Aggressive by Nature: Greif & Co.’s mascot is the horned owl, “nature’s most efficient killing machine,” according to the investment bank’s eponymous founder.

Aggressive by Nature: Greif & Co.’s mascot is the horned owl, “nature’s most efficient killing machine,” according to the investment bank’s eponymous founder.

Casual Friday is not a day of the week at Greif & Co., an investment banking firm with offices on the 65th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower downtown.

“We’re traditional in that regard—‘Casual Friday’ doesn’t work here,” said Lloyd Greif, founder, president and chief executive, with diction and demeanor as crisp as his tailored suit jacket. “We look professional, we act professional, and we deliver professional results.”

The philosophy seems fitting for an executive who has chosen the great horned owl as a company symbol.

“The great horned owl is nature’s most efficient killing machine – it can kill an animal four times its weight and size,” said Greif (pronounced GRIFE). “Our reputation is as strong advocates for our clients, and being very principled investment bankers.”

Greif & Co. caters to the entrepreneur, and Greif is founder of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s Marshall School of Business. When asked for advice for the budding entrepreneur, he pounces on the opportunity like his favorite bird of prey.

“Along your entrepreneurial journey, inevitably there will be setbacks and there will be failures, but never say die and never give up. Keep fighting until you succeed. Heart is as important as mind in entrepreneurship,” the self-made executive offered via e-mail after due consideration.

It’s still a bit of a surprise that Greif believes the best way to hone the firm’s aggressive edge is to surround himself and his staff with art.

Art Deco, to be precise.

“People here work in a museum,” Greif said with obvious pride. “There’s nothing here that’s faux.”

Don’t expect to leave Greif & Co. without the official Greif art tour. He has turned his offices into an Art Deco history classroom.

Highlights include gouache on paper costume designs from the Judy Garland Folies-Bergere Collection, and Charles Sheldon pastel paintings of actresses for movie fan magazine covers of the early 1930s.

Why Art Deco?

“(Deco) sprang out of World War I, the Great War,” Greif said. “People were looking for relief, a kind of escape, and Art Deco reflected that in many respects. It’s very sensual …it captured the imagination of the world.

“For me to do my work, I can be anywhere, anytime,” Greif said. “We go where the client is, where the deal is.

“But I do like to work here. This for me is a creative environment, and you have to be creative when you do deals. With all the stress that goes with deal making, anything that puts your mind at ease is a positive force.”

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Bentwood chairs and a glass and wood gueridon table depicting Diana the Huntress, by Jallot and Marx, 1930. (photo by Thomas Wasper)

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Gloves On: Greif’s wife got him the Muhammad Ali memorabilia “because I am a fighter.” (photo by Thomas Wasper)

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“Three Bathers” by John Henry Bradley Storrs (bronze 1919), at left, Greif’s wife Renée (in rear) surprised Greif and their three children with a birthday gift of piloting their own planes at Air Combat USA flying school in Fullerton.(photos by Thomas Wasper)

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Owls are a hoot, including an Austrian cigarette case from the 1800s that now holds Greif’s business cards. (photo by Thomas Wasper)

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Greif, a native Angeleno, has an affinity for California history, including this vintage flag from the late 1800s. (photo by Thomas Wasper)

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“Greif acquired all 100 pieces of Judy Garland’s Folies-Bergere Collection. The costume and set designs occupy five walls in the Greif & Co. offices. (photo by Thomas Wasper)

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