Category Archives: Business Insights

Thoughts on the corporate world

The New Reality: Bread, Milk, and Other Complications

When I was a kid, my mother would send me to Tucker Brothers, the neighborhood grocery store, with instructions to pick up “…a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread.” I knew exactly what that meant. It was a straight forward instruction that required no explanation or discussion. Not so today.

I recently visited our local mega food market to claim a similar order, and found over 65 types of milk, and nearly a hundred different kinds of bread. In the milk cooler we have skim, 1%, 2%, lactose free (in a variety of strengths, some with extra calcium), fat free, Buttermilk, Silk, all in a variety of dairies and brands, and we haven’t even reached the shelf with chocolate, coffee, and strawberry milks, – all premixed for the busy family’s convenience.

As for bread, there’s a variety of wheat, oats, rye, honey this-and-that, multi-grain, light, low cal, gluten free, dietetic,  thin sliced, sandwich size, sourdough, Italian, organic, oatmeal, pockets, bagels, roll-ups, buns, and rolls (dinner and finger). Let’s not forget cinnamon, cinnamon with raisin, and plain old raisin bread.

Now I’m told to pick up “…a 2%, lactose free milk, in the blue carton, with extra calcium, and don’t forget to check the expiration date.” What? No lot number?

And it’s not just the supermarket where our lives have been needlessly complicated by choice. Go into Starbuck’s some day and just order “coffee.” They’ll look at you as a refugee from some far away place and time; or, try ordering a “doughnut” at Dunkin’ Donuts. They’ll wave their hand across the sweeping display cases of doughnut offerings and suggest that you “pick one.”

The rest of our lives are spent in similar unnecessary complication: The IRS tax forms are so complicated that nearly 80% of all American tax payers have to hire a tax professional. The Wall Street collapse that cost so many jobs and pensions was partially due to greed, but also due to complex financial instruments and mortgage packages so complicated that neither the people selling them, let alone the people buying them, fully understood what they were doing.

Congress tries to pass reasonable sounding laws and regulations that most of us can support, only to learn they have riders on them authorizing someone’s home state $50 million dollars to study why dogs bark and bees buzz. So, the responsible person has to vote against the entire package, and the partisan fights are on.

A friend of mine in state office tells me of the stacks of bills he gets delivered each day which he is supposed to read, understand, and vote on. As one national politician said in a rare moment of candor: “We’ll understand what they’re about after we pass them.” Yes, and maybe we’ll understand that gas is flammable after we pour some on a fire.

I have a PC using Microsoft’s Word Software. They keep updating it with features and benefits I don’t want or need. They change, if not discontinue, the standard I had worked with and make me use my time to learn their new, profit increasing, more complicated system. I don’t want features and benefits. I want simplicity, consistency, and support.

And that goes for my phone too. I use it to send and receive phone calls. I don’t want it to be a camera, a music player, a flashlight, a texting machine and I will never use it to watch television or movies. I just want a telephone.

Why is all this happening? The first reason is because we can do it. I read recently where the computing power contained within one of those talking Hallmark holiday greeting cards exceeds the computer capacity of the Eagle space module that landed on the moon in 1969. If they can make computer chips that cheaply, it’s no wonder they’re in everything from car keys to sneakers to wine coolers.

The second reason is sales and competition. If you’re making electric camping lanterns, you better add an AM/FM radio, a highway blinker, siren, and a compressor to inflate tires before your competition does. After all, you’re only adding pennies to your manufacturing costs and dollars to your sales price and profit margins.

The third reason is natural curiosity and the innate human instinct to forge ahead. If we can build industrial robots, we can build them for the home too. They can do the daily menial chores, and by night we can make them sing and dance and do entertaining impressions. Oh, and maybe, after we’re in bed, they can just sit there in the dark for the rest of the night and wipe out any evil doer who breaks in. Cool.

