Views From The Top #5: What Separates the Successful People from the Rest

Published: 9:00 AM on September 07, 2016


“The following article is reminiscent of a quote by Albert Einstein, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Nothing trumps persistence and hard work!” – Dr. Robin Maraj


Gary Cohn, the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, has one piece of advice for any young person going into the workforce: outwork everyone else.

“The first thing I would tell them is it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard work,” Cohn said on the firm’s podcast, Exchanges At Goldman Sachs.

Cohn continued: “The one thing you realize if you’re going to be successful — no matter where you grew up, no matter what your educational level is, A. You can succeed, but B. The only way you’re going to succeed is by outworking everyone else.”

He explained that in his role he’s had the opportunity to interact with men and women who are the new entrepreneurs. He said that not only do these people have a great idea for a company or service, but they’re also “willing to outwork everyone else around them.”

This is advice that he gives his own children.

Although he didn’t say it on the podcast, Cohn is also someone who knows what it means to outwork everyone else despite what challenges you might face.

Cohn, 54, recently celebrated his 25th anniversary at the investment bank.

As a kid growing up in Cleveland, Cohn received a diagnosis of dyslexia, a reading disorder. He struggled in school. By the time he was in sixth grade, he had been to four different schools. Teachers had written him off and one even told his parents they’d be “lucky” if he grew up to be a truck driver.

He didn’t let those challenges stop him, though. He graduated from American University.

His first job out of college was selling window frames and aluminum siding. During his day off, he made an audacious move to introduce himself to a broker running an options business for a top firm. While visiting the commodities exchange, Cohn asked one of the brokers if he could share a cab ride to the airport. In the cab, he managed to land an interview and later a job.

Goldman eventually hired him. The rest, of course, is history.

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