Serious with colleagues, even a bit remote, Mr. Gorman can be a very demanding boss. “People looking for a John Mack-style slap on the back are not going to get it with James,” said one longtime Wall Streeter. “If you’re looking for regular affirmation, it’s going to be a lonely existence.” […] When Mr. Gorman is uncomfortable or has bad news to deliver, he often clears his throat, and as a result, throat-clearing has entered the firm’s lexicon as code for trouble, as in: “How was the meeting with James?” “There was a lot of throat-clearing.” “Sorry to hear that.”New York Times, JUNE 28, 2014

For those Morgan Stanley employees who have been summoned to Gorman’s office but are unsure how to interpret the clears, please refer to the following:

  • 1 throat clear = You’re doing a pretty good job but you smell like you woke up on the floor of O’Donaghy’s. Go home and take a shower.
  • 2 clears = You’re meeting the goals we set for you during your last performance review, but I’ve received reports that you’ve been showing up late every day for the last two weeks. Cut it out or you’ll get The Chair.1
  • 3 clears = Word is you want more money. Well you’re not getting it. If you don’t like that, you’re free to clean out your desk, or we can have someone box up your things and send them to you.
  • 4 clears = You blew $3 billion on an another fucking Atlantic City casino. What are we going to do to you? You’ve heard of William Bryan Jennings, yes?
  • 5 clears = You’ve lost the firm an enormous amount of money taking on a dumb amount of risk, you’ve lost my respect, you’ve lost your job. I have a button underneath my desk and when I press it, Charlie Gasparino is going to appear and escort you out of the building. He’s been given permission to do whatever he wants to you once you’re through the lobby.
  • 6 clears = You don’t want to know.

James Gorman of Morgan Stanley, Going Against Type [NYT]

1. “Still, Mr. Gorman has his less-uptight moments. When the head of equity trading, Ted Pick, was late for meetings several times recently, Mr. Gorman put his chair in the corner, prompting a laugh from the group when Mr. Pick eventually arrived.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Posted by Biggie Smells | June 30, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    2 Clears means he was probably slobbibng someones knob the night before and has a sore throat whats the issue?

  2. Posted by guest | June 30, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    seek counseling.

  3. Posted by Jacques Demers | June 30, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    whaaaa!! Stop crying you baby lighten up

  4. Posted by duddy | June 30, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    you want a friend? get a dog
    -Gordon G.

  5. Posted by guest | June 30, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    So while Mr. Gorman, 55, may not command the loyalty or adulation for which his predecessor was famous, or have the outsized profile of rival Wall Street chieftains like Jamie Dimon or Lloyd C. Blankfein, he can live with it. “James has never focused on being liked,” said Brian C. Pfeifler, one of Morgan Stanley’s top financial advisers. “He just makes sure people respect him. I’m not buddy-buddy with him, but I respect him.”

    Told of that assessment, Mr. Gorman offers only the mildest of protests. “I think anybody who says they don’t care about being liked is lying,” he said. “I care if my dog waves its tail when I come home. But you’re not going to make everybody happy.”