Sunday, March 15, 2015

On listening...........................................

      As Wriston's responsibilities broadened, he remembered what his father had told him about the willingness of people to spill their guts to an interested listener.  Plying subordinates with jelly beans as his father did was not Walter Wriston's style.  In the late afternoon, Wriston would walk the sixth floor, sit down in his subordinates' guest chairs, put his feet on their desk, and puff on his cigar.  "He'd sit there with his feet on your desk and chew the fat," said a former overseas hand.  Said Wriston, "If you go out and walk around the floor talking with the bookkeepers, if you create a climate where people know you care what they're saying they'll tell you a lot.  That's really your data base on operations."  Over the next thirty years, Wriston would make his fair share of mistakes, but failing to listen to workers in the trenches would be the least of them.

      Both Henry and Walter Wriston were fascinated with the gathering and dissemination of information.  Early in his banking career, Wriston concluded that information about money was more important to the business than money itself.

-Phillip L. Zweig,  Wriston:  Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy

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