy to feel this way in the early days of your career, but would advise young professionals to remember that we’re all on a different timeline and to not get too fixated on the idea that certain stages in your career will discern your level of happiness.
In relation to this, Turney has spoken candidly in other interviews that, even following his negative experience of Wall Street, he wouldn’t try to deter other young people from starting a career in Trading. We asked him why this is and what advice he would give to those who wanted to get into Wall Street. Turney felt that when you’re entering Trading, as with all careers, you should constantly check your motives. If you’re truly passionate about something then aim for it, but, with Wall Street, if your motive is purely just to make money, with no passion driving it, then that’s probably not a good enough reason to put yourself in that environment. Moreover, with Wall Street, Turney advised that it’s important not to get net worth confused with self-worth. Trading might make you worth a lot of money, but the nature of the career can be turning you into a person that you shouldn’t be proud to become.
The subject of substance abuse in The Buy Side has gripped readers across the globe. The controversial and crazy after-hours culture of Wall Street put Turney in a downward spiral. We wanted to know if this caused him any regrets, which would subsequently make him want to do anything differently. Turney said that he regrets the people that his lifestyle may have hurt along the way, but that it’s important not to have too many regrets. He believes that the decisions he made in the difficult periods of his life led him to the important outcomes of his present.
Looking into the present day, Turney is now involved with the hit American TV series Billions, as a Consultant. We wanted to know how such an opportunity occurred and what attracted him to the role. Many may not know that Turney was initially approached by Sony to create The Buy Side into a TV show, but this was around the same time as Billions, which would’ve posed stiff competition for each other. The producers of Billions knew of Turney and The Buy Side and were really interested in having him involved. Turney knew from reading the Pilot that this was something of real interest to him and did a lot of planning and research in preparation for the role. Turney is the perfect fit for the role, being a part of a very small collective of people who, not only have a skilled background in writing, but also have first-hand experience of all aspects of Wall Street life.
So, where does Turney hope his career takes him next? He’s currently ghost writing, as well as working as a Consultant for Billions. In theory he’d like to continue writing and working within film and television, although sometimes he suffers with self-doubt and feels that he’s too old to develop these new careers. Turney’s outlook on life is now much more sensible than it once was, in that he wants to continue doing the things he’s passionate about, whilst also making a stable living for himself and his daughter. He does this through staying focused on his actions, rather than always trying to quickly obtain results. He makes sure that his daily actions lie parallel with his intensions for future progression.
He does, however, believe that you should never have a Plan B in life – otherwise you’ll never achieve Plan A. This is a phrase that we could all learn to live by.