That trip brought a small triumph of another kind

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That trip brought a small triumph of another kind: after a day of meetings in San Francisco, I got to return to Stanford and see old friends—not just as an alum but as a Goldman Sachs employee. I was proud to tell people that I was in town on business. Amazingly, it was also the weekend of the Big Game, and we defeated Cal Berkeley, our football archrival, for the seventh consecutive time, 35 to 28. (This winning streak would be reversed horribly in the years to come.) Rudy knew he had done me a solid by sending me on that trip, and I appreciated it. I went on a couple of other business trips that fall. Rudy used to joke that he was sending me to all these less-than-exotic places such as San Antonio and Dallas because he didn’t want to go himself. But I was thrilled to go. When he said, “Springbok, you’re off to Columbus, Ohio,” I didn’t roll my eyes. It was a chance to learn more about my adopted homeland. (Did you know that both Wendy’s and Victoria’s Secret are based in Columbus? I got a kick out of going to visit the very first Wendy’s.) On every business trip, even after I was stationed in London and the firm sent me to Dubai or Frankfurt or Paris, I would try to take a few hours in the evening to find a nice restaurant and sample some of the local culture, even if it made me more tired the next day. I loved traveling on business and representing Goldman Sachs. It was one of the big benefits of being on such a small team. My French Canadian roommate was on the Canadian Equity Sales team, which had fifteen people. He was not getting sent on business trips at such an early stage. I felt very lucky. The road miles I logged were putting me ahead of the curve for beginning analysts and giving me exposure to lots of clients. The extra experience got me that much closer to an important milestone. ——— Your first trade on Wall Street is a big deal, and mine was a proud moment for me, even though it netted the firm a grand total of $600—probably less than Goldman Sachs spent on soap dispenser refills on any given day. A mutual fund client whom I had been calling daily for about six weeks finally decided to pay me for my efforts and pulled the trigger on buying 500 little shares of South
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African Breweries (SAB). (When you use the term little next to a quantity of shares, it indicates that you actually mean only 500, not 500,000, as a trader would assume without such clarification.) But to Rudy’s credit, he recognized the significance of the moment, and decided to make a big deal of it. Rudy was a culture carrier. And he was sufficiently impressed with the gravity of the occasion to want to commemorate it in classic Wall Street fashion: by cutting the trader’s tie in two and hanging the snipped-off piece from the ceiling. The only problem was I wasn’t wearing a tie that day. A bit of background: Salespeople and traders at Goldman Sachs had worn suits and ties up until the late 1990s, but during the tech bubble, Goldman started to compete with Silicon Valley for the
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