We’re all equal before a wave.
—Laird Hamilton, professional surfer
In 2005, I was working as an equity analyst at Merrill Lynch. When one afternoon I told a close friend that I was going to leave Wall Street, she was dumbfounded. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” she asked me. This was her polite, euphemistic way of wondering if I’d lost my mind.
My job was to issue buy or sell recommendations on corporate stocks—and I was at the top of my game. I had just returned from Mexico City for an investor day at America Movíl, now the fourth largest wireless operator in the world. As I sat in the audience with hundreds of others, Carlos Slim, the controlling shareholder and one of the world’s richest men, quoted my research, referring ...