Stephen A. Schwarzman Quotes

  1. Every year, I speak to our new associates and give them this advice, although in my own words. ‘This isn’t like school,’ I tell them, ‘where you want to get your hand in the air and give an answer quickly. The only grade here is 100. Deadlines are important, but at Blackstone you can always get help in meeting them.’
  2. I don’t control the political world.
  3. I like things with upside. That’s how you make money.
  4. It’s a great privilege to be asked to help the country – even if it occasionally comes with some degree of criticism.
  5. The library helps lower- and middle-income people – immigrants – get their shot at the American dream.
  6. I didn’t want to be a retailer. I hated to wait on people.
  7. The Internet has turned everybody into a global person, whether they know it or not.
  8. The concept of fair value accounting is correct and useful, but the application during periods of crisis is problematic. It’s another one of those unintended consequences of making a rule that’s supposed to be good that turns out the other way.
  9. The Schwarzman Scholars is a program that was designed with Tsinghua University. They asked me to do something in honor of their 100th anniversary.
  10. Sometimes, success in life is knowing one’s limitations.
  11. I’ve always been comfortable with people who run things, whether it was the principal of my high school or the president of the university.
  12. My father was very bright. My mother had enormous drive. Put that together, and that’s my gene pool.
  13. The language skill in the U.S. for the most part has been awful. Many Americans don’t learn any foreign language.
  14. Markets tend to always overshoot when they get really ebullient.
  15. I think people have to read more and learn more about what’s going on internationally.
  16. When society starts moving in a way that becomes very negative, whether it’s in the West or any other place, I’ve always found that it’s very useful to have people around who actually know what’s happening.
  17. In a financial crisis, only the Fed, as the lender of last resort, might stand between our economy and financial catastrophe. We must leave the Fed with the flexibility to provide liquidity in order to stop a financial panic.
  18. When you lose control of risk at a financial institution, you do a variety of unfortunate credit extensions or purchases – and all of a sudden, you’ve blown up your business.
  19. When deals go wrong, you have no one else to blame, so you yell at yourself, and you yell at others.
  20. In the Catholic schools, they spend much less money than the public schools, and they get amazing results. Private schools spend much more money than the public schools, and they get remarkable results.
  21. My first trip to China was 1990, and that was in a world where there were virtually no cars at all on the road, and everybody had bicycles.
  22. Deals really have to do with the overlap of what one side wants and the other side wants, and it’s really just the discovery of where that overlap is and how you decide to get there.
  23. Paid leave is worth every penny.
  24. I like creating new things.
  25. Most youth are lacking critical life skills that make them employable and, most importantly, able to keep a job – things like teamwork, decision-making, and time management.
  26. As the world has become more predatory and aggressive, my impression is that the investment banking business has moved from being relationship-oriented to being increasingly transaction-oriented.
  27. I’m pretty good on my feet. I’m pretty decent at bobbing and weaving, but there’s only so long you can bob and weave when you don’t have a good base.
  28. The best investments are the easiest ones to approve.
  29. I love houses. I’m not sure why.
  30. My biggest job really is to figure other people out. I need to understand what makes a person tick.
  31. For future geopolitical stability and global prosperity, we need to build a culture of greater trust and understanding between China, America and the rest of the world.
  32. I don’t feel like a wealthy person. Other people think of me as a wealthy person, but I don’t. I feel the same as when I was a fifth-year associate trying to make partner at Lehman Brothers. I haven’t changed.
  33. Inaccurate analysis produces faulty insights and bad decisions – which lead to losing a tremendous amount of money.
  34. Don’t go into something you actually don’t know much about, in the hopes that you’re going to get really financially successful and rewarded… even though people think you’re, like, terrific.
  35. What I’ve found in being around political people is they’re willing to negotiate their ideology somewhere around 5 percent. They believe that’s really stepping out. And it’s really hard to do business when you only move 5 percent from your ideology.
  36. We have limited time, and we have to maximize it.
  37. I’m not feeling undertaxed. Tax reform is an important issue. You have to have an inherent sense of fairness.
  38. Part of China’s strategic planning is to make their universities among the top level of the world, and I think they understand you can’t do that without the adoption of some of the principles of the great universities in the West; one of those is the ability to have free expression and discussion in the classroom.
  39. I’m doing my sit-ups and watching CNBC. Suddenly, somebody starts talking about me on television… The business has gone into a weird zone of visibility. For those of us who have done it for a long time, it’s strange.
  40. I chose to start Schwarzman Scholars because I saw the potential for the world to become focused and unhappy with China, in large part because of the populism that was growing throughout the world.
  41. I grew up in a small town outside Philadelphia and went to the local high school, where I ran track all four years.
  42. I have a saying: There are no brave old people in finance. Because if you’re brave, you mostly get destroyed in your 30s and 40s. If you make it to your 50s and 60s and you’re still prospering, you have a very good sense of how to avoid problems and when to be conservative or aggressive with your investments.
  43. After years of studying French in school, one of my professors said he’d really appreciate it if I didn’t take any more French.
  44. We need sobriety, rationality, and civility in the discussions on the regulation of financial institutions so that the banks can return in a robust manner to their central role in funding the economy.
