Executive Times

Volume 7, Issue 7

July, 2005


ã 2005 Hopkins and Company, LLC

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Stories in the press in recent weeks delivered a consistent sledgehammer message about something obvious and true: the most important decisions executives make are people decisions. As you read the stories we’ve selected on this topic, think about the people decisions that you’ll make this summer, or the ones that you should make. Is yours the best team to produce your planned results? Do all members of your team have the experience, talent and motivation to work together to achieve success? Think also about the decisions that others may make about you. Are you the best person to be performing your current role? What progress have you made so far this year on meeting the challenges you and your organization face?


Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. Two books are highly recommended with a four-star rating; nine books are recommended with three stars; and four are mildly recommended with two star ratings, a normal distribution. Visit our 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all books we’re reading or considering this year. Thirty one new books were added to the “shelf of possibility” during June, leading us to fall further behind in our triage effort to select the 15 books we read and review each month. For your summer reading, there’s plenty to choose from, but if there’s something missing from the bookshelf that you think we should be considering, or if there’s a book lingering on the “shelf of possibility” that you think we should read and review, let us know by sending a message to books@hopkinsandcompany.com.


The editors of Fortune continue to celebrate their 75th anniversary with special features, and we highly recommend reading the June 27 issue titled, “How To Make Great Decisions.” (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fortune75/articles/0,15114,1071164,00.html) When asked what surprises he found when asked to reexamine his “best company” research through the lens of decision-making, author of Built to Last and Good to Great  Jim Collins said, “We tend to think that decisions are very much about ‘what.’ But when I look at my research notes and I look at interview transcripts from the executives we’ve interviewed, one theme that comes through is that their greatest decisions were not ‘what’ but ‘who.’ They were people decisions. … Fundamentally, the world is uncertain. Decisions are about the future and your place in the future when that future is uncertain. So what is the key thing you can do to prepare for that uncertainty? You can have the right people with you.”  Each executive needs to decide who is “right” for a particular organization. The process of thinking about placing the right people in the right roles will lead to improved results.

Do you have the right people with you in your organization? What are you and those people doing to prepare for uncertainty? What are the barriers to your having the right people in the right roles? How will you remove those barriers? Are you the right person for the role you’re performing? If not, what will you do next?


We read an interesting perspective by Daniel H. Pink (author of Free Agent Nation recommended in the July 2001 issue of Executive Times and of A Whole New Mind on our current bookshelf) in the June 4 issue The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/04/opinion/04pink.html) relating to new graduates. “Commencement speakers have long offered graduating seniors the same warm and gooey career advice: Do what you love. And graduates have long responded the same way: They've listened carefully, nodded earnestly, and gone out and become accountants. No surprise. On every day except graduation day, young people are taught that their futures depend not on following their bliss, but on mastering dutiful (and less lovable) abilities like crunching numbers and following rules.” This year, according to Pink the advice may be accurate, and may be followed. “In an overstocked marketplace, businesses can no longer crank out pallets of identical widgets. They must create customized, intriguing, even beautiful products, services and experiences. How do you do this? You need employees who possess not only technical ability but also a sense of curiosity, aesthetics and, yes, joyfulness.” Pink concludes that the way for graduates to survive in today’s market is by doing work they love. Executives with jobs that certain graduates will love may tap into the opportunity to have a successful career start off in the right direction. Organizations that don’t receive the refreshing perspectives of newly minted graduates will forego the opportunity to see work through fresh eyes.

What jobs in your organization provide particular attraction to new graduates? What contact have you made with the new graduates who have joined your organization this summer? What can you learn from them? How attractive have you made your organization to the right graduates? What’s the compelling reason for them to do what they love for you as compared to others?



Few executives would turn away from experienced, energized and motivated workers. Why is it, then, that we read in the cover story, “Old. Smart. Productive” in the June 27 issue of Business Week (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_26/b3939001_mz001.htm) that, “The Society for Human Resource Management … says 59% of members surveyed don’t actively recruit older workers and 65% don’t do anything specific to retain older workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found in 1995, the last time it looked, that workers aged 55 and up got only one-third as many hours of formal training as workers 45 to 54. …As Urban Institute senior fellow C. Eugene Steuerle told the House Ways and Means Committee in May: ‘People in their late 50s, 60s and 70s have now become the largest underutilized pool of human resources in the economy.’”  Organizations who neglect this labor pool are likely to suffer. Those who think of older workers as tired or lacking in stamina should reflect on the story in this article of Emma Shulman, who, at age 92 works 50 hours a week at the NYU School of Medicine. “Her boss, Steven H. Ferris, dreads the day she decides to retire: ‘We’d definitely have to hire two or three people to replace her. … Complains Shulman: ‘One of my problems is excess energy, which drives me nuts.’” Wise executives will look to remove those obstacles that tell experienced older workers to get lost.


