A flippant, fearless, and fundamental countdown of big money investing.

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#14 Your Boss

An Ode to a Mentor

As a newly minted college graduate, I entered the job market with plenty of motivation and absolutely no clear direction, no stellar academic record, and no remarkable skills or talents. I was unexceptional. I needed a few lucky breaks to start my career. 

One big break was somehow landing a job at Bridgewater Associates. That was pure luck; I can’t imagine it happening again today. Another was meeting someone who, over many years, would give me invaluable advice and steadfast encouragement. 

His name was Bill Mahoney. He was a great friend, and his mentorship is one of the things that have mattered most in my career.

Bill led the marketing group at Bridgewater for a number of years. He was wildly successful, but you wouldn’t have known it just by looking at him, particularly if you saw him around town in his dusty old pickup truck. You wouldn’t have been able to tell just by speaking with him either, as he was unfailingly down to earth and gracious. But if you worked with him, you would have known that he was exceptionally savvy and phenomenally good at what he did. If you were looking for career advice, you would have naturally gravitated toward him.

Those of us who have had a great mentor know the value of having someone in your corner. Someone you could trust and turn to in the inevitable tough times. Someone who would help you look past petty distractions and keep your focus on your long-term goals, who would encourage you to take risks when you might be too cautious, and who would always have your back but tell it to you straight when you needed to toughen up and take action. Bill did all of those things and more for me, and he did it generously while expecting nothing in return. He did the same for many others who were lucky enough to have known him.

Bill died three years ago from pancreatic cancer. He had retired from Bridgewater just a few years before and was only 55 years old. He lived a successful and fulfilled life, surrounded by family who cherished him and friends who admired him. To me and to the many others who knew him well, he imparted indelible reminders of what really mattered in life, and most times those things had nothing to do with our careers.

Chris Mascarinas is a senior client advisor at Kepos Capital.

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