Lloyd Blankfein met with this summer's Goldman Sachs intern class last week and was asked to give them some expert advice. Facing the roomful of young aspiring bankers, he told them one thing: chill out.
"I'll give you advice that's impossible to follow", started Blankfein.
Just to give you some context, those young people of Goldman Sachs' intern class are the 2% of 250,000 applicants who applied for entry-level positions at the company.
“There’s not a sport, there’s not an activity in life, where if you have a really hard grip, you actually are better. Whether it’s baseball, golf, or you’re kicking a ball or something like that, the looser you are, the further the thing goes.”
He said that today people put themselves out on the career market already at the age of 16, which sets them under enormous pressure. Comparing themselves to successful friends or celebrities is also not a good idea.
“If they haven’t dropped out of college and started something by the time they’re 19, they’re over the hill.”
Blankfein's advice to stop pushing so hard is definitely not a call for leading a reckless life, but simply to stop expecting to get everything immediately and being too hard on yourself.
Blankfein said he enjoys history and would advise aspiring bankers to choose a history book over another finance textbook sometimes.
“History better to read than economics, because history is reassuring when you read about people’s lives and realise that people who did great things failed six times or didn’t get going until they much older. The detours and disappointment are much more educational,” he said.