Jun 18

Larry Bossidy would be proud of Omar Minaya

Omar Minaya and the Mets management are so inept that they even bungled the firing of their fumbling,Minaya
bumbling manager, Willie Randolph.

Rather than do the humane thing by removing Willie while the team was playing at home and in the midst of a dismal losing streak, they chose instead to make Randolph fly cross country to Anaheim. There, they fired Willie at the stroke of midnight after the Mets’ second consecutive win. What a travesty! Poor Willie.

That said, Minaya’s style reminds me of ex-GE Vice Chairman Larry Bossidy’s approach to executive executions. According to ‘Jacked Up,’ Bill Lane’s kiss-and-tell expose of GE during the Jack Welch regime, Bossidy was Jack’s go-to guy for axing underperforming managers.

Bossidy would start his day by hopping on the GE corporate jet in Connecticut. He’d then fly from one company town after another (ie. Louisville, Syracuse, etc.) He’d be met by the local business unit’s human resources manager. Together, they’d ride to the office in a chauffeured limo. Bossidy would get out, walk into the exec’s office and terminate him. Then, it would be back to the jet and two or three more firings.

Bossidy would be done with the executions by early afternoon. He’d then direct the jet to fly to Augusta, Georgia, where he’d get in a round of golf before returning to Connecticut for dinner. Nice.

Note to Omar: after the Mets dump you at the end of the season, maybe you could connect with Bossidy and/or get a referral to GE? They’d love the way you handled Willie’s going away party.

Jun 17

Where’s Mr. Blackwell when you need him?

Forbes is great at compiling lists. They publish the 400 richest, the 100 best investments, the 300Top_10
Spartans. Oh wait. The latter wasn’t a Forbes list.

Regardless, Forbes has just published its list of the 75 most reputable companies in the U.S. There are lots of names you’d expect (Johnson & Johnson, GE and FedEx, for example) as well as a few surprises (Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). I found the latter two names particularly interesting in light of the sub-prime disaster.

But, enough about the good guys. I’d like to see a list of America’s least reputable organizations (a Forbes 500 version of Mr. Blackwell’s 10 worst dressed Hollywood stars, if you will).  Who would you put on the least reputable list?

Here’s my top 10 (bottom 10?):

1.) Jet Blue – From a reputation standpoint, this airline is a midair collision. And, what’s with JetBlue and bathrooms? First, they won’t allow passengers to use restrooms during a nine-hour delay on Valentine’s Day. Then, more recently, they forced a passenger to fly in a lavatory for an entire flight? (Note to self: use the restrooms before boarding).

2.) The entire airline industry minus Southwest.

3.) ExxonMobil, Shell and their ilk. How much longer before top oil and gas industry executives start fearing for their lives because of astronomically high gas prices?

4.) New York City crane suppliers.

5.) A New York City political infrastructure that allows crane safety standards to go by the boards.

6.) Ford (talk about being asleep at the wheel as the gas/environmental crisis loomed large on the horizon. They’ve finally begun shutting down assembly plans that make the gas guzzlers).

7.) Chrysler and the rest of the beleaguered American auto industry (imagine losing an 80 percent market share and still being in freefall?)

8.) The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, inc. (Mr. Wilpon: now, that you’ve finally fired Willie Randolph, it’s time to turn your sights on Omar Minaya. He’s the chief architect of this mess. Dump him ASAP and hire a GM who can build a blended team of veterans and up-and-comers.)

9.) The National Basketball Association. The game is a farce. Showboating "what’s in it for me?" players sharing the court with crooked referees makes for an NBA that’s on a fast break to oblivion (or, if not, at least becoming a legitimate rival to professional wrestling).

10.) The fast food industry. I still think they’re part of the problem, not the solution.

Thanks to Rob Longert for the idea.

Jun 16

Read the non-verbals

It doesn’t take a behavioral psychologist to read the negative non-verbals of beleaguered Mets Manager7jz0fkb3
Willie Randolph.

Each post-game press conference is more painful to watch than its predecessor. Willie shuffles up to the podium, swigs some water, sits down, folds his hands and says, “Well, guys, that was a tough one to lose.”

A funereal air permeates the proceedings as Willie then tries to explain exactly why his team blew another, late-inning lead:

“Joe had good stuff in the bullpen. He just threw one bad pitch,” or “That’s why we pay Billy the big bucks. He’s going to succeed in those situations 99 times out of a hundred,” or, my personal favorite, “I saw some positives tonight, despite what the score might indicate.”

