Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Can We Have This Dance?

It's the season of political dance. The Republicans look a bit lost with their normal waltz, while the Democrats are doing the three-step. The only absolute is the current narrative will change -- over and over and over again.

In the spirit of don't bite the fund raising hand that feeds you, we would like to issue a candidate-CEO pairing. Consider it two parts "Dancing with the Stars" and one part instructional for mere mortals.

Let's start with the Elephants, or Republicans. Mitt Romney (first picture below) talks endlessly about "his experience in the private sector" and "changing Washington." We would suggest pairing him with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who despite popularity and innovation talk, has led during an era when the company's equity has remained virtually flat. Key takeaway: Beware of the platitudes.


New Hampshire winner and Comeback Adult John McCain is similar to Immelt's predecessor, Jack Welch, who ushered in much of business' preoccupation with leadership. Welch and McCain have published a litany of tomes, and their views seem to strengthen and resonate with time. The McCain-Welch pairing stands for experience, which has been unfairly overshadowed by change in the current cycle. If anyone thinks change is anything beyond good campaign rhetoric, then they need to take a couple aspirin and call their history doctor in the morning.

CEOs to pair with the Huckaboo and Mayor Giuliani don't leap to mind. These two are highly communicative, entertaining, funny and as energetic as the best used car salesmen. But that probably sells them too short.

Then there's actor/Senator turned candidate, Fred Thompson, who looks like he would rather be telling dirty jokes out back than running for high office. Chairman and now former CEO Jimmy Cayne at Bear Stearns may strike the greatest resemblance. This pairing desperately needs a week's supply of Red Bull and more hands-on execution.

Turning to the field of Donkeys, or Democrats...

We don't have a current CEO match for O'Bama (closest may have been Stanley O'Neal coming of age as Merrill Lynch's leader back when he first got the job.) Not having a CEO pairing is to O'Bama's advantage -- at least for right now while's new. Think media savvy, charismatic and thin on experience, which we saw our fair share of back during the rock star CEO era.

Clinton resembled former HP CEO Carly Fiorina right up until last night's come from behind win in New Hampshire. Pivoting off a comeback, candidate Clinton has newfound energy to run even the greatest turnaround. Perhaps Andrea Jung at Avon deserves this dance, or better yet, Lou Gerstner, the last notable guy who actually turned a large corporation around?

John Edwards strikes us the quintessential hedge fund trader turned Huck Finn who made all his profits during the last market turn and has simply been re-investing since then. In real life, he was heavily vested with Fortress so this depiction isn't entirely off the mark. The raised up by bootstraps turned multi-millionaire story is inspiring -- especially with John Mellencamp ballads playing in the background. But it all seems a bit hollow when measured against his belongings and thin political track record.

As to Bill Richardson, who arguably has the deepest resume of the entire field, we don't have an adequate CEO pairing for him, either. But he is the king of thoughtful personal views and one-liners (LOL: "I've been in hostage negotiations that were more civil.") That's a rare combination in CEO circles. Maybe John Chambers at Cisco before his second cup of coffee?



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1 comment:

Ellie said...

Good words.

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