When I started work in 1960, our company hired a Futurist who told us that by the time we were in the 1980’s, we would be looking for additional ways to keep ourselves busy because, while our income would be steady and sufficient, most of what we’d be doing would have been taken over by technology. We’d be living like royalty. Well, that didn’t happen.

Then in the 1970’s , I went to a trade show exhibition of the “paperless office.” Everything would be recorded on computer files and not a shred of paper would be found in the modern office. My boss commented: “We’ll see the paperless toilet before we see the paperless office.” He called that one right.

In the turbulent 1990’s, we were told: “You will never see less change in your business and private lives than you see today. It only gets faster and more complicated.” That one has worked out.

And, of course, medical science promised us healthier lives and longer life spans. They delivered on some of that. Our kids don’t get polio or TB like they once did, but where did autism, invulnerable viruses, and peanut butter allergies come from? As for extended life, they can indefinitely prolong the last 10% of life. Myself, I would have preferred a few extra years in my prime.

Where does it all lead? Some fear it all leads down the garden path to a sheer cliff, with rocks at the bottom. That’s not fair. More likely, it leads to more discoveries, improved processes, more knowledge, more advancements, and more changes at an ever increasing rate. It’s neither bad nor good. It depends on what we decide to adopt, what we do with it, and how we handle it thereafter.

All we can do is be aware, keep up as best we can, read, listen, question, discuss, and train ourselves to better judge the outcome and value vs. the cost and complexity.

This is the New Reality, and it’s here to stay.

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A Career Assessment: The Social Contract & Punching the Ticket

I was born in 1937. That makes me one of the last generation eligible to retire on Social Security and Medicare at the age of 65. I also worked for the same company for nearly 30 years and was one of the last to have a guaranteed, defined benefit pension,  and participate in the company’s health plan.  My children won’t have these benefits, and my grandchildren may only read about them in an economics class as historical anomalies.

My good fortune was in adhering to what in the Fifties was called “The Social Contract.” Some said that, in simple terms, “If you take care of the Establishment, the Establishment will take care of you.” My father called it “Punching Your Ticket.” He was born in 1903, and firmly believed that we all come into life with a ticket we are expected to have punched for important accomplishments at various stages of our lives. “You must behave yourself, follow the law, attend school, work part-time after school, and full-time in the summer, get a college degree  serve with the military, get a full time job, and settle down to the mature life of family and responsibility.” When I went into the army in 1959, my Uncle George, a World War I hero, gave me similar advice: “Keep your nose clean, your shoes shined, and shut up. You’ll be fine.”

(Editor’s Note: Uncle George specialized in such pithy advice. When I got out of the Army in the 1960’s, and went into the Active Army Reserve, we were asked to parade down Main Street on Memorial Day. I remembered going to watch Uncle George parade with his World War I buddies during the 1940’s, so I asked him if he had any insights on military parades. He said, “Yes: Never march behind the horses.” He had that right too.)

So, I had my ticket punched, and did all those things that were expected of me, and the Social Contract was honored. I retired in a good place, keep myself busy and out of trouble, and recently started blogging about my thoughts and experiences.

The young people today are not so fortunate. We have gone through a major paradigm shift in the Social Contract.  In the Fifties, people talked about a “One Decision Career:” You accept your first job , stay there, and work your way up as far as you can, and then retire with a reasonable pension. There is no such concept today. In fact, my son told me that if you’re in one place much over 2-3 years, they wonder what’s wrong with you. Back then,  holding  two or more jobs in 2-3 years would border on “Job Hopping.” It suggested lack of commitment, continuity, even maturity issues.

Part of the problem is the government, but the government is always part of both the problem and the solution. That has always been the case.

Another part is the young folks themselves. Many of them don’t grow up as fast as they once did. They want to remain kids forever, with their electronic toys, high school mentalities, and freedom from responsibility. Many still live at home, some because they have to, others because they want to. I have a friend who talks about his twenty-something son in terms of “he’s only a kid.” A kid? When I was twenty-something, I was married, had a college degree, was a 2nd lieutenant in the Army, a platoon leader responsible for 5 tanks, associated support vehicles, and 30 men – and I never thought of myself as a kid. I don’t think anybody else did either.

