Executive Times

Volume 6, Issue 3

March, 2004


ã 2004 Hopkins and Company, LLC

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Finding “Ms. Right”

Executives act decisively to find the right person for the right job in the right location. Each of those decisions: person, role, and place, can lead an executive toward success or peril. When discontent with past selections distracts an executive, unintended consequences often arise. When action is delayed, regret usually follows. So, how does an effective executive select that ideal combination of the right person in the right job at the best location? In this month’s issue, we’ve selected some recent stories about these decisions. As you read about what others have done or are doing, reflect on your own situation. Have you selected individuals who now seem unsuitable to the tasks at hand? What should you do about that today? Has your pool of potential candidates overlooked individuals whose skills you’re not attuned to identify? When you define job roles, have you put incompatible expectations into the same job? As you consider tradeoffs, what shortcomings in skills or traits can you live with? What accommodations will you refuse to make? When you think about the best locations for your work, how narrow or how broad are your horizons? How global is your search for talent?


Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. Two books are rated with one star, five with two stars, seven with three stars, and one with four stars, representing a typical distribution of ratings. You can also visit our complete 2004 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2004books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 2004 book reviews. You can also check this same bookshelf to see what other books we’re reading or considering. If there’s something missing from the bookshelf that you think we should be considering, let us know at books@hopkinsandcompany.com.

Loving and Leaving
Recent stories about two different personalities struck us as great examples of the decisions that executives make for themselves about whether the job they’re expected to do matches the job they want to do. For their managers, one situation leads to great success, and the other may lead to peril. The February 10 issue of Fortune (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/subs/print/0,15935,588972,00.html) presented a long profile of Jay Leno, who brings in about $100 million in operating earnings each year for NBC, about 15% of its total. NBC President Bob Wright reflected on Leno’s early struggles in the job, saying, “Talent by itself is not necessarily reliable. He has talent, and he is willing to work long hard hours at it.” Leno seems to love his work, and accepts a pay level at half that of his closest competitor, David Letterman (who takes twelve weeks vacation a year to Leno’s six). According to Fortune, “He has a prodigious appetite for work. He earns almost as much money in his spare time as he makes at NBC. He acts as his own agent. In an industry where stars often demand to be indulged, he is an affable team player. Above all, he is a relentless salesman—he will go almost anywhere and do almost anything to win friends and influence people.” President of NBC Entertainment Jeff Zucker calls Leno a “perfect team player,” in part because he “he tapes promos for local stations, schmoozes with advertisers, and poses for pictures with guests before and after the show.” As you read this Fortune profile of Leno, think about how your best workers measure up to Leno’s performance.
Within days of reading about Leno as the right person for that job today, we read about another successful artist who is no longer considered the right person for his job. We read in The Chicago Tribune (2/20/04) (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0402200185feb20,1,3760542.story?coll=chi-news-hed) that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will not renew the contract of music director Daniel Barenboim when it expires in 2006. According to Tribune music critic John von Rhein,
“At a time when American orchestras are asking music directors to be more active partners in raising their community profiles and finding new audiences, Daniel Barenboim said Thursday he cannot fulfill those kinds of additional duties and will step down as music director.” Barenboim told von Rhein that “there have been ongoing conflicts with the administration and trustees regarding the ‘non-artistic’ side of his directorship, including questions about his taking a firmer hand in fundraising, community outreach and maintaining a more regular community presence.” A resident of Berlin, who spends about 12 weeks a year in Chicago (more than his predecessor Sir George Solti did), he said that, “Ideally every city wants the music director to live in the city and participate in its social life. This is part of it. My development has gone in a completely opposite direction. With age, I get less interested and less patient with managerial and administrative problems. I have neither the energy nor the time to fulfill those added responsibilities.” Time will prove whether the trustees of the CSO will find a new director who will meet all their expectations.

What creates an ideal relationship between your workers and your organization? What do you do to nurture and grow those elements of success? When the interests of your organization and a key player diverge, what happens? How clearly are expectations, especially changing ones, communicated and understood among all parties? To what extent do the “extras”, like Leno’s willingness to do more things for NBC, influence your assessment of those who work for you? To what extent does expanding job expectations limit the talent pool? In Barenboim’s case, he wants to spend more time on music and less on administration. If you were his boss, would you accommodate that, or look for someone to meet all your expectations? Are you likely to find someone to meet all your needs?

