Struggle is educational said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein in a commencement speech at LaGuardia Community College, reports the New York Times.“You have the ambition, you have the smarts and you have the toughness,” he said.
Mr. Blankfein drew on his own journey – from a housing project in Brooklyn to the top of one of Wall Street’s mightiest firms – to offer life advice.
“My struggle to get to and through college turned out to be an advantage for me,” Mr. Blankfein said in his speech in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. “The disadvantages you have had become part of your personal history and track record, all advantages in your later life. So confidence is justified.”
Goldman Sachs, which is trying to improve its public image, works with LaGuardia to train entrepreneurs as part of the firm’s 10,000 Small Businesses program.
Blankfein grew up in the East New York section of Brooklyn, where his father sorted mail for the post office and his mother worked as a receptionist. It was a “world of unlimited opportunity,” he told the graduates.
James Hazelrig, who earned a degree at Montgomery College in Maryland, had failed in his first try at college, he said in a commencement speech. He worked, married, became a father, bought a home and decided he would not fail again.
It’s interesting to me that at 20 I had no responsibility and couldn’t manage even a C average, yet at 30, working two part-time jobs while full time parenting, I have found the focus and discipline that allowed me to make the Dean’s List five times and maintain a 4.0 GPA for 70 new credits toward an engineering degree. I will receive my Associate of Science today and, in September, I will be attending a top ten nationally ranked aerospace engineering program at the University of Maryland.
“For those of us who have ever struggled during our academic career, today is just a little bit sweeter knowing how far we’ve come,” he said.