Sean RingSean Ring

Around the World in 22 Years with Sean Ring

Okay, let's take it from the top.

Joisey!

For something I did in a past life, I was born in New Jersey. I haven’t figured out what that was yet. Joking aside, I loved growing up in Hasbrouck Heights. It was a fun town.

I was a bit of a nerd growing up, but then I got my athletic on. I became the quarterback and captain of the old Aviators. My childhood was idyllic. I never thought I'd leave The Heights. Well, maybe just for college. When I was searching for colleges, I only looked within a hundred miles or so. I wound up going to Villanova. It seemed like the smart choice at the time, but honestly, it was a complete waste of money.

I admire guys like Matt Damon, Will Smith, James Woods, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates. All those guys dared to say college is a complete waste of time and then actually left. Unfortunately, I didn't have the guts to follow suit at that point in my life, so I stayed there for four years and earned - their word, not mine - a finance degree with a minor in political science.

From Wall Street to the City of London

After that, I went to work on Wall Street. I had a menial job at Paine Webber to start, but then I got my first real Wall Street job at Lehman Brothers (requiescat in pace). I worked there in Global Corporate Equity Derivatives as an accountant, believe it or not.

I didn't know a debit from a credit, even though I had a finance degree, but somehow I was supposed to make numbers balance. Well, at least help my buddies make the numbers balance. I hated that job because back then, I didn't know how spreadsheets worked. Now, I'm a Microsoft Excel nut. I think it’s one of the most extraordinary things ever invented.

After that, I moved to Credit Suisse, where I worked in operations, basically running tickets for the traders. My buddy in the operations team got promoted to the equity trading desk, and I was really upset about it. So my boss said, "Hey, listen, why don't you go to London and, you know, figure out how global operations work?"

My first question was, “why would I go to London to figure out what global operations are?” That was probably the clue that I knew nothing about banking really; London is the center of global operations for banking. Time zones make it convenient for that purpose. So, I went to London, and I pretty much drank for 14 days straight as any 24-year-old would do.

I fell in love with the place, and I knew I had to move there. Four months later, I was granted my transfer, much to the chagrin of my boss in New York, and I landed in London. The real reason I wanted to go to London, besides that it’s Candy Land for alcoholics, was that I needed the international experience to cancel my mediocre grade point average to get into a top 25 US business school.

But once I was there, I didn't want to go anywhere. Two years eventually turned into 10 years. I discovered London Business School. Geez. I didn't even know they had business schools in Europe. This was 1999. I went there part-time; earned a Master’s (HA!) degree in finance.

I quickly got promoted to being a futures broker, a job I utterly loathed. Well, that's not entirely fair. I liked it when I first started, and then for four years, I hated it more and more. It was the first time in my life I fully understood the concept of accelerated depreciation.

Once I got sick of that, I took a year off. I was exhausted. So I just did a pub crawl around London for a year, pissed away my bonus money, and then figured out that I needed a job.

From Broking to Broke to Teaching

I went to work for a company called 7city Learning, where all of the best finance trainers were working. I had no idea about any of that, but imagine walking into the 1927 Yankees locker room and being taught how to hit.

So I went to teach all the traders exams and then the graduate programs of the various big banks and then the CFA Level 1 review courses. Yes, that's the only level I've passed. I hate that exam. I never really wanted to run money anyway.

Teaching was an incredible experience because I didn't realize you could get flown around the world to listen to the sound of your own voice. And what was more amazing to me was that the people I was teaching knew less than I did. Imagine that!

I still do that part-time; it’s fun. By reading The Rude Awakening, you'll realize how much I love the sound of my own voice. But I thought I'd turned that bug into a feature, and it'll be here for your entertainment every single day.

The Far East

As I was very good at teaching, in 2009, my boss asked me to move to Singapore to help build the business in Asia.

That, too, was supposed to be a two-year job, but I got trapped. I fell in love with my future (now current) wife, who was a Filipino working at Singapore General Hospital. We got married. I couldn't leave. I went to work for another financial training company, to which all of my friends had migrated.

And then my old bank came knocking and asked me to go work at Talent Development. I told them I was bored of Singapore. They said, "Fine, go do it in Hong Kong." I thought that would be a good idea. But living in Hong Kong is not just boozing it up.

I was about to leave Hong Kong, and then, of course, with impeccable timing, my wife fell pregnant. I wound up getting stuck there for an additional two and a half years.

We were thrilled to leave in 2018 finally. We moved back to my wife’s home country of the Philippines. We now live in Cebu, where I teach, run a small EdTech startup called Finlingo, and now write The Rude Awakening.

I've got a shit ton of qualifications, but they don't mean anything. I am a CAIA, FRM, CMT, amongst a few other things. Yawn.

All that matters is my experience, my connections, and my take on things. So every day I'm going to come here with my snarky best. Hopefully, I’ll make you laugh, inform you, and hopefully send you on your merry way to go and conquer the world after your morning cup of coffee.


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