Power Point: Work hard and be humble

“The key to success in the financial sector, which is probably no different than any other field, is to work hard, to be humble, to work well with other people.”

–John Thain, Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch , who is selling the company to Bank of America for $50 billion. Wall Street observers have been commenting about the stark difference between Thain — the newcomer chief who is salvaging his sick ship by selling it — and Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, the company lifer who battled for Lehman’s independence all the way to its death. I’ve met Thain only a couple of times, but he’s struck me as a fairly low-ego guy, at least by Wall Street’s extreme standards. I saw Thain a few months ago at a women’s event at the New York Stock Exchange , where he was CEO until last fall, after a long career at Goldman Sachs . He was standing in the hallway, literally directing guests through the maze to the ladies room. I laughed and commented on his down-to-earth diligence. He replied, “Well, I know the place—I used to work here.” The ladies were impressed.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.