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Morning Coffee: The unlikely bank CEO who wakes up at 4.30am, cracks risqué jokes. Lloyd Blankfein the kingmaker

John Cryan Deutsche Bank

Amidst all the excitement about David Solomon and his alter ego as a dance music DJ, it’s easy to presume that GS has cornered the market in interesting CEOs. That would be wrong. There are other potentials lurking in unexpected places.

Among them is John Cryan, the seemingly staid, seemingly grumpy, seemingly bland CEO of Deutsche Bank. In a video interview with German newspaper Zeit, Cryan dispensed with his reputation as a man with a battered brown briefcase and dour expression and emerged as a mischievous middle-aged man with a dry sense of humour.

The interviewer, for example, asked whether Cryan had children. “I may have them, but I don’t know,” said Cryan. “- It’s a feature of being male.”

The interviewer asked about Cryan’s “ruthless efficiency.” Cryan observed he had,” No roof whatsoever.”

The interviewer also asked about conflicting reports that Cryan was born in Yorkshire and Sunderland. “The truth is I actually can’t remember being born,” said Cryan. “I don’t have any recollection of my birth – I’m relying on third sources.”

Contrary to his reputation (and frequent facial expressions), Cryan said he’s annoyingly chirpy: “I’m nearly never grumpy – in fact I irritate people that I nearly never get upset.” While Solomon’s side-hobby is spinning records, Cryan’s is reading scientific papers on his iPad: “I’m really interested in the nature of time,” he declared. Cryan added that if he did have children, he might encourage them into the arts – or at least that he might encourage his children’s children into the arts: as computers take over the chores of living, human beings will be free to pursue the essence of being human instead.

Far from an innate dissatisfaction with life, 57 year-old Cryan’s apparent dourness may have another source: exhaustion. “I wake up normally 4.30am-4.45am,” he informed his interviewer. Cryan seems to like even this though: “I’m a hugely privileged person… I’m very lucky. Although there are aspects of the job that can be quite challenging, I get to meet incredibly interesting people.”  It seems the people he encounters may feel the same.

Separately, it was starting to look something odd might be happening in relation to Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs. First came the report, cryptically denied of his departure, then came the revelation that Harvey Schwartz was stepping down and Solomon would likely be replacing Blankfein, despite previous reports that Schwartz was Blankfein’s favourite.  In combination, they suggested that Blankfein himself was losing his mojo.

Not at all. The truth appears to have been that Blankfein himself settled on Solomon in February and it was only a matter of time before this became apparent.


Goldman Sachs’ shares rose nearly on the revelation that David Solomon will probably replace Lloyd Blankfein. (Business Insider) 

Solomon can be gruff and quick to anger. (Financial Times) 

Barclays gave Tim Throsby £12.5m in shares for 2017. £9m was to compensate for stock he left at J.P. Morgan.  (Telegraph) 

Recruitment firm says there were 35% fewer people looking for jobs in the City of London this February than in February 2017. (Financial News)

The London Underground banned an ad designed to lure British businesses to northern France after Brexit, saying the issue was too controversial. (Bloomberg) 

Meet the new MBA class at McKinsey & Co. (Poets and quants) 

Disclose your religion, sexual orientation, parental status when applying for a new job – just don’t do so too soon. (HBR) 

Good things happen to mediocre people. (BBC) 

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