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Now make an executive decision.
You are the CEO of Fleece Industries. So far, you've made all the right choices. The result: Your life's work -- building a company from an idea scrawled on a bar napkin into a clothing empire -- has reached a major milestone. Fleece is going to have an initial public offering and become a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. The instant the opening bell rings, you'll be ...
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Now make an executive decision.
You are the CEO of Fleece Industries. So far, you've made all the right choices. The result: Your life's work -- building a company from an idea scrawled on a bar napkin into a clothing empire -- has reached a major milestone. Fleece is going to have an initial public offering and become a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. The instant the opening bell rings, you'll be worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions. It's a dream come true. Unfortunately that's when things get complicated. Now come the really hard choices.
What would you do if
Step up to the plate. What would you do if you were The CEO?
To: Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fleece Industries
Subject:How to Read This Book
This memo contains information of the highest importance.
Your executive committee has prompted us to warn you not to read this book straight through from beginning to end. The pages contain many different adventures you will encounter as the CEO of a major corporation. The executive decisions you make and the actions you take can lead to fame and fortune or to scandal and destitution.
We hope you use your best judgment when confronted with difficult choices as the CEO of Fleece Industries. You are ultimately responsible for the well-being of this company and its employees. Our success or failure depends entirely on your decisions. After all, that's what you're paid to do -- make decisions.
Without further ado, then, let's get on with the business of business. You created Fleece Industries -- now turn it into the success it was always meant to be.
* * *
You never thought it would happen. Friends have gone back to Iowa to work on their dads' farms, former partners are working in tire shops -- you, on the other hand, have ridden bulls and fought bears in the dog-eat-dog world of business. You did it by making a product that practically sells itself, a product that actually lives up to its hype. It's the ultimate gear for the twenty-first-century survivor: the Silk Armor clothing line. The fabric feels like your coolest summer shirt or your coziest winter sweater, but there's more....It's waterproof, windproof, fireproof, and bulletproof.
You are the CEO of Fleece Industries, the subject of numerous profiles in the business press, the hometown hero, and the envy of clothing executives the world over. You are, in short, the hottest clothing manufacturer since the invention of the toga. And today you're taking your company public.
Your life's work -- building a business from an idea scrawled on a bar napkin into a world-renowned clothing empire -- has reached a major milestone: You're going to have an initial public offering, or IPO, on the New York Stock Exchange. Everyone will soon be able to buy shares in Fleece Industries. You, personally, will be the owner of ten million shares out of a total of fifteen million, or 66 percent. The ticker symbol: CON.
Your wife has accompanied you to the exchange for the opening bell on the first day of the trading of your stock. She is pretty; you married her because she looks like the kind of woman who would marry an astronaut. A woman of simple values and tenacious loyalty, she has been with you from the start. She has seen the good times and the bad. The two of you have flown to Paris for a weekend, and you have also shared a can of tuna when your power was shut off. Now you're sitting in a town car on Broad Street outside the exchange, looking down at her fingers intertwined with your own.
"I know this sounds silly, honey, but this all reminds me of our wedding day," she says.
"I feel it too," you respond, clutching her hand. "This is very exciting....It's a very happy time for both of us."
"The difference is that we couldn't have afforded a car like this back then," she says. "Remember when Bobby lent us his Oldsmobile Cutlass, and it broke down between the reception and the hotel?"
"I carried you the whole way."
"Half the way...but I appreciated the gesture," she responds.
"Maybe we should go back to that hotel and renew our vows," you say, not really thinking about it, but trying to make small talk while you consider the millions of dollars you will soon be worth.
"Honey, that hotel was a dump," she says.
"Fine," you respond. "Let's buy the place and have it knocked down."
All of a sudden the door of your car is opened. "I think it's time," you say to your wife.
It is indeed time. You are at Broad and Wall, the nexus of American capitalism, at the door of the New York Stock Exchange. You step out of the car and walk through the labyrinth of police barriers on the sidewalk to go through security.