Willie will then shake his head, rub his eyes, emit a long-exasperated sigh and keep his arms folded. Rather than pump his fist, raise his voice and exhort reporters, fans and players alike to believe in the team, Willie simply retreats further into himself. Talk about a shell of a man. Phew.

Continue reading

Mar 28

“I’m a Loser” would be more appropriate

The New York Mets, the love of my life, just held singing auditions in Manhattan. Their goal: to select a few,Picture2
talented individual fans to sing the national anthem at select 2008 games. It’s a great concept and a smart way to connect with a diverse fan base. But, the Mets picked the wrong audition song from an image and reputation standpoint. As my partner, Ed, would say, “It doesn’t ring true.”

Sure, the Mets are synonymous with baseball, apple pie and the Star-Spangled Banner. But, they’re even more synonymous with losing. And, Mets fans died a thousand deaths last September as the team blew a seemingly insurmountable lead over the hapless Phillies and collapsed. True to form, the same franchise that holds the major league record for most losses in a season (120 in 1962) set an all-time major league record for the worst collapse in baseball history.

So, rather than prompting Sinatra wannabes to warble the lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner, the Mets event might have been far more credible if fans had been encouraged to belt out such tunes as:

– “Free Falling” by Tom Petty
– “I’m a Loser” by The Beatles
– “The End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M.

Or, Mets fans could have been encouraged to dedicate songs to individual underachievers on the dysfunctional ’07 squad. How about:

– “Fool on the Hill” by The Beatles (and dedicated to Tom Glavine for his first inning meltdown against the Marlins in the final game of the season.)
– “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon (and dedicated to Paul Lo Duca, who was thrown out of a key game the Metropolitans ended up losing because his replacement committed a critical error. That loss began the September slide to oblivion.)
–  “Nowhere man” again, by The Beatles (and dedicated to a totally out of touch, deer-in-the-headlights Willie Randolph, who kept telling reporters the champagne toasts would be that much sweeter after he and his Mets pulled out of their temporary swoon.)

Hope springs eternal. And, like other long-suffering Mets fans, I’m hoping this will be our year. That said, I won’t be surprised to see Mets fans lining up next March for another audition. Let’s hope next year’s tune isn’t “Same Old Story, Same Old Song and Dance” by Aerosmith.

Sep 28

Woeful Willie’s wobbling wards

Everytime my wife sees Mets Manager Willie Randolph’s sorrowful countenance on TV she asks, ‘Why isRandolph
that guy always so bummed out?’

You’d be bummed, I tell her, if you were managing what will most likely be the worst collapse in major league baseball history. Randolph’s reeling regulars have seen the bottom fall out of their once-promising season. And, today, they find themselves in a tie for first place with the gritty Phillies, and only three games left in the season.

The verbal and non-verbal behavior of these mediocre Mets tells the tale. Shoulders are slumped, heads are hung, eyes diverted. You can almost sense the Mets players want to be done with this nightmare and back home in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or wherever else most call home.

I’ve worked at several organizations that found themselves in similar, if somewhat slower, declines. The Mets’ collective behavior reminds me of those days where it was cover your ass, point the finger and hope that some miracle will occur to turn things around.

Alas, miracles only occur when the leadership is strong, visionary and inspiring. What my former agencies needed then and what the Mets need now is what England had in those dark days of September 1940: Winston Churchill.

Sadly, though, Willie’s no Winston. And these Mets are done. Paraphrasing the great Churchill’s most inspiring line: ‘Never have so many owed so little to so few.’ Mets fans and players alike deserve a manager who can inspire and stand strong in the darkest hours. What we have, instead, is a guy who has already mentally packed up his tent and gone home.

Jun 26

Mets season a good barometer for managing life and business

The month of June has been a difficult one indeed for fans of the Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York. A once insurmountable lead shrunk daily as the team found new and increasingly depressing ways in which to lose. At one point, they’d lost 13 of 16 games, and saw their lead cut to one-and-a-half Mets_3 games.

But, led by their unflappable and implacable manager, Willie Randolph, the Mets have bounced back and won four straight games, several in dramatic fashion.

Randolph and the Mets are great examples of how best to manage image and reputation during down times. Like baseball, life and business are full of ups and downs. Viewing each as a marathon and not a sprint is the best way to manage success and failure.

So, when our firm lost one-third of its business during the dotcom crash, we tried not to get too far down. And, now, as we grow at annual rates of 25 percent plus, we try not to get too cocky.

Yankees and Phils fans, who were crowing a few weeks back, now find themselves eating crow as their teams stumble.

Steady as she goes’ is probably the best phrase I’ve heard for managing the highs and lows of life and business. And, how cool is it that Willie Randolph and my Mets are setting the example for all of us?