Why I Am Optimistic

These are tough, turbulent times. The national debt is now pushing $11 trillion. Unemployment is way up; the S&P, way down. In fact, in the 185-year history of the Standard & Poor’s Index, the two years with the lowest return (-50%) were 2008 and 1931 … during the Great Depression.

So why am I so optimistic about the future of the country and my firm?

Because history demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit can triumph in even the most trying economic times … even in the depths of the Depression. Take a look at three companies launched in 1931:

• When Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil, it created the predecessor of the company now known as ExxonMobil.

• In 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi founded the Bridgestone Tire Company — today, the world's largest manufacturer of tires and a range of other industrial products.

• That same year, Sears Roebuck President Robert Wood was convinced he could make money selling car insurance through a mail order catalogue. Today, Allstate is the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in the U.S.

In 2007, the combined sales of these three companies totaled $471 billion. That’s more than the total GDP of Sweden! And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A host of other great companies and brands trace their birth to the ten years immediately following the Great Wall Street Crash of 1929 … among them, Hewlett-Packard, Revlon, Unilever, Baxter International, Sara Lee, Westin Hotels, Canon, GMAC Insurance, Zabar’s, Morgan Stanley, Krispy Kreme, Pepperidge Farm, Avery Dennison, DC Comics, T. Rowe Price, Owens Corning and GNC.

In 2005, Senator John Kerry said, “In this remarkable time for the world, I refuse to believe it’s time to stop believing in the possibilities of our remarkable country. I refuse to accept the downsizing of the American Dream. I refuse to bet against American entrepreneurial spirit and American ingenuity.”

I believe that the entrepreneurial spirit — which is alive and well in the United States — gives us the power to turn adversity into advantage. And that’s why I have every confidence that we will successfully weather the current storm.

Technorati Tags: national debt, Unemployment, Standard & Poor’s Index, 2008, 1931, the Great Depression, future, history, Senator John Kerry, the American Dream, entrepreneurial, American, business, communications, public relations

Why I Am Optimistic

These are tough, turbulent times. The national debt is now pushing $11 trillion. Unemployment is way up; the S&P, way down. In fact, in the 185-year history of the Standard & Poor’s Index, the two years with the lowest return (-50%) were 2008 and 1931 … during the Great Depression.

So why am I so optimistic about the future of the country and my firm?

Because history demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit can triumph in even the most trying economic times … even in the depths of the Depression. Take a look at three companies launched in 1931:

• When Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil, it created the predecessor of the company now known as ExxonMobil.

• In 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi founded the Bridgestone Tire Company — today, the world's largest manufacturer of tires and a range of other industrial products.

• That same year, Sears Roebuck President Robert Wood was convinced he could make money selling car insurance through a mail order catalogue. Today, Allstate is the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in the U.S.

In 2007, the combined sales of these three companies totaled $471 billion. That’s more than the total GDP of Sweden! And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A host of other great companies and brands trace their birth to the ten years immediately following the Great Wall Street Crash of 1929 … among them, Hewlett-Packard, Revlon, Unilever, Baxter International, Sara Lee, Westin Hotels, Canon, GMAC Insurance, Zabar’s, Morgan Stanley, Krispy Kreme, Pepperidge Farm, Avery Dennison, DC Comics, T. Rowe Price, Owens Corning and GNC.

In 2005, Senator John Kerry said, “In this remarkable time for the world, I refuse to believe it’s time to stop believing in the possibilities of our remarkable country. I refuse to accept the downsizing of the American Dream. I refuse to bet against American entrepreneurial spirit and American ingenuity.”

I believe that the entrepreneurial spirit — which is alive and well in the United States — gives us the power to turn adversity into advantage. And that’s why I have every confidence that we will successfully weather the current storm.

