Wall Street's summer interns are out in full force, which means it's time for Lloyd Blankfein to crank up the avuncularism to 11 and tell the novice financiers what's what. So in a videotaped interview posted to Goldman's website, Blankfein revived some of his greatest hits.
He talked about the good old days, when instead of emailing, traders “screamed at each other across the trading room” through a cloud of second-hand smoke so dense “you didn't have to buy cigarettes.” He talked about how “Government Sachs” was an epithet used by people “just trying to stick a knife in and twist,” despite the fact that public service is actually pretty good and cool. He talked Twitter.
But the ostensible point of the exercise was to provide some advice to the interns in the audience. Be “well-rounded people,” he told them. Be “the type of person people want to talk to and be friends with.” Have interests outside of work. Study the world. “Bring chocolate chip cookies” for him, the self-described “chocolate chip cookie king of the world.”
It was pretty much what you'd expect, save one thing. Lloyd is a pretty charming guy. Among big-time executives he's one of the more human-seeming. So when asked his favorite thing to do outside of work – asked, essentially, to model for these young admirers what it means to be interesting – he paused. Then:
When it's nice outside I think, oh my God, I have to go outside or I have to play golf or I have to do something…My favorite day is like when it’s raining and I can just lie on the couch.
That's a terrible answer! C'mon Lloyd! Open up a little. You like to drink scotch? Play cards? Anything? Of course, Lloyd keeps busy, and for all of his candor he's a pretty private guy. But he's also a workhorse. It's not hard to imagine that answer being pretty sincere. His identity is about as wrapped up in his company as it could be without it bearing his name.
Anyway, if you're a Goldman intern looking for advice on being interesting, don't go to the CEO suite. Instead, skip down the hall to the co-president's office after sundown.