08/27/20

CEO Shoptalk — Taking Charge

I am sure I have written about this before, but I had chats with a number of CEO type persons over the last month such that I feel I must say it again.

In life, you do not get power, you take power. It is not a difficult concept. CEOs must take charge.

May I tell you a personal story? [I like asking things like that because it makes me seem reasonable, which I assure you I am, but I really don’t care if you give me permission. Here comes the story.]

Once Upon A Time In A Far Away Country

I was anointed by our military to conduct affairs of some considerable importance in a far away land.

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08/26/20

The Imperfect Storm

America finds itself in the hold of several substantial challenges — the Imperfect Storm.

Chief amongst them are the following:

 1. The Pandemic

 2. The economic impact of the Pandemic

 3. The civil unrest in our cities

 4. The #DefundPolice v Black Lives Matter confrontation

 5. Government response to diminished tax revenues

 6. The Election

I call this witch’s brew of challenges the Imperfect Storm. It will test us, but we will pass the test. There may be extra innings.

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08/26/20

New York City Recovery

It is fashionable to debate the fate of New York City these days with the left edge of the argument being it is doomed and the right edge the constant refrain that New Yawkers have GRIT.

New York Post writer James Altucher opines that “New York City is dead forever” whilst comedian Jerry Seinfeld (from his Hamptons mansion) counters that New Yawkers have grit.

New York City is dead forever — link

This falls under the heading of: “Two Things Can Be True At The Same Time.”

Guy calls me to discuss apartments and asks what happens when markets begin to drift. I had a good long run owning thousands of apartments and was taught some harsh lessons and some good ones by Mother Market.

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08/25/20

Leadership Revisited — You Can Do This

This blog post is a revisit of something I wrote some time ago. It was one of the most heavily trafficked posts I have ever written though not at the time I wrote it. I have revised some things.

I have been a CEO for 33 years, before that an Army officer for five years, before that a cadet at VMI for 4 years, and most recently a CEO coach for 8 years. I grew up in a military family.

In business, I have founded private companies and grown them to some recognizable success; and, I have run a public company. My endeavors have been entrepreneurial and I have done a few turnarounds.

I have a lot of experience with both the theory of leadership and the practice of leadership. I have taught leadership. I have developed leaders both in the military and in business.

I have coached good and bad CEOs. I have helped bad CEOs become good CEOs. I have helped good CEOs become great CEOs and I have shepherded them to the pay window.

I have been in the leadership game a long time and at depth.

There is a huge difference between learning from an observer and learning from a practitioner. It is the difference between reading a book and lab work.

You can sit in an airplane in first class for 1,000,000 miles, but you still don’t know how it feels to take off and land a 737. [I have about 3,000 hours flying Bonanzas and find that flying analogies are very comparable to the startup business.]

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08/23/20

Understanding Logic

Yesterday, I was struck in the face by an intellectual 2×4. Luckily, it was an abstraction because a genuine 2×4 to the face can really hurt.

So, this group of influential Senators held a hearing to explore the mischief of our United States Postal Service Postmaster General — a man whose detractors widely described as a “Trump stooge.”

The usual suspects came loaded for bear, but I think the Postmaster General (only two months into his job, showing a bit of the learning curve) disappointed them as he was an unlikely target as he brought no real fight to the fight and seemed to have a good answer to all of their inquiries.

Some of his answers were comical in that he said, “Well, no that never happened and never will happen.”

Many of the inquiries arrived dripping in venom. This is not a unique phenomenon for these type of hearings.

In any event, many of the inquisitors left slightly mollified, but many did not.

In the House of Representatives — the hot coffee cup spilling over into the Senate’s cooling saucer by Constitutional design — they voted to give the US Postal Service $25,000,000,000.

Came back into town on a Saturday for an emergency session because it was apparently essential — an emergency — to give the Postmaster General $25,000,000,000

They did NOT take up any COVID Relief Package, but they gave the Postmaster General $25,000,000,000 for an unknown reason that is not even remotely related to COVID, the elephant in the room.

Thereafter the House returned home saying, “See, y’all, in a month. Sorry we didn’t get to that COVID Relief Package, but we did give the Postmaster General $25,000,000,000.”

He had not asked for any funds and had no real plans as to how to spend such a great sufficiency, a largess of gargantuan proportions.

[Note: By law the USPS is NOT funded by taxpayers, so this is a monumental deviation from the prior practice. The USPS relies upon their income — stamp sales, package delivery fees — to fund their operations.]

The logical dilemma looks like this:

 1. One group of influential politicians is certain the Postmaster General is a “Trump stooge” and believe he is trying to wreck the Postal Service in order to impact the election and nudge it in the direction of the odious Orange Man.

It would be fair to say they are apoplectic. They intend to exert discipline upon this dangerous Postmaster General. Jerk a knot in his ass, so to speak. Rein him in. Tell him how the cow will eat the cabbage.

 2. A similar group of like minded influential politicians (holding the same opinion of the Postmaster General) voted to give this Postmaster General — refreshing your memory, the “Trump stooge” Postmaster General — $25,000,000,000 with no real plan as to how he might spend it.

A big gob of money seems to ensure mischief and rather than jerking a knot in anybody’s ass, it conveys incredible flexibility and potential for questionable decision making.

Does this strike you as slightly illogical?

It did me, but then what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car.

car

08/23/20

Jeff Bezos — The GOOD SON

You may have heard of this fellow, Jeffrey Preston Bezos — started a company called Amazon which has had a nice run.

His ownership in Amazon has made him the richest person in American and the world — some $200,000,000,000 from Amazon alone. This is after coughing up 25% of his shares to part company from his wife, MacKenzie.

MacKenzie Bezos replacement Lauren Sanchez looking adoringly at her new guy wearing sunglasses indoors. A very expensive relationship as it cost Jeff 25% of his Amazon shares. Uncouth persons might say it was the most expensive shot of leg in the history of mankind, but I am not that uncouth person, so we will leave that right there.

MacKenzie with her Amazon stock is the third richest person in America after one of the Walton Women.

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08/22/20

China Ignoring The Obvious

As I think of China, it seems it was a short time ago when we had prominent politicians telling us that China was not our enemy.

Today, that statement seems to have been one of the most clueless utterances ever made. We know a different China today.

We know a China that has its Red Chinese Communist jackboots on the neck of Hong Kong, who murders its ethnic minorities, that runs re-education camps for dissidents before they even dissent, who steals a dozen atolls in the South China Sea and militarizes them, who lies about pandemic viruses they have let loose on the world, and who has cataloged their entire population in a brutal system that awards simple life benefits only to those who are helpful to and cooperative with the Communist regime whilst brutally punishing those who are not.

Jonathan Bartlett illustration for Foreign Policy

At the same time, we are on a sounder trade footing charging the Chinese billions in tariffs, beginning to repatriate strategic industries, and taking a more sober look at China in regard to their military footprint including Taiwan.

Interestingly, the Chinese are ordering, paying for, and receiving the largest agricultural orders in US-China history.

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