Technorati Tags: national debt, Unemployment, Standard & Poor’s Index, 2008, 1931, the Great Depression, future, history, Senator John Kerry, the American Dream, entrepreneurial, American, business, communications, public relations

SUCCESSION PLANNING: REMEMBER THE CEO JUST RENTS THE OFFICE

In just the first few weeks of 2009, a number of corporate CEOs were sent packing. Seagate, Tyson Foods, and Borders Group were just some of the companies that announced changes at the top. Also, Apple chief Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence for health reasons after months of speculation. More CEO changes are rumored to be on the way and may include some of the world’s leading companies.

The company’s reputation can be seriously tarnished if the succession issue is left unaddressed. For instance, commenting in his blog on the situation at Apple, New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera wrote: "The time has come for Apple's board to take control of this subject from Mr. Jobs and do the right thing by the company's investors.”

One of the main responsibilities for a CEO and the company’s board of directors is the development of a succession Continue reading "SUCCESSION PLANNING: REMEMBER THE CEO JUST RENTS THE OFFICE"

SUCCESSION PLANNING: REMEMBER THE CEO JUST RENTS THE OFFICE

In just the first few weeks of 2009, a number of corporate CEOs were sent packing. Seagate, Tyson Foods, and Borders Group were just some of the companies that announced changes at the top. Also, Apple chief Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence for health reasons after months of speculation. More CEO changes are rumored to be on the way and may include some of the world’s leading companies.

The company’s reputation can be seriously tarnished if the succession issue is left unaddressed. For instance, commenting in his blog on the situation at Apple, New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera wrote: "The time has come for Apple's board to take control of this subject from Mr. Jobs and do the right thing by the company's investors.”

One of the main responsibilities for a CEO and the company’s board of directors is the development of a succession plan to insure the continuity of the company. Despite the critical importance of CEO succession, many companies are unprepared for the “changing of the guard” – either planned or unexpected. As a result, what should be an orderly, well-planned transition often turns into a crisis situation alarming virtually all of the company’s constituents – employees, suppliers, customers and, of course, investors.

One of our faced a succession issue, more specifically how to communicate the change at the top. The outgoing CEO was popular and successful. The board had identified his successor, a dark horse candidate virtually unknown to the outside world. Their initial plan was to announce the early retirement of the CEO without mention of his successor; a follow-up release would have identified his successor. We advised them that the executive changes should be announced in one comprehensive release to avoid unnecessary speculation and investor panic. They listened and we helped build an identity for the incoming CEO by arranging media interviews as well as through direct contact with the company’s investors.

In its report entitled, “A Practical Guide to CEO Succession Planning,” Russell Reynolds Associates, a leading executive search firm, outlines a number of steps designed to insure a smooth transition at the top. These include creating a written succession plan by the board, which should be reviewed twice a year. This plan establishes the basis for selecting a new leader through an examination of the company’s strategic direction while factoring in various business challenges. With the plan in place, the board can review internal as well as external candidates. The report also outlines the steps to insure a successful transition such as knowledge sharing between the outgoing and incoming CEO as well as a program to communicate with the company’s various stakeholders.

The current economic downturn will undoubtedly lead to more CEO departures. As the CEO is often “the face of the company,” its standing and reputation will depend on how the issue is handled.


Technorati Tags: Seagate, The New York Times, Tyson Foods, Borders Group, Steve Jobs, Apple, Joe Nocera, succession plan, Russell Reynolds Associates, investing, CEO, investors, business, communications, public relations

SUCCESSION PLANNING: REMEMBER THE CEO JUST RENTS THE OFFICE

In just the first few weeks of 2009, a number of corporate CEOs were sent packing. Seagate, Tyson Foods, and Borders Group were just some of the companies that announced changes at the top. Also, Apple chief Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence for health reasons after months of speculation. More CEO changes are rumored to be on the way and may include some of the world’s leading companies.

The company’s reputation can be seriously tarnished if the succession issue is left unaddressed. For instance, commenting in his blog on the situation at Apple, New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera wrote: "The time has come for Apple's board to take control of this subject from Mr. Jobs and do the right thing by the company's investors.”

