Thursday 2011-03-17

Firing Back by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward

Sonnenfeld and Ward try to make some sense of Leaders' falls from Grace, as some bounce back and some do not. Despite chronicling two hundred pages of internecine corporate warfare, they believe that (1) the state of affairs is basically good (it's just business/politics/etc.), and (2) that seeking fame is good.

Filtering out their incentive-tainted views, they appear to do good work. When adversity strikes, people get by with help from (1) their friends, (2) their reputation, (3) a diversified identity, and (4) weaponry.

The first two points seem obvious, and do not warrant the vast tracts of page real estate. Not so much for the latter two as trade-offs exist. Many corporate titans see themselves as CEO of Firm X and have accomplished what they by sheer dint of applied talent. However, increasing personal survival odds after a corporate assassination requires that one has another aspect of their identity which they build, or they find one real quick.

It seems difficult to generalize their findings to non-CEOs as Sonnenfeld and Ward note that most ex-CEOs usually exit with a great deal of cash. This financial weaponry allows them to either fight back or to fund a foray into another firm.

Left untold are the stories of ex-CEOs who retire and teach at the local high school. Oh wait. I'm sorry. Those stories just don't exist.

in Howard Gardner's book Extraordinary Minds. He proposed a set of traits shared by "influencers" -- those truly great historic figures across professions....
Gardner concluded tht rather than raw intellect, lucky circumstances, or even indefatigable energies, these figures possessed powerful skills of (1) candid self-assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, (2) keen situational analysis, and (3) the capacity to reframe past setbacks into future successes.
-- The Disappointment of Defeat or the Defeat of Disappointment
right, the attributes that matter are not the ones that take a long time to develop or you just can't control, they're the easy you-can-do-it-right-now ones. Why not say developing all of these would be best and stick it in the footnotes? No one reads footnotes anyway.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat these two impostors just the same...
-- Rudyard Kipling, ibid
As early as 1897, anomic depression from either crushing defeat or giddy success was identified as one of the primary causes of suicide in population studies of the pioneering sociologist Emile Durkheim.
-- Tragedies, Failures, and Setbacks
To survive the horrors (of Nazi death camps), people had to look to the future.
-- ibid
I had always admired the postwar residential developer Bill Levitt, who built Levittowns around the nation and sold the enterprise to the conglomerate ITT. They made a mess of it, and Levitt, bored in his wealth, living in a chateau in southern France, bought the company back for what he thought was a bargain. Soon after, he'd lost everything. I went to a party and saw a lonely old man sitting in the corner -- it was Bill Levitt. I went over to sit with him and his painful story of overextending himself taught me a great deal about knowing where the edge really is, knowing what you can and can't do
-- Donald Trump, Societal Barriers to Recovery
Two smart guys felled by leverage....
on May 25, 1987, after a marathon trial that itself lasted almost nine months, a jury acquitted Donovan and his fellow defendants of all charges. As soon as the jury foreman finished recounting the not-guilty verdicts, Donovan turned to the chief prosecutor and asked the now famous question, "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"
-- Fight, Not Flight

I find it hilarious that you got to this before I ever did, heh. So worth trawling through it, or no? -- Ryan.

Not really; Friends, Reputation, Identity, and Weaponry require their own books. -- Patrick