When you’re searching for the right people for your organization, how wide do you cast your recruiting net? How well-represented are older workers in your organization? Do your policies and programs create incentives to work or to retire? How effectively are you utilizing your experienced employees? Are you open to the possibility that energy to do a job can be present or absent at any age?


The wisdom of Felix Rohatyn stimulated our thinking when he wrote a proposal in a June 16 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111888256977761061,00.html) calling for the creation of a trust fund for America. “We cannot compete with China by making cheaper T-shirts or forcing them to revalue the yuan by 10%. We can only do so by fighting tooth and nail for supremacy in education, intellectual capital and R&D, and both the federal government and the States must play a role in that fight. … To help deal with our shortage of public capital investment, the Congress should authorize a trust fund of up to $100 billion, to be financed over a five-year period by special 50-year Treasury bonds created for that specific purpose. The fund should be used to co-finance high priority state and local investment programs, including physical infrastructure and projects to create intellectual property.”  In the same way that a nation can invest in infrastructure that includes intellectual capital, wise executives will create and maintain a corporate infrastructure that attracts and retains world-class people who want to work together to achieve best of class results. For many organizations, the trust fund is already present: shareholder equity. For more information on measuring the results of people intensive business, read an article from the June 2005 issue of the Harvard Business Review titled, “The Surprising Economics of a ‘People Business:’” http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b01/en/hbr/hbrsa/current/0506/article/R0506D.jhtml referred to us by an Executive Times reader.


How effective is your infrastructure when it comes to the creation and maintenance of intellectual capital? Do the people who work in your organization receive all the tools they need to succeed? Does their collaboration lead to the creation of value? Is talent attracted to your organization because of your infrastructure?


Be prepared in your decisions about people to be subject to the influence of illusion. According to The New York Times (6/11) (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/11/business/11makeover.html), the popularity of a spate of television makeover shows has increased the visibility of image consultants who are helping employees dress for success. “For Jane Friedman, president and chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers, the significance of apt dress cannot be overstated. ‘It is extremely important to be appropriate for interviews and meetings,’ said Ms. Friedman, who uses a personal shopper, ‘and if someone is inappropriately dressed, of course, it reflects on who they are. If they are going to be hired for a decision-making post, I would question that in my own mind.’”


To what extent does what others wear influence your judgments about them? How important is appearance in your decisions about people? Is what you wear at work appropriate? Are you ready to listen to the advice of an image consultant or a personal shopper? Are you a candidate for a makeover?



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


Ø      We called attention in the May 2005 issue of Executive Times to the interesting life of CEO Phil Purcell in leading Morgan Stanley during a time of corporate civil war and opined that whether he would be a casualty of that war was unclear, but what was clear involved removing distractions and improving performance. Purcell announced (http://www.morganstanley.com/cgi-bin/morganstanley.com/pressroom.cgi?action=load&uid=418) on June 13 that he plans to retire once a successor is named, saying, in part, “It has become clear that in light of the continuing personal attacks on me, and the unprecedented level of negative attention our Firm -- and each of you -- has had to endure, that this is the best thing I can do for you, our clients and our shareholders. You have all done an extraordinary job serving our clients despite the almost daily distractions. Your dedication and commitment to clients have been clear for all to see. I feel strongly that the attacks are unjustified, but unfortunately, they show no signs of abating. A simple reality check tells us that people are spending more time reading about the acrimony and not enough time reading about the outstanding work that is being accomplished by our firm. … let’s get back to work.”

Ø      In the April 2001 issue of Executive Times, we had a quote from former Morgan Stanley executive John Mack reassuring employees who were apprehensive about Dean Witter’s Phil Purcell becoming CEO to be patient, that “cream always rises to the top.” Mack and scores of other Morgan Stanley executives left the firm while Purcell was leading it. In a stroke of irony, the Morgan Stanley board is considering Mack as successor to Purcell, and that decision may be made as we go to press with this issue. In 2001, we thought Mack got creamed. Looks like he may have been right all along.



