My good friend and financial genius Dan Purjes has been working as a journalist for as long as I have known him, generally working freelance gigs for the likes of Barrons and the New York TImes. After branching out for many years, Dan now focusses solely on finance, aspects such as asset investment, fund investment and the general ins and outs of Wall Street. Dan has done well in his career, working his way up the ladder to write many a main story for these big publications, and he is a well respected figure in the community. I wanted to pick Dan’s brains about how to make it is as a journalist, for all of you out there looking at this as a viable profession. I caught up with Dan in Rockwood, NYC for a chat, and here was his advice.
Hustling for Peanuts
Whilst it may all seem a long time ago now, Dan tells me that the early years of journalism are not exactly fun, and you must be prepared to hustle for every story that you can get your hands on. During those days Dan was working freelance as such, but rather for anyone who wanted a story. Dan talks candidly about many of his colleagues from that time, who would reject stories because they weren’t juicy enough, those colleagues never made it as far as Dan did.
Touch of Luck
Dan does conceded that there was the odd stroke of luck involved in his path to success, none more so than when he first started out. The first gig which Dan got was thanks to his college mentor Professor Mctague, who used his contacts to land the young Dan a story. Whilst luck is not something you can plan for, it is still something which you should be on the lookout for, and take advantage of it when it comes along.
Dan tells me that when he is trying to uncover the facts about a story, that he is like a dog with a bone, and he will not give up until he has everything he needs to make the story great. He tells me that many journalist will not have the desire that he does, and some of them end up leaving stories unwritten, because they weren’t prepared to put in the legwork. Dan tells me that part of his success is this relentlessness.
Since the very beginning Dan has recognized his talent for writing, and worked hard on perfecting it. He mentions many people from school and college who had a natural gift for writing but failed to nurture it. What happens in such a situation is that sooner or later, the talent runs out and there is someone better who comes along. Dan says that talent is vital in journalism, but so too is respecting it and working hard on making it the very best it can be.
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