Standing on the other side of the metal detector is the chairman of the exchange, Ricky Dey, a short bald man with a glistening dome so shiny you can see your own reflection in it. You wonder, momentarily, what the official definition of a midget is, and then it hits you -- he looks exactly like the mad scientist Dr. Sivana, Captain Marvel's archnemesis from those old 1940s comic books. The image makes you smile as you reach out to shake his hand. He is wearing a black pin-striped suit that you can only imagine was custom fit to his diminutive body somewhere in Europe. It occurs to you that your Brooks Brothers suit might be inadequate.
Your intuition is dead-on. "Congratulations," he says, handing you his tailor's card. He stares at your tie for a little too long, and then looks you in the eye and says, "Welcome to the club."
The club's members are some of the most successful, influential, and inspirational people who ever lived. From J. P. Morgan to Michael Eisner to Crazy Eddie Antar, the NYSE has been the true birthplace of American success stories. The laws are made in Washington, but the money is made here, and any trader will tell you that "money is always above the law."
As you ride the elevator with Ricky Dey beside you and your wife clutching your arm, you can barely contain your excitement.
"Gum?" asks Ricky, holding a stick of Doublemint gum up to you.
"No thanks." You are too nervous to chew anything.
"Hard candy?" Ricky says, pulling a piece out of his pocket.
"I'm a little too anxious to be putting anything in my mouth," you reply with a nervous laugh.
"Especially your foot." Ricky is genuinely doing his best to calm you. "Slim Jim?"
You're standing on the balcony of the exchange, a venue that has been occupied by every big shot in the history of American business. Looking at the sea of floor traders below, you briefly experience what you can describe only as a combination of timelessness and vertigo. You know from watching CNBC that as soon as the bell rings, all hell will break loose in front of your eyes.
You look down and notice that Dey is standing on a pile of phone books. You decide not to say anything, instead filing the information away for the tell-all business book, How to Get Really Rich, that you're planning to write after you retire. Dey gives the signal and you ring the bell. Cheers erupt. Your stock's symbol passes across the ticker tape right there in the heart of the exchange. It has opened trading at ten dollars a share. That makes you worth $100 million at this very moment. After shaking hands with a dozen people you don't know or care about, you are escorted out of the exchange. You put your wife into the town car, sending her home, and climb into a limo with a handful of adoring Fleece employees.
Sitting in the car, a bottle of champagne is uncorked and the bubbly is passed around despite it being only 9:45 on a Monday morning. The world is your oyster. The car pulls away from the curb, and everything dissolves into a blur of laughter as commuters whiz past the car windows.
Your car drives up Eighth Avenue, and even though it's the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling uptown, your limousine seems to just blow on by all the jammed cars. The driver makes a right onto Forty-fourth Street, and you approach Times Square, where you see a large crowd of teenagers gathering outside MTV Studios.
"This is going to be great!" you say to everyone in the car. You take a big pull from the champagne bottle and instruct your driver to pull over and pop the trunk. You jump out of the limousine like a movie star, to the excitement of the teenagers -- until they realize that they have no idea who you are.
You grab a big box out of the trunk and drop it on the sidewalk. You open it up and start pulling out the green T-shirts you had made for this day that read: FLEECE WENT PUBLIC TODAY AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT! Within thirty seconds everyone in Times Square is advertising Fleece clothing. Everyone except the Naked Cowboy because, as he puts it, "It would go against my aesthetic." He agrees to pose for a picture with you, but insists that you drop your pants. You oblige because today you can do no wrong. You also have a slight champagne buzz.
You hop back in the car and everyone is clapping and cheering you on. You take another swig of champagne and check your BlackBerry for the latest stock price. From the initial price of ten dollars, it already shot up to eighteen. Jesus! You're worth nearly $200 million. This is your day!
Just as you all finish off the third bottle of champagne, you arrive back at Fleece's corporate offices at 666 Madison Avenue. It's nothing fancy -- just a bunch of glass and steel -- but the address makes up for the lack of cutting-edge decor. You step through the automatic revolving door and then stand awkwardly as the security staff breaks into a round of applause.
