The #1 Secret to Success for Private Companies

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In the 1937 comic farce, “Topper,” a young Cary Grant portrays George Kerby, a playboy attending the board meeting of his family’s bank: Bank Chairman (reading in a droning tone of voice): “Bullion abroad and in transit, thirteen million, two hundred and two thousand, eight hundred and fifty-four dollars and no cents.” George Kerby, (reclining, […]

What “Undercover Boss” Gets Wrong

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Reality TV and business doesn’t seem to be a good fit. The staged nature of the interactions—I am thinking of CNBC’s The Profit—are no more likeable than when non-business contestants are naked and on a beach. There are exceptions. A great show that touches on business is Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs, which is now shown […]

Humanities for Fun and Profit!

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The unemployment statistics are daunting:  for those with high school degrees, it is 7.5%. For those with college, it is 3.8%.  Except for graduates with BA degrees in the Humanities.  For them, there is basically no hope. At least, that is what the newspapers would have you believe.  Articles abound on the sorry parents who […]

Restructuring, Government and Respect

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If there is one cardinal rule of restructuring, it is that the person in charge must respect all the constituents. It is a sure sign of an amateur to blame the employees for the changes that must take place. I know this from my own, early missteps. It only takes one disparaging remark about an […]

Private Equity, Probity and Politics

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I am rushing to catch a flight, so this will be quick. But I cannot earn one more frequent flier mile without speaking on private equity, which has been treated in the press as either a sign of the devil or the highest expression of American free enterprise. I am risking a missed flight to […]

Summer Shorts

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This week I had hoped to be on a beach. Not sure if that’s going to happen, but here are two beach-appropriate short reads. Please consume while wearing flip-flops:   I. Capping CAPM A Google search on the Capital Asset Pricing Model returns over 1.2 million hits. This model, taught in finance courses as “Cap-em,” indicates that […]

LAX Attacks!

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One of the citizens of Fond du Lac, Wis., King C. Gillette, spent years perfecting a disposable steel razor. His famous adage was to give out razors — and sell razor blades. I think there are more efficient ways of barbering the consumer so that he hardly feels the blade. For example, imagine an item […]

Curried Interest

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was titled “Congress’s Carried Interest Tax Folly” (May 24, 2010). The subtitle was, “The latest soak-the-rich scheme will mean less capital investment and fewer new jobs.” I may agree with the sentiments of the headline, but on the facts, the sub-head is all wrong. One only has […]

The Inflation 5cast

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 Years ago, the musician and comedian Victor Borge gave a monologue on inflation. He said, “Anything that has to do with money goes up … except the language. See, we have hidden numbers in the words like ‘wonderful,’ ‘before,’ ‘create,’ ‘tenderly.’ All these numbers can be inflated and meet the economy, you know, by rising […]

Sales and Power

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My wife has a book on her office shelf called Sex and Power. Big disappointment. No sex in it. On sales, I do have some hot advice — the best advice. And that is: Sell. Sell. Sell. Not your business; your product. I am always surprised at the number of very sophisticated executives who think […]

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