  45. You can’t grow unless your banking system is expanding and you are extending credit.
  46. As long as you’re excellent, things work out for you.
  47. Sleeping at night is not a specialty of entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur who is sleeping soundly, something bad is happening to that person; they just don’t know it’s happening yet.
  48. As you have more resources in life, it’s your obligation to deploy those for the benefit of others.
  49. One of the rules I’ve learned is that struggling to try and think your way into making an investment is usually the best way to not have a great outcome.
  50. There’s usually room in the theme parks business for efficiencies on the cost side and new investment, which drives traffic.
  51. What you find when you live in the United States, you live in the West, is that when somebody fails, it’s never their fault. They always like to blame somebody other than themselves for a failure.
  52. Washington, D.C., puts enormous burdens on people who, at the end of the day, are just humans.
  53. Being reasonably direct about what you’re doing, being comfortable, is the best way to do things.
  54. I have no first-strike capability. I never choose to go into battle first. But I won’t back down.
  55. I can’t micromanage what anybody pays or doesn’t pay. But the concept that half of the public isn’t involved with the income-tax system is somewhat odd and I’m not saying how much people should do, but we should all be part of the system.
  56. Some of the people in finance touch enormous parts of the economy.
  57. In the charitable world, I find myself giving to large projects that I think can make a large-scale impact.
  58. I love picking people. I started Blackstone, and we had no people, and now we have with our portfolio companies about 750,000 people all over the world. Everybody who is at a senior level has ultimately been picked by me.
  59. We’re so overregulated as a country that we just crushed our productivity.
  60. I’ve lived through periods of illiquidity before. Asset prices come down. The economy slows or even goes into recession. Then the cycle re-starts. We buy at lower prices with less leverage.
  61. Education around entrepreneurship should start early, at secondary level, and be very robust by college level.
  62. Blackstone is not really a business per se. It’s a mission to be the best.
  63. I love things that cost nothing that have great results.
  64. There are no patents in finance.
  65. Live life intensely – I’ve always believed in that.
  66. We need to be able to identify and support young people who demonstrate interest and aptitude in entrepreneurship and business creation and give them tools to follow this path throughout their educational experience.
  67. Every day should be a good day. People fool themselves that they’ll be here forever.
  68. Business is usually a team sport. There isn’t one great person sitting there directing things. You can’t run an effective business like that.
  69. Dodd-Frank has disproportionately burdened community banks, despite their having no role in the financial crisis.
  70. To the extent that I can add value and make my country a better place, that’s a good thing to do.
  71. Next to my mom, I’m actually a shrinking violet.
  72. In life, you’ll often find that having influence and providing sound advice is a good thing, even if it attracts criticism or requires some sacrifice.
  73. I like being in warm weather. I find that relaxes me. I like being near water. I like sitting on a beach and sort of hearing the water, watching waves break, looking at the shimmering. I find that really relaxing.
  74. Public service is a core value for people of my generation.
  75. Blackstone is a major client of many of the largest banks around the world.
  76. Today, whenever I’m under pressure to make a decision on a transaction but I don’t know what the right one is, I try desperately to postpone it. I’ll insist on more information – on doing extra laps around the intellectual parking lot – before committing. I take the same approach with people, too.
  77. If I get angry, it’s obvious. I don’t have to say much.
  78. Ironically, when a bunch of very smart people are sitting around a table for hours trying to figure out whether they should do something, that tends to not necessarily lead to the best results.
  79. It’s wonderful to learn about new cultures and to be able to travel easily to so many countries.
  80. This country, of course, needs fundamental reform of our financial regulatory system, as I, and many other financial institution executives, have publicly advocated for a considerable period.
  81. It’s important that we educate Americans about how hedge funds and private equity play completely different roles.
  82. Always, always make good on what you say.
  83. China on the world stage, in terms of interaction with the rest of the world, has been relatively very new due to the long isolation period until Deng Xiaoping’s times.
  84. Doing a me-too business, because it’s you – the only person who cares about that is you. The market doesn’t care if it’s you. The market is pretty much being served. You better have something that the world doesn’t have, because even then, you might screw it up through your own ineptitude and inexperience.
  85. Preparing youth for employment requires training that is demand-driven to meet the needs of companies and ensure that young people are taught marketable skills.
  86. I was in an interdisciplinary major – which was a new thing then – which was psychology, sociology, anthropology, and biology, which is really sort of the study of the human being.
  87. China is an indomitable force, and they have a commitment for excellence.
  88. When I was much younger, I realized that when I was handling something very large, and I was on my own doing that, that my breathing rate would increase, and that would affect my ability to think as well as I normally would. So when that starts happening, I slow down.
  89. I’m concerned with China growing at double or triple the rate of the West, that there will be tensions. One needs to do something to start addressing misunderstandings and frustration.
  90. I didn’t get to be successful by letting people hurt Blackstone or me.
  91. I’m a consistent little person.
  92. I always felt uncomfortable with real estate because buildings don’t move, and neighborhoods change.
  93. In 2014, Blackstone was the most profitable money manager in the world. I did not anticipate that.
  94. I’ve learned that all investments have risk.
  95. The biggest mistake I’ve seen people make with their careers is, when they’re good, after two or three years – and they happen to be smart – they announce that they’re going out to start their own firm.

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