Being the CEO of Goldman Sachs sounds stressful.
Lloyd Blankfein called himself “a highly functional paranoid” on Charlie Rose last night.
“…when the phone rings too late at night or too early in the morning I’m going, “Oh, my God, what happened?”
He continued: “…I spend about — I have the unhappy life of having to spend about 98 per cent of my time worried about the 2 per cent worst contingencies.”
Here’s a partial transcript:
Lloyd Blankfein: Well, I’m in the risk management business, so I don’t take it for granted that I can see behind — I don’t think I can see four inches into the future. I’d say that most of my —
Charlie Rose: [laughs] Yeah, but your firm has a reputation of being pretty good at understanding the future and being able to make some analysis as to about what risks to take.
Lloyd Blankfein: Well, I’ll confess to you that what I think we aspire to is less foresee the future and more be a great contingency planner because — and sometimes you contingency plan really well and you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, you can get off the mark so quickly it looks like you false started, it looks like you anticipated the start when all you’ve really done was listen so closely and knew what you were going to do that you got off the mark quickly. I think it’s hard enough to — I think it’s hard enough to predict the present. You know, think about it, perspective, it’s very hard to step out of your context and see what is happening. I have views about the future but I will tell you we’re not in the — you wouldn’t be a very good risk manager if you let what you think was going to happen have too great an influence on what you plan for and protect it against. What we really do is we really contingency plan, what might happen, what could happen.
Charlie Rose: What is your core competence?
Lloyd Blankfein: Personally?
Charlie Rose: Yes.
Lloyd Blankfein: You know, I think I am — I think I have — I am a highly functional paranoid.
Lloyd Blankfein: And if I’m — if I’ve taken some — if I’ve overstated [unintelligible] highly functional part, I’m sure I’m a paranoid.
Charlie Rose: [laughs] Paranoid about what?
Lloyd Blankfein: Well, I have to worry about stuff, you know, every — listen, when the phone rings too late at night or too early in the morning I’m going, “Oh, my God, what happened?”
Charlie Rose: “I don’t want to answer it.”
Lloyd Blankfein: “What is somebody –” no, I have to answer. And, in fact, if it stopped ringing I’d call everybody I knew at work to find out what I missed.
Charlie Rose: [laughs]
Lloyd Blankfein: No, I’m — you know, I spend about — I have the unhappy life of having to spend about 98 per cent of my time worried about the 2 per cent worst contingencies.
Perhaps that’s why sometimes he prays for a rainy weekend so he can just lie on the couch.