Lloyd Blankfein was a fighter from birth. Born in 1954 to working class family, he grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn, where his odds of one day becoming a billionaire seemed highly improbable to the people around him.
To pay for the cramped apartment filled with extended family members, Lloyd’s father worked at the post office and his mother was a receptionist. The family likely struggled to make ends meet, and once he was old enough, Lloyd got a job selling hotdogs at Yankee Stadium. The teenager learned to be resilient and street smart – things that would serve him well once he became the “Dr. Evil of Wall Street”.
Off To Harvard
Once senior year came around, it was time for Lloyd to start thinking about whether or not he would be able to go to college, due to the high cost of tuition. Thankfully for Lloyd, he won a scholarship to Harvard, where he graduated with a degree in History in 1975. As a poor kid from the projects, Lloyd had to do more than just study in order to adapt socially to the rich, preppy world of Harvard. (For more, see: Where The Ultra-Wealthy Go To School.)
Lloyd in his later years gave wise advice, probably acquired from the years he spent among his wealthier Harvard peers: “Whoever you are, wherever you are stationed, these are the cards you got dealt. You can’t spend your time wringing your hands about it. You play the cards you have. You accept the burdens in the context of which you came from and enjoy the privileges and don’t be guilty and either one of them.”
Lloyd didn’t let his economic and academic insecurities at Harvard get in the way of his plan to become a lawyer. Despite being a mediocre student, Lloyd applied for and was accepted into Harvard Law. He would later admit that he had imagined himself on the Supreme Court, but as with most things in life, it’s very difficult to plan too far ahead in detail.
Lloyd’s Big Break
After graduation, Lloyd went to work for a law firm in New York for a few years, but Lloyd grew tired of his job as a lawyer and the unhealthy lifestyle that came with it. He applied to most of the big financial firms but was rejected, before being headhunted to work as a commodities trader for J. Aron & Company, which by 1981 had become a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. This job would be his entry point to the career where he found his true passion and unimaginable fortune.