Tag Archives: Michael Basile

Tupperware and Choosing a Guilt-Free Life

A photo by Jason Briscoe. unsplash.com/photos/sfze-8LfCXI

Oh how the mighty have fallen
Yeah, I was that guy. Black car home every night because I worked Past 10pm every night. Dinners paid for from almost anywhere I wanted; An office that overlooked the Statue of Liberty, long stints in exotic places like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK to fix business units that were determined to need fixing, etc. I was that guy. When I walked into your office, it wasn’t to tell you that you were doing a good job. I was the perpetual hammer in search of a nail. If I found you, it wasn’t pleasant. I fully admit that I wasn’t a nice guy. I made people miserable, but that was my job. There was no margin for error in my old business. One small mistake could literally turn into millions of dollars diverted into incorrect risk pools. A domino effect would ripple through many areas of the firm. Inaccuracies were unacceptable. After years of this, I lost myself and became this character, devoid of any compassion or empathy. I was a one man wrecking machine. That was the way it had to be in investment banking. It was the nature of the beast. I remember getting a blackberry message from my colleague Steve on that fateful September Sunday evening; “Turn on MSNBC”, it read, and I did. Our stock price had plummeted from $92 to $2 a share over the course of a few months. We had been sold to a bank, a real bank that takes depositors money. In that sale, it made my entire line of work and thousands of people’s jobs, in direct violation of the SEC Bank Holding Company act. We would have to go. After about an hour of absorbing this, my wife broke out her emergency pack of stale Parliament cigarettes, and we sat on our stoop at 11:30pm, inflicting torment on our lungs. “What are we going to do?” she asked. “I don’t know” was my reply. And that was the truth. I didn’t.

Dylan had it right “For the times, they are a ‘changin…”
I spent the next eight months trying to reconcile the loss of most of my life savings and career, sleeping until noon, staying up until 2am scouring job boards and applying for positions that I was grossly overqualified for, or just watching YouTube videos on anything from car engine repair to doctors removing infected pus filled boils. The meltdown of 2008, and the related pain, was not just reserved to “Main Street” as the politicians spewed. It hit many ex-Wall Street’ers just as hard. I eventually held several high level positions at smaller firms, and was absolutely miserable. At my lowest point, I lost my desire to eat, lost a ton of weight, and frequently vomited up blood before leaving for work. The negativity of my work environment was literally eating me alive. One day in a brief moment of clarity, I realized that none of this really mattered. I calmly typed an eight paragraph resignation letter to my CEO, left my ID card, Amex card, and office keys on my desk, pushed my chair back, stood up and left. And that was it. I got into my car and hit the NJ Turnpike with the windows open and the radio blasting “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen; “Talk about a dream, try to make it real, you wake up in the night with a fear so real. You spend your life waiting for a moment that just won’t come. Well don’t waste your life waiting.” Those lyrics hit me hard. I kept repeating that line, “Well don’t waste your life waiting”. That was the answer. You need to make it happen. YOU need to make CHANGE happen. I felt good about myself for the first time in almost three years. I originally thought the smell in the car was the methane belched out of the Linden Co-Generation Plant on the Turnpike, but it became sweeter the longer I drove. It was the smell of freedom. It was the smell of change. It was intoxicating.

From a small seed, a mighty oak grows
While I’m far from comparing myself to a mighty Oak, even the smallest effort to foster a positive change in your life should be lauded as a Herculean effort. Quite honestly, the only difference between leaders of industry, innovators, and economic titans like Jobs, Forbes, Gates, Edison and the rest of the world is that these few had the spine (or the stupidity) to take that first small step. Continue reading

Mildly Medicated: Wall Street, Parkinson’s Disease and the Music at the Root of it All

Michael Basile is the manager and the “man behind the scenes” of the modern rock bandScreen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.40.37 PM
Mildly Medicated”, a group of very talented young people all sharing the bond of a medical disability. In his old life he was in investment banking on Wall Street until the world changed forever in 2008 and he re-invented himself as the owner of a school that teaches rock and roll music to budding musician’s. He is the modern day Rubin Kincaid to Mildly Medicated, producing their music, booking shows, and of course paying all the bills, which over the last 4 years have amount to around 150K. A diagnosis he wasn’t expecting changed his perspective on life and the work he is doing.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.
If someone told me I’d be in this position 20 years ago, I’d have said they were nuts. I thought I had cut a deal with the universe that I’d be the modern day Peter Pan. I surely felt invincible at the time. But as I’ve learned, life provides no guarantees, and sometimes you have to play the cards you’ve been dealt. Just to give you some background, I came from a lower middle class family in Brooklyn and an only child because my father really didn’t like children. When I asked him why he even had me, his reply was straightforward and honest, “That was your mother’s idea”, and then he resumed reading the morning addition of the New York Times. My father never quite understood me. When I was in art school pursuing a degree in film, he handed me a copy of the entrance exam to the postal service. In is brute honesty, he proclaimed, “Let’s face it Michael, you’re not capable of anything more complicated than that. Look on the bright side, you put 3 or 4 years in the sorting room and maybe they will promote you and let you sell stamps behind the window. At least you’d have the honor of handling money which is a great responsibility, and after 30 years there will be some sort of pension.” It’s fair to say my father and I did not see eye to eye on most topics. At best he tolerated me. In the late sixties and early 1970’s, dyslexia wasn’t really understood, or even recognized. In the third grade I was labeled “stupid” and a “daydreamer”. I think that was hard for a parent to deal with. Truth be told, I’m far from stupid. I’ve been label a savant, but honestly I think I’m more idiot than savant, but that is a story for another time. In the fourth grade I realized on my own that I had a very strange ability to memorize things, even things I didn’t study. If I saw it sometimes it stuck in great Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.41.34 PMdetail, like the electrical schematic of a microwave oven. I wasn’t even conscious of doing it. My best friend Kim from the old neighborhood will sometimes call me and ask “What’s my password for my online checking account?” and I’ll know it. Yes, I’m weird. During the summer between the 3rd and 4th grade, I realized that I had the ability to “Pattern read” so I memorized the entire pattern of words. To make this easy to understand, I memorized shapes. A lot of them. For me “eht” and “the” is the same word. This ability allows me to read very fast. My friend gave me his discarded copies of Popular Mechanics and I found a partial set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in a garbage can. I spent my summer reading them all and memorizing. By the end of the summer I was able to read with blinding speed, because I could read an entire word at a time, forward and backwards, and just to keep myself from getting bored, I tried to read as much as I could while holding the book upside down because the pattern of words would change. I was devoid of the concept that I was different. I actually thought everyone was like me because no one bothered to tell me I was different, just that I was born stupid. When the fourth grade rolled around, we had our bi-yearly standard testing, and my reading level was off the charts. I was many years ahead of everyone, and the school and my parents accused me of cheating. They tested me again, all alone to be sure I had no help, and I scored even higher. The school was forced to put me in the IGC class, which stood “Intellectually Gifted Children”. I hated it because I just didn’t learn that way, and I was bored. To spare you reading more of this, let’s fast forward to High School, that I completed in 3 and a half years, excelling at things that involve abstract thinking, like music and art. I can play multiple instruments, all self-taught because my parents had no money, and those skills were not really valued at home. When I applied to art school in NYC, my father went ballistic. He was right. When I got out, I could barely make a living. I was literally starving. Things needed to change. Continue reading

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