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Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,368 ratings  ·  249 reviews

On March 14, 2012, more than three million people read Greg Smith's bombshell Op-Ed in the New York Times titled "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs." The column immediately went viral, became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and drew passionate responses from former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, legendary General Electric CEO Jack Welch, and New York City mayor Mike Bloomb
Paperback, 380 pages
Published October 26th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published October 24th 2010)
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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,368 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book evoked nostalgia for me. As a senior at Princeton I remember having received my offer from Goldman Sachs and not knowing what doors the opportunity would open but knowing full well that I would embark on the next phase of my journey with the firm. My pathway mirrored Greg Smith's in some ways - we both worked in the securities division - he in sales and I in trading. And many of the firm's characteristics I could relate to. And I recognize Greg's frustration. But Greg's frustra ...more
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is terrible. A quick summary would read like this:
I did really, really good in school and got into Stanford.
I did really, really well at Stanford and worked really, really hard and got an internship at Goldman
I worked really, really hard at Goldman and got promoted.
I worked really, really hard at Goldman, aligned myself with the right people and got promoted again.
I kept working really really hard... and aligning my self with the right people, and I didn't really like where the industr
Daniel Clausen
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2017
I sometimes read business books as a way of getting a business education on the cheap. This is a book I picked up for 100 yen and decided to read on a whim. And what an investment! (No pun intended).

I finished it in three days on the bus to work. The book is a fantastic read for anyone who is about to begin their career or who is interested in working in finance. The book is an honest and plainly written look at a career in the making. Though the book also tells the story of the decimation of Go
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While this is a story of a young man’s career in finance, it is also documentation of change in organizational culture in a premier American institution. It may be a representation of what happened on Wall Street in a brief 12 years.

Greg Smith had served as a GS intern and was thrilled to be among those selected for employment. He described the extensive training program, the long days, the Open Meetings, his peer group, the dress code and licensing tests (& how he took his on Sept 11, 2001)
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a thoughtful, honest, and engaging read about a world I don't know about, nor plan to know about intimately. Smith's story is clear and easy to understand for for financially illiterate people, which I very much appreciated.

I think that this books requires an open mind in order for it to be appreciated. I looked at some of the negative reviews and those reviewers read this book with a predetermined hate for Wall Street, which defeats the purpose of the book. (In fact, those people are
Philip Clark
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sadly, it wasn't the schadenfreude cum finger-pointing telling all that everyone hoped for after readying Greg's blistering op-ed in the Times. Replete with useless anecdotes about his girlfriend, parties, etc., the book ends up embodying the very thing that people dislike about Goldman and Wall Street: a highly privileged person sells you something that doesn't end up having the value you thought it would; you're left frustrated, and they make gobs of money.
Kevin Reich
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was going to be a cynical account of Greg's time at Goldman and an expose of corruption, but it was a very insightful look into what made Goldman Sachs great, and how that got lost along the way. I detected no bitterness or anger, but mostly an almost idealistic longing for Goldman to return to the purer pre-IPO days.
Kiridaren Jayakumar
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book depicting how stressful and how ill can a job be, the author gave us a sneak peek into the life of a worker in Goldman Sachs,his life and struggles and so on.

In Malaysia, we have a few bank employees or fund managers like Izzuddin Yussof who left their job, however they have probably set passive incomes aside before they leave.

This book hits me directly as showing my personal choice was taken and how I'm going to utilise it now.

This book is sold, I highly recommend you guys to ge
Fred Forbes
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Evidently when my sister gifted me this book, she assumed I would be interested in the upper echelons of the financial services industry where Goldman Sachs has long reined supreme. Greg Smith tells of his years there and the change in their culture in his not so humble opinion, from trusted client servants to rapacious rip-off artists as the world went through the meltdown and turmoil of the great recession. I originally got into the financial services field 35 years ago when I discovered the C ...more
Paul Sharpe
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: finance, biography
First up, books like this are important. We need more insiders to come out and tell those of us on the outside what happened internally and why the markets crashed. We do need courageous people like this to speak out and explain to those of us deeply affected by the decisions of the elite few, exactly what happened and exactly how they managed to tank the markets and the economy in 2008. Also, they need to explain why we are still poised on the brink (with sovereign debt in the US and Europe sti ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In March last year, Greg Smith published an article in the New York Times that outlined why he felt he could no longer work at Goldman Sachs. It went viral, becoming a trending topic on Twitter and there was even mention of it here in our own local newspaper. I remember it vividly because at the time I was deeply impressed - it is seldom that you see or hear of someone with this level of personal integrity. Smith’s article revealed the unsettling changes within his organisation, his growing dise ...more
Utkarsh Kumar
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great account of the author's (and the company's) journey as he joins GS as a Stanford graduate and climbs the rungs of corporate ladder, his fascination and awe of the GS culture and principles, and the eventual disillusionment as the company's and its people's fundamental priorities undergo a change. The narrative doesn't get boring at any point, I finished the book in couple of days. A great read for everybody who wishes to know more about the company.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cautionary tale!
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book. What appealed to me was how he dealt with the corporate politics. Anyone who has ever worked for a large company will immediately relate to the multiple bosses and politics of trying to advance in the corporate world. Oh, and how to position yourself to remain employed when the layoffs start because business is down through no fault of your own.
Jacques Estola
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Experience shows that if we serve our clients well, our own success will follow. "