We remain intrigued and confused by the under-representation of women in the ranks of CEOs. Two recent articles increased our confusion. The cover story of the February 2004 issue of Fast Company, (http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/79/women.html) titled “Where Are the Women?” explored the topic. Here’s the core of how the question was answered: “In part, the answer probably still lies in lingering bias in the system. Most women interviewed for this story say that overt discrimination is rare; still, the executive suites of most major corporations remain largely boys' clubs. Catalyst, the women's business group, blames the gap on the fact that women often choose staff jobs, such as marketing and human resources, while senior executives are disproportionately plucked from the ranks of those with line jobs, where a manager can have critical profit-and-loss responsibility. Others fault the workplace itself, saying corporations don't do enough to accommodate women's often more-significant family responsibilities. All those things are true. But there may be a simpler--and in many ways more disturbing--reason that women remain so underrepresented in the corner office: For the most part, men just compete harder than women. They put in more hours. They're more willing to relocate. They're more comfortable putting work ahead of personal commitments. And they just want the top job more. Let's be clear: Many, many individual women work at least as hard as men. Many even harder. But in the aggregate, statistics show, they work less, and as long as that remains true, it means women's chances of reaching parity in the corner office will remain remote. Those top jobs have become all-consuming: In today's markets, being CEO is a global, 24-hour-a-day job. You have to, as Barnes says, give it your life. Since women tend to experience work-life conflicts more viscerally than their male peers, they're less likely to be willing to do that. And at the upper reaches of corporate hierarchy, where the pyramid narrows sharply and the game becomes winner-take-all, a moment's hesitation--one important stint in the Beijing office that a woman doesn't take because of a sick child or an unhappy husband--means the odds get a little worse for her and a little better for the guy down the hall.” Carol HymowitzIn the Lead column in The Wall Street Journal (2/3) (http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB107575975625718372,00.html) added one more reason: “When it comes to landing a corner office or executive title, what counts a lot more than conscientiousness is daring, assertiveness and the ability to promote oneself -- all qualities men more typically demonstrate.” She goes on to say, “To make changes, women need mentors and to be careful to seek a workplace culture that recognizes and rewards their talents.” For now, not enough workplaces seem to do that. Potential for sexual harassment may inhibit some women from taking on assignments with travel. According to Kimberly Schneider of Illinois State University, “Although women today may have more support and legal recourse for filing sexual harassment complaints than 30 years ago, they don't speak up as often as one might expect because of a fear of losing their job and other negative consequences. One thing we've learned is that retaliation happens a lot, and women are not reporting or confronting harassers partly due to their concerns or fears of retaliation …How seriously a person feels they would be taken is a good predictor of whether or not an incident will be reported; the majority of victims don’t report sexual harassment.” (Chicago Tribune, 2/25/04).

How effective are you at attracting and retaining talented women in your organization? If you have employees, men or women, who demur in promoting themselves and their skills, how do you help them recognize and acknowledge their value to your organization? How do you assess the mentoring of women in your workplace, and the extent to which your organization’s culture recognizes and rewards the talents of women? Is there fear of retaliation?

