Book Review: Why I Left Goldman Sachs

April 15th, 2013

book cover imageSmith, Greg. Why I Left Goldman Sachs : a Wall Street Story. Grand Central Publishing, 2012.

In summer 2012, 13 Fuqua students, including 7 interns, began their careers at Goldman Sachs.  Congratulations to these students for securing a place in the world’s most prestigious bank.  At the same time, it is too bad that these students began their internships and permanent appointments several months before Greg Smith’s book Why I Left Goldman Sachs was published.  It is regrettable because Smith’s book, a chronicle of his 12 years at Goldman 2000-12, is a day-to-day account of what it is like to be hired and to work at the investment bank.  While the book was not written to be a useful introduction, it achieves that purpose admirably.

Smith begins his book as an intern at Open Meeting at Goldman.  Open Meeting is a boot camp for summer interns in the sales and trading program and Smith shows the reader how to navigate them successfully, to impress the partners and to secure an offer for a permanent position.  In addition, Smith details specific steps to cultivate relationships with mentors or “rabbis” so an intern can convert the summer internship into a permanent position.   He describes the firm, and its organization, processes and protocols. And he offers strategies for negotiating the company, all with a level of detail that would be most helpful to anyone beginning their career at Goldman.

Much of the book is written as a memoir.  Smith was a 1st year analyst on 9/11/2001, taking a qualifying exam in Midtown when he learned about the twin towers.   During his first year, he describes his first trade, his relationships with coworkers, managers and partners, and later the market meltdown in 2008.  Brilliant, focused and competitive, he works hard and for long hours.  He is promoted several times until he is Vice President, head of the U.S. equity derivatives business in Europe.  Yet ultimately, this is a story of disillusionment.  He writes that somewhere between 2000 and 2012, the firm lost its way.  When he begins his internship in 2000, he is convinced that the culture of Goldman Sachs is one of truthfulness, resourcefulness and collaboration — one acts in the best interest of the client.  By the end, he understands that the firm is only facilitating trades between large institutional investors, generating optimum profits for the partners and harming the global financial system in the process.

There has been a backlash against this book even though it is well written and it rings true.  This may result from the manner in which Smith reveals his accomplishments.  He competed on the South African team at the Maccabiah Games at age 14, which he calls “one of the five largest sports gatherings in the world.”  He earned a full scholarship to Stanford University as an international student from South Africa and lets readers know that only 1% of international students who apply are offered those scholarships. He tells us that only 2.2% of undergraduates who apply for summer internships at Goldman get an offer, and only 40% of interns are offered permanent positions at Goldman for the following year.  This style of writing is somewhat off-putting.

Nonetheless, this book is clearly written and provides information useful to students interested in careers on Wall Street, especially the 15 or so Fuqua students who have accepted offers from Goldman Sachs.  A quick and easy read, this book is also accessible to others interested in the dealings on Wall Street.  Smith is the author of the notable NYT article of the same name that appeared on March 14, 2012 and drew millions of responses worldwide.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for April: Part 2

April 12th, 2013

Here are the month’s remaining new titles:

The Baytown Outlaws
The Hobbit : an Unexpected Journey
A Late Quartet
Lincoln
Robot & Frank

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

The Director’s Picks: Spring 2013

April 11th, 2013

stack o books

Welcome to the Spring 2013 installment of Ford Library Director, Meg Trauner’s selections of five recent business books recommended to readers at the Fuqua School of Business.

Click the titles below for information on location and availability. Complete reviews, and audiobook versions are linked where they’re available.

Bailout : an inside account of how Washington abandoned main street while rescuing Wall Street. by Neil M. Barofsky. The lawyer responsible for oversight of TARP funds explains how federal officials gave away $700 billion to Wall Street bankers instead of mortgage holders and business owners. Read the full review here.

Exposure : inside the Olympus scandal : how I went from CEO to whistleblower by Michael Woodford. The CEO of Olympus discovers a fraud and cover-up at his Japanese multinational, blows the whistle on his own company and flees the country for his life.

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen et al. Harvard professor Christensen applies business principles to the challenges of students’ career and personal lives. Read the full review here.

The power of habit : why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg.
A New York Times business reporter describes how habits are created and changed in individuals and within organizations. Read the full review here.

