10 Things You Didn't Know About Hank Paulson

paulson faulkner

A new book about Goldman Sachs shines more light on the bank’s former head, Hank Paulson.

Now Paulson has already written his own book, “On The Brink,” which was primarily about his time in the Treasury and from which we definitely learned a lot about the man, that we didn’t know before.

But in William Cohan’s new book,  “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,” we get to see another side of Paulson — the pre-Treasury Paulson.

We selected some of the best vignettes about Paulson from an excerpt of the book in this month’s Vanity Fair.

Paulson grew up on a farm in rural Illinois

'Much of Paulson's early life revolved around his family's 75 acre farm in Barrington, Illinois, about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago. 'We always had horse, hogs, cows, sheep, and chickens, not to mention my pet raccoon and cow,' Paulson wrote in his 2010 memoir.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

Paulson was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Casque & Gauntlet, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, where he was known as 'The Phantom' because he spent so little time there.

SAE today is known as the preppiest frat at Dartmouth.

C&G is the second oldest secret society, dating back to 1886. Dr. Seuss and Nelson Rockefeller were also members.

Source: The Dartmouth

'CEO's would ask to speak with Paulson privately and not just rely on him to 'deliver the firm' by making sure teams from M&A or equity-capital markets were available.

'That's heavy,' Friedman says. 'And he was smart, and it used to irritate the merger guys because after he'd heard their pitch at board meetings a few times, he could do it himself just as well.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

'Paulson spent huge amounts of time establishing Goldman's presence in Asia, especially China... He and two other senior partners were known as 'the Three Nots' -- 'not here, not smart, and not nice.' Paulson was 'not here,' in that he lived in Chicago and spent so much time in Asia.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

He was a terrible video-conference call player

'Usually, Paulson would join the Management Committee meetings via videoconference from Chicago, where he would often forget that he was on-camera and start reading the newspaper.

Someone in the New York would step out of the meeting to call him and say, 'Don't forget you're on the screen, Hank. Stop picking your nose.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

He'd have liked to have been a novelist, a la Faulkner

When he was offered up roles outside of Goldman as he rose through the ranks, he seriously considered leaving, so he had time to pursue other goals, totally unrelated to finance -- he majored in English at Dartmouth before he went to Harvard Business School.

'He dreamed of writing novels. 'I'd have liked to have been another Faulkner, of course,' he says.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

'Paulson spent huge amounts of time establishing Goldman's presence in Asia, especially in China, where he had befriended the country's leaders and perceived its potential as a business opportunity for clever investment bankers.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

'He had been approached about being the dean of a few business schools and about being a senior executive at an industrial company.

These jobs might give him time to indulge his lifelong passions for conservation, bird-watching, and fishing.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

'Paulson had his own health problems in 1994 but... says, 'As a Christian Scientist, I don't go to doctors and get diagnoses. I don't believe I was dealing with cancer. I sure didn't feel well for a period of time early in 1994, I remember working from home and doing a lot of praying for a couple of months where I felt no energy at all. I didn't feel well until the problem was met. I have relied on prayer for health care all of my life.'

He believes he has had many such 'physical healings.''

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

'I was candid to the point of bluntness,' Paulson told Cohan. 'That was my trademark.'

He also details how he was 'was rough around the edge's' -- 'I didn't look like an investment banker, didn't dress like an investment banker.'

Source: Goldman's Alpha War

He wrestled Steve Friedman back in the day

After Paulson left, one of Goldman's top businesses took a fall...

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