"Thank you...thank you," you say to no one in particular, and you look at your watch as an excuse to make your way to the executive elevator. The doors close, and you can finally breathe. You press 14. Like many buildings, yours doesn't have a thirteenth floor. You've often wondered whether merely calling the thirteenth floor the fourteenth floor will protect you from the number's inherent malevolence. But after the morning you've had, superstitions such as these are of little concern.
The elevator doors open and you are greeted by more well-wishing employees giving you a standing ovation. It's no surprise -- they've become rich today as well.
You break through the throngs of handshakes and hugs and make your way to your anchor, your girl Friday, Fawn Corridoir. Fawn, your secretary, is a towering six-foot blond plank of wood whose silk blouse reveals more than it hides. You greet her warmly (maybe a little too warmly, but hey, your wife has gone home).
"Only a couple of calls for you," she says, handing you several phone messages.
"Thanks, Fawn." You walk through the open steel double doors to your office and close them behind you.
You take a moment to soak in your office, which suddenly feels a little different to you. On the left is a six-foot-long mustard-colored leather couch. On the right is a long credenza, full of the first line of clothing that came out of the Fleece factory back in 1982. There's an aerodynamic running suit with mesh lapels, magnetic suspenders to attach pins and name tags without puncturing the fabric, climate-controlled leg warmers, and a novelty tuxedo T-shirt that repels cigarette smoke.
You turn and look across the room at the framed photo above the couch. It's you and J. J. Koone. He's your mentor, the creator of the indestructible, impervious Maine Hunting Boot. The inspiration for Silk Armor. He's got his arm around you and is whispering something in your ear. You remember the rustic wisdom he imparted to you that day, something you've never told a soul. "Don't go deeper than the boot goes high," he said. You haven't done so yet, and you don't plan to anytime soon.
As you look down at the messages in your hand, your cell phone rings. It's a number you don't recognize. You almost answer it but then stop youself. You're the CEO of a public company now -- you don't take calls from people you don't know. Or do you? It occurs to you that you're about to make your first decision as the CEO of a public company, albeit a fairly innocuous one.
Or do you let the call go to voice mail and read
through your messages? Go to page 9.
Text copyright 2005 by Owen Burke and Duff McDonald
"Hello," you say into the phone.
"What an opening!" says a voice on the other end of the line. "You looked good up there ringing the bell, too. Yes, yes, you looked quite good indeed. This is J. P. Moneyhouse the fifth."
You're startled. Moneyhouse, after all, is the chairman of Moneyhouse and Stonecutter, the preeminent Wall Street investment bank. You've read stories about the man, but even with your own level of modest success, you never thought you'd actually be getting a call from him.
He's the sort of person whom you can't imagine ever having been a child, as if his life began at the age of fifty. Bald on top with white tufts on each side of his head, he has a bulbous nose that looks more like a gourd than anything human. His mustache hangs bushy over his mouth, giving him the appearance of a constant frown. (You always thought he looked like that hippie caddie on the PGA Tour.) Mr. Moneyhouse has never been accused by any of his rivals of stabbing anyone in the back. He prefers, it is said, to stab them right through the heart.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Moneyhouse?" you say. "You know, I'm quite busy today."
"It's more like what I can do for you," says Moneyhouse. "It's the same with all you young bucks. You think you've invented business by the way you act once you've gone public. But you do realize, it's only just beginning. I'm calling to offer you the services of Moneyhouse and Stonecutter. Now that you're public, and will be buying companies and selling securities on a regular basis, you're going to need the services of a real investment bank, not that Podunk outfit you've been using until now. Why don't you drop by the Mercantile for a three-martini lunch? We've got lots to talk about."
"Why, that's a capital idea," you reply, wincing as you realize you're pouring it on a little too thick trying to impress him. "How about I see you there in an hour?"
"Excellent," he says. "At my usual table."
