Leadership by Geoff Colvin

Morgan Stanley's Mack speaks about survival

October 23, 2009: 4:41 PM ET

My Fortune colleague Carol Loomis passed on this YouTube video of a talk that Morgan Stanley (MS) CEO John Mack delivered last week at Wharton. It's a remarkably candid play-by-play of living through the global economic meltdown.

Mack talks about being pushed by Tim Geithner, then head of the New York Fed, to do a deal with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) or Citigroup (C) or another partner that might stabilize the teetering firm and, with it, the cratering financial system.

Mack refused to be told what to do. As he says in the video, "Stand up for what you believe in. Do what you think is right. Be prepared to suffer the consequences. But don't be pushed around when you know in your heart of hearts it's the wrong thing to do." He and Morgan Stanley survived by lining up a $9 billion investment from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. And Morgan Stanley turned out to be one of two survivors, along with Goldman Sachs (GS), among the Wall Street giants.

Carol doesn't mind--and I hope Mack doesn't either--my sharing an email that she wrote to him this afternoon...and his prompt reply:

Loomis: I just watched your Wharton talk on YouTube. This is one of the best 26 minutes I have ever spent. I predict you will soon have more hits on
YouTube than Susan Boyle.

Mack: Carol, Thanks, but I would prefer to listen to Susan Boyle. John

PATTIE signature

P.S. Click here to see the video and read about Mack's "Inside the Bunker" talk on Wharton's website.

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Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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