My GS Elevator Moment

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since I interviewed at Goldman Sachs in NYC. But there’s one incident from my interview time at One New York Plaza that I remember clearly above all others: my GS elevator moment.

For those of you who haven’t been following the funny story on Twitter, for years, @GSElevator Gossip has been posting tweets about what many assumed to be overheard gossip exchanged by GS employees from around the world. The tweets range from cringeworthy to poignant in nature. The goal was to stereotype the ridiculousness of Wall Street culture, while inciting outrage from every non-Wall Street person imaginable. With 650,000 Twitter followers and a potential book deal, I think it succeeded.

Here are two examples of @GSElevator Gossip tweets:

GS-elevator-gossip

Goldman Sachs is an easy target on Wall Street because it consistently ranks at the top of the league tables in terms of deal flow and profits. Furthermore, GS alumni permeate the ranks of senior government officials, including folks such as former US Treasury Secretaries Bob Rubin and Hank Paulson. The GS Mafia is out there, and conspiracy theories abound. When you’re the top dog, many want to hunt you down. (This is why it’s important to practice Stealth Wealth if you get too far up the food chain in any field.)

It turns out the person behind @GSElevator was not a Goldman Sachs employee after all, but an outsider named John who worked at Citibank and “left” in 2008. I love Citibank as a commercial bank, but on Wall Street, Citibank isn’t considered to be in the same league as a Goldman. Citibank has always been seen as “the backup bank” if you got rejected from Goldman or Morgan, much as Columbia would be a backup to Harvard – both are excellent schools, they’re just not quite the same. Such are the petty attitudes of type-A recent college graduates. Coming from a non-target, public school myself, I would have been happy to get any job on Wall Street, let alone one at GS.

I give props to John from Citibank for creating @GSElevator because he was able to “fake it until he made it“. Here’s a guy who never worked a day at Goldman, made up a bunch of attention-grabbing tweets, and yet was able to create a brand based on Goldman culture that is followed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide on Twitter. If his book is published, it should net him at least six figures in compensation. John’s example demonstrates yet again that it doesn’t matter whether you fully know your stuff or come from the organization in which you represent; as long as you can manipulate the system, money and attention will follow.http://cdn.financialsamurai.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif?46c570

MY GS ELEVATOR EXPERIENCE

It was around March 1999 when I found myself back at One New York Plaza for the fifth time. I had gone through the Super Day screen almost six months earlier, and since that time had interviewed roughly 40 people in different departments trying to find myself a home. Clearly I was an underperformer; my fellow interviewees from Super Day had all landed desks by Christmas 1998, but nobody wanted me–not the derivatives desk and not the prime brokerage desks.

It was 7:30am as I rode up a packed elevator to the 50th floor where all the most senior Managing Directors in equities lived. First up was a US Trading MD, and I was nervous. We were packed like blue fin tuna in the elevator and I was standing in the very front, next to the door. When the elevator blinged open at the 50th floor, I immediately got out in order to let everyone else get out as quickly as possible.

The receptionist told me to wait in the lobby and after 15 minutes she brought me into an empty partner’s office. There I sat for another 30 minutes, hands sweating, while reviewing my resume over and over again to make sure nothing was amiss. Finally, a 50-something year old man with an athletic frame stepped into the office. He neither said “hello,” nor shook my hand.

The partner shuffled some papers on his desk and then looked at me sternly. He said, “Never, EVER, get out of the elevator before a lady again!” The partner then stormed out of his office to who knows where.

I was completely shaken by this encounter. The only reason I got out of the elevator first was because we were jammed in there so tight I thought the right thing to do was to go out first. I was in the front of the elevator and there was no way I could move back and then to my right to let a woman behind me out. I didn’t even know there were any women behind me, as there was no room to turn around! All I noticed was a man standing to my left.

Had I just screwed myself after five rounds and 41 interviews, simply because I wasn’t the absolute perfect gentleman? Clearly what just happened was a joke, right? Hopefully he was just waiting to see how I dealt with pressure, and he’d come back in to pat me on the back and say, “Just kidding, son!” But he never returned and I was left to go through the rest of the day like a zombie.