Also, we must consider the priority shift in The Establishment itself. Somebody once wrote, “Say what you want about the old time Robber Barons like Morgan, Pullman, Rockefeller, Ford, Astor and that lot but…. although they took what they wanted, they left in their wake millions of jobs in banks and railroads and oil and  factories, and in shipping.” That was a major contribution to the American Dream. They built railroad tracks and strung power lines across the country, and in later life funded libraries, hospitals, charitable foundations, and colleges.  Too many of this current lot leave nothing in their wake but unemployment and foreclosures and broken promises.

This was brought home to me again recently when I read about a book by that young Wall Street trader who’s  off on an ethics tirade against the giant bank, Morgan Stanley  I’m sure there are many things there that need to be cleaned up at Morgan Stanley, just as there are at every bank and corporate headquarters in the country. But what about him? In his 30’s, he was making over a half million dollars a year,  selling complex financial instruments he didn’t fully understand, to people who understood them even less, at prices far more than they were worth. How ethical is that? It sounds to me more like a snake oil salesman than an investment banker, trader, or ethicist. How many new jobs , and benefits to the economy, do such efforts produce?

When I went to work for my first big company, in 1964, we had a briefing by the company president, “Big” Ben, a successful middle aged technocrat. Someone asked him how he would define the CEO’s job. He thought for a moment and replied, “Balance. It’s all about balance. I serve several different interest communities. First there are the investors; without them we don’t have the money to operate. Then there are the customers; without them, there are no markets and no profit. Then there are the employees; without them there is no production. Then there are the local, state, and federal governments with whom we must work and maintain good relationships to operate effectively. Then there is the local community, from whom we recruit, obtain licenses, and purchase utilities and protection. It is always in our interest to work with them. If  the CEO should fail in any one of these balancing acts, the whole company could be damaged, or even destroyed.”

I wonder how many CEO’s see their jobs in that light today? They may still say what we used to say: “We’re a Team.” But today, it gets a modern twist: “We’re a Team, Until We’re Not.”

I know, the pendulum never stops swinging. There is no middle ground, we just constantly go from one extreme to the other, and the lucky ones, like me, live and work in the middle times. I was a child in the Forties, free of the danger of war, but participating in its excitement and support; a teenager in high school and college during the Fifties; “The Happy Days” time for many, but not all, of us; an adult in the Sixties, and  just starting out with wife, family, Army, and job (I always liked John Cleese’s great line: “I missed the Sixties. I was working.” That was my story too). The Seventies, Eighties and Nineties were the business bubble years when opportunity was there for the taking and everything seemed to work. And finally, the “Aughts,” when I tap danced off stage a few years before the dam burst.

Did this Social Contract concept work for everyone of my generation? Unfortunately, no. There are many good people out there struggling today through no fault of their own; but it did seem to work better than whatever, if anything, replaced it.

I guess my career was equal parts good fortune, good timing, and good work. I wish we could recapture some of those earlier times, attitudes, and business mentalities to benefit today’s young people. What is today’s Social Contract? What is on the ticket they must get punched? I guess they just have to figure it out for themselves.

I wish them all great good fortune. I envy them their opportunity and challenge. Sometimes, I think it might be fun to go through it again and see if I could do it; but, on the other hand, I am grateful to be where I am, and sincerely hope that events and opportunities work out for  today’s young starters as well as they did for me and my generation.

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How To Get Rich

How to Get Rich: Mary (4th Birthday)

            A successful entrepreneur once told me: “You’ll never get rich selling your time.” I guess that depends on how much you sell it for. I know a few lawyers who do well selling their time; and they don’t even exceed 24 hours in any given day (unless, of course, they fly to Europe; that adds an extra 6 hours). Entertainers do all right too. As do surgeons, business consultants, and plumbers. I guess it all depend on whom  you ask and what they did to succeed. We all believe that what worked for us is the “right way.”