Free Agent Planet
Globalization and worldwide outsourcing are topics that can entwine organizations in political controversies and in labor strife. Daniel Pink (author of Free Agent Nation, recommended here in July 2001) offers a great presentation of outsourcing in the cover article of the February 2004 issue of Wired (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.02/) titled, “The New Face of the Silicon Age: How India Became the Capital of the Computing Revolution.” Pink chronicles the changes that have led to the transfer of programming jobs from the United States to India, and the impact of those changes on workers in both places. According to Pink, “A century ago, 40 percent of Americans worked on farms. Today, the farm sector employs about 3 percent of our workforce. But our agriculture economy still outproduces all but two countries. Fifty years ago, most of the US labor force worked in factories. Today, only about 14 percent is in manufacturing. But we've still got the largest manufacturing economy in the world - worth about $1.9 trillion in 2002. We've seen this movie before - and it's always had a happy ending. The only difference this time is that the protagonists are forging pixels instead of steel. And accountants, financial analysts, and other number crunchers, prepare for your close-up. Your jobs are next. After all, to export sneakers or sweatshirts, companies need an intercontinental supply chain. To export software or spreadsheets, somebody just needs to hit Return.
What makes this latest upheaval so disorienting for Americans is its speed. Agriculture jobs provided decent livelihoods for at least 80 years before the rules changed and working in the factory became the norm. Those industrial jobs endured for some 40 years before the twin pressures of cheap competition overseas and labor-saving automation at home rewrote the rules again. IT jobs - the kind of high-skill knowledge work that was supposed to be our future - are facing the same sort of realignment after only 20 years or so. The upheaval is occurring not across generations, but within individual careers. The rules are being rewritten while people are still playing the game. And that seems unjust.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman followed Pink to India and carried the change cycle one step further in a recent (2/26/04)  column (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/26/opinion/26FRIE.html?th): to write the screenplay for an animated version of the life of Krishna, an Indian film studio “wanted the best storyteller it could find and outsourced the project to an Emmy Award-winning U.S. animation writer, Jeffrey Scott — for an Indian epic!” For those of us who hate change, it’s coming faster than ever.


Are you finding the right people to do the right job in the right places for your organization? What barriers exist to transferring work from one part of the world to another for your organization? How well do you assess the skills available around the planet? How well are you preparing your current workforce for the changes they need to make to meet the needs of your organization in the future, and to have their skills become needed in the future?


Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:


Ø      We’ve picked on Coca-Cola’s executive foibles in the August 1999, December 1999, April 2000  December 2000, and April 2001 issues of Executive Times, so it’s about time to note the company again. We last noted that Coke CEO Doug Daft had already reorganized, so he was running out of options. On February 19, the company announced Daft’s retirement at age 60, and speculation began about his replacement, with much attention given to 51-year-old Steven J. Heyer, Coke President and Daft’s heir apparent. According to The Wall Street Journal, (2/24/04) (http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB107758238892137201,00.html) Heyer is in the running, but the Board will conduct an external search (briskly). Will they attract outside talent? Will Heyer get the job? Will the Board select former executive Don Keough who’s recently rejoined the Board at age 77? Somehow or another, we expect more drama in Atlanta. Stay tuned.

Ø      The cover story of the February 2000 issue of Executive Times, was titled “Waging Talent Wars”, and back in that distant past, employers were competing against one another for workers. Now, workers are trying to differentiate themselves from one another in a weaker job market. Be prepared for the latest development in the battle, which we read about in The New York Times on February 1 (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/01/jobs/01jmar.html?pagewanted=all). Some job seekers are now using video resumes. “Video résumés are starting to emerge as a new weapon for job hunters. The videos range from 20-second presentations of a job applicant candidate directly addressing the camera to four-minute mini-movies replete with graphics and photo montages. Some job seekers spend pennies to make simple home videos; a higher-quality video can cost several thousand dollars.”  


A Sense of Place
We often notice some places that welcome our attention. Something catches our eye. We slow down and pay attention. Sometimes, that attention has come as a result of the work of an expert landscape architect. Thanks to the leadership over the long career of one such artist, thousands of cityscapes have been transformed, helping to bring people together. Throughout 20th century America, Daniel Urban Kiley carried on the type of work that Frederick Law Olmstead did in the 19th century. Chances are greater that you’ve heard of Olmstead, but not of Kiley. At Fountain Place in Dallas, Kiley combined bald Cyprus trees, fountains and cascades of water to creating an urban setting that draws pedestrians. If you’ve noted how “right” it seems as you approach the Kennedy Library, or the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, or the Oakland Museum, that’s thanks to Kiley, who died at home in rural Vermont in late February at age 91. Next time we’re in the south garden of the Art Institute of Chicago, we’ll smile and think of Kiley and his memorable legacy on the places where we live and work.

Latest Books Read and Reviewed:

 (Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers to order copies directly from amazon.com.  When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com.  Click on the title to read the review or visit our 2004 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2004books.html).


Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


Oracle Night

Auster, Paul

Recovery. Two writers use each other to overcome writing blocks and move from illness to living life fully. An unusual visit to Brooklyn in the form of a literary novel. 