EXPERIENCES SHAPE US FOREVER

After meeting another six people that traumatic day, I was asked to fly up to NYC for a sixth and (thankfully) final round of interviews. All told, I had one-on-one interviews with over 55 employees and brief discussions with probably 100 more before I finally landed my job on the international equities sales desk on the 49th floor.

Aside from the obvious prize of landing a plum job on Wall Street, my interview experience yielded one other valuable dividend:  Not once since that day in 1999 have I ever walked into or out of an elevator before a woman again. Perhaps this is all the lesson any man needs to become a gentleman – one good dose of “tough love” administered by a rich and powerful person who possesses the power to threaten your entire future. I was just so thankful to land a job, I’d have done anything to make amends; including jamming people even tighter into an elevator just to make way for a lady.

Two years later I left Manhattan to come out to San Francisco with a new firm. A couple months afterward, a fella by the name of Greg Smith out of Stanford took my spot on the Emerging Markets desk in NYC. You may remember Greg; he’s the man who blew up the media in March 2012 with a scathing op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled, “Why I’m Leaving Goldman Sachs“, and then proceeded to write a book with a million dollar advanced entitled, “Why I Left Goldman Sachs.” I read ‘em both. Not bad, albeit a little boring.

Funny how small the world is, no? Let’s see if John LeFevre of @GSElevator can do a better job than Greg Smith in publishing his book, entitled “Straight To Hell: True Tales Of Deviance And Excess In The World Of Investment Banking.” Sounds much more interesting and potentially way more lucrative to me!

Too bad the word is that publisher Simon & Schuster have reportedly dropped John’s deal for faking it too much. In a stroke of brilliance, @GoldmanSachs responded to the news with the following Tweet:

GS Elevator Tweet Response

Readers, any funny experiences that have shaped you to be who you are today? Do you think John from @GSElevator will successfully make his millions even though he faked his entire way through? Does it even matter that he never worked at Goldman since his tweets were entertaining? Shouldn’t this scenario just garner John more publicity and therefore increase his chances for a new book deal and TV appearances? Any areas where you’re thinking about faking it to get rich? If you want to read more posts about what goes on, on Wall Street, let me know. 

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m interested to see if others (especially women) think that letting women out of the elevator first is a gentlemanly act. Definitely in your situation in the full elevator, getting out quickly to allow others more space to get out of the lift would seem like the polite move to make.

    Anyway, pretty interesting story. I don’t think I have any lift stories personally – I guess I need to take the stairs less often!! :)

  2. says

    That’s ridiculous Sam. On a crowded elevator…..really?! If Goldman Sachs was so concerned with honor and gentility, they wouldn’t have systematically encouraged unethical (though profitable) behavior. That jerk just saw that he had the upper hand….and wanted to reinforce the idea that he was better than you. I had a boss like that once….he was a genuinely miserable person.
    -Bryan

    • says

      That’s the thing. I coulda swore it was just a test, and he’d find me at the end of the day to give me a good ribbing. But he didn’t. And what was a college senior supposed to do but take it and endure. I don’t know why I never went up to the 50th floor to look for him to see what was up.

      Back in the 90s, GS was still a private company and the senior partners were people to really respect and fear.

  3. says

    And in your story of having to deal with that unobservant a$$hat at GS, I’m refined of one of the biggest reasons I left corporate America; having to deal with a$$hats. I should add that the billion-rounds-of-interviews that was prevalent at that time (I remember going through it as well) was really tiresome. After a dozen during a hunt, my headhunter told me that the company with which I was interviewing wanted me to come in for yet another round. I told her no way, I’m sitting on two other job offers, if they don’t want me then they don’t want me, I’ve got to move on with my life. They gave me an offer the following day and I worked there for about 15 years.

