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Banking, Capital Markets, Featured Work, Hong Kong - Mar 27, 2014 16:36 - 0 Comments

Lift off for John Lefevre, aka @GSElevator

Euromoney magazine, March 27 2014

“Destiny, faith and karma,” wrote John LeFevre recently, “are strippers in Atlanta.” That may be, but all three have had quite a role in LeFevre’s life since he was unmasked as the voicelefevrepic of the Goldman Sachs elevator twitter account, @GSElevator.

Since Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times outed the former Citi bond syndicate man on February 24, LeFevre has undergone sudden global scrutiny, much of it derogatory, and has had a major publishing deal with Simon & Schuster scrapped for reasons that remain opaque. “Something does not add up,” an exasperated LeFevre tells Euromoney from Houston, Texas, where he now lives having retired from investment banking well shy of his 35th birthday.

LeFevre was born in the UK, spent his childhood in Texas, was schooled on the US East Coast and worked for Citi or Salomon in New York, London and, from 2004 to 2008, Hong Kong. He revelled in the lifestyle but had a sense that it was somewhat absurd. “I’ve always been cynical about the industry,” he says. “People take themselves too seriously. They define themselves by being part of Wall Street, which I’ve found a bit pathetic.”

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Big Interviews, Science and engineering, Sport, Travel, USA - Mar 1, 2014 22:54 - 0 Comments

The King of the Skies

Discovery Channel Magazine, March 2014

He was the original action man — a master of the air, and the perfect gentleman on the ground. Now, as Chris Wright reports, Joe Kittinger is still acting as guardian angel to a new generation of action heroes

When the Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner captured the world’s imagination by jumping out of a balloon capsule 39 kilometres above the Earth’s surface in October 2012, he broke a record that had stood for 52 years. And as he slid his boots tentatively towards a modest step outside the capsule and prepared to lean out into the hostile void, the curve of the Earth clear in the background, he heard a reassuring voice from his capsule communicator on the ground. “Our guardian angel will take care of you,” the voice said. It belonged to the man who had set that record back in 1960, and had spent much of the previous 20 years trying to help others to break it. Joe Kittinger.Col. Joseph Kittinger

What was it about 1960? This was the year that Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard sank 11 kilometres to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in Trieste, a steel ball held together with glue. It was a year before Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, the beginning of a decade that would see men walking on the moon.

And in this environment, powered by the twin engines of exploration and Cold War politics — in this era in which anything could be done if you tried hard enough and should be attempted anyway just to see what happened — Joe Kittinger put himself in an open gondola beneath a cavernous helium balloon, drifted more than 31 kilometres into the sky — so high, in fact, that one can’t really talk of a sky, more a stratosphere — and stepped off the side with a parachute.

The will and the ability to do such a thing is one of the interesting things about Kittinger. The rest of his life, which would include a year as a prisoner of war in the notorious Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam, a solo transatlantic balloon flight and a post-retirement career as a skywriting stunt pilot, is another. But perhaps what’s most remarkable of all is the idea that, having made your mark in history, you then spend decades trying to subjugate it to somebody else’s achievement, urging them to do better.

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Big Interviews, Economics, Featured Work, Foreign Exchange, From the Vault, Malaysia, Politics - Oct 1, 2007 9:52 - 0 Comments

Mahathir Mohamed, Emerging Markets, October 2007

With MahathirEmerging Markets, October 2007

Putrajaya is a curious place. Though few outside of Malaysia have heard of it, it is the country’s federal administrative centre, founded in 1995 to take the government departments out of nearby Kuala Lumpur. It’s a place of resplendent architectural daring: mosques, palaces, convention centres, and five extraordinary bridges over a 650-hectare man-made lake. But the most striking thing about it is this: there’s no-one there.

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