This is John C. Whitehead, Chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, former Deputy Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan (1985-89), Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and until 1984, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for no less than thirty-eight years.
The idea that Goldman insists on minimizing the use of the first-person pronoun and that this is a key route to the company's Midas Touch is more than hackneyed - and a slightly stretched point when bumper bonus angst spills out in to the headlines and people like Lloyd Blankfein wind up earning $53.4m in a year.
However, in his excellent analysis of the cracks in the facade of investment banking in the 1990s, author Jonathan Knee draws attention to Whitehead and brings some of his old school, supposedly selfless savvy to bear on the divalike behavior and star culture within banking that accompanied the net bubble.
Knee reminds readers that
At the end of the day, the key to effective sales is the ability to put oneself in the customer's shoes. Empathy is not consistent with the self-obsession that is characteristic of a star culture.
And he goes on to cite two of Whitehead's legendary ten commandments of investment banking that seem to me to serve as wise insight in to our age:
Commandment No. 5: "The client's objective is more important than yours."
Commandment No. 8: "Important people like to deal with other important people. Are you one?"