  4. says

    I don’t really consider GSElevator as a “fake it till you make it” case. It was satire of the Wall St. stereotype, much like Jon Stewart isn’t really “faking” being a news anchor. It would be something totally different if he was some college student sitting in a dorm room. But in this case it was a guy on Wall St. trying to poke fun at the culture while remaining anonymous. I’m fine with it & don’t see any reason he should have lost his book deal because it turns out he worked for Citi and not GS.

    • says

      And your belief is exactly why I’m so bullish for Americans. We can be anything, do anything, make anything we want if we are crafty enough to entertain and execute on our visions.

      I promise you that the large majority of John’s followers thought he worked at GS. Even more, there have been consistent internal discussions and audits at GS to try and find out who this person was. Wall Street, and big companies in general take reputation very seriously. The below is the Goldman Sachs Business Principles that every one of us newbie analysts were required to read over and over again. The second point was the most emphasized.

      OUR CLIENTS’ INTERESTS ALWAYS COME FIRST.

      Our experience shows that if we serve our clients well, our own success will follow.

      OUR ASSETS ARE OUR PEOPLE, CAPITAL AND REPUTATION.

      If any of these is ever diminished, the last is the most difficult to restore. We are dedicated to complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and ethical principles that govern us. Our continued success depends upon unswerving adherence to this standard.

      OUR GOAL IS TO PROVIDE SUPERIOR RETURNS TO OUR SHAREHOLDERS.

      Profitability is critical to achieving superior returns, building our capital, and attracting and keeping our best people. Significant employee stock ownership aligns the interests of our employees and our shareholders.

      WE TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN THE PROFESSIONAL QUALITY OF OUR WORK.

      We have an uncompromising determination to achieve excellence in everything we undertake. Though we may be involved in a wide variety and heavy volume of activity, we would, if it came to a choice, rather be best than biggest.

      WE STRESS CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION IN EVERYTHING WE DO.

      While recognizing that the old way may still be the best way, we constantly strive to find a better solution to a client’s problems. We pride ourselves on having pioneered many of the practices and techniques that have become standard in the industry.

      WE MAKE AN UNUSUAL EFFORT TO IDENTIFY AND RECRUIT THE VERY BEST PERSON FOR EVERY JOB.

      Although our activities are measured in billions of dollars, we select our people one by one. In a service business, we know that without the best people, we cannot be the best firm.

      WE OFFER OUR PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE AHEAD MORE RAPIDLY THAN IS POSSIBLE AT MOST OTHER PLACES.

      Advancement depends on merit and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.

      WE STRESS TEAMWORK IN EVERYTHING WE DO.

      While individual creativity is always encouraged, we have found that team effort often produces the best results. We have no room for those who put their personal interests ahead of the interests of the firm and its clients.

      THE DEDICATION OF OUR PEOPLE TO THE FIRM AND THE INTENSE EFFORT THEY GIVE THEIR JOBS ARE GREATER THAN ONE FINDS IN MOST OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.

      We think that this is an important part of our success.

      WE CONSIDER OUR SIZE AN ASSET THAT WE TRY HARD TO PRESERVE.

      We want to be big enough to undertake the largest project that any of our clients could contemplate, yet small enough to maintain the loyalty, the intimacy and the esprit de corps that we all treasure and that contribute greatly to our success.

      WE CONSTANTLY STRIVE TO ANTICIPATE THE RAPIDLY CHANGING NEEDS OF OUR CLIENTS AND TO DEVELOP NEW SERVICES TO MEET THOSE NEEDS.

      We know that the world of finance will not stand still and that complacency can lead to extinction.

      WE REGULARLY RECEIVE CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION AS PART OF OUR NORMAL CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS.

      To breach a confidence or to use confidential information improperly or carelessly would be unthinkable.

      OUR BUSINESS IS HIGHLY COMPETITIVE, AND WE AGGRESSIVELY SEEK TO EXPAND OUR CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS.

      However, we must always be fair competitors and must never denigrate other firms.

      INTEGRITY AND HONESTY ARE AT THE HEART OF OUR BUSINESS.

      We expect our people to maintain high ethical standards in everything they do, both in their work for the firm and in their personal lives.

