David Einhorn says he only hires 'nice people' -- here's what that means

Landing a job at David Einhorn’s hedge fund, Greenlight Capital, would be a dream job for many people on Wall Street.

Not only is Einhorn closely followed for his investment acumen, but he’s also a nice guy.

In a recent speech Einhorn gave to high schoolers entitled “Helping People Get Along Better,” he explained that he only hires “nice people.”

“…For one thing, Greenlight only hires nice people. By that I don’t mean that we avoid hiring jerks. I mean we actively look to hire people who are nice. And if you walk into the Greenlight office at 6 P.M., you’ll find that most people have left for the day. In an industry that celebrates personal sacrifice as a symbol of commitment, you might not consider ‘making sure everyone gets home for dinner’ to be a mark of success, but creating and maintaining that culture is one of the things I’m most proud of,” Einhorn said in a copy of the speech seen by Business Insider.

When Einhorn graduated from Cornell in 1991, he went to work for an investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, or DLJ. During undergrad, Einhorn had interviewed with banks, consulting companies, and the CIA, but he said that he liked the people who interviewed him at DLJ.

However, Einhorn was in for a culture shock.

“Often, the senior employees let the junior employees sit around all day with nothing to do, then at dinner time assigned a full day’s work that would keep us in the office late into the night and sometimes ’til morning. The half-joke was, ‘If you aren’t coming in on Saturday, don’t even think about coming in on Sunday.’ That gratuitous meanness was a stark contrast to the values I’d been raised with.”

To Einhorn, those early years on the Street felt more like “hazing.”

“DLJ was a…shall we say…challenging work environment. Obviously, I wasn’t expecting Wall Street to be a laid-back place. I was prepared for hard work. Sadly, much of the work the new guys were asked to do and the insane hours we were expected to keep had little to do with making the bank more productive. It felt more like hazing. I did develop some finance skills at DLJ, but what I really learned was that I didn’t want to work in an environment like that again. I wanted to work for and with people who respected one another and valued being nice.”

After two years at the investment bank, Einhorn joined a hedge fund where he learned how to conduct investment research. He later went on to launch Greenlight Capital with a colleague with less than $US1 million in assets.

Today, Greenlight Capital employees 68 people in four countries. The fund now manages $US12 billion in assets.

Einhorn credits his parents, Stephen and Nancy Einhorn, for how they helped shape Greenlight’s culture and his own parenting.

“My parents are nice people, and they also made a point to have dinner as a family every night.”

It’s a good reminder that family always comes first.

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