Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, recently answered questions from students as part of the School’s David and Lyn Silfen Leadership Series. In front of a packed room, he spoke on an array of topics, ranging from careers and leadership to the state of the financial system.
Dimon expressed optimism about the US economy moving forward. There’s more liquidity in the system than a few years ago, he said. “The American financial system is in very good shape today,” Dimon said.
On careers, Dimon told the audience not to focus too intently on their ultimate goals because one can’t know the best place to be in the long run. “At J.P. Morgan, the closer you get to my job, the less you may want it,” he joked. Instead, Dimon emphasized the importance of working hard but efficiently. He said it’s important to continue the learning process long beyond graduation, and he spoke of making a concerted effort to take care of one’s physical and emotional health as well.
Asked about leadership, Dimon expressed his belief that there isn’t one type of great leader. They come in all forms. Ultimately, he said, people have to trust you, and you have to possess the fortitude to withstand pressure from the outside. “You need to be able to cut through the noise,” he said, “and figure out what’s important.”
When faced with a difficult choice, Dimon feels discussion is critical. “The tougher the decision, the more I talk.” He relayed the story of J.P. Morgan’s decision to buy Bear Stearns in 2008, when he spent a sleepless weekend at the office with advisors going over every detail before deciding to move ahead with the purchase.
But Dimon also spoke about mistakes, admitting he is not immune. “I’ve made so many, I don’t know where to start,” he said, adding that sometimes his temper gets in the way and clouds his judgment. But he emphasized the importance of learning from errors and moving forward — not crying over spilled milk. “You’ve got to get over it,” Dimon said.
The David and Lyn Silfen Leadership Series is a unique partnership between students and top executives. The program attracts renowned business leaders from around the world to the School to provide a forum for students to exchange thoughts and ideas with the most important people in business today.