3 Things I Learned Working at Goldman Sachs


Each month we will introduce a guest blogger who will provide a unique perspective on the labor market. This month, TJ Loeffler shares 3 valuable lessons he learned while working at Goldman Sachs. Contact us if you or your firm would be interested in sharing your expertise in future guest blog posts.

TJ is an entrepreneur, incidental writer, and Certified LifePlan™ Facilitator. In 2015, TJ left Goldman Sachs to discover his purpose, and what it means to live more intentionally. Now he’s writing, speaking and using whiteboards to help Type A personalities discover their purpose, and a more fulfilling future. He’s the founder of the international speaking series called Welcome to Yourself, and he’s influencing thousands to live a more authentic life. Though he lives in NYC, you’ll likely see him in coffee shops around the world. Sign-up for weekly writing delivered to your inbox at https://tjloeffler.com.

You’re cruising into your next chapter. Life is sweet. But it can turn sour quickly if you’re not focused on siezing this unique time in life as a chance to grow. A friend once said, “We can’t underestimate the first few years after school.” He’s right. The few years after school will shape our attitude, outlook and behavior for life. So, with that, here’s three things I learned that helped me become a better person, and professional:

  1. Take risks.

    Your early twenties are a great time to expose yourself to the “new”. It’s the right time to take risk so you can learn how to manage it. Dr. Meg Jay shares more in her book, The Defining Decade.

    Biologically, your prefrontal cortex is developing during your early-to-mid twenties. This is the part of the brain “calibrating risk-reward”, says the MIT Work Life Center. But if you don’t use it you lose it. In other words, this is your time in life to really challenge yourself to grow. The best way to do that is to get away from “what you know”!

    Risk management a life skill. To learn this now is to have an edge during your later years, in business and at home.

    So, find jobs where you can sharpen this life skill. Find jobs where you’re forced to manage risk.

    Here are three examples: the military, the hospital, and the trading floor. Each of these careers will challenge you to make decisions under pressure.

    “Was that trade quoted incorrectly? How many months have we had it on our books? Call the client. Get out of the trade. This could be a $2,000,000 loss.” (Hint: We lost money.)

  2. Values matter.

    These matter professionally, as well as in your personal life. You’ll make decisions in harmony with your core values. So write them down. Mine are: faith, integrity, loyalty, and respect.

    You may be a great person, but in business great people often find themselves in positions where incentives don’t encourage them to act as they were made, or raised. That means they do bad things. It’s not their fault. They’re human, like you. That’s why you need anchors. That’s why you need values.

    Here’s one example: “Tell the client you didn’t realize you quoted them the wrong price.” “You want me to lie to them?” “Well, we need to make money somehow.” “Okay. I won’t do that. I’m just going to tell them the price we charge. And that will be our price.” “Fine.”

    When you know you value integrity over money it becomes easy to say “I won’t lie.” And, frankly, people, including your boss, will respect that.

  3. It’s not personal.

    Don’t take it personally. In the workplace there’s always that dude who’s upset with you because you failed to generate your inner psychic powers to read their mind.

    Be prepared. You might run into the “passive aggressive” type. You might run into the “slam the table with their fist” type.

    In either case, what should you do when your boss gets upset with you?

    Take a lap. Literally. Go for a walk.

    Then, ask yourself, “Should I have known what to do?”

    If “yes”: Check your dashboard to make sure you’re not low on fuel (e.g., food, sleep, exercise, quiet time). Fill up, and carry on.

    If “no”: There’s no reason to be distraught! Remember there are people who will feast on your discouragement. You need to starve them.

Want more from TJ Loeffler? Sign up for weekly writing delivered to your inbox at https://tjloeffler.com.