Sidney Weinberg was born into a large Jewish family in 1891, being one of 11 children. His father was a struggling wholesale liquor dealer originally from Poland. Sidney didn’t even reach 10th grade and left school with zero qualifications. His nickname was kewpie doll due to his small stature. Basically, his background was not the traditional Wall Street employee, let alone CEO.
At the age of 16 and after days of asking if any of the brokerage firms at Wall Street wanted him, Sidney finally managed to bluff himself into an assistant janitor job paying $3 per hour at a small brokerage firm. That firm was Goldman Sachs.
His responsibilities? Cleaning the mud off the partner’s overshoes and the dust off their hats.
However, he would not last long in this position. One of Sidney’s qualities was being very likeable. One day he was asked to go to the Sach’s family house and the door was opened, both physically and metaphorically, by the grandson of the founder; Paul Sachs.
Thus began the rapid ascesnion of Sidney Weinberg.
Sidney was quickly promoted to the mail room which was completely reorganized by him. His potential was recognized and Sachs sent him to Browne’s Business College to learn penmanship.
In 1925, through sheer grit and hard work, Sachs bought him a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, an unparalleled event.
By 1927 he was made partner and in 1930 he was promoted to senior partner.
From that point on Sidney Weinberg was the leader of Goldman Sachs until 1969, guiding it from the point of bankruptcy to the strongest investment bank in the world.
Sidney was not a financial magician – he didn’t even graduate from junior high! What chance did he have of becoming CEO of a financial superpower?
But he did it.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”Francis of Assisi
It would’ve been easy for Sidney to accept his fate, janitor for a brokerage firm was actually pretty respectable for someone of his background. But he didn’t settle. Sidney flat out refused. No excuses.
So how can this apply to your life? What can we learn from Sidney Weinberg?
If he was there in the room with you now and you were explaining to his why you couldn’t do something or your “reasons” for giving up, what would he say?
Sidney the Janitor.
Sidney started off as a janitor at Goldman Sachs but worked his way up to the position of CEO. Dude didn’t even pass 10th grade and left school with zero qualifications. Still, he dragged himself up through the ranks. Impossible? Probably. But he did it.