Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs’

Can You Succeed in Business Without Being a Jerk?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Image: Bob RosnerWhen Kobe Bryant was recently asked what his fifth championship meant to him he replied, “One more than Shaq.”

Which got me thinking, why does it appear that so many successful people are jerks?  Or worse. Do good guys really finish last?

When it comes to success and the jerk factor, you quickly discover that there is an embarrassment of riches to plume. And I do mean embarrassment.

John Thune, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch who managed the remarkable trifecta of bludgeoning his company’s market value, laying off thousands of people and doing a one million dollar plus remodel of his own personal office.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein who sold his customers financial products and then bet that these products would fail. He then had the temerity to call his performance, “Doing God’s work.”

Tony Hayward, BP CEO. The jerk of not only the year, but of the decade. Tony, the only person who wants you to have your life back more than you do, is the rest of us. Really.

Enron, Lehman Brothers…okay, this is too easy.

It’s unfortunate that many jerks in the workplace are successful. And often their success can be tracked to their jerkiness. However, that begs the most interesting question here. Can you be successful without being a jerk?

Yes, I believe that you can. For the simple reason that I believe that jerks often instill fear in the people around them. And fear works, for a while. But eventually people realize that there are sane bosses out there, that they don’t have to tolerate boorish behavior at work. That good guys mostly finish first and that’s a much better team to be on.

Jerks succeed in spite of who they are, not because of it. Thankfully, the jerkiness eventually has a way of biting them in the butt.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

When The Revolution Comes, Your 401(k) Will Be First Against The Wall

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Everybody’s favorite vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, has practiced a form of virtual class warfare for a long time now.

But Bloomberg reports today that top execs there are now arming themselves for the real thing:

“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it’s true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that “as a preliminary matter” it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits. The NYPD also said it will be a while before it can name names…

Talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall-Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.

I’m not sure what kind of Mad Max future these people are envisioning, exactly. But it is kind of funny to imagine an investment banking nerd thinking that dropping $500 on a Glock 19 will turn him into the Road Warrior.

UPDATE (4:00PM): More reactions…

SEIU:

They just don’t get it. The thousands of people that showed up outside their door in Chicago and DC aren’t part of some violent mob; we’re taxpayers who’ve been taken for a ride by Wall Street and want to get off at the next stop. Our message has been clear and simple every time: stop using our money on lobbying and bonuses.

LOLFed:

Goldman employees…think about this for a moment. You work for one of the nation’s most hated institutions. You’re pretty unpopular already. But one of the few things Goldman has not yet been accused of is actually killing someone. Do you really want to be the one to break that long and storied tradition of not killing someone? That’s a guaranteed way to get your bonus chopped down to five figures, mister.

*This post originally appeared in Change to Win on December 1, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.

About the Author Jason Lefkowitz: is the Online Campaigns Organizer for Change to Win, a partnership of seven unions and six million workers united together to restore the American Dream for everybody. He built his first Web site in 1995 and has been building online communities professionally since 1998. To read more of his work, visit the Change to Win blog, CtW Connect, at http://www.changetowin.org/connect.

Showdown in Chicago: Thousands Protest Bankers

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Image: Seth MichalsMore than 5,000 people are packing the streets of downtown Chicago this morning, chanting, marching and rallying against Big Bankers and financial institutions that have taken taxpayer money and are using it to give big bonuses to CEOs and to lobby against financial reforms that would ensure they don’t go back on the public dole.

The crowd is marching to the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, site of the American Bankers Association meeting, to protest the banking industry’s greed and irresponsibility that crippled our economy, leaving millions of workers behind.

Photo by SEIU

Photo by SEIU

After the house of cards they built collapsed, bankers and the financial industry took $700 billion in taxpayer funds for a bailout. But rather than reform their failed practices, they want to go back to business as usual—with the chance of again precipitating another financial collapse and need for taxpayer bailout in coming years.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who is joining union members and allies at today’s events, has a clear message to bankers: You work for us.

Business as usual is over. We are shutting it down. You work for us—not the other way around. Your job is to be stewards of our savings, to put and keep working families in homes, to lend the money companies need to create jobs. And you have failed. You’ve turned the American economy into your own private casino, gambling away our financial future with our money, and driving us to the brink of a second Great Depression—then sticking out your hand for taxpayers to bail you out.

Praising Barack Obama’s administration for trying to stop the out-of-control bonuses paid to executives at bailed-out banks, Trumka says we need to go further by setting tough new rules so that the financial industry can’t run our economy into the ground again.

Trumka calls for four key principles to be part of any financial reform:

  • A new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to monitor banks and credit card companies and prevent abuses.
  • Reform the Federal Reserve Board or create an agency capable of stopping systemic risk.
  • More transparency so that hedge funds, derivatives and private equity markets can have real oversight.
  • Reform of corporate governance and executive compensation to make the finance industry work on behalf of the real economy, not vice versa.

This shouldn’t be a moment, Trumka says, where we pretend we can go back to the old broken economy that benefited only a few at the expense of everyone else.

Our economy has been all but destroyed. We have to build a whole new one, based on good jobs, not on bad debt; with America investing in and exporting technology and world-class products, not financial crisis; where hard work is rewarded, not colossal failure; where workers have a real voice because they have the freedom to have a union if they want one; and where all of us have the health care we need.

Appearing on the local Fox affiliate this morning, Trumka said it’s an outrage the financial industry took billions in taxpayer dollars, yet uses its resources to lobby against regulations to prevent a crisis like this from happening again:

The bankers who took all the risk and now are doing everything that they can to block reform so that it doesn’t happen again. Now that’s the problem. They want to do the same things over and over again, and they want us to pay the price again.

This article originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on October 27, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.

About the Author: Seth Michaels is the online campaign coordinator for the AFL-CIO, focusing on the Employee Free Choice campaign. Prior to arriving at the AFL-CIO, he’s worked on online mobilization for Moveon.org, Blue State Digital and the National Jewish Democratic Council. He also spent two years touring the country as a member of the Late Night Players, a sketch comedy troupe.

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