Letter to My Younger Self: Meena Flynn, Private Wealth Management, New York
Meena Flynn, global co-head of Private Wealth Management, shares advice she would give her younger self.
As you read this letter, you’re growing up in Texas, and you’re a gymnast. You started gymnastics when you were two years old, and even moved away from home to train for the Olympics as a pre-teen, before deciding to go back to your hometown to seek out a college scholarship. Being a gymnast is a key part of who you are, and as you think about your college education, a lot of people will ask you: “Are you going to major in gymnastics?” That’s how people see you right now, it’s your identity. But that’s going to change.
You’re going to go to a great school, which focuses on both academics and athletics, and while you won’t really have a sense right away of what you want to do, you’ll be committed to broadening how people see you – you will be known as a gymnast and an academic. Your junior year, after spending some time on both economics and the pre-med curriculum, you’ll take a summer internship in finance that will shape your future career. Your first time stepping on that trading floor, your competitive juices will start flowing, and you’ll just know – that you can do this, and do it really well.
You’ll drop pre-med, and focus on economics, with the goal of eventually working with clients. You’ll have a chance to join Goldman Sachs in Private Wealth Management, and you’ll completely fall in love with the work (case in point: as I write this letter, I’ve been at Goldman Sachs 21 years!). You will also cherish building long-term relationships with clients and colleagues – by listening to others, helping those around you achieve their goals, and remembering to have fun along the way – and those relationships will continue to fuel your passion for your role at the firm.
To help guide you, I’m sharing several pieces of advice that you might find useful on your journey.
PS: I won’t spoil everything, but you’re now also a mother of two, and live in New York City with your children and husband – it’s just the BEST thing.
Success starts with curiosity. If you have that curiosity for something you spend a lot of your time doing, you’re going to dig in more and you’re going to get better at it. Whether that’s an instrument, a sport, or a hobby, leverage your natural curiosity to establish a desire to be really good at something.
Understand the fundamentals. Knowing the details of how things work enables you to be more effective. For me, understanding the fundamentals of the markets early on in my career allowed me to better communicate with clients.
Be your own chief energy officer. No one can do everything, and balance means different things to different people. You need to figure out how to fill your “energy cup” – both with mental and physical energy. At this moment in my life, for me that’s being there for my family, being present at work, and working out five days a week.
Put your best deliverable forward. If you’re going to do something, you’re putting your and your team’s name on it. Whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation, where you need to make sure all the numbers are correct, or a meeting for which you need to prepare and practice, you want to be proud of who you are and what you put forward.
You are here for a reason. You’re here at Goldman Sachs, and you have a seat at the table. Now that you made it here, make your voice heard and don’t be afraid to speak up and share your perspective. That’s how ultimately we get to a better place for our clients and our business.