  5. says

    Maybe I’m not much of a lady, but in a crowded elevator, common sense should prevail. Sure, if you’re in an elevator with just a few people, be a gentleman and let the women off first. In a packed elevator though? Getting out of the way quickly, so everyone can get off more quickly, makes much more sense than being at the front and trying to squish back so the women can squeeze their way forward. I’m all for manners, but you have to consider what’s most appropriate for the given situation. I’ve been in numerous situations where someone is trying to follow the rules of etiquette and ends up creating an awkward and uncomfortable situation for everyone. Etiquette offers guidelines, but sometimes you have to make adjustments for the situation.

    But some would argue that stance makes me unrefined, or too much of a feminist.

  6. Red says

    I recently went on a date with a woman who later chastised me for holding the door open for her. She got a little flustered when I pointed out that I held the door open for the guy behind us as well. I still offer my seat on public transport, but if the elevator is too crowded, you need to exit efficiently.

      • Red says

        The date was fun, but we were better off friends than in a relationship. I still run into her sometimes through mountain biking (she’s usually dating a bike shop mechanic and complaining about how he has now ambition).

  7. says

    Any similarities between Greg’s exit from GS and yours, Sam?

    I remember reading that op-ed when it came out a couple years ago and I’m curious how many other Goldman alum share his sentiments?

    • says

      We were at different stages in our careers. When I left, I just finished my 2nd year as an analyst and just looking for stable employment and more experience since I was in the analyst program and it was unlikely I’d get a 3rd year since the markets were imploding for a year by June 2001. Greg left as a VP, so had more time to get jaded. When I left as a Director (one level above VP) at my last firm, I was tired b/c it had been 13 years and I no longer had as much fun. I’m discovering that the need to have fun at what I do is very important. There is a ton of regulation now on WS, and so there should be to prevent another collapse. But what happens is overregulation and those not involved in the housing crash get hurt.

  8. says

    1) Funniest moment on Wall Street so far…

    Me at age 22: “well if I ever get $1M in the bank, liquid, I would quit and retire and move to Thailand”
    MD: “You think a million dollars is a lot of money? GTFO of my office!” (Slams door)

    Another one:
    Me: “affirmative action is always taboo because at the end of day some people do have it harder if they are from lower income areas with bad education systems etc…”
    MD: “well the world would be a better place if we didn’t let poor people vote. Especially for affirmative action (smirk)”

    2) yes he already made his millions, he mentioned crashing a Maserati and apparently that was a true story according to BI.

    3) it does matter to me. I won’t take any of his advice on how to get into Goldman

    “Better well done than well said”

    However*** all his Wall Street commentary is true and based on experience. Just won’t be taking any of his views on Goldman

    4) this did garner more plublicity, he signed a 6 figure book deal. Before the news broke he had 610K followers and now is at 650K so people just want to be entertained not informed.

    5) faking it is a touchy topic. Agree you shouldn’t “lie” about who you are because it makes you a weaker person.

    “The true punishment for a liar is that he can no longer trust anyone”

    But** do believe in trying to improve. Ie: dress for the job you want not the job you have. This is *faking* it but not really IMHO, you’re just trying to get better.

    Aren’t we all?

    • says

      We are all faking it in someway for a better life indeed.

      Nice response from your MD on a million! Doesn’t he know that in the lifestyle design space, all you need is $1,000/month to live like a King in Chang Mai?

      Which bank did you use to work and for how long? What dept were you in and whatcha doing now? Always good to get to know more fellow WS alums.

      • says

        Ah yeah so the blog is an amalgamation of people who work no Wall Street (current not alumna)

        Bulge brackets, hedge funds, some middle market (IBD/Sales and trading/hedge funds/research/private equity) is the focus.

        Maybe one of the contributors will meet you in the future who knows the Internet is a crazy place!

        One thing we 100% are on the same page is there are too many people with “successful blogs” that have no real life experience and that is getting tiring.

        “Always better well said than well done”

        Because….

        Everything in life is always harder to do than to say.


