Former Goldman Sachs Leader: Becoming Indispensable

Every body is freaking out about job security. Understandable.

Still, some people manage to hold a job or quickly find one, no matter what. I thought it would be a good idea to discuss this topic.

Of course, no one is indispensable. The idea is to become that. To become so valued in the workforce that you are the one no one wants to lose.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, Goldman Sachs was admired, respected, and envied for its legacy of success. Part of their winning formula was hiring the best and the brightest young minds they could find. Not so that they could turn the financial world upside down with greed and corruption, but because Goldman had what many considered to be the best research, the best available information about companies. As a result, they recommended investments that then tended to outperform most others. Back in those days, Sam Beard and his partner Tom Walker were two young guys in the securities industry with a company from Nashville called Equitable Securities. They were extremely successful. Goldman hired them to open their Dallas offices. Today, Walker is no longer able to work and is retired in Dallas. But Beard, whois 82 years old, still works. Not because he has to work. Because he likes it. In fact, he continues to work as a senior adviser for a privately held company, The Bright Company. He took a couple of years off after retiring from Goldman, was bored silly, and has been back in the saddle since then, working on a variety of projects from launching a $2 billion real estate development in North Texas to serving on the boards of directors of family owned banks and a truck-leasing firm. And he is, by the way, my father.

When I was growing up, he coached kid’s football. He’d played for the U. of Arkansas where he went to school. His Blue Brusier teams never lost, although today he’d probably be fired for inappropriate deportment, since he was always yelling and fussing at the kids. His style was, “impatient,” shall we say? Regardless, the guys adored him, largely because he inspired them to be their best. Besides, he was an old softy. As a much younger child than the players, I remember being loaded in the back of a station wagon on Saturday mornings with the smelly boys post football game when he would take them to get ice cream cones. My entire life young men would approach him to say thank you and tell him what a difference he made in their lives.

Beard trained many successful young men when in management at Goldman, including a former Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, and others who rose to significant economic and professional success. He’s considered a master motivator and people “reader.”

What does an older warrior, one who has hired many successes have to say about the good kind of people you want to keep, no matter what?

Interestingly enough, what he says is hardly different from what several other people I interviewed said. In spite of the age differences, some things never change. Still, it seems as though people are often baffled as to why “that guy” kept his job, while others didn’t. Rather than only include my opinionates thoughts on the matter,

I have included the words Frank Springett, a professional at a Fortune 500 Company who recently was honors as Engineer of the Year in his profession,

Nancy Keene

, an executive recruiter,

Anne Kniffen

, the senior partner of a professional services company, and Sam Beard, a still active, old timer with decades of history.


Sam Beard

Co-founder of the


office of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Currently, The Bright Company


“Lots of things matter. The best at Goldman were intelligent, with street smarts, not just college degrees. They were highly motivated to achieve. John Dalton, who became Secretary of the Navy is a good example. Or Richard Rainwater, who made a lot of money later for the Bass family. These guys were all completely different, but similar in terms of intelligence and high motivation. I grew up on a farm and in the country where this kind of focused motivation was uncommon. A lot of different personality types could be successful, thank goodness, as long as they were positive personalities.

Character was a quality of the men I hired and most admired. The ones who stand out in my mind also had a lot of character. In our business, where there was so much pressure to perform, this wasn’t always easy. They had to stand up to the company, and sometimes be crosswise with it, to make sure that they took care of the clients. I learned a long time ago, that if we took great care of clients, then they were loyal to us.

Trust was everything. Client knew my team and I were on their side. That we weren’t just out to make money at their expense….. We had one of the top producing offices for many years, because of those bonds of trust. And that is how we were so successful.”