Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NYLS Grads Should Go Play in Traffic

That's the advice given by Joe Plumeri to NYLS grads.  At first, Plumeri's speech sounds like one of those gee-whiz, be-positive-and-build-it savants who often exemplify the rule that post hoc does not mean prompter hoc, offering tons in feel-food energy and precious little in practical advice that graduates can actually apply to their lives.  Thankfully, this isn't one of those.
Plumeri said graduates must have commitment, purpose and vision in order to have success. He encouraged graduates to commit fully to whatever they wanted to do, using the analogy that Vikings burned their ships when they landed at a place they wanted to conquer. 
All those NYLS alums who are having problems in the job market 2, 3, 4, 20 years post-graduation should look no further than this wisdom.  Obviously, they haven't committed fully with purpose or vision.  Burn your boats, unemployed lawyers.  Burn your boats.

Need help finding your vision?  Go play in traffic.
He further explained that "playing in traffic" is all about going out there and exploring your vision, making blunders and taking risks.
Maybe, Ironic Isaac asks, law school is a blunder and risk akin to playing in traffic.

But still, if you're struggling in life, you just need to go out and mix it up a bit in the world.  Because, as Mr. Plumeri says, "Something's gonna happen eventually."  It's like a law: a series of blunders cannot continue indefinitely.

Let's look at Mr. Plumeri's life and see how this played out for him.
MY first job out of the College of William and Mary was teaching history and coaching at Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Pa. 
In 1968 [two years after graduating from college], I spent six months in the Army Reserves at Fort Jackson, S.C. When I got out, I decided to go to law school.
So far so good!  Small-town teacher in Pennsylvania dances in the street and joins the reserves during the Vietnam War and then dances in the street and decides to enroll in a top-quality law school.  Can you see the vision and purpose at work?

And then, he brilliantly played in the street again:
I needed a part-time job, so I went looking around Wall Street. When I got to 55 Broad Street, I saw Carter Berlind Potoma & Weill in the lobby directory. I didn't know a law firm from a butterfly, but I thought that if it had three names or more, it must be a law firm.

The receptionist sent me to see Sandy Weill, one of the founding partners, and I made a great presentation. He said, ''What makes you think you'll learn the law here?'' I said, ''Well, this is a law firm.'' He said, ''No, this is a brokerage.''

He must have liked me because he decided to hire me.
As it turned out, he liked Sandy Weill and investment banking, dropped out of NYLS, and started a lucrative career, winding up in charge of Citigroup North America despite having only a history and education degree.

His vision and purpose in going to an investment bank asking to be a law clerk as a 24-year old law student is the type of vision, drive, commitment, and purpose the current crop of lawyers lacks.

If only 2015's NYLS students had the moxie to go "play in the street" and fumble their way into a meeting with a Wall Street CEO, more of them might realize the full value of their legal education.  Multiple career changes prior to age 25 doesn't signify a lack of purpose, commitment, and vision for Mr. Plumeri; oh no, it only signified that he needed to go out and play in the street some more.

NYLS grads may be wise to do the same.  The busier the thoroughfare the better; more traffic just means more inspiration and opportunity.  You may think when you lay paralyzed on the curb, exsanguinating from bloody limbs and exposed internal organs the way cash flows out your ass to pay debt, your traumatized mind unable to process the carnage, it's all quickly ending. 

But really, you're just going through blunders and risks, slowly failing your way to success.

P.S. - Those quick to note that he benefited by dropping out of law school should note first that without NYLS he never meets Sandy Weill and second that it is quite likely that he would have made even more money practicing law with his NYLS degree.


  1. Hilarious. Listen, kids, just take the "Don Draper" approach to your career (i.e. baffle them with b.s. until they hire you). It worked for one Boomer once, so by the transitive property of equality it will work for all of you, too.

    Oh, and burn you boats. It "worked" at the Battle of Edington, so it will work for you, too!(?????)

  2. I remember trying something similar when I graduated, then getting yelled at and threatened with arrest for "soliciting" by various Boomers.