The price of inequality : how today’s divided society endangers our future by Joseph E. Stiglitz.  Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate (Economics) argues that the level of inequality in the United States is excessive, reducing economic growth and eroding opportunities for young people. Read the full review here. Also available as an audiobook.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for April: Part 1

April 10th, 2013

Here are the first of the new additions to our DVD collection this month:

Rise of the Guardians
A Royal Affair
Zero Dark Thirty
John Dies at the End
Life of Pi
Lost Girl, season 2
Mad Men, season 5
Les Misérables
Parental Guidance
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Smashed

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

 

Book Review: The hour between dog and wolf

April 8th, 2013

Coates, John. The hour between dog and wolf : risk-taking, gut feelings and the biology of boom and bust. Penguin Press, 2012.

In recent years, there have been a number of books published that explain how market participants make decisions and why risk takers make errors.  The name of this discipline is behavioral finance.  Among the best works is a new book, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, written by a former trader at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, who quit his job, earned a doctorate in neuroscience from Cambridge University and began to research the biology of financial risk taking.

John Coates begins his book by explaining that high-stakes risk taking triggers strong emotions and biological reactions in financial traders.   On a day when traders make millions, they become arrogant and egotistical.  When they lose millions, they become paralyzed, mentally replaying their mistakes.  While there is no real physical risk in financial trading, their bodies experience the same physical changes that enabled our ancestors to fight an enemy or flee from a predator.  Coates describes these physical changes and why they happen, including the effect of hormones, particularly steroids such as testosterone and cortisol that have profound effect on thinking and behavior.  Coates explains that when traders make money, they experience a surge in testosterone that results in overconfidence, impulsiveness and excess risk taking.  When traders lose money, they experience a surge in the steroid cortisol that promotes feelings of anxiety and fear.  Coates hypothesizes that during bull markets, testosterone rises among participants, which leads to bubbles.  During bear markets, cortisol rises,  encouraging sell offs, and eventually creating crashes.  He believes that the financial community develops chronically elevated steroid levels that profoundly effect market behavior.

Using anecdotes and examples from his own personal experience as a trader, Coates shows that rational decision making on Wall Street is overshadowed by primitive drives.  Coates relates how the brain and body work together and discusses the role of gut thinking.  Near the end of the book, he offers solutions to the emotional boom and bust, including changes to the incentive structure, mandatory vacations for traders and workforce diversification, as women and older men have less testosterone.  This thought provoking book is entertaining to the end.

Also available as an audiobook.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

The Kindle Project

April 1st, 2013

Our recent survey revealed that you are interested in reading popular business titles and career books on an e-reader. However, many of you mentioned that you also do not currently own an e-reader. We have the solution: Kindles can now be checked out from the Ford Library! We currently have two sets of Kindle titles available: Business Best Sellers and Career Books. A new category of Kindle titles, Business Classics, is coming soon.

To find out more information about this project, please visit our Kindle Project webpage. If you would like to see a particular title available on our Kindles, you can request it by following the “Suggest a Title” link on the webpage. Questions and feedback about the Kindle Project, as well as the Library in general, are welcome.

We hope you enjoy this terrific new addition to the Ford Library’s collection!

Book Reviews: Mad About Advertising

April 1st, 2013

mad men season 6 poster

Season 6 of Mad Men premieres on Sunday, April 7, and most people at Fuqua will be watching. One of the most popular TV shows of all time, the plot focuses on the Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Price, particularly Don Draper and the people in his life. The show documents societal changes and specific events from the 60’s, which is entertaining for the young but especially meaningful to those who lived through that era.

In recognition of Mad Men’s new season, here are 6 new books in the Ford Library about the world of advertising:

Mad women by Jane Maas.
Depicting the real lives of women working in the New York advertising world of the 1960’s and 70’s, Jane Maas outlines her own career, beginning in 1964 as a copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather, rising to creative director and agency officer, then ultimately, president of a New York agency. Also available as an audiobook.
I’d rather be in charge by Charlotte Beers.
Charlotte Beers chronicles her successes and missteps in her trailblazing career in the advertising industry, as she advises women who face their own workplace challenges in achieving positions of leadership. Read the full review. Also available as a single-user e-book and an audiobook.
The Daily You by Joseph Turow.
Advertisers and media companies peek into the lives individual consumers through browser searches, smartphones and social marketing sites to assess the backgrounds, plans, activities and relationships of individuals and separate them into categories based on their financial attractiveness.