        PS: how do we add the logo to our posts here, generally On an iPad/iPhone for posting.

        Like a lot of the posts but don’t like the weird characatures… no offense! ;)

  9. Austin says

    I never would have thought there was such a thing as too phony for Simon & Schuster.

    I’ve never thought that IB was that inherently malicious. Maybe quite a bit of conflict of interest but not necessarily outright malicious. Some of these PE LBO and activist investor efforts that I see are way more sickening. A lot of it is tantamount to theft.

  10. says

    No way that guy didn’t even work at GS?! I love your real elevator moment. There are still a lot of hard core conservatives and old fashioned types on the street. He was definitely putting a pressure test on you as well as doing a power play. If I was in your shoes I would have done the same thing.

    Uncrowded elevators are a little bit different but I would never expect a man to let me off first. It’s a nice surprise when a man holds the door open for me and I don’t take offense. I don’t expect it either. Great post Sam!

  11. says

    I think with an elevator you have to balance chivalry with efficiency. If the elevator was as jam packed as you say, then trying to sort out the ‘women exiting first’ strategy would mean twice as long on every stop.

    If it were just you, a woman, and the exec in question, I could see his point. Otherwise, the guy just sounds like somewhat of a d-bag.

  12. says

    That’s nuts. A packed elevator is not time for chivalry. I open doors for women and that’s plenty. Elevator is no big deal. That guy was just too old.

  13. says

    That Goldman Sachs tweet is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. Too bad John couldn’t leverage that faking into some real money, but at least he gave himself a shot. Got to swing the bat if you want to get a hit.

    • says

      You don’t think John will get another publisher to pick him up? I’m willing to bet almost anything that another publisher will! I just wanted to provide another great example why anybody can do anything if they put their mind to it, even if they don’t have the money, resume, pedigree, etc.

  14. Maverick says

    Can a negotiated severance package of high compensation be construed as hush money? Or maybe the takeaway is that Greg Smith is not a good negotiator?

    • says

      There is definitely an NDA agreement one must sign and uphold not to bash the company it is departing. I write about this in my book, “How To Engineer Your Layoff“. I’m sure GS would have GLADLY gave Greg Smith a nice severance if he were to approach GS in a more mature and collaborative manner.

      Instead, he decided to blow them up in the NY Times. To me, unless GS insulted his mother or deeply humiliated his honor, writing such an op-ed comes across as very unprofessional. The bottom line look like he didn’t get the bonus he wanted, to he complained. But all those times he was getting the bonus he wanted, he never complained. Not cool. We are in a sink or swim industry. We all know a bonus is just that, a bonus. Entitlement mentality kills people on WS. If you don’t like something, get better or move on gracefully.

      Or, you can build your own media site and connections so big that nobody can ever insult you again without facing some serious repercussions :)

  15. says

    Not quite an elevator moment but funny none the less: I had just gotten done with 3 rounds of interviews at EY for their transaction advisory services group. I went to the bathroom and an older man parks up in the urinal right next to me. The guy just starts chatting me up like we’re in the lobby. Turns out he was the head of the TAS practice for the entire west coast and actually gave the commencement speech at my graduation later that year.

    I didn’t end up getting the job, but 3 years later I transferred into the TAS mergers and acquisitions group in Times Square and now I’m in that TAS group but doing corporate restructuring here in Cayman (which is more interesting than doing the same job in the US because there arent those pesky independence issues).

    • says

      Hah! Nice. You’re in the Cayman? You must share more about life there and all the tax loopholes and stuff! Perhaps you’d like to share a guest post on FS one day? I think it’d be great.

  16. says

    Great story! I never even knew that was elevator etiquette. Now I know. I would have done the same thing.

    I suppose the guy would have thought you should always pay for a lady’s meal when on a date too?

    It’s 2014, every person for themselves. That’s equal rights.

  17. says

    The interview process includes every moment at a company. When I would meet a candidate in the lobby, I made my decision in the first 5 seconds based on how he or she acted. It was not my final decision, but it influenced my thinking. I was even interested to hear what the receptionist saw or heard before I saw the candidate. It is very subjective, but it shows how a person conducts themselves.

