Sunday, November 15, 2009

"God versus Goldman Sachs: A Former Partner Challenges Lloyd Blankfein"

Yes that it the headline this morning on the DAILY BEAST - one of the most viewed news sites on the net this Sunday morning. Almost two years ago I decided to throw myself out there and write publically about issues I care about. When I saw the article last week in the Sunday Times about Lloyd saying that Goldman is doing "God's Work", how could I not respond? Especially given that I am married to a pastor and we were both Goldman Partners.

Even though I left Goldman seven years ago, I will forever be a partner of the firm, and for that reason and many more I continue to care deeply it. For years I gave speeches on the firm's culture, the firm's structure, and actively recruited countless young people to 85 Broad Street. I was a corporate cheerleader to the utmost degree, and for that reason and my trading profitability, I was promoted. Becoming a partner changed my life forever, and that of my husband, because ultimately it gave us enough money to commit our lives to non-profit work and of course, our family. For us, what we recieved was enough, more then enough, and we will be forever grateful. My husband returned to school and to get his masters of divinity and is now an associate pastor at our church in New Canaan CT. In fact he just ran out the door as he is preaching this morning on change. He has worked passionately for nine years for our church, and because of GOLDMAN, can do so without getting paid. Thank you Goldman. My passion is for women and girls. I have written on this often on this blog but I as believe that a key factor in our world becoming a more just and equitable place is greater gender equality. I serve on many non-profit boards and increasingly have given speeches, appear on television, and write about why we need more women in positions of leadership and power. ( ... and more) Thank you Goldman. I can give you a very long list of other people that have 'retired' to serve the world BECAUSE, in part, of the culture we experienced while at Goldman.

So yes I had to write this piece, and I am so gratefuly that my friends Rev. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary, and Rev. JC Austin could write it in partnership with me. Greg would have been up for the task too if he did not have to write his guest sermon this week. So Lloyd YES I am challenging you because I know you are up for the challenge. Goldman's reputation has been damaged and you need to do something about it, and something BIG. This in the best interest of your people and your shareholders. I suggested in a earlier blog post that it should be around job creation, economic security and financial literacy, and this "Virture Fund" could target just that. As the piece says, I expect more of Goldman Sachs because it is my recollection from my time ( 14 years) there that Goldman Sachs and it's people have always expected more of themselves.

So since it is Sunday, and we are talking about God, and I am a Christian I will end with a prayer, something I have not done on this blog before - "Dear Heavenly Father. The world is not a fair place, but we know that you are fair. So many people, your people, your children, are suffering and we pray you hear them and you comfort them. We pray today that you will help us all choose actions that will make this world better. We pray that you CHANGE our hearts to hear the cries of others, and that will drive our actions. We pray that you make us all generous people, because you are so generous with us. We know you expect a lot from us because you know what we are capable of. We know that you tell us that to those to which much is given much is expected. We know that it is in serving that we will find our peace and our joy. We pray this in your name - Amen.

Have a great Sunday.


Mike said...

You write in your Daily Beast article, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, said he saw his company “doing God’s work,” engaged in a “virtuous cycle” that fulfills a social good.

If your comments about the CEO of Goldman Sachs are accurate, he ignored well-documented history and his fiduciary duty. I do not have any finacial training so my interpretation of history might be wrong; I welcome correction.

Does your training and many years of experience, equip you to hold the CEO accountable for facts? Did you filter your assessment of well-documented facts through your faith, or his?

Do you have any reasons to forgive or forget damage caused to millions of people, like me, because the CEO of Goldman Sachs was doing God's work?

In 38 years of marriage we moved to 4 countries to earn enough to live and invest for retirement. Earlier this year we suffered the only financial problem we could not solve; our mortgage was called.

Our mutually benefical 25 year relationship with our bank was worthless when the value of our assets declined in the financial meltdown Goldman Sachs and others inflicted on world banking.

Your truly believable story earned my contempt for your wilful ignorance.

I am willing to accept meaningful recognition from you and Lloyd Blankfein for my careful advice and honest perspective.

Mike Micallef

Jacki Zehner said...

Mike... thank you for sharing your story and I can only send you my very best wishes. What i hoped to accomplish in writing that piece was to challenge Mr. Blankfein and GS to hold themselves to a much higher standard and to something that could help American in the area of job creation, economic security and financial literacy. GS certainly had a role in the causing the financial melt down and they should be held accountable for that as should many others. There are many to blame but personally I am trying to spend my time and energy in a positive and serving way. I am sorry the piece caused you such a negative yet heartfelt reaction.

Mike said...

Your best wishes are as meaningless as your challenge to Mr. Blankfein to hold Goldman Sachs to a higher standard.

If, as you write, they should be held accountable, what meaningful measures do you propose?

You write, "personally I am trying to spend my time and energy in a positive and serving way." Your words are meant to elevate you above people like me who ask difficult questions grounded in real pain.

You conclude, "I am sorry the piece caused you such a negative yet heartfelt reaction."

The "piece" did not cause my negative yet heartfelt reaction; your denial of responsibility did.

In return for my advice, I will accept your check because your money will mean more to both us than your words. Please relay my request for money to Mr. Blankein.

Mike Micallef

Chris Gray said...

I am glad I found this blog.

Mike's comments reflect the pain inflicted, unknowingly to many by the system of Wall Street and Big Government. He is full of hatred. I hope Mike can find peace.

Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

It is simply wrong to create the global devastation from greed, manipulation, and half truths (lies) to simply hindsight the matter with what ifs drawn from your personal experience. You have a larger responsibility. You have a working knowledge of what has transpired. It is also misplaced to speak of loyalty and hope of a corrupt and evil system. I am not lamenting any personal pain, simply identifying evil for what it is. Wall Street and Big Government, in today's form, are the destroyers of the concept of capitalism. It is a game of intangibles and the game is up.

Isaiah 5:20-21

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

There are two types of professional people. The two categories are what I call tangible and intangible workers. When performing your trade honorably you fall into the first category. If you believe in the manipulation of money you fall into the later category.

Tangible workers are people who make things, create physical products and realities. These people purchase items from others and sell them to others. They transport goods, build things and manufacture things. When you work in the tangible arena assessments of situations, risk and outcomes are based in logic. A grocer purchases food from someone at a price based of quality, reliability of delivery, and price. Then with the product in hand sells it to someone else. Tangible leaders employ others who work in this real, producing, creating world. Financial institutions and banks work in the tangible world up to a point. Once they cross to the intangible (manipulation for self gain) they have the potential of great evil and spreading misery on a scale only surpassed by dreadful actions of governments. This line was crossed, a major contributor to the present circumstance. It has been crossed before and will be crossed again. People in these positions have great responsibility.

1 Peter 5:2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greed for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

I want most for people who understand the full workings of Wall Street and Big Government to explain it to others. It is the only way to create change. To put together a picture and explain it to the masses so these hard times can be taken on with as little damage, violence and suffering as possible. A simple explanation of the evil done that leaves the realm of the financial/political world and is understandable by the average citizen is my hope. I cannot create this. I understand it only in part. It is not my trade.

In simple terms it lets people know, hard working people, old people, young people, children know, what the Government and Wall street has done to them. It creates a baseline for moving forward.

My trade is in land, large projects and also non-profit work. Through this work I have learned the other great spreader of misery is unreasonable environmental laws that have driven up the cost of living for our citizens, but more devastatingly, has created massive mischief in government spending and contributes to driving tangible work and trades out of this country. More importantly this concept has created a false god in mother earth and for many has replaced Him.


Chris Gray said...

Every day in this country people are killing each other, politicians lying to everyone, financial manipulators robbing others, government destroying the opportunity of our children and betraying the responsibility of leadership. The financial mischief inflicting this pain is not fixable by any art of manipulation conjured up by Wall Street, the Fed or Washington. It is very troubling to see the trends of history repeating itself. Unfortunately for us the history is starting to look like the financial landscape and political strategy of the 1930's. We need truth.

1 Peter 1:22

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

People talk of a failure of financial system, schools, health care, family, etc. It pales with our true failure. Failure of leadership.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Step back and look at the system you understand. Think about what will benefit our country's citizens and if you have true light to shine upon this matter, then shine it. If you can, search for ways to speak to the masses for unless leaders step up and begin speaking with wisdom, without fear, we will suffer even more than we already must bear.

I speak of this having sat at the table with Goldman Sachs, having worked with governments for 20 years and having worked across our country and around the world. We have betrayed the promise of our country, ourselves and most of all our children and their children.

For what?

Luke 11:11

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?

I have children of 17, 14 and 12 and I promised them I will always do what I can for them, thus the note tonight.

Jacki Zehner said...

Chris... thank you for your incredibly thoughtful comments.

Chris Gray said... are welcome. I hope you recognize it as the challenge that it is.

I am starting a new project with my children. They will follow and record the words, actions and deeds of 5 people. I am going to add you to my daughter's list.

Let me tell you a short story. I have been fortunate to meet, know, work on projects, interact and observe the careers of Pete and Alice Dye. One of the more memorable experiences in work was a few days spent with Pete working on a golf course design (one of my trades). We started at the Indianapolis 500 track where he developed a project. We then went to Purdue University, where he imagined, developed and raised all the money to develop the golf course and research center there asking for nothing in return. They gave him an honorary PHD. We then got on one of Herb Kohler's planes (me, Pete and his dog Sixty) sent for Pete to take us to his project in Kohler Wisconsin. It was obvious while there that Mr. Kohler's number one priority was this project with Pete. He and Alice changed golf.

Since you spend so much energy with women's equality and changing the world let me introduce you to Alice Dye. She is an equal to Pete. When they were starting their design business, independently she filed a lawsuit against the PGA of America. The reason; women were not allowed to be members. Pete was concerned about Alice's action hurting their business and asked her why? She said, "Because they are wrong." She prevailed and a couple of decades later Alice became the first female board director of the PGA. Alice and Pete transformed the economy of the Dominican Republic with the Casa de Campo project. Alice's vision should not be under estimated. There was a young girl who needed help launching her golfing career. Alice, quietly supported this girl financially, asking for nothing in return. This girl was Nancy Lopez.

As I stated, I do not fully understand Wall Street. I am a project man. I look at things simply. I am crystal clear on the evils of the present government structure, specifically environmental laws and infringement of private property rights. That is a separate front I am working on.

Any way, I've gone long again. If there is something the youngest female partner of GS can illuminate, in the spirit and meaningfulness of a Alice Dye do not underestimate your opportunity.

Read the book of Ecclesiastes.

Best wishes.


Jacki Zehner said...

Chris ...I think your daughter should follow Alice, she seems like a truly incredible woman. She is my new hero..... Thank you again for your comments and I hope you see my blog entry today and the piece on Daily Beast. Have a great sunday.