Former Goldman Sachs Executive Greg Smith Lands Book Deal After Ground-Torching Op-Ed

He may have gone down in a ball of flames (penning a fiery New York Times op-ed a few weeks back that rocked the financial world), but extreme honesty has proven somewhat lucrative for former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith.

Smith resigned on March 14th, the day his searing piece hit the Gray Lady and went viral. The piece was biting and raw, taking some pretty massive potshots at the “Vampire Squid” and decrying a company culture that he says just ten years ago had been strong and “revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients.” But Smith, over two pages (on the web) described at length why he no longer believed that to be the case, baldy exposing what he says has become a morally bankrupt den of thieves in expensive suits.

Smith marked the moment he turned a corner as when he could no longer look recruits in the eye and extol the benefits of employ with Goldman, and in the piece he rails against what he says is a changed leadership focus:

“What are three quick ways to become a leader? …persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. …get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman… [f]ind yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.”

Smith also recounts what he says is now blatant disregard for the client:

“It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding.”

Smith concludes:

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.”

In a circulated internal Goldman Sachs memo, CEO Lloyd Blankfein responded to the piece, saying it was “unfortunate that an individual opinion about Goldman Sachs is amplified in a newspaper and speaks louder than the regular, detailed and intensive feedback you have provided the firm and independent, public surveys of workplace environments.”

So, just how lucrative is burning the place down, figuratively? About three years of Smith’s former salary, give or take. While he clocked a not-unimpressive $500K a year as a tentacle of the Vampire Squid, the former Goldman Sachs executive (after a bidding war) was offered a $1.5 million advance to write a book telling the tale of his tenure at Goldman for Hachette’s Grand Central Publishing- not something someone of his career caliber could retire on, but not a terrible payday all things considered.

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