Soap, sex, and cigarettes by Juliann Sivulka – An entertaining exploration of advertising 1942- 2010, including how the industry grew in the U.S., how brands were created and promoted, and how advertisers introduce cultural trends and reflect social issues.

Advertisers at work by Tracy Tuten – interviews with 18 advertising leaders – company founders, creative directors and presidents — cover their backgrounds, successes and challenges, aspirations and directions of the industry.

Advertising for people who don’t like advertising by KesselsKramer (firm) – People who don’t like traditional advertising will probably appreciate it more after reading this odd book of experimental, rather incomprehensible and somewhat disturbing work.

Postscript: for a fun read, Mad Men fans should also see 20th century fashion: 100 years of apparel ads (Heimann and Nieder, 2009).  Organized by decade and heavily illustrated, the book contains 400 sketched and photographed fashion advertisements that convince consumers that to be a success, one must be fashionable.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: The Secrets of Happy Families

March 25th, 2013

book cover image

Feiler, Bruce S. The secrets of happy families : improve your mornings, rethink family dinner, fight smarter, go out and play, and much more. William Morrow, 2013.

One of the library’s most popular business books of all time is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, published in 1989.  Author Steven Covey was a Harvard MBA and in his work as a management consultant, he often asked his clients to describe their company’s essential purpose and its primary strategy for achieving it.  Executives at the same organization often provided completely different answers.  Creating a unified statement was often a transforming event for the company.  In 1997, Covey applied the same business analysis to families to create a clear vision of the family that was shared by all.

Journalist Bruce Feiler took it a step further.  He and his wife created their own family brand, with a family mission statement, a list of shared values and a logo.  In The Secrets of Happy Families, Feiler explains that the brand was designed to improve family life.

Feiler begins his book by discussing the basic ideas behind agile development, a management technique used in the software industry.  By accepting that disorder exists and by addressing problems, the system (family) learns to operate successfully.  He dissolves his top-down parenting style and empowers the children to help manage themselves.  Everyone stays committed to trying new solutions to solve family conflicts.

Throughout his book, Feiler applies business analysis to daily problems of family life, including parenting, managing money and sharing housework.  He draws on the work of management gurus familiar to Fuqua students, applying their concepts to typical family issues.  He interviews Jim Collins (Good to Great) on ways to make a family an “enduring, great human entity.”  He interviews William Ury (Getting to Yes) about how to negotiate disagreement.  And he interviews Sheila Heen (Difficult Conversations) about how to resolve conflict through discussion.

While not a deep or insightful work, this book has an amusing breezy style that is entertaining.  This easy read is recommended for students and younger members of the staff who are parents.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for March: Part 2

March 20th, 2013

Here are the remaining new DVD titles for March:

The Intouchables
The Kid with a Bike [Le Gamin au Vélo]
A Simple Life [Tao Jie ]
Skyfall
Small Apartments
Turn Me On, Dammit! [Få Meg På, For Faen]

Book Reviews: Personal Leadership

March 18th, 2013

Three entertaining new books about business leaders and their companies explore leadership on a personal level, with observations and anecdotes from close associates.

the steve jobs way The Steve Jobs way : iLeadership for a new generation by Jay Elliot.
Former Senior VP of Apple provides a personal portrayal of Steve Jobs, his career, his challenges and triumphs at Apple, and his management style and leadership principles. Also available as an audiobook.
the new tycoons The new tycoons by Jason Kelly.
Reporter for Bloomberg News tells the stories of top private equity firms and their managers, showing how this complex industry influences both Wall Street and Main Street. Also available as a single-user e-book.
the corner office The corner office : indispensable and unexpected lessons from CEOs on how to lead and succeed by Adam Bryant.
New York Times editor interviews 75 CEO’s and offers insights about their personal stories, successes and failures, and how they manage their time, their people and the corporate culture. Also available as an audiobook.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.