You hang up your cell phone and yell through your door. "Fawn, get Barry on his cell." Barry McTeagle is your corporate counsel, and also your closest friend from the University of Virginia. You met him when he broke down the door to your dorm room in a drunken stupor thinking he was locked out of his own room.
When your office phone beeps, you pick it up. "Barry, meet me at the Mercantile in an hour. We're meeting Moneyhouse."
You tell your cab driver to take you to 69 Wall Street, the legendary address of the Mercantile. After stopping to buy a pack of Alka-Seltzer and some condoms from a corner deli, you arrive downtown forty-five minutes later and see Barry waiting on the sidewalk in front of the club.
"Let's go inside."
"Wait," says Barry, grabbing your arm before you open the door. "There's something I need to talk to you about." He has a weird look on his face. What can be so important that Barry would want to keep Moneyhouse waiting? You start to push open the door, but he stops you again.
"It's about the books. I think we may have a problem," he continues, looking deadly serious.
That stops you in your tracks. What on earth could be wrong with Fleece's books? Larry Weiss, your internal accountant, is as straitlaced a guy as you can get. Doesn't even like music. Barry must be confused about something. He doesn't even deal with the company finances.
"Barry, let's talk about this later," you say, and open the door to the Mercantile.
You were in the Mercantile once before, back in the go-go nineties, when any young punk with an Internet connection and a novel idea, like selling books online, could get Wall Street to hawk their shares to unwitting investors. You remember the interior of the club quite well. Leather chairs, hunting pictures, banquettes with ashtrays full of cigar butts. It's the kind of place that doesn't change with the times -- the hallmark of true old-boy exclusivity.
Entering the club, you expected the mood to be more somber, given what the country has been through over the past five years, but you're wrong. When investment bankers take a pay cut, their salaries drop from $10 million to $8.5 million. Still lots of martinis to be bought with that kind of green. As your eyes adjust to the light, you see Moneyhouse sitting under an oil painting of J. P. Moneyhouse III, his grandfather, a notorious stock swindler and contributor to Mussolini. Moneyhouse already has a martini in his hand.
"You're going to need a drink," he says as you sit down, and simultaneously makes a gesture toward what looks to be his own private waiter.
"Sure, I'll have a drink," you say, smiling. But Moneyhouse is not smiling back. This guy's a stiff, you think. Barry, for some reason, is rifling through his briefcase. He pulls out a sheaf of papers. As he starts to pass it across the table, you instinctively reach out for it, but instead he hands it to Moneyhouse, who puts it in his own briefcase.
"What the...?" you say.
"Boss, this is what I was trying to tell you," Barry says sheepishly.
"I'll be the one doing the talking from here on in," says Moneyhouse. "Do you realize that Larry Weiss has been cooking the books since the day he got to Fleece? And that you're sitting on top of a fraud of magnificent proportions? To be precise, one-point-five billion dollars. I think you'd better fire your current investment bankers. We're your bankers now. That is, if you want to stay out of the big house. So what do you say? Should we raise a toast to our new partnership?"
You sit back, stunned, and stare at Barry. He can't even look at you. Moneyhouse, on the other hand, hasn't taken his gaze off of you. He's offering you a devil's handshake -- you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Or do you get up, leave the Mercantile, and try to figure
out what the hell they're talking about? Go to page 4.
Text copyright 2005 by Owen Burke and Duff McDonald
You head to your desk to sift through your messages. So many people have called to wish you the best, half of whom, you suspect, are hoping to be included in your newfound fortune.
Your cousin Pete, who used to own a chop shop in Milwaukee, wants you to come visit after all these years. Todd Toomie from UVA wants you to be the godfather to his unborn son. You guess he forgot that he tried to sleep with your wife six years ago. The pastor from your childhood town's parish wants your input on a bake sale to raise money for a new altar. You guess he forgot why you left the church in the first place.