Pumped me up at work.
Jack Oughton
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
More fascinating insights into life inside one of the main drivers of the financial machine
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Why I Left Goldman Sachs A Wall Street Story by Greg Smith

Having read Mr. Smith's NY Times Op-Ed, I looked forward to reading his experience in detail through this book. Unfortunately, I have been left ultimately disappointed as the book is light on details. No investigation as to where the turning point in the culture was, no explanation why he went along for the profitable ride for so long and how Goldman even justified its actions (could it?).

That said, there are certain demographics who should pick up this book. The first are aspiring bankers and
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Trying to learn, albeit later in life, what the world of investing is all about, I listened to Jack Bogle's Little Book of Common Sense on Investing -- twice. After that as introduction, I thought I'd give Greg Smith's audiobook a hearing as a follow-up. Why I Left Goldman Sachs turned out to be a very complementary companion read. The story is autobiographical, told by a gifted, recently graduated (Stanford, circa 2000), covering his 10+ years with GS.

Smith is quite candid about both what insp
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read this book thoroughly three times and would like to premise my review by saying that I am interested personally in the success story of Goldman Sachs and the aura surrounding the firm. However, I have no personal connection with Greg Smith or his former employer.

I have read so many reviews of the book where people state that Greg Smith "fails to provide specific examples" in the book. I want to address this comment only and the reviewers and interviewers that continually harp on abou
Dec 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Made it 75% of the way through, but this book was terrible... Yan (another reviewer here) wrote:

A quick summary would read like this:
I did really, really good in school and got into Stanford.
I did really, really well at Stanford and worked really, really hard and got an internship at Goldman
I worked really, really hard at Goldman and got promoted.
I worked really, really hard at Goldman, aligned myself with the right people and got promoted again.
I kept working really really hard... and aligning
Madeline Roberts
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this fast-paced well-written book about Wall St. Something about which I know very little, the book has a glossary about Wall St. jargon and colloquialisms at the end. Although my work experience was in jewelry sales, and not derivatives, I understand his perspective about loving his job-- his loyalty to the company, the traveling and corporate culture, and THE annual Bonus. I had a very similar set up, so I can completely comprehend Greg Smith's conflicts. I appreciate Mr. Smi ...more
Joyce Kirk
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about the world of high finance from this book and the pressures that people who work in that world face every day. How easy it must be to lose sight of what really matters in life. It's a fascinating tale of a change in organisational culture (for the worst) and the role of leaders in that process. For me it's a timely read with the proceedings against Fabrice Tourre getting under way and more revealing about what happened than any textbook could ever be.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2016
I enjoyed reading it. It all made sense. It's always hard to keep the right amount of regulations all the time. The Wall Street hates regulation. It always fights back. Politicians don't have the political will to push back; therefore, they always choose the path of least resistance, which means DEREGULATION. Without regulation, these monsters will get more and more vicious.
Sally Sarko
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
He wrote an op-ed for the NYT that you could read instead if you want to jump to why he left. My favorite parts of the book were the details about Greg's relationships, childhood, day to day life etc.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Written with such honesty, you won't need to hear the other side of the story. Thanks, Greg.
Sau Fei
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I grabbed Greg Smith’s "Why I left Goldman Sachs" book without much expectation. Admittedly, any book containing the word “Goldman’s Sachs” in the title would have grabbed people’s attention.

I dove right into it expecting to read more about the nitty-gritty details about the upper echelon of one of the most prestigious names in the financial industry. Having read “Liar’s Pokers” by Michael Lewis before, I had expected to find scintillating details about the way these larger than life “masters of
Kuang Ting
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Whenever people hear someone is working in an investment bank (IB), they tend to feel awed towards these bankers. At least it works that way on myself. It's not to say I am not qualified for jobs in IB, but it means some respect for their fame or power. I study business in my college and postgraduate. IE seems always to be the top choice for everyone. When I read articles about career development, there are abundant contents about the glorious life in IB. I find it amusing many former IB bankers ...more
Juwon Park
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Randall Russell
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I agree entirely with the author's opinion that there are inherent conflicts between large corporations trying to make as much money as possible, versus trying to act in the best interests of their customers. Especially in the financial industry, with top-level managers being incentivized almost entirely on short-term monetary goals (like making the numbers for the quarter), and to which their bonuses are tied, there is a huge temptation for them to sacrifice the long-term interests o ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
It's a good look into Goldman's cultural decline, though the author is at times both naive (his thinking that it shifted suddenly and only in the run-up prior to the crisis certainly seems that way - I would think that he caught the tail end of the 'cultural carrier' mindset rather than it having been so heavily-embedded at the time he joined, 9/11 notwithstanding) and self-centered (he talks about distilling things to their essence, but pads some comments with personal details are unnecessary, ...more
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