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 […]

Nepotism Rules!

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If you own or run a company, you probably have been tempted by the siren song of nepotism. Nepotism refers to the high art and common practice of hiring your relatives. Interestingly, if you search for the terms “nepotism” and “rules” you are likely to get a number of documents that purport to limit the […]

The Turnaround Assessment Test

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In 1968, Edward I. Altman formulated a simple, path-breaking scoring mechanism that could predict, with high confidence, the probability that any one corporation would enter bankruptcy within two years. He called the mechanism the Z score and, by publishing in academic journals, allowed it to enter the public domain. It has been, for many years, one of the most-studied […]


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My son has a great manufacturing internship. He really enjoys it. In many ways, he is living the life that his Wisconsin schooling prepared him for. He sent out four e-mails requesting a spot, and got an offer after a few weeks. The family-owned company that made the offer is doing well, so they agreed […]

What it REALLY Takes to Turn a Business Around

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I have been doing turnarounds for over twenty five years, and along the way, I’ve accumulated certain prejudices about what types of businesses are easiest to fix. Wholesale distribution and retail/restaurant chains are among my favorites, because there are usually enough profitable parts of the business — a core product or very profitable locations — […]

Weakly Specials

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I recently argued that auto dealers need to reconfigure their marketing to be delivery points for an active direct marketing and Internet business. Dealers also need to reduce their financial risk profile. It is not as if the car companies have made it easy for them. As a matter of fact, the car companies are […]