Archive for March 2010
Ever since I started reading The Economist around eight or 10 years ago, I have always read the obituary at the end of the magazine. People’s lives fascinate me, and I appreciate that The Economist introduces me to people of whom I have never heard.
In this week’s issue, the obituary is of Doris Haddock. At the impressive age of 93, Mrs. Haddock walked across America to champion campaign-finance reform. She ran for the Senate later in her 90s, and earlier this year, at the age of 100, pondered another walk or drive through the nation to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling on campaign-finance reform.
I admittedly stand opposed to her on this issue. Regardless, my difference of opinion does not prevent me from admiring her audacity, tenacity and energy. She apparently had verve and a unique way of championing her cause. Again, I admire her vitality. R.I.P.
Rosalind Resnick writes a good article on business plans in today’s Wall Street Journal. Bottom line, they force you to organize your thoughts about your business, and break up the work into manageable chunks. They discipline your thinking, or they should. And if you ever need to work with a bank for a loan, they will want to see a business plan. It will prove your seriousness about your business and your approach to it.
Over the years, I have subscribed to a bunch of business magazines and newspapers. Today, I receive the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Washington Business Journal, Forbes, the Economist and Fortune. Although I subscribed to Fortune several years ago, I terminated my subscription after a year, as I found the content dull, the writing poor and the selected topics odd.
Thanks to the future Mrs. Capitolism having some airline miles expiring soon, I obtained a new subscription to Fortune. I did not expect much, and did not bother reading the first couple issues I received. But I picked up the latest issue earlier this week and have found it quite good. It has eight or nine articles worth reading, including:
- Making a good presentation, by Mellody Hobson
- An analysis of the Birkman Method of assessing personal and team skills, by Jennifer Reingold
- Business schools teaching entrepreneurship, by David Whitford
- Growing a small business, by Verne Harnish
- Fortune‘s list of most admired companies, and an op-ed by Geoff Colvin
- Military men and women entering the ranks of Corporate America, by Brian O’Keefe
- General David Petraeus on leadership
Maybe this issue just happens to be a strong one. But at least it made me re-think my views on Fortune magazine.
Scott Shane writes a article worth reading on immigration and entrepreneurship. He argues that the small disparity between immigrant entrepreneurs and native-born entrepreneurs does not warrant policies designed to increase immigration as a way to spur American entrepreneurship.
This is the second article of Scott Shane I have posted. Both have contained original perspectives on data and their implications. That’s exactly the kind of thinking and writing I enjoy. I will keep an eye out for more of his writings.
One challenge I have come across again and again in my career concerns how organizations resist the seemingly inevitable decline into mediocrity over time. I have witnessed this phenomenon in both the private and public sectors. Organizations or programs become so entrenched in doing business a certain way and viewing the world in a certain way, that as the external world evolves, they risk falling behind and becoming irrelevant. Read the rest of this entry »
In The Mask of Command, John Keegan writes that you can tell why the North won the Civil War by reading General Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs. That insight stayed with me for almost 16 years before I finally picked up Grant’s Memoirs late last month. For whatever reason, I had the bias that General Grant won the war through his persistence, almost bull-headedness. Reading his Memoirs, it became apparent that he won because of a towering intellect and a profound approach to leadership. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Johnson and Bill George both lament the state of leadership across the past decade. Mr. George deals exclusively with the failings of business leaders. Mr. Johnson examines leaders in several fields — politics, law, religion and business. Neither author addresses military leadership. Do they exclude military leadership because the military has enjoyed a decade of effective leadership, in their opinions?
Both articles observe a trend, but neither offers a root cause or a solution. Perhaps I will take a stab at one or both of those topics soon.
Capitolism received its 1,000th hit today. Thanks very much for more than 5 great months. I hope you keep coming back for (hopefully) punchy writing and unique perspectives.
Douglas A. McIntyre of 24/7 Wall Street has a good piece on CEO pay today. He also raises a valuable point that CEO pay draws the ire of the media, shareholders and advocacy groups. But other executives at most firms also make huge money, and they never face the same scrutiny. No good ways exist to check and monitor their performances either. Read the rest of this entry »
Scott Thurm has a fascinating look at CEO pay in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. I will have much more to say about CEO pay in the coming months. For now, suffice it to say that CEO pay has become an exercise in opaqueness and deliberate misdirection. While I fully support top pay for top performance, hundreds of extremely well-paid CEOs deliver mediocre results year after year. That is an abomination.