As the Chairman of Citigroup, a position he’s held since February 2009, Dick Parsons sticks out a bit by comparison. Whereas Citi has at times been the world’s largest bloated, lumbering, diversified cathouse where, for a good while, nothing could go right, a highly flammable entity prone to one chaotic moment of shit hitting the fan after the next, that few wanted to get within 100 feet of Parsons is calm. Cool. “Flat-out smooth,” as BusinessWeek describes him (which is why he was hired to be the one to go make nice with Washington, according to Vikram Pandit). The magazine recently accompanied Dick to a jazz club where they got to know him a little better, on a personal level. Here’s what we’ve learned about DP:
* He thinks the city smoking ban sucks: “Michael E. Novogratz, a director of Fortress Investment Group, a New York hedge fund, gives Parsons a hug and presents him with a Montecristo cigar. Parsons looks pleased. “Oh man,” he says, “I wish we could light these up in here.”
* If you’ve lost ass-ton of money, he’s the guy you turn to for a pick-me-up: Novogratz and Parsons exchange condolences about the market, which is zig-zagging with the turmoil in the Middle East. “I lost more money this week than I did in any week in 2008,” Novogratz laments. Parsons tells him not to be so hard on himself. “Nobody knows what’s going on,” he says.
* Charm like this doesn’t need an undergraduate degree: He went to the University of Hawaii, where he partied more than he studied. After four years, he still needed six credits to get his diploma, but he discovered that if he aced his pre-law exams he could get into law school in New York state without a college degree. He did well on the test and was accepted to Albany Law School, where he graduated at the top of his class. Read more »