Tyree Stubbs called you as well. Tyree plays basketball for the Los Angeles Terminators. He's the most dominating power forward under six feet in the history of the NBA and has led his team to three consecutive championships. Tyree also moonlights as a major rap star in the off-season and goes by the alias Three Point. His first album, "In Da Paint," was an enormous crossover hit, appealing to all races and both sexes. He is a notorious playboy and consummate bachelor, claiming to have had sex with fifteen thousand women and counting. Tyree wears Silk Armor exclusively, and you've created the "Stubby" line for Fleece, which is popular among inner-city youth. You met Tyree at the Seventh on Sixth Fashion Show and hit it off immediately. Ever since then, every time you get a call from him, it's either about an exclusive party, seats on the floor at a Knicks game, or backstage passes for bands and rappers of which you've never heard, but for whom your teenage daughter, Apple, goes crazy.
The last message is so out of the blue that you feel a hot rush of blood fill your face.
You and Aaron Rampstein met in 1968 late one night in the textile studios of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. You were trying to finish a mock-up of a hunting sweater that was completely waterproof, and Aaron was building military fatigues that were lightweight but could withstand postnuclear radiation. Both of your projects were due the next morning.
At one point you grew frustrated when you couldn't apply the green dye to the sweater because it was waterproof, and you started cutting up the whole thing.
Aaron came to your aid and said in a very calm voice, "Chill, man. Don't throw the weed out with the bong water. Patience, above all else, is the designer's tool."
He was right. After you both shared a joint, he even offered to help you work on your project. Aaron pointed out that you have to dye the fabric before applying the polymer cross-stitch. Regaining your composure, you worked right till dawn and the sweater looked great. It was raining outside, and Aaron put on the sweater to try it out. Standing in the rain for fifteen minutes, he came back in soaked to the bone everywhere but where the sweater covered him.
You got an A. Aaron got an F for not getting his project in before the semester ended -- because he was helping you. Over some beers you both laughed about the grades, and Aaron told you that he couldn't "give a shit" about grades or fashion or anything. "Anyway," he confessed with a mixture of anticipation and dread, "I just got drafted, so I guess the F doesn't matter anyway. I'm going down to Biloxi for basic training next week."
You wrote letters, but after a time he stopped responding. You figured he was too busy getting shot at to write to you. Or, more likely, he'd been killed. You often thought of him as you moved ahead with your life. You worked for the next ten years dividing your time dabbling in the downtown art scene and rubbing elbows with the marketing mavens of Madison Avenue. You worked your way up the ladder as a competent designer of outdoor wear, all the while keeping the swatch of dyed fabric that Aaron had helped you create that late night in the studio.
In 1982 you founded Fleece Industries -- the "Home of the Outdoorsman." In all your early speeches to employees and in any interviews in the smaller fashion trade magazines, you made a point of mentioning Aaron and how fortunate you were to meet him that fateful night, and how sad it was to lose a "friend" and "real American hero" in Vietnam. But as your team of textile engineers worked off the swatch to create the ultimate in protective fashion, getting closer and closer to perfecting its reliability against water, wind, fire, and bullets, the less and less you would mention Aaron's name. Finally, when you broke through with Silk Armor in 1999, you secretly hoped that Aaron had indeed perished in some rice paddy in Asia.
But the dead don't make phone calls. Aaron Rampstein is back, and you know that after all these years, he's not calling to congratulate you.
Whatever Rampstein wants, it can wait another thirty years. Go to page 36.
Or do you return Rampstein's call? After all, you do owe
him something for your good fortune. Go to page 156.
Text copyright 2005 by Owen Burke and Duff McDonald
Excerpted from The CEO by Owen Burke Copyright © 2005 by Owen Burke.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 3, 2006
Great book for those looking to see what a CEO deals with and the types of decisions made. Since the book is interactive, you get a chance to play out different options to see how the outcome would affect the organization. Leadership and Vision requires Courage, Character and Integrity. Many of those are missing from the large publicly traded corporations of today. However, if you look closely enough, it is easy to see if a CEO leads his orgainzation the right way, the results speak for themselves. Highly recommendedWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2011
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Posted December 1, 2010
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Posted January 9, 2011
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