Business

Thoughts on the Search Business

I‘ve been ruminating recently — one tends to do that at a certain stage in life — about the business I’m in: executive search. It’s a nice business, especially if you enjoy introducing interesting, talented people to other interesting talented people, which I do, and don’t mind rejection, which I don’t. The business is…

Why Are We So Afraid of Democracy? Part III

I’m arguing that there are three main reasons why our faith in democracy has taken a hit in recent years. The first reason is the deadlock in Congress that has everybody so frustrated. But as I pointed out, this isn’t a US phenomenon, it’s a global phenomenon. And it’s persisted…

Should We Go Fishing for PayPal?

Recently PayPal announced the cancellation of a planned operations center in North Carolina resulting from the passage of North Carolina HB2 (the “bathroom” bill). The reasons a company chooses a particular location to establish a facility are complex, but I believe Pittsburgh offers practically everything that was to be found…

Why Are We So Afraid of Democracy? Part II

Profound disagreements among the voting public have led, as noted in my last post, to profound disagreements in Congress. This has, naturally enough, led in its turn to a substantial decline in collegiality, willingness to compromise, and even civility in that not-​so-​august body. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that…

Why Are We So Afraid of Democracy?

Recently I debated Ben Bernanke about Fed policy since the Financial Crisis.(1) But even before the event I already knew how it would go. We’d all be very polite, very thoughtful, very respectful. Otherwise, we might be mistaken for The Donald. Some people would agree with me and some would…

Time for a change

I can see the eye roll coming. How did I become the old shrew? Was it the cumulative effect of all those times I naively worried that an absent employee had been in a car wreck only to have them show up 30 minutes late with a mochachino in hand…

Getting away from it all

“You need a vacation.” It’s bad enough when we hear it from our family members, worse when our employees feel compelled to tell us, and downright embarrassing when a regular client or customer points it out. Despite our best efforts, the physical and mental wear and tear of business ownership…

Who’s afraid of Obamacare?

In 1998, Bob McCafferty set out to start a business that would pay the bills and give him more free time to go camping. He bought a run-​down funeral parlor dating to the 1850s. For the next several years, he spent nights restoring the building while holding down jobs as…

The export dilemma

As the Shale-​driven production of natural gas has expanded in recent years, so too has the demand from much of the industry to unleash that resource on the world market. And that chorus of voices calling for the United States to use gas from fields like the Marcellus to tap…

The sweet trouble of success

The hazards of good fortune in business are many: the physical toll of the added work, the mental toll of rethinking everything you’ve come to know, the psychic toll of raised expectations. They combine for a perfect storm that one feels guilty begrudging because the upsides of fame and fortune,…

A century of safety

It was June 1914 when John T. Ryan Sr. and George Deike, two federal mine rescue engineers horrified by the carnage they’d seen in coal mine explosions, formed a company dedicated to making the industry safer. Ryan and Deike enlisted the services of no less a luminary than Thomas Alva…

The Equilibrium Illusion

Balance, n., a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. What an elusive state. Just the constant weighing and evaluating required to attempt balance is exhausting. My mind races: I should be working on improving the bakery’s website… no, I should be at my kids’…

Passing the test

Think you’d like to be CEO of a major corporation? Best get ready for this test: The employer informs you that over the next day and a half, you’re the leader of a hypothetical company. You prepare by reading reams of hypothetical reports generated by your hypothetical company. As you…

Angry customers

I am yelling at you because it is so rare that I can ever speak to anyone in charge!” the customer bellowed before ultimately chuckling.

Credit card fraud

“Lara, I’m at the checkout at Restaurant Depot and my credit card has been declined,” says our delivery driver on the other end of the phone. Ugh. I know what this means. It’s not that the bakery is short on funds. It’s that one of our credit cards has been…
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