Retrofitting Conscious Capitalism


The Conscious Capitalism movement made a big splash last week in our small city. A half-day conference featuring a keynote by Trader Joe’s founder Doug Rauch attracted over 100 local business leaders. The appeal to make business decisions in the context of community needs is long overdue.

Those of us raised in a business culture characterized by a focus on bottom line results to the exclusion of all else are having our consciousness raised. We must retrofit a new way of doing business or face consistent societal pressure for government to further regulate business activities.

Most often, companies wishing to burnish their brand donate to charities and participate in highly visible community activities. The public relations benefit is undeniable but the Continue reading “Retrofitting Conscious Capitalism”

The Governor’s Budget vs. the Free Market

jeffersonquoteIn the tug of war between the welfare state and free market capitalism, New York’s recently passed budget represents a setback for the free market. Wrapped around the promise of free college tuition for the middle class, the budget adds a new entitlement to an already overtaxed economy. Programs like free tuition, family leave and minimum wage increases all add to the cost of doing business in New York, a state that has relied on Wall Street employment to bolster job growth and tax revenue as the upstate economy flounders.

The governor seems to be unaware of the connection between his policies and a Continue reading “The Governor’s Budget vs. the Free Market”

Great thinkers who are also great leaders

The title of Robert Kelley’s piece in the New York Times was “Not Leadership Material? the_thinker1Good! The World Needs Followers.” I had to read it.

Kelley makes some excellent points about high school students feeling compelled to demonstrate that they are great leaders or risk not being accepted to their college of choice. He argues that great thinkers who are not leaders are being screened out of colleges that should embrace them. With a shortage of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians extant and projected to grow for the foreseeable future, it strikes me that we should take Kelley’s point of view seriously.

But, there was something else that occurred to me while reading the article: it’s not a Continue reading “Great thinkers who are also great leaders”

4 things you must do in your new leadership role

New-managerI remember sitting in the company cafeteria out in Denver, commiserating with a colleague. Our view of the Rocky Mountains was fabulous. Our view of our corporate careers… not so much!

Distributed computer networks enabled big companies to get reports on how operations were performing. Senior management reasoned they no longer needed middle managers to evaluate and provide status reports. The big box model was in! General management skills and leadership were no longer Continue reading “4 things you must do in your new leadership role”

When to disagree with the boss


If your boss is a narcissistic tyrant, read no further. Go directly to and find a new job. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200.

The rest of you should read on.

Businesses that are well conceived develop and can articulate their mission and strategies. In my experience, missions rarely Continue reading “When to disagree with the boss”

Of Evil CEO’s and the TV Interview

I’ve been working to promote The Reluctant CEO. A half dozen book signings, all local, complemented by social media advertising have had the desired effect. Still, there’s a way to go to achieve the sales goal.

Finally, a breakthrough!

My publicist arranged an interview on a local morning show, Good Day Rochester. It was set for Wednesday, December 21.

fox-interview-picThen came the preparation. He sent a few probable questions my way. I sent my draft responses. He made suggestions and so on.

We correctly anticipated most of the questions. Here’s one:

Continue reading “Of Evil CEO’s and the TV Interview”

Who can you trust?


My book is available on, iBooks or Barnes & Noble

Trust has taken a beating in my lifetime. From the Watergate affair to the recent financial crisis, from Enron to Lehman Brothers, we have been failed by government and business institutions and lost our faith in them.

In light of these multiple failures, how do we function as a society?

In my book, the protagonist – CEO of a global corporation – develops a corporate culture based on trust. Espousing a communitarian ideal, he advocates that each of his employees from senior management down the front lines, think of how their actions affect the communities in which they live – their neighbors, their employees and their families.

Here’s how he puts it to the business press:

“Would you want your children to drink water that’s been polluted by the chemical plant you manage? Would you like members of your family to be treated shabbily by their employers? How can a corporate leader expect a company to thrive if the people in his or her community aren’t thriving?”

Culture starts at the top. A CEO must communicate his or her expectations clearly and Continue reading “Who can you trust?”

Head vs. Gut: how to decide

brain_vs_heart-1920x10801Years ago, a friend told me he always makes decisions from his gut — but, only after his head tried to talk him out of it. I always thought there was great wisdom in that approach.

Now we know that everyone makes decisions from his or her gut. Only the wiser among us pause to let our heads try to talk us out of it. More often, we use analysis and discussion to rationalize a decision we’ve already made from our gut.

Working with many CEO’s over the last 15 years, I have learned that most decisions are Continue reading “Head vs. Gut: how to decide”

Is it all about you or all about them?

centerofuniverseI played on the worst high school football team in our division. Maybe in the entire state of New York. During our senior year, with a record of 1-4, we piled onto a bus heading to an away game. Before we exited the bus, our coach gave us a pep talk.

He told us his family was visiting from out of town. He admonished us not to embarrass him.

We lost 50-0.

We had done all the right things in practice — the Continue reading “Is it all about you or all about them?”

Fan mail to The Reluctant CEO

The Reluctant CEO is available on and iBooks

I’ve received a few messages from readers since setting up a Facebook page to promote my book. Some are just plain obnoxious. But, many others are inquisitive.

Here’s one I got from a young woman in the Philippines. (English is her second language.)

Abby:  Hi Sir, I have been checking few of your great posting in this group. I found it really amazed me. I am Abby and have been thinking to start my own little business. And there’s always something that doubt me.

I’m just trying to sell books. This isn’t an advice column for aspiring CEO’s. Nevertheless, I put myself out there as something of an expert and I coach CEO’s for a living. So…

Me:  How can I help?

Abby:  Well, it was about how should I started it while I have no confident in making it.

Wow! Where should I begin? Continue reading “Fan mail to The Reluctant CEO”