There's an old anecdote about former Lehman CEO Dick Fuld that's been doing the rounds for years, but has resurfaced in Vicky Ward's excellent 'Devil's Casino - Friendship, Betrayal, & The High Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers'.
It was the early 1970s, and Fuld was a relatively junior trader who needed Allan Kaplan, then a Lehman partner, to sign-off on a trade.
Kaplan was on the phone, so Fuld was forced to wait outside, frustrated that he was being kept waiting.
'I need you to sign something', Fuld said in an attempt to get Kaplan's attention. Kaplan signalled for Fuld to wait. Fuld persisted, and Kaplan finally got off the phone.
Determined to teach the pushy Fuld a lesson, and pointing to the papers that were spread out all over his desk, Kaplan said: 'You see all these piles on my desk ? When they are gone, I will sign your paper'.
Unfazed, Fuld simply leaned across the desk and, with one hand, swept the papers onto the floor.
'Now may I have your signature ?', Fuld calmly asked.
Kaplan signed, and Dick Fuld was on his way.