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 CNBC’s ‘The Profit’ Gets Wrong

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A few years ago I received a call from a television producer who wanted to verify that I was, indeed, a well-known turnaround consultant. This took me back because “well-known” was not necessarily in my marketing vocabulary. But I figured if someone from TV wanted to talk to me, I could at least become “less-obscure.” […]

The Economy in Three Clients

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I have been gratified to receive a number of inquiries.   “Where’s your blog?” The truth is that I received an offer to write for a reputable print magazine, which would have caused a conflict.  Then the offer…went nowhere. I have made an executive decision.  To heck with quality journalism.  I’m gonna keep writing for you […]

Taking Control Amid Municipal Corruption: A Discussion with Harry Spence

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A couple of months ago, I got an email from Benton Harbor, Mich. It reported on the local strife following the appointment of a super-powerful municipal administrator under a new Michigan law. “Do you do this?” my correspondent asked. “Any comment?” And I replied that the only person I would trust to comment was someone […]

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 […]

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 […]

Succession Planning at Three

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I was recently in a client’s office, and remarked on the photo of his young family. “My boy is three,” the client remarked. “The dream is for him to take over this business.” This gave me pause. I work with a lot of family-run businesses, and have seen the best and the worst of succession […]

How to Manufacture a Debt Crisis

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In my career I’ve been involved with the rehabilitation and rescue of everything from corner restaurants to whole governments.  In fact, at one point I was managing a debt renegotiation for $32 billion in sovereign credit.   This category of potential clientele is the most interesting, given their size as well as the social and […]

“We are what we repeatedly do…”

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Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” So says Aristotle.  In the question of how to manage a turnaround, many people who are currently dealing with troubled businesses do not have a lifetime of practice–of the habits–of managing a turnaround.  So this blog is written by one who does have that near-lifetime of […]