    Interviewing with 55 people is unreal. I do not think even Google puts people through that. I realize you can make more money with GS, but that is a very expensive process. Google stock options could make up for it though!

    • says

      I think it was honestly because I was so unorthodox and so bad. The different desks were wondering how some guy from a non target, public school made it through to the final rounds.

      But I think I landed on the perfect desk: international equities bc of my 14 years experience growing up overseas.

  18. Eli says

    It’s nice when guys let you exit elevators first if, as already stated above, the gesture doesn’t create problems. As a side note, I’ve wondered how well known revolving door etiquette is (if moving, woman goes first; if not moving, man goes first.) I’m fine either way, but I always feel better when someone does anything nice for my mom (elevator, subway seat, etc.)

    GSElevator was inspired by the Conde Nast elevator handle, the creator of which recently outed herself (a former GQ editor.)

  19. Brigid says

    As a woman with excellent manners, sometimes -I- forget that “rule.” I’ve had many an encounter with men waiting for me to get on an elevator while I’m waiting for them to get on because they were closer to the door. I couldn’t care less who gets on or off first just as long as I don’t get run over in the process. In my opinion, women care less and less about these conventions these days which I think, in a lot of ways, is a positive step forward.

    • Q says

      I travel quite a bit domestically for work. What I’ve observed (and therefore have set my inner expectation) is that if you are in Texas, Kansas and those states typically considered “the South”, the men will wait for the ladies to exit the elevator first. West and Midwest usually go with the rule of whomever is closest. East varies depending on the elevator location (large business versus small residential) and geography (large city versus smaller town).

  20. Vincent says

    In regards to the US Trading MD, what a capricious arse! I would have stormed right out of the building and found a company that doesn’t judge my capacity to manage their money based on my lift etiquette! You’re a better man than me to have kept going Sam! I guess what I’ve heard about the culture wasn’t exaggerated…

    • says

      I donno Vincent. This was my 5th round of interviews and I didn’t have another job offer lined up. So this was all or nothing for me. I wonder if that’s exactly what he wanted me to do. To NOT storm out and say ‘fuck this shit’ was the real test! Now that I think about it a little more, I think this is exactly what it was.

      After the third round of interviews, they already knew they wanted to hire me. I didn’t know, but they knew. They just wanted to find me the perfect home, since we all work so closely together for many hours a week.

      • Vincent says

        I know what you’re saying about it being a test, but if an organisation treated me like that, I don’t think I’d want to work there, regardless of the uncertainty. You have to wonder whether the disregard for any sort of work life balance at the bulge bracket level is actually compromising their results. Have any of the banks at that level actually tried to implement a 40 hour work week with less arbitrary stress?

        • says

          There is a movement for all the major banks to give junior analysts a Saturday or a Sunday off if you check online.

          But seriously, a 40 hour work week is a joke. Any bank who limits work to only 40 hours a week will cease to exist very quickly.

          Work ethic is one of the best takeways for banking alums. Practically everything else seems like a walk in the park, so they tend to produce more results.

        • Ravi says

          Most jobs in corp finance/consulting will never be 40 hr/week jobs. They will likely be reduced from the 80+ hr level that some are at now, but it’s part of the package that comes with the experience… at least for now.

          Lower hours will be followed with lower compensation, a big draw to some of the high performing/aspiring grads.

