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Stephen’s story

Stephen Ridley escaped investment banking to be a musician. Check out his Hero profile here. 24 hours after quitting his job, he rolled an upright piano in the middle of one of London’s busiest streets and started playing. After 1 month he had been offered 9 management deals. His first album, Butterfly In A Hurricane, is now on iTunes, and he’ll also be performing at our Guanabara event next week. We love his writing, and here are some of our favourite quotes:

“I used to be an analyst in the top IBD team of an investment bank. For all the hype that surrounds this job, the reality is exceptionally long and tedious working hours. People told me this job was all models & bottles. To my disapointment, the stark reality is that the only models are excel models, and the only bottles are the coke bottles I would used to chain-drink to stay awake. I was a grey person, trapped in a grey world, with a grey future. I looked above me and I didn’t see these sharp, shiny, successful men that I imagined I’d one day become by working at an investment bank. No. I saw uninspired, bland, middle-aged men, drearily pushing their crushed souls through another long day of the same old slog. The whole rat race was draining and insipidly unfulfilling, and even those who ‘won’ were still rats in a cage made of money. There had to be more to life than this. I wanted passion, I wanted excitement, I wanted to feel alive. Feelings I had once felt and forgotten.”

“Banking is fucking brutal. I knew this after my internship, but I didn’t care. I wanted money. I wanted respect. I wanted to be a somebody in the eyes of myself and others. But most of all, I wanted money. Why? Because money is freedom. Money means I can wear what I want, live where I want, go where I want, eat what I want, be who I want. Money would make me happy. Right? Well… not exactly I’m afraid. In fact, money didn’t seem to make any of the bankers happy. Not one person in the roughly 200 I got to know in banking were happy.”

“I personally did not find the work interesting, and that placed me in the 95% majority. You’re not golfing with CEOs, talking about strategy, then driving your lambo home at 3.30pm to have sex with your hot girlfriend. No, you’re sat at your computer, haven’t spent more than 5 minutes in the sun in weeks, you’re out of shape, bad skin, tired, overworked, and you’re facing yet another office dinner before calling yourself a cab somewhere between 1am and 5am to take your lonely ass to your empty bed.”