We accept our responsibilities as a corporate citizen in community, national and world affairs; we serve our interests best when we serve the public interest. . . . We acknowledge our obligation as a business institution to help improve the quality of the society we are part of. We want to be in the forefront of those companies which are working to make the world a better place.
The use of the cloak of social responsibility, and the nonsense spoken in its name by influential and prestigious businessmen, does clearly harm the foundations of a free society. . . . there is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.
— Milton Friedman, 1970
Founder of the “Chicago school of economics” 
 In this article he quoted himself, “there is one and only one … without deception or fraud.” from Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – Deluxe Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. 133. (First published in 1962.)
Also, “[A] corporate executive is an employe [sic] of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible. . . . The whole justification for permitting the corporate executive to be selected by the stockholders is that the executive is an agent serving the interests of his principal.”
–Milton Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” The New York Times Magazine (Sept. 13, 1970), p. 32-33, 122-124.
The “prison experiments” by psychologist Philip Zimbardo show “that ethical problems in organizations originate not with “a few bad apples” but with the ‘barrel makers’—the leaders who, wittingly or not, create and maintain the systems in which participants are encouraged to do wrong.”
–Warren Bennis &
James O’Toole in Harvard Business Review June 2009
My new novel Crimes of Cunning exposes the roots of some serious problems in today’s largest organizations. I much prefer owner-operated business, like those of my executive coaching clients–and independent booksellers.
I will be supporting Small Business Saturday™ with a book signing and reading at Reston’s favorite bookstore. Please join me there on the Saturday after American Thanksgiving.
Someone posted the most amazing review of my book. Not only is the writer not my mother, I’ve never even met him.
Did I laugh out loud? Yes, a lot, but this novel is not pure comedy. There will be many interpretations about the heartbeat of this story because it’s written in such a way that each reader will get hooked in his/her own personal way. I see it as a story of … <click here to read the rest>
I reminded myself that we were in a well-lit office, not a dark alley. No need to get aggressive yet. I relaxed my jaw and tried to keep the fear out of my voice as I replied, “If you pull my people off your project, there’s no way you’ll meet the delivery date.”
My client looked at me blandly, as if he had delivered a weather forecast. In fact, he had devastated my sales forecast. Five fewer of my consultants billing their time to this client meant there was no way I would meet quota to earn my bonus. I needed him to engage with me. I forced a response with a direct question that was also a threat. “Did Juan approve this staffing cut?”
“Why would I check with Juan?” asked the Director of Information Systems Development (ISD) for Billing Systems. He ran his finger down a page of the MCI internal directory as he spoke, “Nobody (more…)
Of all the management tools I recommend, one of the most effective is both very simple and very unlikely to be consistently employed—if it is used at all: the written progress report, completed on a consistent schedule.
The power of progress reports to promote results and reduce anxiety is demonstrated daily, on matters titanic and trivial. The U. S. Constitution requires that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Public companies are required by law to present results to shareholders, at fixed intervals and in specific formats. Schools send regular reports to parents, our GPS tells where we are, and UPS sends a text when a package arrives.
Still, managers and employees resist implementing this simple process.
Who cares about why? Just grow up and start doing a progress report. Declare your goals. Confront your results. Adjust to living in reality. Enjoy the benefits of clarity while the less disciplined fail and fail in a fog of vague expectations and inchoate regrets.
Before I explain how to format and prepare a good progress report, let’s deal with some common excuses questions.
* What changed in the 1980s that made so many of today’s jobs inhumane
* How consulting to MCI inspired the story
* Influence of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
* Tools for Personal Transformation
* Choosing a stand or “Way of Being”
* The useful coaching concept of “game”
* How physical spaces engender specific behaviors
* How personal relationships can enrich business effectiveness
* Transform pain and disappointment into growth
* Finding time and focus to write a novel
* Pre-meeting meetings and after action reviews
* The “Slow / Fast” Method vs. typical business behavior
* Tony’s next book: “The Conversation Contract”
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Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be corporate cowboys. Or make ’em be bankers and lawyers and such.
In the 1980s, I was a minor participant in major trends that would blow up the world economy in 2008, determine the dehumanizing workplace culture of today, and establish the Wall Street plutocracy that still guides governments and blames the poor for the plight of the middle class. Our descent began in the eighties, from endless e-mails to mind-numbing meetings, deregulated banks to defunded pensions, mortgage-backed securities to job insecurity, hedge fund royalty to vanishing loyalty, private equity to income inequality, even Starbucks ubiquity and business books’ vacuity.
I reluctantly admit that I eagerly supported every aspect of it. I ate the dog food and drank the Kool-Aid™. I believed in and tried to practice the free market economics and financial engineering I had been taught at the University of Chicago. I worked nights and weekends at an investment bank to help create a trading platform for one of the first derivatives. I willfully immersed myself in the toxic corporate culture of MCI. I was a true believer who gave thanks to capitalist economists Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, cowboy capitalists Bill McGowan and Michael Milken, and most of all to cowboy president Ronald Reagan for making the 1980s “Morning in America.”
I was wrong. Now, I am mourning for America. This novel, detailing a descent and incipient redemption similar to my own, is partial penance and restitution. I hope this story encourages my readers to make better choices and a better world than I did.
After experiencing MCI, I began my search for a way of working that encouraged people to produce results while feeling appreciated, connected, and healthy. That quest made me an executive coach and gave me a life dedicated to workplaces of humanity and prosperity.
Lurking amongst the thousands of words in this book are a few dozen that are considered profanity, including certain stalwart Anglo-Saxon four letter words beginning with f and s. Since a major goal of this story is to convey a sense of the time and environment in which events are set, I chose to use herein the exact, if impolite, language I heard and occasionally used. I regret any upset or disturbance this accuracy may cause the sensitive reader but expressing your objection is likely to incite the author to use these very same words in reference to the complainant.
Fast-paced, funny, and smart. This novel puts you into the world of a young MBA striving to succeed at a famous high-tech company. Brash and confident yet comically inept, Tony clashes with colleagues, clients, and even his biggest supporters. He fires his most loyal employee, derails the career of his only friend, and nearly destroys his young marriage before transforming from chilly corporate collaborator to empathetic executive coach. Laugh and learn as his clients turn criminal, corporations collapse, and compassion triumphs.
It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social-betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence.
–Theodore Roosevelt, 1901
A veteran executive coach draws on his years inside Arthur Andersen, Wall Street, and MCI to share a moving story that explains why your 401k shrank, your house is underwater, and your job stinks. The comedy and conflict illustrate management methods and personal practices that can improve your career and deepen your personal relationships.