Friday, January 16, 2015


What If We’ve Misjudged CEOs?

Contributing Correspondent: Ted Santos
In the 1950s, the US was responsible for about 30% of international trade. Today, the US accounts for only 10%. After WWII, much of the world was in shambles. They depended on the US to supply capital, labor, services and materials. In the 21st Century, those same countries that depended on us are our competitors.
The CEOs of the 1950s had it easy compared to CEOs of the past 20 years. Business was predictable back then. Market size and customer demand grew at a steady and manageable pace. In today’s global market, third world countries have become our competitors and suppliers of raw materials, labor and finished products.
Furthermore, companies like Wal-Mart qualify in size to be one of the top 15 largest countries in the world. Being the CEO of Wal-Mart can be more complex than being the President of the 10th largest country because Wal-Mart’s employees are all over the world, while the President of a country has its citizens in one central geographic location. From that aspect alone, the complexity of serving as CEO to a global enterprise in 2015 towers the challenges of a company from 60 years ago.
With that said, to remain competitive and relevant in a global economy requires thinking and actions that may have never existed in the history of business. As a result, many CEOs have taken risks for which there was no guarantee the new strategy would work.
What am I getting at? The US has been on a witch-hunt for CEOs over the past 20 years. While CEOs are no different than other professions, in that, there are good doctors and bad doctors, good priests and bad priests, etc. The knowledge, skills and competencies required to run a global company with hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of employees is unprecedented in recorded history.
I ask you to consider that there may have been times when the CEO approved a brilliant new plan or service/product that had never been done. And it would give them a competitive advantage. In the beginning, things went well. However, as the success grew, there weren’t sufficient feedback loops to indicate there may be trouble on the horizon. In other cases, good intentions can have negative ripple effects with the various stakeholders.
In addition, in a publicly traded company, these new opportunities can be positive on a short-term basis. Shareholders are happy and the stock price goes up. When a mistake happens, the reaction may be to sweep it under the rug, for the sake of keeping shareholders happy. Over time, the little mistakes become a dead elephant under the carpet. And you get Tyco, Enron or Worldcom. The original intention most likely was benevolent. Except, the organization was not structured to handle unprecedented growth of new products/services. While the old organizational structures were great for business as usual, especially a company from the 1970s and before, they could not support the demands from the past 20 years.
Why does this matter? I ask you to consider that there may be much more benevolence in the intention of CEOs. From the outside, it appears they are greedy. When you are in the seat of the CEO, it appears you need knowledge, skills and competencies that have never been required to run a business. Since we have not had corporations of this size and complexity in world history, there is nowhere to acquire this knowledge.
Therefore, it is made up and learned as on the job training. From that perspective, it is easy to see how good intentions can go wrong. In a world of short-term quarterly demands, CEOs are doing a great job of continuing to grow organizations and competing in the global marketplace.
What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, connect through my blog


Where Are Black Donors?

I'm so tired of expressing this issue of where are the black investors, or the term used in politics, donors? I read periodical after periodical, and within the pages of industry printed materials or be it online, the discussion of who are the major donors to political campaigns and investors in businesses or even educational institutions; there seems to be nothing but white faces, names and organizations. There's never a black presence, at least for others to see. Maybe they are hiding behind doors, afraid to be recognized for giving to everyone but their own. All I know is that they're absent in communities where I live, work and play.

