Machiavelli Rolls Over In Disgust

Remember that Goldman exec who quit via the NYT?

Here was my conclusion:

It’s either a book, a political appointment or his own hedge fund. Any other business and I’d say reality TV show.

Well, here’s today’s news:

Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs executive who resigned in spectacular fashion last week byblasting the firm in an Op-Ed page article in The New York Times, is now shopping a book proposal to major publishers in New York, several people with knowledge of the conversations said.

Now, I might have been pretty impressed with myself, except…

In meetings, Mr. Smith came across as mild-mannered, polite, spare with details but sincere, publishers said…

…timing may be a problem if the book is released later this year or next year, many months after Mr. Smith first leapt into the news.

“The book will likely feel dated,” an executive said. “It’s a story that had its moment.”

I gasped when I read that. It means a few things:

  1. He only just thought of the idea of a book. Or took a cold call from an agent.
  2. Either way, this means the NYT article wasn’t a calculated move.
  3. This means he was simply an embittered employee lashing out. All was as it seemed.
  4. I’m sorry to be crass but this means Greg Smith is an idiot.

He actually burned his bridges without considering the long term consequences. Now he’s scrambling to capitalize on his 15 minutes of fame.

Except 15 minutes is REALLY short. He should have had a strong first draft of that book done to nail down the advance and publish in a couple months.

He should have had an agent with contacts in multiple media to maximize what he could extract from the ant-Goldman furore he’d create in the ex-ante best case scenario, which actually came to pass. You do this with non-scalable media interaction (talk shows, interviews, etc) until the scalable medium (book) is ready.

Even given that he effed all that up, he picked the wrong agent. He should have gone with an agent that told him all this and then scrambled to make up for lost time. This should have been his plan:

  • Take a long hard look at Greg and figure out if he’s TV-worthy. He probably is. If not, he’s probably close and would be fine with a coach and some rehearsal sessions.
  • Get him on TV within 3 days.
  • Immediately hire a competent writer to interview Greg and ghostwrite a strong, abbreviated draft/outline of the eventual book. You need something to pitch. Needs to be done right after he moves out of the news cycle, in about a week or two. (Which is about now, by the way).
  • Put an excerpt of that draft, essentially a long form of his resignation op-ed, into a magazine of some sort. Esquire or Vanity fair or something.
  • It all might end here. The best case from this point is a book in 8 months and/or a series of speaking gigs for Greg.

Somebody will give him the book with little or no advance, I’m sure. And he’ll probably publish it and it will probably suck because he’ll be firmly entrenched among the B and C players of the media world by then.

He obviously didn’t know it, but that op-ed opened the door for him to assemble an A+ team of media types. They would have made him famous and rich in ways only the American hype machine can.

But he didn’t even see the opportunity.

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