George R., a successful NYC businessman told me, “It’s difficult to make a little money. It’s easier to make a lot of money.” George’s businesses failed more times than the Queen has hats. His answer was to close up the failed business and start over. That worked for him. I don’t have the stomach for that. My Uncle George once said, “We have to work for a living. We’re too proud to beg and too nervous to steal.”

My old boss, Bernie, was another Type A walking casebook. His wife insisted he take some time off and travel around the world before he killed himself from overwork. She told how they made it to India, where Bernie was fascinated by the street bazaars. One day, he made a deal with this Indian merchant to buy out his entire inventory of small, copper warming ovens with covers. Bernie then called a friend who manufactured pool cues. He had the copper ovens shipped directly to him. The pool cue guy then mounted a long handle onto the copper ovens, and Bernie advertised them in all the New England and Home Decorating magazines as “Reproduction Antique Colonial Bed Warmers.”

“I sold out the entire inventory in a few months,” Bernie told us. “And the orders are still coming in. That idea paid for our trip several times over.”

It’s quite rare to see a get rich quick scheme work. I have friends in pyramid clubs. They call them “circles” nowadays to get away from the Ponzi connection  (A man named Ponzi started the pyramid club idea a hundred years ago with a scheme for selling international postage stamps for more than he paid for them. It didn’t work. His investors were ruined, and he ended up in prison).

Today, they have people selling soaps, cosmetics, vitamins, and whatever else they can think of. The problem is they have to spend all their time recruiting new dealers. That’s where the profit is. It’s not in selling the product. When people want soap, they buy it at the market. They won’t pay a premium to have you drop it off at their house. A friend in Maine joined a pyramid club selling vitamins. He went to all their motivational meetings with songs and speakers and balloon drops and everything. I asked him how he did. He said, “I never made a nickel, but they get you all excited, and that’s worth something right there.”

I’m not technical, so I need an “old world” solution. If you find the right niche you can make money selling buggy whips and candles. I toyed with the “Wrigley Gum Model” a couple of times. The Wrigleys are one of America’s wealthiest families. They got there by selling chewing gum. Yes, chewing gum; billions of sticks of chewing gum. The Mars family did the same thing with M&M candies, and the Cocoa Cola people made a fortune selling caramel flavored sugar water. Think of Hallmark: Who ever thought you could make a multi-billion dollar business out of printing sentiments on paper so people could pay five dollars to mail them to each other. You need a different card for each occasion too. What a great system.

And let’s remember Ray Kroc who made a fortune reinventing McDonald’s and the hamburger. You probably spend a few dollars each week for bottled water which can cost 50 times what you pay for the city’s water, and may be convenient but not necessarily much better. Don’t forget those overpriced lattes you wait in long lines for.

Here’s the secret: You can differentiate and merchandise commodity items. If you can put a name on it, and give it a new twist, you can sell coffee, hamburgers, and water. The gas stations now have machines that sell air! There’s no end to the possibilities.

Come up with an idea that gets lots of people to give you a little money each (the Wrigley Model). It works. All you have to do is figure out what it should be and how to spin it.

Failing that, marry money.

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On Executive Compensation

An acquaintance of mine lost big money in the Lehman Brothers collapse. He said it was the first time a citizen was ever held-up by a bank. On TV, I watched people walk out the back door with the vestiges of their careers in a cardboard box, and I thought, “Who is responsible for this? Who broke the social contract between the people on top and the people down below? Is it all just Greed?” There is no simple answer, but let’s start at the top:

“CEO-Pay (That’s Pig Latin for “Executive Compensation)”  This is a survey of executive compensation & benefits derived from my own experience and research. This is the stuff the CEO’s receive (I refuse to say “earn”) for the big jobs. When I joined my first big firm in 1964, the CEO made 7 times what I did (plus stock and bonuses tied to company growth and profitability). I thought that was outrageous. God keep me simple. In 2011, the average Fortune 500 CEO made 380 times the average employee. What does all that treasure come from?

