I’m Back!

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), “The Godfather: Part III”

Just when I thought it was safe to retire, to savor my days slumped across my leather sofa like an overstuffed Orson Wells lookalike munching away on buttery popcorn and crunchy tortilla chips while binge-watching episodes of “The Wire” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Penserra Founder and CEO George Madrigal invited me to his Orinda office and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He followed that meeting by dispatching me to have dinner with Jason Valdez, a henchman he had flown in from Chicago, who put me into a wine-induced verbal headlock and ordained that he wouldn’t let me touch my food until I accepted Penserra’s generous offer. It was blackmail, pure and simple. But I was powerless, weakened by Jason’s inarguable science of reasoning, and he eventually compelled me to surrender to Penserra’s demands. Not only that, but no one, and I mean no one, can resist a mouthwatering Wood Tavern pork chop.

However, my trading spurs, three-decades old and rusting faster than the underside of Donald Trump’s hair implants, thankfully remain on the shelf.

At preciously 6:41am on January 8, 2018, a coffee and bagel run after the customary stock market open, I strolled through the doors of Penserra as the firm’s newly-minted Director of Marketing, a role to which I bring no discernable experience or skill set. My qualifications, or lack thereof, consist of A) being Penserra Employee #5 (circa 2009…there are now 80+ who work at the firm) and thereby possessing some idea of the firm’s history and culture, and B) having the highly questionable capacity to creatively craft a sentence, and C) possess a personality that prefers to color outside the lines. My job, in essence, is to turn up the volume at Penserra, and if you’ve ever had to endure an evening of dining and wining with me, you know I excel at volume.

So, how’s it going, you ask? Here’s the long answer; imaging being tasked to construct a thousand-foot skyscraper, a Herculean task given the fact that the IKEA build-it-yourself bookcase I bought in 2007 still resides in a box. And I have to pull this off while simultaneously earning graduate degrees in both architecture and engineering.

Now here’s the short answer; I’m having a blast.

There’s nothing better than jumping out of bed every morning chomping at the bit to get busy. My brain, as well as my spirit, has been taken off life support thanks to the transformation of my professional learning curve from a leaky faucet to a didactic hockey stick. Every day is filled with fun and exciting new opportunities to fail. For example, prior to January 8 I had never heard of Microsoft Publisher. Now I live and breathe it, thanks to the charitable aid and thoughtful assistance of Anand Desai, a prodigiously creative Hall of Fame millennial who has bailed me out more often than Charlie Sheen. I also have to acquaint myself with a blizzard of social media marketing tactics and industry regulations, which is pretty challenging when you consider I can never remember my LinkedIn password and don’t even have a personal Instagram account.

Yet the singular, most fabulously logical reason for returning to work was this; the people of Penserra. (A special shout out goes to Ashley Handel, Penserra’s Head of Human Resources, who for six months made it her mission to insure that I return to Penserra). Team Penserra is special breed, wired to play as hard as they work, where respect equals trust, appreciation rewards effort, and no idea is ever not listened to. I missed their spirited energy, the infectious enthusiasm, and the we’re-lucky-to-work-here vibe. And it certainly helps the cause that as I arrive to work every morning they make me feel as welcomed as Norm ascending his bar stool in “Cheers.” Many of my Penserra brethren refer to me as the Director of Mac and Cheese, which I don’t mind because coming to work every day surrounded by their love is comfort food for my soul. It’s no wonder I love them back.

George Madrigal had the vision to see past my past and suggest I repot myself as a Penserra marketing maven. Time will tell if his bet pays off, but until that judgement day arrives I plan on having a good time turning up the volume.


6 Responses to I’m Back!

  1. Erik & Kristen Keller says:

    Congratulations and good-luck!

  2. Michael says:

    Hotel Penserra

    On an Orinda mornin’, cool wind in his hair (?)
    Warm smell of carnitas rising up through the air
    Up ahead in the distance, he saw phosphorescent green lights
    His head grew goofy as the night grew thin
    He arrived at mornings daylight
    There he stood in the doorway, he heard the opening bell
    And he was thinking to himself
    “I’M back in heaven…that time out was Hell”
    Then Robo lit up this candle and he showed Lee the way
    There were traders down the corridor
    He thought he heard them say

    “Welcome to the Hotel Penserra
    Such a lovely place
    Such a lovely face
    Plenty of room at the Hotel Penserra
    Any time of year
    You will find Lee here”

    Lee was Crypto-twisted, he’d got the Netflix Binge Benz
    Still had a lot of pretty people there that he calls friends
    How they prance in the darkness , sweet traders sweat
    Some trade to remember, some trade to forget
    So Lopez called up the Geiger, “Please meet me to dine”
    He said, “A slab of porkchop and a Cabernet, should do the trick just fine”
    Lee found Penserra was calling from far away
    Woke jim up in the middle of the night
    Just to hear them say

    “Welcome to the Hotel Penserra
    Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
    Such a saving grace
    They living it up at the Hotel Penserra
    What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
    Bring me back, you guys”

    Shrimp plates and client dinners, Chardonnay still on ice
    And Lee said: “I admit I’m a prisoner here, sure helps they paid me my price”
    And in the trading chambers, they gathered for the feast
    Market rallied for near 9 straight years, but they could not kill the beast
    Last thing Lee remembered, as he was running to the door
    What’s a correction and inverted VIX? WHERE’S the place I was BEFORE?
    “Relax,” said ole Winthorp, “Cause we win either way.
    But you’re a lifer and it’s proven now, you can NOT stay away!”

    [Guitar Solo]

  3. Edie says:

    CONGRATS on getting back in the work force!!! I really miss being able to work and not just for financial reasons. It’s a reason to get out of bed each morning, instead of sleeping in until ? whenever. At work you are on a schedule – a time to be there, to eat at regular times and not just when you get hungry, being around and talking to other people, doing something productive instead of piddling and watching TV and on and on. I always figured I’d drop dead in a courthouse somewhere. You can get homesick when you are away from home. Can you get worksick when you’re doing working? Just wondering..

  4. Christian says:

    Congratulations Lee. I love reading your stuff and wish I had your talent woth words.

    Best of luck and look forward to your continued success. I don’t think you’ll be doing a lot of crossword puzzle with the new gig !

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