Goldman Sachs resignation: Muppet letter is everyone's fantasy

 
Kermit in the city Goldman Sachs staff allegedly referred to clients as muppets

Many of us have imagined writing a letter of resignation that shakes our bosses to the core, but few have actually done it, and rarely even then has the letter been read by millions. Greg Smith, who quit Goldman Sachs this week, has realised our fantasy.

The lyrics are as heartbreaking as they are prescient: "I look into these eyes, and I don't recognise, the one I see inside. It's time for me to decide - am I a man or am I a muppet?"

Walter sang these words in the recent Muppet Movie but equally he could have been singing the innermost thoughts of Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs banker, who walked out in style this week with a resignation letter printed in the New York Times.

Among other things, he was upset with the way managers routinely referred to their clients as muppets. Greg obviously felt more of an affinity with the lovable puppets than the cruel investment bankers who had their hands inserted up their clients'... Aaanyway...

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Many of us have fantasised about our own valedictory salute - for some, it is of the two-fingered variety”

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I don't know whether Greg Smith concluded he was "a muppet of a man" or a very manly muppet, but the manner of his departure was cinematic in itself.

Here's a test - read Greg's letter, close your eyes and imagine Tom Hanks uttering those words while the American national anthem plays in the background amid a montage of families of various races playing baseball in the park.

Don't the hairs rise on the back of your neck? In the next scene picture hundreds of high-flying investment bankers suddenly realising after 12 years of bonuses and sharp practice that now it's wrong. Rising up from their desks shouting: "Say it now and say it loud - I'm a muppet and I'm proud!"

Many of us have fantasised about our own valedictory salute. It takes different forms. For some, the salute is of the two-fingered variety.

For others, while we weren't planning to write a column in the New York Times, at the very least we imagine we would compose poignant, funny and thought-provoking email to GLOBAL.ALL.PERSONNEL.

BBC Newsnight:Those Quit My Job Goldman Sachs Blues

We think about a particularly sexy colleague sitting tearfully at their PC, our voice playing in their head as they read. Then they grab a coat and head resolutely to the airport, where they are too late - our plane has taken off.

Elsewhere in the office, the chief executive reads it, gazing thoughtfully into the middle distance, wondering if the company has just made a BIG MISTAKE.

Meanwhile we're painting an old fishing boat on a Mexican beach with Morgan Freeman approaching in the distance. The villagers are grateful about something we've done for their water supply. I'm not sure what - I don't know anything about irrigation.

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After a while, like everyone who leaves a big company, they're forgotten”

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At a - as yet unspecified - later stage in the fantasy, a small plane shudders to a halt on the dusty landing strip. The executive - having shed his suit and dressed in blue shirt and chinos - comes out to offer a new deal. "Maybe I can learn something from you," he says. It turns out he always wanted to play the flute.

Even taking Morgan Freeman out of it, real life is rarely like that. The main reason being, if you've ever been in a company where someone has sent a stinker of an email on their departure day, you will see an entire office-full of people hunkering down and cringing at their desks.

"Braver man than me," they'll whisper. No matter how accurate the zingers of the dearly departed are, a goodly proportion of those who remain will shrug and possibly even feel a little defensive. Then after a while, like everyone who leaves a big company, they're forgotten.

Once the hoopla dies down, Goldman Sachs will move on and Greg Smith - no doubt after clinching a deal to write a book that will Blow The Lid Off What We Knew Anyway - will too.

As for me, I work for myself. So even contemplating an acerbic parting shot at my organisation would be an act of profound self-loathing.

 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 168.

    I wished someone would have told him the following:
    When resigning from your employment remember this,
    put your hand in to a bucket of water, take it out and
    the space that you leave, will be our much you will be missed.
    So no need for fond farewells or giving a piece of your mind.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 167.

    163. BellaBellini how many interviews did you have? My understanding is that you don't get a job there on less than about 12 to 16 interviews. I have a friend who was an FX trader and who had 36 interviews for the job.

    BamberGas; you are talking rubbish.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 166.

    @164 - I am interested by your comments. Can you give some examples of where the regulation is missing and what deals are done in the UK which are illegal elsewhere?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 165.