There are stock options & bonuses, retention and otherwise, immediate and deferred, guaranteed, time related, and sometimes (but not always) tied to performance; debt forgiveness; a comprehensive pension plan (with payout boosters like SERPS and Rabbi Trusts for the chosen few); health, life, property, flood, and long term care insurance; educational benefits, use of company property (houses, limos, aircraft, yachts). There’s paid staff including personal assistants, security, drivers, maids, cooks, gardeners, and paid memberships in private clubs, golf courses, airports & marinas. There are upgrades of personal property for security reasons, home offices, entertaining and the company purchase of personal property (like the current house so they can build a bigger one);  don’t forget the architects, decorators and other on-tap experts who come in handy as advisers and general contractors for the main manse and the vacation home(s).

There are generous entertainment benefits including dining, sports boxes, theater, etc. Free parking and personal grooming perks are nice, as are dog walkers, and committee memberships at museums and schools that bring exotic benefits as well.

There are paid subscriptions, complimentary company products, and free lunches at work; discretionary time and choice of work locations; unsolicited but desirable gifts come in the mail. There are reciprocal paid board memberships on other company boards, including membership on their compensation committees so one can take care of one’s friends as they take care of one in return.

There are paid subcommittee memberships, consulting contracts, purchasing discounts, low & no interest loans, and the best legal and tax advice available. We mustn’t forget the Golden Parachute and other termination benefits like multi-year “poison pill” payouts in case of a takeover.  There will be the retirement use of company property and facilities, staff, and long term advisory contracts. One always meets the “best people,” has influence, and never waits in line.

Many benefits apply to both the CEO and their family. You won’t find these written in any one place; you have to read the arcane language and paw through footnotes and fine print, because CEO’s can use shareholder money to hire experts to make it difficult for shareholders to locate and understand what the CEO is receiving.

Let’s see, have I missed anything? Oh yes: they get paid a handsome salary too. By the way, once again, none of this is necessarily tied to performance. The old concept of “Pay for Performance” often stops outside Executive Row.That may be why the worker bees are walking out the back door with their careers in a cardboard box.

And, as to those loyal defenders who say we can’t change any of these agreed upon deals now, after the fact, I say consider this: We reneged on countless land deals with the American Indians; we reneged on pension & benefits promised the Filipinos who fought beside us in World War II; we reneged on relocation promises made to the Montagnard mountain tribesmen who helped us in Vietnam. And God knows what the fall-out will be when we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan completely.

Where’s the harm in stiffing a few over-stuffed CEOs?

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White Board Philosophy

White Board Philosophy

 Back in the Nineties, I would have many meetings in my office, as well as visitors internal and external, executives,  subordinates, and casual drop-ins, all marching through my space in a daily parade of corporate humanity. I got the idea of unobtrusively finding out their views on various issues that I was thinking about. In one corner of my office whiteboard, I would write a question and under it, list one or two possible answers. I never mentioned it, but as the meetings ended and people filed out, they would often stop to read the question, and then add a response of their own. They noticed, and wanted to be a part of the process. Here are 3 examples of my “Whiteboard Philosophy:”:

1. The Question: “A asks B a question. What might A really want?”

1 A is teaching B (Socratic Method).

2 A is testing to see if B knows the answer.

3 A wants to verify an answer already received from C.

4 A wants to flatter B; acknowledge his importance.

5 A is trying to establish rapport with B; to learn about B.

6 A is seizing the initiative, catching B off-guard, putting B on the defense.

7 A wants to report to D that B was asked.

8 A is asking a preamble to the real question, not yet disclosed.

9 A hopes to unnerve B; get B to over-answer and divulge something

10 A wants to intimidate or demean B

11 A is making a rhetorical statement; B’s answer is unimportant.

12 A really just wants B’s answer.

 

2. Bosses to Beware of:  In my experience, the worst type of boss was the boss who was unsure of himself and tried to cover that insecurity with bullying, a mean-spirited nature, and/or an inability to express themselves without resorting to tired old clichés. What bosses set off your warning systems?

