Friday, May 09, 2014

Hank Paulson Says "I Ain't Yo' Mama"

Gearing up to read Tim Geithner's tell-all about his years on the bridge in the storm, I dusted off the pixels on the memoir of his colleague, Hank Paulson.  I expect I'll offer some side-by-side thoughts in a bit but for the moment, here's a fascinating not-quite-on-topic offering from Paulson on his management philosophy at Goldman Sachs:
Long hours at the office can cause problems at home, and this was a period of great stress in my marriage. I’d come home too tired to want to do much with the children when they were very young. We couldn’t afford to finish our bedroom, so we were living in an open loft, with the kids in rooms right next to us. I sometimes locked myself in the bathroom with Sports Illustrated to relax in quiet . Wendy made it clear I had to help out and get home earlier to give the kids baths, read a story, and put them to bed. With Gorter’s support, I began a pattern where I’d leave the office at 4: 30 p.m., run for the 4: 42 p.m. train, and be home at 5: 25 p.m. After supper, I’d read to the kids. I had them trained so I could zip through a bedtime story very quickly. One night Wendy came in and urged, “Slow down and read with expression.” I tried, but as soon as I did, both kids started crying: “No, no! Read like a daddy , not like a mommy.” Once they were asleep, I’d get on the phone and start talking to clients, who’d say, “Good Lord, you’re still in the office working?” When I tell this story about work-life balance, people say: “Paulson, you SOB, you worked people harder than anybody at Goldman Sachs.” Fair enough. But I always told folks at Goldman: It’s not your boss’s job to figure out your life.   You spend so much time planning your work schedule and your career, you need to make that kind of effort to manage your private life, too. Learn how to say no. Remember, you are not going to get ahead, in any case, being a grunt. 
Paulson, Henry M. (2013-09-03). On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System -- With Original New Material on the Five Year Anniversary of the Financial Crisis (Kindle Locations 1104-1106). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

It's a thought, baldly put.  Some will find it severe. But for several years, I've been telling law students--those who are going to the fancy firms, the ones that represent the likes of Goldman Sachs--that one of the ways in which they will be tested is in the determination of their capacity to manage conflicting, irreconcilable, unreasonable commitments. 

Comparison: a colleague whose name I shall not mention got his start at one of those fancy law shops. He quickly learned that there was an office poker game-no, wait, two office poker games: one for the big dogs and one for the puppies.  Your choice.  Anybody could join the puppy game.  Anybody could join the big dog game also but it was made clear to you that the big dog game was not for puppies and that if you went in there, you went at your own risk, with all that the term implies.  I suspect Hank would agree. 

1 comment:

The New York Crank said...

Wait a second, just wait an effin' second. Palson says what?

"we couldn’t afford to finish our bedroom, so we were living in an open loft, with the kids in rooms right next to us..."

Are you pulling my chain? He couldn't afford to finish put up a bedroom wall and furnish the room on a Goldman Sachs salary? With Goldman Sachs bennies? And a Goldman Sachs bonus? The firm that spawned GS elevator talk, with comments nobody challenged (wherever they came from) like, "Dude, a $20 bill IS change?"

What were they thinking about? 24 karat gold leaf wallpaper and a diamond-encrusted headboard?

Clearly nobody enjoys a self-inflicted sense of persecution more than the rich.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank