“We’re greedy, but long-term greedy.” Gus Levy, Goldman Sachs. Greed is defined as wanting more than you have.
In March 2018, a bunch of my friends and our spouses headed down to Florida to celebrate our 40th birthday. On the flight, I read The Last Tycoons: the Secret History of of Lazard Frères & Co. As an aspiring M&A student, I couldn’t inject it in my veins fast enough. The book has a plethora of golden nuggets, one of which was the concept of being “long term greedy.” Reading the book, I’d presumed one of the many great Lazard bankers had coined it… but in researching the term for this post, I learned that it wasn’t Lazard, but rather, a banker named Gus Levy (Wikipedia | Goldman Sachs website) from another venerable investment bank, Goldman Sachs, who’d coined the term. Via Forbes:
"Most players are short-term greedy. Short-term greedy types are solely interested in making as much money as possible right now and are likely willing to cut corners. Their mantra is, I want what I want, now! Short-term greedy people almost always lose much more than they win, certainly over the longer term.
Long-term greedy means being a professional, which includes doing your homework, keeping your word, cleaning up messes, honoring relationships with clients and employees. In other words, doing the right thing for no reason all the time."
That’s a pretty good description of the spirit of being an “ethical capitalist.” That also basically captures why and how I turned a modest seed investment into one of the best media investments of all time. But, the details I’ll share down the road… way down the road.
I’ll close off by saying that “being long-term greedy” isn’t even on my top 10 principles… though people ahead of profit is.