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Opinion

Goldman Sachs: Gary Cohn has left the building

Gary Cohn, president and COO of Goldman Sachs, was poised to join president-elect Trump’s new administration at the end of last year, having been appointed director of the National Economic Council.



Gary Cohn-600


Before moving on to answer this higher calling, Cohn reflected on his 26 years at the Wall Street firm with a mixture of dewy-eyed nostalgia and breath-taking hubris. 

If any film directors were tuned in to his final GS musings, a potential blockbuster is theirs for the taking. 

Cohn’s grandfather came to the US from Poland alone at the age of 13 with only $8 in his pocket. Cohn himself was a dyslexic kid from Cleveland, Ohio, who bounced around from school to school until a teacher believed in him. 

And it all comes good in the end with a corner office at 200 West Street. 

“I struggled, but struggling was motivation,” says Cohn. “Every time I was told I couldn’t do something, it made me want to do it even more.”

He says that his dyslexia means that he is a good listener and that he does not fear failure. 

“I am a great listener,” he declares, sounding almost like his future boss (“I am the greatest listener…I am the best listener that ever was…”). 

He is probably a good talker too and certainly likes an audience. When Cohn decided to stop trading in 1994, he made this known by calling everyone into a large conference room and announcing the fact. 

“There was shock in the room,” he fondly recalls.

Trump-speak

Cohn has clearly been spending a lot of time at Trump Tower recently, and again lapses into Trump-speak when extolling what Goldman has become under his watch. 

“Look at the size of our people – it is just enormous,” he says. “You have to be very excited about the forward of this firm.” 

While saying goodbye is hard, Cohn says that he wants to be remembered as a great partner that everyone was confident calling, and everyone wanted to work with. He says everyone wanted his opinion whether they agreed with it or not and that he never hesitated to deliver a tough message when it needed to be delivered. 

Some of that might be over-reach, but probably not the last part. 

“I want to be remembered for the people – the unique culture of the firm. I was part of the evolution of that culture.” 

No one is arguing with you there, Gary.

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