Remember the brilliant, short-lived @CondeElevator? The Twitter account purporting to relay encounters between Vogue and GQ for our amusement? Goldman Sachs Elevator (@GSElevator) is that, but for finance bros: juicy, transcribed dispatches from the most prestigious company in the industry. Unlike @CondeElevator, he’s been plugging along for more than two years, apparently unperturbed by his compliance department.
The Cut didn’t pay him much attention until he became the gender commentator du jour with his viral Business Insider article, “The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man.” (Not his headline, he stresses.) The guide had retrograde advice when it comes to women — she wants you to approach her, she wants you to buy her dinner, she wants you to kiss her, she is judging your sunglasses, she is more costly than any hooker. More interesting, the pseudonymous tweeter entered the comments section of another woman’s rebuttal to defend his guide as a semi-satirical work taken all too literally by feminist critics.
Loath to be misunderstood, @GSElevator submitted to a pseudonymous e-mail Q&A to clarify his finer points, most of which are based on anecdotes with fellow Goldman Sachs employees too numerous to get into here. “I guess they’ll be in the book,” he told us. “When I get around to writing one.”
What did you hope to accomplish with the Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man? Do you abide by it?
My goal was simple — to provide fresh, broadly original, genuinely thoughtful, and sincere advice to people in an entertaining manner.
I generally abide by this list. Although I do make a point to finish my column with the great words of Douglas Bader, “Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.” So, to me, all rules are simply a loose guide for living.
How is the Goldman man different from other men?
I once tweeted a quote from a woman: “I can always tell a banker within the first two minutes of meeting him in a bar … because he tells me.” And sadly, I think that holds true to a great extent. Bankers can be particularly obnoxious, socially awkward, and obtuse to the existence and realities of a world outside of investment banking.
With respect to Goldman Sachs, I can say specifically that it is a culture (more so than at other firms) whereby employees tend to define themselves as people by the fact that they work for Goldman Sachs. And, that’s a bit sad.
So, in my free time, other than a few close friends from my analyst class, I try not to socialize with investment bankers.
Who is your favorite Goldman man, living or dead? Any honorary Goldman men you’d like to nominate?
For personal reasons, my favorite Goldman man would have to be Jim Esposito. But in terms of great men, which I think is what you are really asking, I’d have to say Jay Gould, Alexander Hamilton, and Tupac Shakur.
Briefly, who is the Goldman woman?
Goldman women are enigmatic.
Is the Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man applicable to Goldman women?
From my experience, men can be intimidated by women in banking, and can certainly feel emasculated by their work ethic, intelligence, ambition, and wallet size.
Goldman women are very expensive to date. When you’re an analyst working 100-hour weeks, free time is precious. Once you set the bar at Per Se gnocchi or $1,000-plus-a-night resorts, it’s difficult to ever downgrade from there. Also for many women in banking, their benchmarks for a man are their friends and colleagues — well-educated, well-paid, overachievers. So they have high expectations.
You wrote that it’s “moronic” to call this guide sexist. Doesn’t it characterize women as superficial, acquiescent, expensive prostitutes?
In no way do I feel that I have characterized women in that way. If I have somehow implied that women are superficial, it’s because I think most people are in general, particularly the people of Wall Street. When I see a woman wearing a Hermes scarf as a belt, or carrying a Birkin bag, I make certain superficial judgments. Just as I would expect people of both sexes to make judgments about me based on the shine of my loafers, the firmness of my tie knot, or the stitching of my suit.
When I say, “hookers aren’t cool, but remember, the free ones are more expensive,” I really mean that men should be in a relationship for the right reasons. If a man doesn’t want to be in a loving, committed, respectful relationship, then he should just go get a prostitute or prostitute-equivalent.
So I remain very perplexed when I hear that women could possible be offended by my list.
I’m certainly not advocating intrusive or obnoxious conversation or unwarranted physical advances. It’s simply another way of saying a man should “have no regrets” and should “be confident and optimistic.” Those are traits a woman can and will respect.
Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes, I’ve been in a committed relationship for a very long time, probably because I adhere to this near-perfect guide for being a man.
Once and for all: Describe the level of irony intended in this list. Are you critiquing Goldman culture from within or cheerleading it?
Michael Jordan said, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
Without avoiding the question, there is no reason why my Twitter feed, stories, and articles can’t appeal both to people who aspire to a level of narcissistic, elitist assholism, for lack of a better phrase, and also to people who are resentful or disdainful of the culture of Wall Street and, therefore, view my Twitter feed as entertaining critical social commentary or satire.
Much of what is viewed as satire is very much based on things that have actually been said or done, which makes it that much more entertaining to me. There is a certain deviance and sense of entitlement that exists within the culture of Wall Street that, depending on your viewpoint, can either be admired or despised. Either way, I hope that it can be entertaining and sometimes insightful.
So in New York’s Approval Matrix, I would presumptuously put myself in all four corners.
This interview has been condensed and edited.