1. The rise to the top doesn't go through Goldman Sachs. The 39-year-old Todd Combs has never worked for a bulge bracket investment bank. In fact, he's never worked for any investment bank. Instead, his career trajectory went through a state financial regulator and an auto insurer before he found his way to the hedge fund world.
2. Seminoles are just as tough as Tigers, Bulldogs and Quakers. For undergrad, Combs didn't attend an Ivy-League school but an ACC one (and he's still, reportedly, a huge supporter of the Florida State football team).
3. You can't just want to make money; you must really really really want to make money. According to one of Combs' grad school professors quoted in (Combs did go Ivy for his MBA, having attended and graduated from Columbia), "When you teach, you see some people that just go through the motions. And some people who genuinely want to make money. That's where Todd's head was."
4. Leave the smalltalk at home. Also according to the Journal, "When Mr. Combs meets clients outside the office, there is little chitchat. He lights up when the subject of the market is broached and launches into a discussion of his biggest investment positions."
5. Work also means hours and hours of research. "People who have worked with Mr. Combs say he is curious about the workings about the financial world, with a deep understanding of finance, business and regulation. He does his own research and spends a significant amount of time reading newspapers and arcane financial documents, such as insurers' statutory filings and prospectuses for securities backed by pools of assets."