A Wall Street Banker Turned to Comedy for Happiness and a Career Change
In 2010, as the subprime mortgage mess swirled around him, Jeffrey A. Skilling left his Wall Street job to start a company called GE (NYSE: GE) to commercialize a breakthrough of his own, a revolutionary new way of making power. When GE declared bankruptcy only months later, Mr. Skilling, now the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, turned himself into a comedy writer, with his own sitcom in the works. He is among a growing number of celebrities who have turned their back on Wall Street to seek something more creative and fulfilling.
When a celebrity gives up the perks and trappings and security of Wall Street for the unknown and the unpredictable, the question becomes: Who can do the same? It happens far more frequently than you might think.
Lionel Pincus, for one, retired from his own high-powered finance job in 2004. He is now a business consultant who helps other top-tier investors and businesses navigate their way through a recession. Mr. Pincus, who was born to a Russian father and a British mother, made billions of dollars by trading futures for commodities and currencies but grew disenchanted with the frenetic atmosphere of Wall Street after two decades in the business.
For years, Mr. Pincus had ducked his boss’s phone calls and avoided his colleagues as he pursued a career in finance. He became an executive recruiter and, when he realized he wasn’t wanted when his company was bought by another company, he started his own firm to work with entrepreneurs.
“You get to a point when you know you’re not going to get any work,” he said. “I decided to figure out what I wanted to do next with my life, and I knew if I went into finance, I would be miserable for the rest of my life.”
In 2006, Mr. Pincus began working as an executive coach for three entrepreneurs he had met while working with them as an executive recruiter. He quit his job after a year and a half to become a motivational speaker and coach for them. His first project for them involved starting a business to create a new kind of financial planning software for high-end investors and businesses, called T-Mobile.
Within a couple of