  21. Alan says

    My funny interview story:

    Back in 2000 I was interviewing with a daytrading bucketshop in NYC during the tech bubble, when daytrading bucketshops were still desirable places to work. This one was the most “reputable” as they actually paid a real salary and a large draw of the profits. During my interview with the CEO he showed me the YTD P/Ls of every trader in the firm. Some were already up $5-10 million and it was only July. I decided right then that this was going to be my career path. Throughout the rest of the interview, the CEO had his feet up on his desk puffing away on a cigarette while blitzing me with random questions. He also had two of his minions sitting next to him constantly questioning I was cut out for this business. After 45 minutes I could barely even see anyone because the room was so smoky. I figured out pretty quickly that they were trying to test my ability to handle a stressful situation, and I played along as well as anyone could have. After the interview, they said they would call me soon with a decision. A couple days later, one of the minions called and said I got the offer. I said great, how long do I have to decide? He replied “how long??” as if I had just insulted him by not accepting on the spot. So I said can you give me a day to decide and he said fine and hung up. I was in process with a couple other firms at the time and I wanted to think it out clearly before I decided to make daytrading a career. However the potential riches were too alluring to turn down, so the next day I called them back up and said I would like to take the offer. The guy responds, “sorry, this position is no longer open” and hangs up abruptly. I knew then that I had failed their final test by showing indecisiveness the previous day. Fortunately, I got an offer from a legitimate hedge fund the next day so it all worked out, but I never forgot the bucketshop experience.

      • Alan says

        Yes, funny enough they actually converted themselves into a hedge fund a few years ago and are running a somewhat legitimate strategy. The CEO was ousted along with the conversion so in retrospect maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad for me to join, ha. The HF I joined got crushed during the tech meltdown (it was a long-biased tech fund) and closed down. I’m currently working at a large family office investing across multiple asset classes.

        • says

          So long as they crushed it for a year or two to make their mega millions, that’s all it takes for a HF nowadays. Underperform, close down, start a new one with a new high water mark.

  22. Banker says

    So many people “left,” but really got laid off in 2008 in Asia and in the States. John went to some bucket shop which later failed. Good for him for trying to get back on his feet after the let down. The internet and creativity rewards people.

    But going back to Texas? That’s like “equities in Dallas” as they said in Liar’s Poker. It’s like he got banished to hell. What happened to him? Must be such a let down as it’s not like you’re making much money with a large twitter following and now site to monetize.

    • says

      K. Looks like there are only a couple of you interested in a behind the scenes look on Wall St, so I’ll probably just keep things to myself for awhile.

      Too much crazy stuff that probably people don’t want to know!

  23. JayCeezy says

    Great story. No-win. This GS elevator-scenario does have a solution, though. If it is too crowded to stand while the women squeeze past, then you…

    1) Take one big step forward clear of the door, and immediately move 90 degrees to the side and out of the path of those exiting.
    2) Reach back, and put your hand in front of the door-light while those who were behind you exit. This gesture indicates you are “holding the door” but in reality “holding” isn’t necessary; it is the “gesture” that is necessary.
    3) Nod in acknowledgement of the woman/women, and say one word: “ma’am.” No eye contact, or smile or attempt to connect; all you are conveying is deference and respect.
    4) After EVERYONE (both male and female) has exited, remove your hand and be on your way.

    Elevators can be minefields of perceived etiquette, power plays, and hidden agendas. Smile or look at a pretty woman, and she may suck her teeth and roll her eyes and mutter “perv!” so everyone else can hear. Let go of the door before everyone in the elevator has exited, and you may be accused of “sexism”. Walk ahead after exiting, and you may be accused of narcissistic ego-tripping unmannerly selfishness. Greet a stranger with “how’s it going?” and be met with stony silence. Ugh.

    This handy lesson was taught me by a mentor/pal, who happens to teach classes with actors and personalities on how to behave in public. I told him about a problematic high-level manager at a former employer, who was a retired Army General and a real bully. One time I saw him ask a fellow passenger to introduce himself, which the guy did; and the former General replied, “and of course, you know who I am.” The guy didn’t, and neither did I! Another occasion in an elevator with him standing behind me, a woman was rushing for the elevator door and it closed before I could reach to keep it open. I remarked, “I wasn’t able to reach the button in time.” He angrily replied, “if you had, I would have broken your arm!” I told this story to my mentor/pal, who shared a number of far worse stories that strangers pull on celebrities to try to get over on them. Part of his work is to help them prevent these situations. His best advice on the matter was, “you can never go wrong being simply cordial, and saying nothing.” Wise words.

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