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The Graceful Resignation, Part 2

Last week I read about Greg Smith, the 30-something Wall Street trader that wrote a tell-all Op-Ed piece to the New York Times moments before he resigned at Goldman Sachs. Smith’s editorial exposes a culture of profit-at-all-costs, where clients are referred to as “muppets.” Oh oh. No wonder all those Occupy Wall Street people are so agro. This is exactly the kind of bloodless greed they’re talking about. (PS – Goldman Sachs hired a new managing director of public relations the day before. Madre mia, his first day must’ve been a doozy!)

So as a recruiter, I’m intrigued to see how this story unfolds. When you take on Goldman Sachs, who wins? Smith’s column had the tone of well-educated restraint and it no doubt struck a chord with many given recent economic events. He led their intern program and no longer wanted to be the face of Goldman Sachs to prospective employees. Ok. But really, guy? Did you snooze thru Business Etiquette 101 or The Basics of Self-Preservation at Stanford?

I don’t want to be Greg Smith and I don’t want to try to find him his next job. Sure, it worked out alright for Jerry McGuire, but in real life, Smith no doubt forfeited any bonuses due to him, his reputation, references and employment prospects in the finance industry and could conceivably be sued for defamation. I don’t know, the fist pump and 15 seconds of fame hardly seem worth it.

Smith reminds me of Joey DeFrancesco, the guy resigned via marching band from Renaissance Hotels. Although Smith is probably after more than a YouTube video… as the sensitive idealist who earnestly hopes to affect change. But isn’t it more admirable to be part of the solution and lead change from within? Jack Welch never wrote Why I’m Leaving GE, though he probably faced adversity once or twice during his 41 years with the company.

It may sound funny coming from a recruiter, but I say Stay and fight until you don’t have any stay or fight left. See if you can make things better. If not, then graciously resign. Resist the urge to notify The Times or bring in a marching band.

Tell me I’m wrong. Maybe Smith will go on to the launch the Saturn of finance companies — “a different kind of investment bank” and I’ll have to eat my words. Your thoughts?

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