Fear not, young banker. Decades ago, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein was in the same seat you are, and he was absolutely terrified. At least that’s what he wants us to believe.
Speaking with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at an event on Tuesday, Blankfein described his winding road to the top seat at Goldman Sachs – a firm that once rejected his application.
“I applied to a number of Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs and got turned down by all of them,” he said at the Wall Street luncheon. Blankfein eventually took a job at commodity trading firm J. Aron & Company, “which on the prestige [scale] between equities and fixed income and commodities—commodities was just above a toaster,” he half-joked. Goldman Sachs later bought out J. Aron, giving Blankfein a second chance at the firm he coveted.
“I walked in the first day and said ‘I hope I can make it to the second day,’” Blankfein later told Bloomberg TV. “I joined a class of other people who were striving. There were 30 people with me, a year later there were 20, and a year later there were 10. I said ‘Gee I hope I can fool them for another week, a month, a year.’”
Blankfein was also asked about the millennial generation and its propensity to complain about long hours and working weekends – an issue that’s highly prevalent on Wall Street. He described complaining about your workload as more of a rite of passage – something that he also took part in as a young lawyer.
“I complained for hours and hours about how late I’d have to stay,” Blankfein said. “If I complained any less I’d get out a lot earlier, but I worked. I think kids today are doing the same things.”
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Quote of the Day: “There are people at Goldman that I work with—world class athletes, you know manly men, strong women...And when the crisis happened, people metaphorically curled up in a fetal position. We had people who worked for us who didn't look like they could climb a flight of stairs." – Lloyd Blankfein