Greg Smith’s Resignation Letter: Taking a Stand or Taking a Stab Against his Soured Relationship With Goldman Sachs?

With the very loud departure of Greg Smith from Goldman Sachs this past week (read his op-ed in The New York Times here), I started asking myself, is there ever a really good way to end a relationship? Our career-based relationships are just like our romantic ones, aren’t they?  And leaving or exiting any kind of relationship can be very anxiety-filled for even the most saint-like people. As much as we may hate to admit it, most of our relationships rarely end with much grace or tact because breaking up is hard to do!

From the minute we start interacting with others — in even the most pubescent relationships — we struggle. I remember when Johnny declared his puppy love for me to everyone by writing me a cryptic note and passing it via the students of my class — all of whom knew what was coming before I did.  Similarly, in our work relationships, who hasn’t experienced the, “It’s not you, it’s just me talk,” or  felt the harsh reality of he or she’s just not that into you…

As it relates to Greg Smith, it seems he must have had one heck of a traumatic break-up as a teen to lead him to go so “Don Draper” on his departure from the firm. Upon leaving Goldman Sachs, Smith felt compelled to explain via the NY Times — and, therefore, essentially to the world — that the firm was so bad, so nasty, so abusive, really, that he just had to leave. Admittedly, he nods to the fact that the firm has changed a lot, but basically says that the romance is no longer there. In his op-ed, Smith says, “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.” Funny how strikingly similar that sounds to friends’ reasons for breaking up with their college boyfriends five years out of graduating; “He just isn’t the same person he was when we were eighteen… I can no longer go along living a lie.” Oh my.

If you’re a Mad Men fan, you’ll recollect when Don Draper wrote an op-ed as a result of his relative fury over being “dumped” by Lucky Strike. We love Don (who doesn’t), but his op-ed was all about “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco,” which wouldn’t have ever really even happened had Lucky Strike kept with his agency. Ultimately, Don’s letter was a cry against the tobacco company because he was devastated by the break-up. The fictional op-ed, just like real-life Smith’s op-ed seems more of a passive aggressive cry against the relationship that went sour than a true, bold statement against a bad organization. What are your thoughts? Is Smith taking a stand against evil, thus proving himself good? Or is he simply posing as such to stab at his soured relationship with Sachs?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s