Let me be open and real, I know a few who stand tall amongst the low cut grass. And these few colored men of wealth and influence have supported many political candidates and have infused capital in several community groups, activists and businesses. So to them, the hood thanks you. But they're the few who've committed their resources to the community. The chosen ones who love their hood.
There are so many who continue to ignore where they've come from. They stand silent. The only time I see them is at events, like recently when Chicago's Mayor paraded them out for the world to see during one of his many press junkets to highlight his few accomplishments; as he prepares for re-election. Yep, go to Youtube and you can see who I'm referring too. They are front and center, standing silent and zombie like, but they're there - giving the mayor their endorsements and donations. (Politics as usual)
These publications I subscribe to highlight the new and old faces of respected white and (others) businessmen and women who continue to give. They're sitting around chatting about who they're going to give money too, for what reasons, and what political races and parties. They also discuss their business interests and which start-up companies they're going to invest in. Rather they like the product, goods or services, or they like the position and or personality and style of the up-start hustler. One thing's for sure - they give.
And once they've decided on not one, but multiple selections to invest in or donate to, they then decide how much. The one thing that is clear when they come up with a dollar amount - that there is always more where that came from. So be diligent, patient, and make it work.
I find this amazing. And I must admit, I'm always either jealous or envious each time I read stories like this. Since I'm a serial reader, and observer of TV programs like Bloomberg News, I stay either jealous or envious. Because it's the norm in their communities! I wonder why my community don't function at this high-level capacity. Even if the loot is not as richly flowing through my hood, they're still individuals who quietly have cash on hand. They just decide not to share with their communities.
People, this is why I continue to push the issue of building wealth in the black community. If we have an abundance of riches and a lot of people living wealthy lifestyles, it greater our options of who to tap for cash in times of need. And it doesn't mean that you are begging for hand-outs. This means that you want to utilize hood money to generate more money for the hood.
The other side have people lining up asking or negotiating disbursement of cash to invest or donate to causes or products that will only help their community flourish and progress. So therefore, we can't be afraid to beg or ask. Furthermore, the people with loot can't be scared of giving.
I use the model of the old dude in front of the post office on 77th and Cottage; he constantly begs for spare change each day, with no remorse. But he will ask and ask. And sometimes he even gets me to place some spare change into his rustic hands. I become a black donor. Peace and One Love.
I Write to Differ...

Sunday, October 26, 2014


McDonald's Must Step Up!

This is an open letter to my man Mr. Don Thompson, CEO of McDonald's, the leading fast food franchise in the nation. This company is one that's 'too big to fail.' And that's not a bad thing. What that means is that McDonald's has gotten it right for so long; satisfying tens of billions of customers around the globe since their start decades ago. So they will always have a place in America's heart and history. But things are changing and they most also change. The world is getting bigger and the options for simple, quick and good eats are expanding.
Mr. Thompson, I want to advise you on what I think your celebrated franchise should do, immediately, to save face and hopefully get the Golden Arches back on its game. Take these Works of Words to your stockholders and convince them to act, NOW!
First, before I go any further, let me openly and honestly say that I love McDonald's. I've been eating Big Macs all my life, since I can remember. When my family went on road trips to Mississippi multiple times per year, it was the only thing I wanted to eat. When we made rest stops, there had better be a McDonald's, because I would not eat anything else - and complain until we found that shiny M.
Secondly, Black McDonald's Owner Association (BMOA) is a great client of mine. It was the first company I reached out to support me when I started my business over 12 years ago. Why? Because as I mentioned above, I love McDonald's, and figured since I spent lots of money with them over my life span, thus far, why not try to get some of it back.
Not to mention that it took five years to get them to partner with me. And when the late Cirilo McSween, who was the biggest McDonald's operator in Chicago, expressed an interest in me before his untimely death, it was the start of a great relationship with him and the brand. He's a man I'll never forget.
OK, now back to business. Again, my man Don: you have to take the lead on this issue of raising the minimum wage. Here is why I'm saying that at this time my brother. For three consecutive days this week on Bloomberg News TV, McDonald's has been the running joke of some commentators and guests. They each, for the most part expressed their personal interest in the brand; either they're investors, or like me, long time satisfied consumers of the menu choices. And these were renowned analysis, so their view points count, especially on such a major media outlet.
So after hearing them discuss some of the errors or faults of not only McDonald's, but most of the fast food players in today's market place, who's seeing a decline in walk-ins - it hit me what you and the decision makers must do to stop the bleeding.
Since McDonald's is the number one fast food company, it's imperative that you and the brand take the lead on this very sensitive matter. And with McDonald's as the leader in the game, it's only natural that when this debate about wages comes up, McD and its business practices leads the discussion. So since McDonald's leads the discussion, as well as the target for protesters, why not change the narrative and take the lead like leaders do? Make the change and keep the attention on the brand, but for the right reason.
Don, I want to see you win. You are one of a few black CEOs running a major company in America. Plus you from the Chi. You good people. So STEP out front, raise McDonald's minimum wage. It don't have to be what's suggested, but raise it. Meet in the middle or give the workers 75% of what they've requested. Make headlines. Don't wait. Make a call that shocks the world. Show people what leadership really means. Make history!
And bro., when the smoke clears, you and McDonald's will be champions of the common laborer and your customers will applaud you. And guess what? I bet the majority of your current and future customers will welcome in a (slight) increase to their favorite numbered choice meal. I know I will. Plus, I get mine back anyway. Peace and One Love..... I Write to Differ