Grant travels to Boca Raton to the home of Leon G. Cooperman, chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors.
The two discuss the character traits which form the building blocks of Leon’s legendary career, his experiences at Goldman Sachs and Omega Advisors, along with his well-publicized run-in with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Leon explains his decision to return his investors’ money and concentrate on his own family office and outlines his views on the importance of philanthropy – both for him and future generations of the Cooperman family.
Leon G. Cooperman: Good Luck, Hard Work, And Good Intuition – Grant Williams – Real Vision
Thank you so much for having us in your home. It's a pleasure to be here. My pleasure. The beauty of talking to you is I don't need to introduce you to the audience. They're all going to be intimately aware of who you are and your track record. But what I really want to do is is walk through your career with you and give people a chance to hear about your experiences and from you talk about how you adapt and survive and thrive in an industry that's changed enormously over the course of your career. Well I attribute ever success I have enjoyed frankly to good luck. Hard work.
And good intuition. Yeah. And so if I traced my career along the way I could point that way say what I say. So back in the 60s if you finished your major and minor in college in three years you could count on your first year of medical and dental school toward your fourth year of college you get a separate degree. So in the summer of 1963 I toiled very hard in the University of Pennsylvania laboratories and I took physical chemistry during the summer to finish off my major and then I immediately enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania dental school and after eight days which you could see a smile on your face. After eight days I made a determination that I wasn't sure I was heading in the right direction. That was like intuition. Very traumatic experience.
My fault may rest in peace was walking around saying my son the dentist I paid tuition free year I paid room and board for a year. I had to suffer the embarrassment of going back to undergraduate school but I made the determination that I wanted that one year to think through whether I was fully committed to dentistry or not a great cost. And I call that intuition. So I went back to Hunter College City Versey of New York the only one that understood the trauma of the decision was the dean Glenn T. Nygren who's deceased he had to get permission for him to matriculate back into the City University of New York. He gave me permission. He complimented me on that decision and I had a year of electives available as my major mind was all done and so I took 10 courses in economics got 10 days and never look back. I found what interested me and so I say this them on intuition. Then when I graduated I went to work for Xerox up in Rochester New York as a quality control engineer and decided to basically go back to school get an MBA and I went to Columbia Business School and have been very helpful to me and some of the people you know like Simberg Mary Gabelli become great friends as a result of meeting them at a business school and that opened the door to me.
Goldman Sachs and I consider myself very anal so I'm very I'm supposed to be somewhere on time if not early and I meet all deadlines very old fashioned. And that was the only time in my life I didn't meet a deadline. I got a job offer from Goldman Sachs in 1966 and I got a call from who was turned out to be my boss ultimately Bob Danforth and said we're very disappointed we haven't heard from you. And I said Boyle to be honest with you I'm broke I have a National Defense Education Act to loan I have a 6 month old kid I have no money in the bank and Goldman is not one of the higher offers I have. It's actually one of the lower offers. I liked everybody I met. And I was very familiar with the Union Carbide compound interest tables which were floating around at that time. And the job offer was about 11000 eleven thousand five hundred or something like that. And I asked him if he thought I could make twenty five thousand five years. It was like a 50 percent compound rate of growth and he gave me some Yankton South Dakota and he gave me a nice understated and he said if you keep if you work hard and keeping those clean I think you can do it. They said OK I'll accept the job. And so if I look back.