1 Any boss who refers to himself in the third person.

2 Any boss who begins a meeting with some version of: “Look to your right. Look to your left. One of you won’t be here in six months.”

3 Any boss who introduces a difficult, stupid or unnecessary project and says: “Let’s do the job and have some fun.”

4 Any boss who accepts any kind of management praise by saying: “It’s not just me. It’s the little people.”

5 Any boss who uses nouns as verbs (“Let us solution that problem”), or uses trite clichés (“Remember: A fish dies by the head).

6 Any boss who uses a quotation from the movie “Patton,” or imitates the Patton speech in front of the flag. It is old, hackneyed, and (I think) treasonous.

7 Any boss who can’t establish a subcommittee without calling them “Corporate Seals,” “Company Ninjas,” or even “Tiger Teams.”

8 Any boss whose first response to a disaster is: “I wasn’t informed.”

9 Any boss who ever says anything remotely like: “I shouldn’t be involved in that …. At my level.”

10 Any boss who makes a simple instruction sound like it came directly from the Board of Directors, or a major shareholder vote.

11. Any boss who routinely blocks subordinates from exposure topside.

12. Any boss who delegates responsibility, but not authority.

13. Any boss who bad-mouths his predecessor

 

          3. Why Work Long Hours?  This is yet another of my whiteboard questions. This time, I wrote: “Why would anyone work extremely long hours on a regular and continuing basis?” The crowds responded:

                        1 Overtime: They want the extra money.

2 It’s an Emergency Situation (business-wise, war, famine, etc.)

3 They’re milking the System: They’re paid hourly when they should be on salary.

4 Ineffective: They’re in over their heads.

5 Type A’s with no family, no home, nothing else to do.

6 Fanatics, Zealots, Workaholics, people with a cause.

7 Slaves, prisoners, people under duress.

8 Means to an end: Power, prominence, promotion, continued employment.

9 Have unrealistic work loads.

10 Fear, Insecurity, etc.

11 They are concealing something from discovery

.

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Merry Christmas from the Law Department

This is another excerpt from my unpublished book, “The Druids as Entrepreneurs, A Business Person’s Garden of Verse and Other Poisonous Growths.” I wrote it circa 1975 and it was published in a computer industry magazine, “Datamation.” It got picked up and used by several law firms, without payment or attribution (thanks, guys) and was even used as a Christmas Card by a state supreme justice. 

It can be found on the Internet, still without payment or attribution, but it’s mine and is a part of my saga of Binkley’s, Inc., the mythical manufacturing company.

 

Stave the Ninety-Three

Merry Christmas from the Law Department * 

*Note: Lulu the Lawyer presents a draft employee bonus plan to the Board with so much protective language around it that it sounds more like a disciplinary action then a recognition program. I day dream what it would be like if Lulu the Lawyer designed our corporate Christmas Card.

 

Merry Christmas from Binkley’s!

May Happiness and Good Cheer Be With You

Throughout This Holiday Season *

 

(Subject to the following Terms & Conditions)

 

I.          Though we, the “Greetor”, wish you well,

In our Holiday Entreaty,

We limit all your claims, dear friend,

Hereinafter called the “Greetee.”

 

II.         We wish you dreams of sugarplums,

And dancing Christmas lights,

But if these fancies come to naught,

You have no vested rights.

 

III.       In no case will we be at fault,

In implied claims of fitness,

And all writs of depression,

Must be sworn before a witness.