One of the main responsibilities for a CEO and the company’s board of directors is the development of a succession plan to insure the continuity of the company. Despite the critical importance of CEO succession, many companies are unprepared for the “changing of the guard” – either planned or unexpected. As a result, what should be an orderly, well-planned transition often turns into a crisis situation alarming virtually all of the company’s constituents – employees, suppliers, customers and, of course, investors.

One of our faced a succession issue, more specifically how to communicate the change at the top. The outgoing CEO was popular and successful. The board had identified his successor, a dark horse candidate virtually unknown to the outside world. Their initial plan was to announce the early retirement of the CEO without mention of his successor; a follow-up release would have identified his successor. We advised them that the executive changes should be announced in one comprehensive release to avoid unnecessary speculation and investor panic. They listened and we helped build an identity for the incoming CEO by arranging media interviews as well as through direct contact with the company’s investors.

In its report entitled, “A Practical Guide to CEO Succession Planning,” Russell Reynolds Associates, a leading executive search firm, outlines a number of steps designed to insure a smooth transition at the top. These include creating a written succession plan by the board, which should be reviewed twice a year. This plan establishes the basis for selecting a new leader through an examination of the company’s strategic direction while factoring in various business challenges. With the plan in place, the board can review internal as well as external candidates. The report also outlines the steps to insure a successful transition such as knowledge sharing between the outgoing and incoming CEO as well as a program to communicate with the company’s various stakeholders.

The current economic downturn will undoubtedly lead to more CEO departures. As the CEO is often “the face of the company,” its standing and reputation will depend on how the issue is handled.


Technorati Tags: Seagate, The New York Times, Tyson Foods, Borders Group, Steve Jobs, Apple, Joe Nocera, succession plan, Russell Reynolds Associates, investing, CEO, investors, business, communications, public relations

An Inappropriate Thank You Note



Outrageous! Chrysler has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads that have been running in The New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal , among other media outlets, to thank Americans for “investing in Chrysler” through the government's $17.4 billion auto industry bailout. The ad also stated Chrysler’s commitment to making quality products, improving fuel economy and providing “vehicles you want to buy.”

It is hard to fathom why Chrysler would be spending this kind of money on a thank you note when they are struggling to survive.

Don’t get me wrong. Thank you notes are nice. But the bailout was not a thoughtful gift to Chrysler from its legion of fans. Nor are taxpayers investors in the classic sense … so why does the ad use the term “investing?” Among all the investment options open to taxpayers, they did not choose Continue reading "An Inappropriate Thank You Note"

An Inappropriate Thank You Note



Outrageous! Chrysler has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads that have been running in The New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal , among other media outlets, to thank Americans for “investing in Chrysler” through the government's $17.4 billion auto industry bailout. The ad also stated Chrysler’s commitment to making quality products, improving fuel economy and providing “vehicles you want to buy.”

It is hard to fathom why Chrysler would be spending this kind of money on a thank you note when they are struggling to survive.

Don’t get me wrong. Thank you notes are nice. But the bailout was not a thoughtful gift to Chrysler from its legion of fans. Nor are taxpayers investors in the classic sense … so why does the ad use the term “investing?” Among all the investment options open to taxpayers, they did not choose to buy shares in Chrysler…it was a government decision, right or wrong.

While thanking your stakeholders is a noble policy, it could have easily been achieved through public relations techniques including press releases, the website, and emails … which would have amounted to a comparatively small dollar amount and could have accomplished the same thing. These funds could have been better spent on research to make better vehicles.

Taxpayers who are forced to help Chrysler in this bailout have a right to be angry about what undoubtedly is perceived as irresponsible spending. This was a disappointing public relations move on the part of Chrysler.

Since writing this, I noted that the ad was posted on the Chrysler blog. In fact, it got so many negative comments that Chrysler recently pulled it.

Technorati Tags: Chrysler, The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, government, auto industry, fuel economy, bailout, taxpayers, investing, stakeholders, vehicles, business, communications, public relations