An Interview with Financial Columnist, Best-Selling Author, and CNBC Anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, a Scarsdale, NY, Native
Too Big to Fail’s Andrew Ross Sorkin talks about succeeding—in his native Westchester.
Scarsdale native Andrew Ross Sorkin began writing for the New York Times while still in high school. Since then, he has carved out an impressive career as a journalist, covering Wall Street as a must-read financial columnist for the Times; authoring the era-defining best seller, Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves (which was made into an Emmy-nominated movie by HBO); appearing as a cable news pundit; and now, at age 32, anchoring CNBC’s Squawk Box. He weighs in on whether Westchester’s stock is on the rise.
You began your career at the Times while attending Scarsdale High School. How did that happen?
When I was a senior, there was a program called ‘Senior Options’ where they encouraged you to get an internship for the last six weeks of school. I read Stuart Elliott, who is still the advertising columnist for the New York Times, religiously, and I went to work for him. I would literally Xerox and staple for him every day. My third week there, an editor, who had no idea who I was but thought I was a real writer, overheard me talking about this thing called ‘the Internet’ and asked me to write a story. We didn’t tell her who I was until afterwards.
How did growing up in Westchester shape your world view?
I think it’s a very driven community—probably fed by some insecurity. I think all drive has something to do with insecurity. When I look around at so many of my classmates, we have the traditional doctors, lawyers, and bankers—but we also have people who have gone off and done unique things. They say it’s too competitive and everyone is trying to kill each other, and maybe that’s true, but, ultimately, it’s wound up working out pretty well.
Do you come back and visit a lot?
My parents still live in Scarsdale. We go back more now that we have twin boys who just turned a year old. We go hang out with the grandparents, and we go for the High Holidays. Westchester Reform Temple is my temple.
What were your favorite hangouts growing up?
I liked Lange’s. We used to go to ‘The Mont’ (the now-defunct Montparnasse Diner on Central Avenue). When you were a senior that was the Four Seasons of Scarsdale. If you wanted to see or be seen, that’s where you’d go at eleven o’clock at night on a Saturday. Amore Pizza was my go-to place on Weaver Street. The crust was very crunchy because it had a little cornmeal on it.
Compared to the rest of the country, has Westchester been largely unaffected by the financial crisis?
Westchester and New York City, where I live, have not felt it in a meaningful way. You have to get on a plane and land somewhere in the middle of the country to see it. I’m sure Westchester feels like it’s been impacted, but, on a relative basis to the rest of the country, it’s nothing. There are people who are really hurting in a very different way. I think Westchester has been protected by the financial industry probably more so than most other areas.
Any thoughts on moving back to the old neighborhood now that you’re a dad?
My wife grew up in the city, and she’s a city girl through and through. I don’t know how I’d convince the troops to move to Westchester, but I look back very fondly on my childhood. It’s a great place to raise kids.
What is it about Westchester that makes people flock here and want to raise their families here?
It’s because their parents are here. People say it’s the great schools, and that’s true, but, ultimately, it’s the community of families typically lead by the parents. Sometimes they care too much, but what drives them is that passion they have about educating their kids and creating the next generation, who they want to see do better than themselves. That has the biggest impact on children and whatever success rate that you think has come from Westchester.