Double Vision

Barker, Pat

Plain Sight. The novelist and the sculptor protagonist lead readers to seeing what’s important in life. Introspection leads to questioning beliefs and recovery opens the possibility of seeing new relationships transform lives.

The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead

Callahan, David

Outrage. While cheating isn’t new, Callahan presents a compelling story of how and why it is increasing in America as more people choose to sacrifice integrity before economic security. Depressing at times to read, plenty of examples make it hard to disagree with premises. 

An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror

Frum, David and Richard Perle

A Manual for Victory. Former Bush speechwriter and former DOD policymaker present what they call a “manual for victory” in the war on terror. Bush supporters will cheer on most pages, while opponents will find ammunition, creating an interesting book for readers of all political sympathies.

The Boys' Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe 1944-1945

Fussell, Paul

Raw. Unsentimental, raw, unvarnished view of the horror of war by talented historian who was one of the young infantrymen on the field of Europe at the end of the second World War. Haunting, true stories.

Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America

Ivins, Molly and Lou Dubose

Eloquent. Journalist authors know how to turn a phrase, and present facts and stories with venom and wit, leaving little room for those willing to gloss over the details. Bush-bashers will find plenty to enjoy, and Bush supporters won’t pay attention to this book.

The Murder Room

James, P.D.

Prolonged. For some readers the drawn out plot momentum prolongs the pleasure of discovering clues, while others will be infuriated by the sluggish pace. Still waiting for the next Agatha Christie.

Absolute Friends

Le Carre, John

Lukewarm. Even rabid fans of LeCarre will conclude latest novel not in the upper half of his repertoire. Author’s animosity of U.S. and British foreign policies influences too many pages without making the novel better.

Mr. Paradise

Leonard, Elmore

Satisfaction. Great dialogue, memorable characters, and a wacky enough plot, set in Detroit, and delivered with picture-perfect clarity and brevity. Both quirky and realistic, surprising readers with lines to laugh at.

Rumpole and the Primrose Path

Mortimer, John Clifford

He’s Back. Beloved barrister Horace Rumpole has recovered from illness, leaves the Primrose Path nursing home and returns to chambers in triumph in new collection of six short stories.

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less

Schwartz, Barry

Satisficer. With more choices in our lives, why are we less satisfied than we’d like to be? Too many choices has become a new problem to address, and this book presents what’s created the paradox, and offers ideas on how to respond.

Your Marketing Sucks

Stevens, Mark

Extreme. Author demands each marketing dollar be spent to bring in money, something few companies do well, or even at all. Good examples from passionate author who will irritate many marketing executives and please many general managers.

The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts, and One Author’s Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves

Sundeen, Mark

Ole. Those with a certain sense of humor will enjoy this novel, particularly those who don’t take themselves too seriously. Fewer than ten copies are likely to be sold within Washington, D.C.

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill

Suskind, Ron

Competence. Forget what you’ve heard about this book. O’Neill was a competent Secretary of the Treasury, and Suskind is a good journalist. An informative presentation on the process of vetting issues within the Bush administration.

Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs, and Money Guys Who Mastered and Messed Up Big Media

Wolff, Michael

Vacuous. Participant-observer’s account of players and action in big media by author of New York Magazine column, This Media Life. Read only if your interest in media companies and characters is high, or if your curiosity about mega-mergers hasn’t been sated.


ã 2004 Hopkins and Company, LLC.  Executive Times is published monthly by Hopkins and Company, LLC at the company’s office at 723 North Kenilworth Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60302. Subscription rate for first class mail delivery of the print version is $60.00 per year (12 issues). Web version subscriptions are $30.00 per year. Single issues: $10.00 print; $5.00 web. To subscribe, sign up at www.hopkinsandcompany.com/subscribe.html, send an e-mail to executivetimes@hopkinsandcompany.com, call (708) 466-4650, or fax to (708) 386-8687. For permission to photocopy or e-mail Executive Times, call (708) 466-4650 or e-mail to reprints@hopkinsandcompany.com. We will send sample copies if requested. The company’s website at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/archives.html contains the archives of back issues beginning in the month after the issue date. 

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