To save the world come to Wall Street and save the world from Wall Street

CrookList
Do you want to be like these people? (Don’t answer that; we’re afraid of your answer.)

(originally published in Quartz on February 28, 2013)

I am a 60-year-old child of the 60’s who never gave up on the idea that I can save the world—even after three decades on Wall Street.

That is why I enjoyed the piece by William MacAskill, To save the world, don’t get a job at a charity; go work on Wall Street.

The problem is that this is more easily said than done. Most people working on Wall Street can make ends meet while a small few can make vastly more money than they need. The trick is to make sure that the process of making money does no harm.

Click to turn non annotations with hypothes.isQuestion: How much money would all the participants in the mortgage securitization industry have to give to charity to undo the harm they have caused?

Answer: More than they have ever made.

The real opportunity to do good on Wall Street is to reform it from within. But to do the right thing you have to be able to recognize the difference between right and wrong, and then you must be able to say “no” when ordered to do the wrong thing.

Here is my advice if you want to come to Wall Street and do good: Continue reading To save the world come to Wall Street and save the world from Wall Street

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How to hire good people instead of nice people

Young_Mandela
Nelson Mandela might have always been a good person, but when he was young there were a lot of white people who didn’t think he was very nice.

(Originally published in Quartz on May 27, 2013)

Usually, employers rapidly scan the resume of each job applicant looking for relevant education, skills, and work experience. They select 10 candidates for telephone calls, invite three in for interviews, and hire the one they like the best.

This is a bad way to hire because at best it gets you nice people.

You don’t need nice people.

You need good people.

Good and nice are not the same thing. The opposite of good is bad. The opposite of nice is unlikable.

Nice people care if you like them; good people care about you. Nice people stretch the truth; good people don’t. If you tell a nice person to do something evil, they might do it because they do not want to upset you; a good person will refuse to do it.

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You might think you are a good person, but you are fallible, so if you want to avoid inadvertently doing something evil you must surround yourself with good people, not nice people.

How do you separate the good from the nice? If you do what I do, it will be a piece of cake. Continue reading How to hire good people instead of nice people

How to raise a child to be an ethical financier (or anything else for that matter)

boy-695825_1280 (1)I think the majority of problems in finance stem not from poorly designed regulations or lax enforcement but rather from bad parenting. I have never been saved from doing the wrong thing because of a regulator or a regulation or a manager or a compliance officer or a lawyer. I have been saved by the imagined voice of my father saying, “I’m ashamed of you.” (And once he was gone, now I imagine my children saying the same thing.)

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What my father said to me, which is the same as what I say to my children

In 1970 before sending me to college, my father said to me: Continue reading How to raise a child to be an ethical financier (or anything else for that matter)