While his co-workers were on vacation in August, 1958, Jack S. Kilby, a new employee of Texas Instruments who had not yet earned vacation leave, stayed in the lab and invented the microchip, technically, the first monolithic integrated circuit, and in so doing, he changed the world. His invention laid the conceptual and technical foundation for the entire field of modern microelectronics. It would be hard to find a place not impacted by the integrated circuit. In late June, Kilby died in Dallas at age 81 leaving a legacy for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000. Texas Instruments Chairman Tom Engibous offered (http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/press/company/2005/c05034.shtml) this recollection of Kilby, “Ever practical and low-key, with good humor and quiet grace, Jack was a man with every right to be boastful, yet never was. … For those of us who were fortunate enough to have known him, it’s that dual legacy for which I personally will always feel privileged to have known Jack – not only the quality of what he did, but the quality of who he was.” In addition to a lab building at TI named for him, Kilby lent his name to The Kilby International Awards Foundation in 1990, and that organization bestows awards on individuals who have made a significant impact on society, continuing his legacy.


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 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html).


Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


Joy At Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun On The Job

Bakke, Dennis W.

Righteous. Former AES CEO describes a rare workplace where values for their own sake supersede everything else, leading to a motivated workforce full of people having fun.

Last Call for Blackford Oakes

Buckley, Jr., William F.

Finale. American spy Blackford Oakes is sent to Russia in 1987 by President Reagan, and while there he finds both love and Kim Philby. Entertaining summer reading.

One Soldier’s Story: A Memoir

Dole, Bob

Understated. In plain and direct narrative, peppered occasionally with trademark wit, Dole relates his life from an average childhood in Kansas through a courageous three year recovery from war wounds.

One Sunday Morning

Ephron, Amy

Precision. Four New York socialites in the 1920s respond to scandal. Setting and characters are presented with precision and brevity which allows for reading this novel during a single afternoon at the beach.

On Bullshit

Frankfurt, Harry G.

Classic. Whether you’re an incoming college freshman looking for an introduction to philosophy through a familiar subject, or an average reader open to intellectual humor, this short academic discourse entertains.

Never Let Me Go

Ishiguro, Kazuo

Purpose. Novel set in 1990s describes a society in which clones are created for organ harvesting. Well-written exploration of discovering purpose in life during a time of restrictions on personal freedom when science outran ethics.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Kim, W. Chan and Renee Mauborgne

Swimming. Analytical tools, illustrations and examples of how to swim away from markets of crowded red oceans of fin to fin competition into blue oceans of opportunity for profitable market growth through value innovation.

The Hot Kid

Leonard, Elmore

Blazing. In author’s 40th novel, set in 1930’s Oklahoma, the title character is a young U.S. Marshall developing a reputation for getting the bad guys. Fine dialogue and character exposition.

Men and Cartoons

Lethem, Jonathan

Super. Nine short stories display range of talented writer’s wit, irony, disillusionment, creativity and talent.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner

Quirky. Economist Levitt looks for explanations to everyday situations and uses the tools of economics in some creative and unusual ways that both entertain and inform readers, while raising more than a few hackles.


McCullough, David

Runaway. By selecting a single year for focus, images of leadership, especially that of George Washington, can be examined intently. Choosing to flee rather than fight worked in 1776 for Washington, as did acting prior to authorization.


Mitchell, Stephen

Timeless. If you’ve never read this epic, which may be the oldest book in the world (1000 years older than The Iliad), there’s no longer an excuse thanks to this fine, accessible version.

Cold Service

Parker, Jr.,  Robert B.

Friendship. Hawk is shot, Spenser helps him recuperate and together they pursue revenge, which is, as the title alludes, a dish best served cold.

Ready to lead?

Price, Alan

Dreamy. Another leadership fable with characters too good to be true. The brevity and simplicity will appeal to those who like this genre and who may find some beneficial takeaways.

The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life's Dreams

Sanders, Tim

Honey. No surprise in this how-to book that those who are liked usually get what they want. For those not liked, it’s hard to imagine them working on friendship, relevance, empathy and realness to become more likeable.


ã 2005 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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