Saturday, July 29, 2017

Do we have a BSD in office ?

Since the recent behavior of Anthony Scaramouch made it to the front lines of NY Times and The Wall Street Journal, I might as well talk about it.

I started thinking we have a BSD working in the House of Cards. For those nitwits that don't know what that means, BSD doesn't mean Berkeley Software Development. It means Big Swinging Dick. Big Singing Dick has nothing to do with the size of the dick. Dick size is important to women. Women care about cock size. [Although admitting "that's not important", women often make dick size a favorite conversation among themselves.] So for the BSD, it is the size of his balls, not dick, that makes the difference.

I've often been questioned if there's a correlation between wealth and alpha male status. There is a weak positive correlation between the two, not as much as you might think.

First, we'll debunk a misconception. It is commonly assumed alpha males make up perhaps 20% of the male population. The real number is close to 3% or less. So 3% (higher in the wealthy crowd) are alphas, and the rest 97% are betas and worse. In the high stakes investment industry, it is excruciatingly painful to be an alpha male. The movies Wall Street and the Wolf of Wall Street glorify an outlier, a minor set of people. Most people working in finance are lackeys in fear of their jobs who tiptoe in life with great caution not to upset the boss, not to talk, not to stand out the wrong way. If they don't fall the line of the establishment they know they will lose their jobs. And when they lose there jobs, there are 1000 linchpins ready for it.

One of the worst things I've seen is women rising to the top in Wall Street jobs adopting attitudes and maneuvers of men in an ill- balanced fashion.



Nobody talks about that.





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Got Fired ! Unexpectedly

I was reading Dealbreaker's (via Bloomberg)  account of a firing episode at Hampton Creek and ruminating if there any grounds to sue the boss in that case. I don't know the firm or its boss, Josh Tetrick, but in brief, allegedly three people were fired while they were told they were going to meet a potential investor. That didn't turn out to be an investor but an agent for the boss who handed them termination papers while the boss was patched through on video call to give them the happy news. The boss did that without an apparent needed approval of the Board.
"The dismissal of these three executives came while the employees were on a business trip in Majorca, Spain. During their weekend break, Tetrick created a ruse, said one of the people. Tetrick told the three to cancel their flights to a meeting in Germany. Instead, Tetrick instructed, they would pitch a wealthy venture capitalist who happened to be in Majorca on Monday afternoon, the person said.
Tetrick asked the executives to book a conference room at a Majorcan hotel and video conference him into the investor pitch. But when the three executives patched Tetrick into the meeting, they were surprised to see him sitting with a member of Hampton Creek’s human resources department. Moments later the supposed potential investor arrived. The man introduced himself as an agent who had been hired by Tetrick, the person said. He was there to serve the executives their termination documents and take their company laptops, the person said." [Dealbreaker]
 At least they are on a Spanish beach /near one. They're not in their office with hired guns looking them over, told to pack up and hand over the keys in three hours or be thrown out in the street should they not comply.

I've had friends who were evicted from the building not before the boss had a "friendly" talk with them:

"You are collateral nonsense."

"I've seen all good people come and go" To me that sounds like saying night follows day.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book review: Superbosses

I read the book Superbosses: How exceptional people master the flow of talent to see what other people write about bosses. Superbosses is written by Sydney Finkelstein, a Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dart­mouth College. If you haven't read the book, a summary is available at HBR.

The book is an ode to these CEOs. Accordingly, Finkelstein has conducted more than 200 interviews to identify 18 primary study subjects ("definite superbosses") and a few dozen secondary ones ("likely superbosses"). Amongst his favs and cited are Ralph Lauren, Larry Ellison, Julian Robertson, Jay Chiat, Bill Walsh, George Lucas, Bob Noyce, Lorne Michaels, and Mary Kay Ash.

For me "superstars" is not even a thing, the only stars I know are those you see in the sky at night. Superbosses ? I'm even more skeptical of such a thing. If dozens of ex-Robertson disciplines left after few years to start their own funds (Finkelstein talks about Chase Coleman who after three years of working for Robertson was given $25 MM to start his own fund) that wasn't goodwill towards them but profit in store, free money flowing to Julian Robertson from seeder funds. Robertson doing it for some altruistic reason ? Not a chance.

