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Up Close and All In

Life Lessons from a Wall Street Warrior

Simon Element,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

A Wall Street legend offers an intimate memoir.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Bold
  • Engaging


When young John Mack considered his future, he assumed he’d run a menswear store with his cousin in his home state of North Carolina. But a part-time college job at a securities firm altered his career trajectory. This fascinating, entertaining tale from Morgan Stanley’s former CEO provides remarkable insight into life on Wall Street. Mack takes you behind the scenes from the frenetic trading floor to sensitive boardroom conversations with America’s most prominent financial personalities. Bright, egotistical, ruthless and charming, Mack made brutally difficult decisions without wavering and saved Morgan Stanley during the 2008 financial crisis.


Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack emphasized teamwork and cooperation in an industry that promotes greed and selfishness.

John Mack – then head of Morgan Stanley’s Operating Committee – was going to an 8 am meeting at the company one day in 1992 when he noticed a deliveryman standing by the elevators holding a paper sack. After the meeting – roughly a half-hour later – the man was still standing there. When Mack asked whether the deliveryman had called the recipient who ordered his delivery, he replied, “Twice.” 

Mack asked for the recipient’s phone number and dialed him. He identified himself and ordered the Morgan Stanley employee to come pick up his delivery.

Mack reprimanded the employee and told him he was being disrespectful to the hardworking deliveryman. And, Mack said, if the employee ever repeated that behavior, he’d fire him. Mack insisted that Morgan Stanley’s people treat everyone respectfully – both inside the company and outside it.

In four-plus decades on Wall Street, Mack observed that certain traits seemed dominant among investment bankers and traders. Fiercely competitive and aggressive...

About the Author

John Mack spent 34 years with Morgan Stanley, including serving as CEO for seven years.

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