Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stryo Cups and No-Shows

I must admit to being a little cranky this morning…and I hope that it’s not contagious. The reason I mention this, actually, is so that you and I can take this journey together, from cranky to perhaps comfortably numb, if not at least somewhat mollified for having gone through the process together.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re miffed about something? You go tell a friend, right? You tell your wife, your husband, your girl friend or boy friend, your best friend…and sometimes, just the exercise of venting your spleen to someone else releases the toxins of frustration that have built up.

This morning we have no coffee cups.
That’s not a major deal in the overall scheme of things, but you who are creatures of habit can identify with our frustration. I don’t even drink coffee.
But during the course of the morning’s show, I do like to keep a Styrofoam cup of cold, clear water here on the counter next to my real Radio microphone.

No cups.

So I’m a little peeved that at some point in the morning, the ol’ Dry Mouth is going to hit, and there’ll be nothing with which to wet my whistle.

That set the mood in which we had to deal with another little issue this morning…

One of our scheduled guests this morning was to have been former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, who has a new autobiography out called, “The Real Deal: My Life in Business and Philanthropy,” by Sandy Weill and Judah S. Kraushaar.

This happens more than you might realize—we get a big name guest lined up, and then the appointment caves for one reason or another. I seldom mention it. We just keep on going to the next signpost.

This morning is different because I put in considerable effort to prep for Sandy Weill’s segment…only to be called by the publicist we work with, ten minutes before air time, to learn that Sandy Weill’s publicist got confused between Eastern and Central Time Zones, and double booked her boss.

I’m just a little bit torqued.
Here’s a guy who was the poster child for excessive executive pay, who has now co-written his version of his life in an effort, I suppose, to counter the mountains of bad publicity he generated for himself while at Citigroup. To be fair, Weill's life story would make a pretty interesting screenplay.

We were willing to take the segment because there are questions we’d like to ask…like…

While starting Citigroup with $7-million of one’s own money to buy Commercial Credit is an inspiring story, along the way there were also horror stories of poor customer service, and behind the scenes intrigue in the corporate offices. We’d liked to have asked Sandy Weill where night the balance lie between giving investors what they require, and providing employees what they need and deserve for keeping the business running?

We would like to have talked with Sandy Weill about how the market downturn in 2002 revealed many houses of cards, companies with foundations on shifting sands…or with shifty hands, like EnronWorldcom

We would have liked to hear Sandy’s take on the differences of opinion he had with New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer, and what he might have done differently thru all of that, if he had it to do all over again?

Sandy Weill was painted as the poster boy of what is out of kilter with executive pay in business today: at one point as CEO at Citigroup, he cashed $734 million in options over five years. At one point he had 12 million option shares left (worth another $600 million) – on top of a $28 million salary, bonus and restricted stock…with an economic contribution of zero. To give some perspective, at one point Sandy Weill's compensation package was roughly equivalent to the total worth of Cummins Engine.

You’d think he could afford a publicist who could do the mental math between Eastern and Central Time.

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