Nicely crafted debut recounting JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s climb to the pinnacle of American finance.
Now 53, Dimon became Wall Street’s “banker of choice” in 2008 when he executed the historic deal that saved the investment bank Bear Stearns and helped the U.S. government prevent widespread financial calamity. In this admiring biography, New York contributing editor McDonald describes a precocious stockbroker’s son who grew up on Park Avenue and vowed at age nine that he would make a fortune one day. Serious, headstrong and outspoken, Dimon earned a Harvard MBA and joined Wall Street legend Sandy Weill at American Express in 1982, becoming the older man’s protégé. Together they spent 15 years making a fortune. Weill hunted out financial firms worth acquiring, and Dimon closed the deals, becoming president of Primerica at age 35. Along the way Dimon developed his signature, regularly updated lists of “Things I Owe People” and “Things People Owe Me” and his credo that “it’s more important to do 10 things and get eight of them right than to do five and get them all right.” Their colossal egos finally clashing, Weill and Dimon fell out in the late ’90s, with Dimon resigning to head Bank One and then the global megabank JPMorgan Chase, which he tranformed into a high-performing firm with his trademark cost-cutting and integration of systems. McDonald shows how Dimon came out from under Weill’s shadow, exercising a penchant for openness and debate-driven decision-making and a commitment to the belief that CEOs should “drill down” (he demanded 50-page books with monthly numbers from each division head). With a new maturity that allowed him to avoid the subprime meltdown, Dimon eventually eclipsed his mentor/competitor Weill, winning recognition as a Wall Street hero for rescuing Bear Stearns and, writes the author, “a leader who knew how to make a company grow.” McDonald produces a seamless narrative of the complex deals and power struggles that characterized Dimon’s career throughout this heady period.
A must-read for the business crowd.