    The problem with comedians like the article writer is that they always ride the coat-tails of others for their jokes and witticisms. I feel that your whole article is a badly disguised attack towards Mr. Smith's actions, and your overall tone is deprecating and disrespectful. You should celebrate his actions, and not put them down. Do you own some Goldman stock?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 164.

    145.Tsunami of Logic
    The reason that UK is the centre of the "financial universe" is because it has virtually no regulation re. leverage etc. we are sitting atop a ticking timebomb which is going to make Lehmans look like a bad night at the bingo. That's why "Dave" is so scared of regulation, at the moment deals are done that would be illegal elsewhere. Do try to keep up.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 163.

    I was interviewed at GS @12 years ago: the 2nd interviewer (there were 3!) remarked : "We work on fear here". I commented coldly that I didn't; and unsurprisingly didn't get the post. But it struck me at the time as an odd comment to make...

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 162.

    10 years with a UK "mutual" (now there's another story!) building society taught me that there is no honesty in the Financial Services industry. The sole objective is to make money out of other people's money. Look how the insurance industry has changed from providing peace of mind for it's clients to being a mere profit vehicle for it's directors and shareholders. Come the revolution...!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 161.

    #145 ToL - Don't talk tosh. Some might not realise your joking.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 160.

    36. so everyone who works in banking is lacking moral fibre? Really? I would imagine this gentleman's letter would have some weight at all if he had written it whilst still an employee of the company but instead he waited until the light dawned on him AFTER TEN YEARS of high pay. Who is really surprised that Goldman's is focussed on making money? They outperform EVERYONE. Sadly.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 159.

    @156 - Sorry does he not have the right to tell his boss to stick his job because he has some money?

    I still don't get why people are down on this guy, calling for him to give his earnings to charity. He did a job that at one time he liked and now he doesn't. He quit and said the reason why in a very public way.
    What relevance is this to anyone on here beyond a bit of light hearted humour?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 158.

    Whatever happened to plain old simple "stick your job up your ****!"??

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 157.

    Are you kidding me? When everyone at Goldman Sachs resigns then you may have something to write about. Leave cack like this to 'Odd-Box'. I can't believe I read that in full....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 156.

    Many people would just love to tell their employers were to stick their jobs and what they really think of them. It must be nice being in such a financial position as Mr Sachs to be able to do it and not be left potless by not having a job. These people just don't live in the real world.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 155.

    Wasn't Paulson, x-Treasury Secretary, also once upon a time the CEO of Goldman Sachs? There is an old proverb that fits here, "The fish stinks from the head."

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 154.

    Say what you like about them - and it's mostly entirely deserved - but those working in the financial industry are not generally known to be stupid or naive. So, why, exactly, did it take over a decade for this man to suddenly realise who he was working with? And since he's so appalled at being a party to it all these years, will he now give all that tainted profit he made to charity?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 153.

    I used to work at the BBC and once someone did exactly that. Sent a parting shot to his bosses telling them what muppets he thought they were, and copied all the New Media department.
    I bought the guy a drink at his leaving party later that day. It was great entertainment. As for making any difference to the way anything was done, er.. no. For all I know those bosses are still there being bosses.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 152.

    @ 74 - "No doubt Goldman Sachs have got a team of private investigators looking into Mr Smith's life so far, trying to find anything with which to discredit him."

    I would've thought that his 12 year employment with them is discrediting enough.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 151.

    It's not difficult to be a whistle blower when you have made tons of money for 12 years at Goldman and will not doubt land a nice gig somehwere else, even if it is not on Wall Street. It is more difficult when you are living paycheck to paycheck.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 150.

    Why is it less poignant that he has some money? The average salary at GS is circa 200K so you are unlikely to get many poor people doing the same are you?

    He has some money, is disillusioned and has left. Many people do this every year. This is "news worthy" because it is GS and he used the word "muppet".

    GS will keep doing gods work and being run by pantomine villians regardless.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 149.

    It would make a good sitcom, if nobody else has thought of it first "The fall and rise of Greg Smith"

 

Page 6 of 14

 

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