I always felt that just chatting with someone for

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I always felt that just chatting with someone for five minutes would give me a much better sense for all this than asking hard questions about finance. Most important, though: Was the person pleasant? Did we like him? Would he get along with people? Arrogant budding finance gurus did not often make it through the Goldman interview process. Once we had picked our kids on campus, I always did everything I could to help them get in the door. Admittedly this was biased, but I felt that Stanford kids were better rounded and more easygoing than the Ivy League kids, who could be more serious and cutthroat. I’d seen this contrast between East Coast and West Coast very clearly when I was a summer intern. I felt proud, at the end of the summer of 2006, that of the internship managers, I had the highest percentage of kids—more than half of my group of twenty-five—who were asked to join the firm full time. Also that summer, Goldman chose me as one of ten Goldman employees to appear in a documentary-style recruitment video that was made that summer. The firm brought in a production company that filmed me on the trading floor interacting with other employees, then interviewed me on-camera. The cherry on the sundae for my summer was an offer that came out of left field. Laura Mehta, the managing director of our desk, had a house on the North Fork of Long Island—it was only a two- bedroom, but it could have come straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest . Pristine white, perched on the edge of the bluff overlooking the water, the place was fitted out with all the goodies: full chef’s kitchen, Sub-Zero fridge, surround sound. Laura e-mailed Connors and me, saying that either of us could stay there on the weekends she wouldn’t be there. “You guys have worked very
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hard,” she said. “You’re welcome to use it.” Nadine and I had just started dating, and nothing could have been more romantic—or, frankly, more impressive—than taking my new girlfriend to a managing director’s house overlooking the Long Island Sound. Laura went out of her way to recommend all the best places in town—we went to the Frisky Oyster in Greenport for dinner, got the egg-and-cheese croissants that she recommended from the farmers’ market down the street. I was twenty-seven years old, and it felt as though a lot was going my way. ——— Going my way in a big way. At the end of November, Laura called me into her office, smiling, and said, “Well done, Greg.” I was smiling, too. I knew what was coming. “We’re promoting you to vice president,” she told me. I was extremely proud; at the same time, I have to put this promotion in perspective. A little later that day, Lloyd Blankfein sent out an e-mail to the whole firm saying, “These are the new vice presidents; we’d like to congratulate everyone.” There were more than a thousand people on the list. To sharpen the picture further: in a given year, depending on market conditions, Goldman Sachs could fire roughly that same number of employees—one to two thousand people. So being promoted to vice president is as much a tribute to your survival skills as anything else. Many in my analyst class
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