I’m Joining the Professionals

Professional Excellence: Beyond Technical Competence
Alan P. Rositer

What exactly is a professional? You must admit, it’s one of the more challenging words in the English language.

Sometimes it’s an adjective, one often applied to adults paid to play children’s games. Sometimes it’s a noun, intended to convey that the person identifying with it is more rigorously schooled and trained in a particular body Continue reading


Watch the Parking Meters

Leadership–It’s a System Not a Person
Barbara Kellerman
Daedalus, Summer 2016

By now it should be apparent I rarely seek information where everyone else does. I don’t even really look for it. I just tend to stumble across things and find a use for them later.

That’s certainly the case with the Summer 2016 issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In what has to be one of the more fortuitous Continue reading

A Good Job in the City

A Big Life (in Advertising)
Mary Wells Lawrence

big-lifeFall, it seems, exists so I can renew myself. I know, the light is dying, the sky is more likely to be gray than blue and the nip in the air will soon turn to unwelcome arctic blasts. Why that seems to turn me back to the literature of my trade will have to remain a mystery.

Enough about me, let’s talk about Mary. Continue reading

Food for the Thinkers

Young_A-TECHNIQUEA Technique for Producing Ideas
James Webb Young

Like everyone, okay, like many people I know, there are days when I doubt the choices I’ve made. I’m talking about the big choices and among the biggest is what I’ve chosen to do to earn my bread.

On the best of days–and oh how I wish there were more of those–I’m pretty certain I could have made another choice. But I’m also pretty certain that the Continue reading

Too Pat to Open and Too Cool to Bluff

Strategy in Poker, Business & War
John McDonald

strategyPop quiz:

1. Select the answer below that best completes the following sentence. Game Theory is _________.

a. a California band that worked during the 1980s
b. the subject of the bestselling book and hit film, A Beautiful Mind
c. an advanced branch of mathematics often found to result in migraines and other mental trauma
d. the secret weapon of CEOs in their endless quest to maximize shareholder value
e. all of the above Continue reading

Give the Devil His Due

All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera

Devils_HereCatholic schools do a good job of making sure you know about Catholic heroes. Like Junipero Sera. Perhaps you’ve heard of the good friar? Founder of California’s missions?

Whether you have or haven’t is irrelevant. I bring it up only because the flat accents of NPR‘s on-air staff led me to believe that there was a financial journalist I hadn’t heard Continue reading

Something’s Wild About Harry

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller
Harry Markopolos

No_oneHarry Markopolos is a stand-up guy. And stand-up guys  finish seventh.

Surely you remember Harry? He’s the guy who got slightly more than his 15 minutes of fame when the Bernard Madoff financial fraud came to light. Harry, it seems, was early on the case and had been trying to get someone, anyone to listen to him on the Continue reading

Is Someone’s Mind on Vacation?

CV1_TNY_08_04_14Chast.inddWhat’s up on 42nd street?

That’s terribly vague. So let me ask a more specific question: did The New Yorker give the entire editorial staff an extended summer holiday? I fear the answer must be yes based on the 6 pages or so of space wasted on John Lanchester’s story, Money Talks, in the August 4 issue. (Free access for the rest of the summer.)

Lanchester doesn’t like the language of finance. He says of it, “You are left wondering whether somebody is trying to con Continue reading

What if it is a myth?

The Management Myth:
Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong
Matthew Stewart

MythSome things are too important to be left to the experts. Arguably that includes running a business. Matthew Stewart, I think, might agree with that statement.

Stewart is a penitent, former management consultant. There is an entire sub-genre of management consulting tell-alls that usually leaves one wondering why such firms persist given how poorly they treat their clients. Stewart’s book avoids being merely Continue reading

In the Land of the Blind

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
Michael Lewis

Welcome home, laddie.

The Big ShortThose of a certain age might remember that seemingly hot on the heels of  Bonfire of the Vanities came Liar’s Poker, a first-hand view of life inside one of the then-dominant Wall Street firms, Salomon Brothers. That fly on the wall look at the shenanigans within the firm that invented mortgage-backed securities was penned by a 20-something Princeton grad turned bond salesman. And for those of us casting a jaundiced eye upon Yuppiedom it had particular resonance.

Michael Lewis went on to become a best-selling author tilling the fields of Continue reading