James (Jamie) Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has become Wall Street’s banker of last resort. A decade after Dimon’s career seemed shattered by his notorious ouster from Citigroup, Inc., he was playing a critical role in the global crunch at a time when rival firms were on their knees. For example, in 2008, J.P. Morgan had agreed to buy Bear Stearns Cos. From helping to salvage a Home Depot transaction to rallying other banks to heed the Federal Reserve’s attempt to provide market relief, Dimon has emerged as one of Wall Street’s most powerful players at a time when many firms were scrambling for leadership. J.P. Morgan “stands behind Bear Stearns,” Dimon said in a news release. “Bear Stearns’ clients and counterparties should feel secure that J.P. Morgan is guaranteeing Bear Stearns’ counterparty risk. We welcome their clients, counterparties and employees to our firm, and we are glad to be their partner.” All weekend, Dimon was locked in negotiations to buy the 85-year-old institution. If he had balked, government officials and others worried that Bear would be forced to file for bankruptcy protection, causing ripple effects throughout the global financial system. Nevertheless, two years later, Dimon balked at the government’s attempts to restrict executive pay and force banks to increase lending. He organized an aggressive lobbying effort to combat regulation that would curb the bank’s profits. Dimon’s intense involvement is typical of the hands-on boss and detail-oriented New Yorker who places a hand-written to-do list in his breast pocket each morning. On the left side is a list of items that must be addressed. On the lower right quadrant is a list of what Dimon refers to as “people who owe me stuff”—responses to unanswered questions, return phone calls, and the like.

1. James Dimon is one of the mostly highly paid bankers in the world. Why doesn’t he use something fancier than a hand-written to-do list to help keep him organized?

2. In what way might being well organized contribute to the success of a high-level banker like Dimon?

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