Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of the multinational investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, left a group of Chinese students questioning everything they’d ever been taught about finding a career, specifically, all those years they spent busting their asses to get one, when he told them they should stop worrying about school papers and grades and instead work on becoming a “complete” person.
Speaking in front of an audience of students at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management, Blankfein suggested that students should focus less on pushing out high test scores in a mechanical fashion and more on, well, having a soul.
“You have to know the content of your field, but you also have to be a complete person, the kind of person that other people want to deal with,” he said.
The conversation with Tsinghua School of Economics and Management dean Qian Yingyi came days after millions of high school students across the country sat the gaokao, China’s über-competitive college entrance exam.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
After Mr. Qian told Mr. Blankfein that more than 9 million high school students recently sat for the gaokao, Mr. Blankfein said, “Not only do they pass the test, but they survive the most excruciating pressured situation in the world today.”
He then added, “I know they are filling the universities, I hope they don’t fill the mental institutions, because the pressure must be quite intense.”
Nancy Qin, a third-year student at the School of Economics and Management, said Mr. Blankfein’s comments reinforced her decision to intern at a consulting firm this summer, rather than an investment bank. “You have to know how to talk with others in the real world,” Ms. Qin said.
Toward the end of the talk, Mr. Blankfein told the audience he wished he was 40 years younger-and Chinese. “You are lucky to be in China at this time of growth. Fifty years ago, you wouldn’t be able to be an entrepreneur,” he said, adding that in 50 years, there won’t be the first massive generation to have a chance to start businesses.
Blankfein had shed similar Goldman wisdom onto the world in 2013 when he said in an interview with CNBC that students should stop worrying about the future and strive to become a “complete” person in the present.
“Do something that’s for the next period of your life and not be so obsessive about where it will take you in the longer term,” he said. “In the early part of your life you should focus a lot on being a complete person.”