    The world has changed, I don't quite buy that this even worked 30 years ago, but sure maybe 50 years ago the kids too stupid to do OCI and apply for regular jobs did this and it got something for them. They could have also just did OCI or applied for a regular job, and gotten even better results.

    Nowadays it doesn't particularly matter what you do. If you're connected, you'll probably get a decent job.

    Have the audacity to be born in the wrong social class? Then you're out of luck, and go die in the street.

    1. Go rise up in the streets. What has happened, what is happening, to the younger set in this country is not a natural phenomenon.

    2. 4:00 PM:

      "Do as I say, not as I do." We can expect nothing more given this core tenet of Boomer philosophy - you might as well try to have a meaningful conversation with a brick wall.

      I tried following their advice until I realized that it was a product of their own unique, non-transferable place and time in history. Tuning them out and moving on to deal directly with my own unique, non-transferable place and time in history was the best thing I ever did. I will teach my children to do the same, as conventional wisdom can only take you so far, and they will have challenges of their own separate from mine. Resiliency is where it is at.

      But then again, I take that view because I don't pretend to know everything about everything, unlike some others.

    3. One big difference between then and now is the dilution in the value of educational degrees. For example, the college degree used to be a significant achievement; now, it's the bare minimum qualification for most office jobs.

    4. I did something like that as well. I sat down at one of those "job kiosks" at a major retailer and filled out an application for a job. I wrote down that I wanted a job in the corporate counsel's office as an attorney. I handed my application to the store manager who I knew in passing. Guess what happened next:. I was accused of "soliciting" legal work. I told them that I thought I was being creative and showing initiative---that I wanted to work in their legal department. They told me that the kiosk was for "retail associates" and store managers and that if I wanted to work as an attorney, to contact their corporate Headquarters and check online or recruiting sources. In other words, "who the hell are you" and "go screw yourself."

  3. Birds of a feather flock together.

    "And I stayed with Sandy 32 years as he was building what became Citigroup." - Joe Plumeri

    2011: Citigroup tops the list of banks who received federal aid, with the grand total of bailouts to Citi topping 476.2 BILLION.

    December, 2014:
    "Today I'm coming to the floor not to talk about Democrats or Republicans, but to talk about a third group that also wields tremendous power in Washington: Citigroup. Mr. President, in recent years many Wall Street institutions have exerted extraordinary influence in Washington's corridors of power. Citigroup has risen above the others. Its grip over economic policy making and the Executive branch is unprecedented. Consider just a few examples. Three of the last four Treasury Secretaries under Democratic Presidents have had close Citigroup ties. The fourth was offered the CEO position at Citigroup, but turned it down. The Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve system is a Citigroup alum. The Undersecretary for International Affairs at Treasury is a Citigroup alum. The US Trade Representative, and the person nominated to his Deputy, who is currently an Assistant Secretary of Treasury, are Citigroup alums. A recent Chairman of the National Economic Council at the White House was a Citigroup alum. Another recent Chairman of the Office of Management and Budget went to Citigroup immediately after leaving the White House. And, another recent Chairman of the Office of Management and Budget it also a Citi alum, but I'm double-counting here, because he's now the Secretary of the Treasury...now Citi is larger than ever...Let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi, Dodd-Frank isn't perfect, it should have broken you into pieces." - Senator Elizabeth Warren

    March, 2014: Citigroup sued by the FDIC over LIBOR price-fixing, settles for 95 million.

    February 2015: Citigroup settles claims with the DOJ, CTFC over precious metals price-rigging.

    May, 2015: Citigroup pleads guilty and will pay $1.02 billion for price-fixing foreign exchange rate benchmarks in the last year.

  4. How did he get out of serving in Vietnam as an Army Reservist in 1968?

    Maybe next year NYLS can get Bernie Madoff to give the commencement speech via a live feed from prison. His fee would be less.

  5. Citibank is also into sub prime loans, and pay day loans. They don't call it Citibank.