Ahh yes, I love a story like this one. Greg Smith is a former (as of today) executive director at the investment bank Goldman Sachs. I’m sure you’ve heard of Goldman Sachs; they were one of the financial institutions that took billions of dollars in TARP money from the federal government when it looked like it, and several others, were about to go under and take the US economy (and much of the world’s) with it.

Anyway, Smith turned in his resignation today after spending more than a decade with the bank. In that time, Smith was privy to some stuff that didn’t sit right with him, namely, according to him, a shift in the corporate culture. He wrote in part:

“And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

“Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way.”

It was Smith’s Jerry McGuire Moment:


We’ve all been here haven’t we? And if you haven’t been, you will be at some point in your life. Mine came after a disastrous audition at a cable news channel (that shall remain nameless); I called it my Target Moment because in that instant I knew I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do THIS anymore. What they were asking of me was too far afield of who I was trying to become. Taking a step in that direction would have been going backward, even though (as I sit here counting my pennies),  the paycheck would have been nice.

Smith got me thinking today about the 5 things to take away from that TTJASI or Target Moment.

**FACE YOUR FEAR: I’m sure you’ve had the experience of building something up so big and bad in your head that when it actually happened your immediate reaction was, “ Oh, THAT’S what I was worried about?” My mother calls it borrowing trouble; I call it a waste of energy. That’s not to say you don’t plan and prepare; not to do so is just plain stupid. But obsessing over what may or may not happen is a colossal waste.

**HAVE A PLAN B: and I’m not talking about birth control (though a Plan B there is also a good idea). No, this is about understanding fully, assessing completely your situation. I was talking with Buff the other day about a friend of ours who was just fired from his TV gig. Before he was fired, he bought a big house and was living just a little too close to the edge. I was saying to Buff how shocked I was that this person hadn’t taken a more critical view of the situation and his role in it. This friend of ours was not a main anchor, really more on the periphery. If he had been smart, he would have looked at the health of the industry and the station before buying that big house. That’s not being paranoid; that’s being prudent. Know the difference.

**THERE WILL BE OTHER JOBS: You may not be able to find EXACTLY the same job you were doing before but surely there are skills you learned that translate to a new field. I have to give special props to Debbie Mitchell, one of the producers I used to work with back at CBS. Debbie lost her job there about a year and a half ago and you know something? She is not letting any grass grow under her feet. She looked at the skill set she has and is incorporating it into new ventures. And if, by chance, a TV gig that she wants comes her way, she can take it, never losing sight of what she has built up for herself.

**IT’S NOT WORTH IT: Ask yourself this…. Does the company or job you’re doing align with your core principles? Does it bring you joy? That’s not to say there won’t be hardship; of course there will be. But do you wake up looking forward to what the day will bring and what you can accomplish or is there a sense of dread? If you’re chest is tight and your feet are dragging, I don’t care how good the money is, it’s probably time to find something else.

**LIFE GOES ON: Yes Lord and sometimes it’s even better than before. The sun will still rise in the east, set in the west. There will be bills due, college to pay, kids to feed and a life to live. The world will continue to spin on its axis, whether you go into work at Goldman Sachs, that unnamed cable channel or wherever you spend your time. In my case, my transformation, as uncomfortable as it has been at times, I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’m better, faster stronger and more sure of myself than I ever have been, a byproduct I’m convinced, of the hardship I’ve endured.

Normally I would say Greg Smith has his work cut out for him in terms of finding a new gig. But I think in the current economic climate, he’ll be hailed as a hero for taking a stand. Would you? Could you?

So tell me, have you ever had a Target Moment? What brought it one? Was it about a job a friendship or both? How did you handle it?

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