Is this too deep for you now ?

For Finkelstein, superbosses are those amazing "talent spawners" who are out there looking to fill peoples hopes and dreams. I don't believe it for a minute. Yes, they may find "unlikely winners" but that's only (in my opinion) because they're skilled at reading human psychology. Pure selfish reason.
Finkelstein: "At health care giant HCA, Tommy Frist sometimes set even physical therapists on a path to the C-suite, simply because he spotted something in them."

Superbosses "focus on intelligence, creativity, and flexibility." Yes, but...so does everybody else. If I was a candidate looking to get the attention of those "superbosses" so far Finkelstein has given me nothing.

The author talks about the unusual "interview" where "Sanders would invite prospects to hike a 7,000-foot peak on his New Mexico ranch with him and other managers." (HBR) That would be part of the unconventional hiring characteristic. Forgive me, Mr. Finkelstein, but such a proposition is not even remotely available to 99% of job candidates out there. The greatest majority get cut off by HR from ever coming close to a first interview. You talk about eating steak with my boss, while the HR (HR should really be called the Human Waste Department) cut me off early on. You're not helping, Prof. Finkelstein.

"Even if people leave the organization, superbosses continue to offer them advice."
Not happening, bro. When you leave, you might have a non-compete agreement and can't even work for the next few years. At least that has been my experience.

"Oracle's CEO Ellison was very good at "continuously throwing new responsibility at people." At least that statement is accurate. What Prof. Finkelstein overlooked or perhaps, obscured, is that's done with the intent to make people fall. For real bosses [thr greatest majority of them out there} people are like pins on a bowling lane: let's hit them and see which one is still standing. Hopefully none. That's the best analogy for you, Prof. Finkelstein.

The author makes an interesting categorization of bosses into three:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alpha vs. Beta: 20 years

Recently I saw some online comments with side-by-side pictures of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos then (1997) vs. now (2017), then being before alpha male and now on alpha male stats. What a difference aging powerfully makes ! Aging for some CEOs is a blessing, as life turns them from unremarkable, some might say sheep, to powerful men. Bezos is not the only case of  beta-turned-alpha. I also included here pictures of  Muhtar Kent, long standing CEO of Coca-Cola who stepped down last May and is still its Chairman.


Image: Daily Mail U.K.10/10/13, Picture date: 1997

VS.


Getty Images, TMZ Media, 07/2017

AND


Picture: Coca-Cola archives, 1993                                                                                                           From Youtube PwC's 17th Annual Global CEO Survey.2014



What a difference 20 or some years makes in people's lives...If they can take it to the next level.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Most people that work in finance are soft as a cloud blanket. If you're soft, you're never gonna get anywhere.

What will your picture say in twenty years ? Or better yet, what statement do you make with your body now? You don't have to wear an Armani suit, just casual.

Updated Aug. 23, 2017

Reader Alli is asking: Who is the alpha in this scene from Poolhard Junkies. Is it Christopher Walken ("Uncle Mike") or Chaz Palminteri ("Joe") ?







Monday, July 17, 2017

How to defeat Trump

It is about one year since I started writing on this blog, and the laurels keep coming. Sweet ! [Previously explained this: although started in 2013, I wrote almost nothing here until last summer.] So I consider this effort to be one year long to date. Happy 1st B-day !


  1. More page views than ever before...between 2,500 to 3,000 a day.
  2. A mailing list quickly approaching 2,000. Those 2,000 folks are my core readership, people who surely know what they want out of life. Core readers are those who place value on the content I bring to the marketplace, people who don't scurry like rats from the difficulties of life.
  3. I've gotten comments,  like "good motivational blog", "you tell it like it is", "the garden place to hang your boss", " not girlfriend friendly". Look, I try to motivate myself every day, so I'll do it here as well [link].  And yes, bosses are my favorite subject. Specifically, dealing with bosses and their efforts to undermine our progress in our careers. I estimate bosses cost our economy $5 Bn in lost productivity, protracted work and unseemly squabbles. I'll write a book on bosses. Bosses are the biggest angst in people lives, together with their mothers-in-law.