 

IV.       Although our approbations,

Are warranted full-free,

Of defects in sincerity,

There is no guarantee.

 

V.        We hope that you, your kith and kin,

Find Christmas viability,

But if you don’t, note now that we,

Decline all liability.

 

VI.       So if you don’t hear sleigh bells ring,

Or smell the fresh cut pines,

You have, Greetee, released our firm,

Successors and Assigns.

 

VII.      Whenever there’s a conflict,

These, our contract terms, will rule.

The Greetee then is on their own,

To have a Happy Yule.

 

VIII.     And if our heartfelt Christmas wish,

By counterclaim is marred,

We may, at our sole option,

Repossess this Christmas Card.

 

*Please sign and return white and yellow copies in attached envelope (Note: USPS will not deliver unless postage attached).

 

Accepted: _________________Date__________________

Aka “Greetee”

 

Witness: __________________Date___________________

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The Oracle and the Entrepreneur

I’ve written a book of business light verse entitled, “The Druids as Entrepreneurs, a Business Person’s Garden of Verse and Other Poisonous Growths.” In it, I tell the tale of Binkley’s Inc., the mythical manufacturing company, run by its autocratic founder and CEO, Calvin T. Binkley. It goes from department to department, telling little light verse stories about successes and failures, good ideas and bad, and all the people I met, including the heroes, varlets, doers, poseurs, and those who just occupy space.

It took roughly 40 years (1960 – 2000) of part-time work on airplanes, classrooms, and at the back of many extremely dull meetings, when I should have been paying attention. The book is about what I saw, felt, and learned. Here is a sample:

 

Stave the Twenty-One

Mr. Binkley’s Address to the Young Entrepreneur’s Club

 It’s called “The Oracle and the Entrepreneur”)

 

So you’re going into business, son,

And you have climbed my mountain,

To beg from me – The Oracle,

A sip from Wisdom’s fountain.

 

Come in my boy and be at peace,

Drink deep of Jasmine Tea;

And I will tell the secret of,

The Business Mystery.

 

For I have made it big, my boy,

I’ve tasted fiscal heaven.

(And then, of course, there was that time,

I went Chapter Eleven.)

 

Now the building blocks of Industry,

Since Neolithic Time,

Have been limited to just these Eight,

And they are called “The Prime”:

 

A Good Idea, Commitment, and a Dedicated Team,

Of Loyal, Competent people who would realize your dream;

Sufficient Funds to bring it off, a massive dose of Pluck,

And you have the magic recipe; the rest is (frankly) Luck.

 

(Before I vacate that last point,

A word to all beginners:

If the team you’re with was out before,

It helps if they were Winners.)

 

If you can’t avoid a partner,

Then there’s nothing you can do,

But I’ve never seen the business yet,

That’s big enough for two.

 

Now separate your private world,

From that of your profession’s,

Don’t mix your family, lives, or friends,

Or personal possessions.

 

If you must move from one dimension,

To escape your devils,

You’ll need a safe place to regroup,

So live on many levels.

 

Walk wide of Texas MBA’s,

In business they excel;

And if they say they’re “country boys”,

Turn tail and run like Hell.

 

Beware of Wall Street lawyers,

And their legalistic tricks.

I knew an honest lawyer once,

He died in Fifty-Six.

 

Take heed of the investor who,

With gold and jewels come laden;

He’ll help you like that Roman guard,

Helped out the Sabine maiden.

 

Be trusting of your fellow man,

Be open, honest, frank;

But it’s smart to sit in corners,

And keep money in the bank.

 

And now you know it all, my son,

Your consciousness is raised;

But stay and sit a moment yet,

Your eyes are somewhat glazed.

 

If Success was all that easy,

If Life was all that Fair,

Then every slob could quit his job,

And be a millionaire.

 

I’ve told you every Truth but one,

With this your outlook’s sunny:

If you ever get the chance, my boy,

Be smart – and marry money.

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