A reader says: You say you are the "word's number one strategist". [my note: I am ] We are desperate, after 6 months of Trump turmoil, is it anyway that we can defeat him ?

Thanks,

Lorna


Lorna,

Do you really wanna know the secret to victory ?



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Warren Buffett vs. Paul Singer

Those of you working on Wall Street are aware of upcoming battle of the giants between Berkshire Hathway's Buffet and Elliott Management's Singer over the future of now bankrupt Texas utility company TXU. A iconic buyout era remnant, TXU has since defaulted is is now known as Energy Future. (Reuters)

Elliott is the largest creditor to Energy Future. A subsidiary of Energy Future, Oncor, is the largest public utility in Texas, with 10 million customers. So who gets to own that ?

Warren Buffet is the world's wealthiest and most celebrated investor. An iconic figure, Buffet dislikes hedge funds for wasting client's money (CNBC) yet he operates like a huge long-only hedge fund the only difference is he is using his own money, not investor money. He sounds a lot like a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's time for CEOs to "shape up" or give it up

What are you doing this summer ?

I'll tell you what Roland Smith, ex-CEO of Office Depot is doing, According to the WSJ ("For CEOs, High Pay, Higher Anxiety"- Vanessa Fuhrmans, Joann S. Lublin), he is taking a 13,000 mile motorcycle trip with his son from Key West to Alaska and then to Jackson Hole.

CEOs pay is out of control. That's nothing new to those that analyze their investments. CEOs of public firms make today some 300 X what an AFC (Average Frustrated Chump) , I mean average employee makes, up 10 times from the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. Does the average employee produce less now than they did 30 years ? Absolutely not. Do the CEOs produce more now than they did decades ago ? In fluff and fold, maybe.

The CEO is no longer the "protected class". No longer serving the 20-year term. How many of us hold a job for 20 years anymore ?  GE CEO Jeff Immelt is leaving this summer after 16 years, not by happenstance, but because of sub-performing stock and a nudge from activist Trian Fund Management.

According to the WSJ:

"In June 2017 alone, the CEOs of GE, Uber, Buffalo Wild Wings, Perrigo, Pandora Media resigned or announced their departure." Don't be fooled by the word "resignation" which most press releases read, these folks are pushed out. Don't be too concerned for them either, these people land on their feet better than cats do.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is sexual advance sexual harassment ? male reader asks

I got this email from a reader with an interesting situation percolating into the current amped up Silicon Valley environment with women screaming sexual harassment left and right.

Max,

My name is Anil, I am 30ish and I am so lucky to have found your blog. I'm pretty sure you're one of the very few writers out there that tackles men being the target of harassment by women. Nobody else talks about it.

I work in the Marketing department of my company, a large tech player in the semiconductors industry. My boss, Heather, is good looker, she looks like Pamela Anderson, and at 48 she's in great shape. She goes to the same gym I do, two miles from my work. This is what happened last week. She had two tickets to a Dodgers game and knowing that I'm a fan she invited me. should give you some background here: I am happily married for 5 years with no kids and Heather is also married (to Tom).

So we've met up after work and she decided to drive me up in her car. I was already tired after a long days work, and my wife was already home waiting for me. My wife, Sylvia, calls me. "I go: 'Honey, I'll be late tonight. Heather is taking me to the ball game.'" 30 minutes into the game, Heather started drinking and started rubbing my thighs. Then she started rubbing my penis. All the time she was keeping looking ahead. I was so embarrassed ! At half time I walked up and she came after me, trying to do it again ! Can you believe it ? I said: "What it wrong with you ? Are you insane ? She was giggling and laughing ! The problem is I know Tom, her husband, who is a nice man, and a good husband !

At the end of the game I left quickly and did not want to go into the car with her. She is an embarrassment to herself and her family. Next day at work it was as if nothing ever happened !

What do I do now ? Should I tel my wife ? My wife and I have an agreement where we don't hold anything back from each other. Was this sexual harassment ? Should I report her to HR ? This is crazier than The Game of Thrones.