Volume 33, Number 11, November 1998

"THE BUSINESS"

by Lyle Hill

Do It Yourself . . . Please!

It starts about the 20th of every month. First comes a fax or two . . . then a gentle voice mail message . . . then the direct no nonsense call with some degree of agitation noted. I can’t really blame them. And in fact, they’re much nicer and kinder than I think I would be if our roles were reversed. But then again, our roles are not reversed and so the pressure is ultimately put on me to produce.

Now don’t think for even a minute that I don’t take my responsibility to them seriously. Indeed, I am constantly working for them—pulling a morsel out of a paper, recording notes from some event, or even asking people within the industry for leads or inside information. I’m always stashing stuff away in my drawer for use at a later date, and I’ll bet I start out to finish my assignment on time at least three or four times a month. But you see, starting is never the problem. Finishing is. I guess most of us have that problem whether it involves painting the house, staying on our latest diet or whatever it is we have a tendency to attack with great vigor but never get around to completing. So here I am at 4:20 in the morning trying to make a deadline which is exactly three days ago. So I’ve come up with a plan . . . maybe scheme is a better word. I’ll start the article, and you finish it. And, I’m even giving you two options so you can do whichever one you want. OK . . . here we go!

BANKERS: Don’t ever confuse a banker for a businessman. There’s an old adage in the field of education that goes "Those that can, do . . . and those that can’t, teach." In the realm of commerce and industry, I think this can be modified to say "Those who can compete and survive in the world of business, do, and those who can’t become bankers." Bankers are like money librarians. They have all their little rules and regulations and have very little room for creativity, daring, or entrepreneurial spirit. I don’t think it was always this way and maybe the government is partly to blame. But sometimes I think it’s a marvel that we do as well as we do in this country when you look at the group that’s controlling a large bunch of our money. By the way, I have a couple of relatives and a few close friends in the banking industry, and for the most part, they agree with my position. And for the most part, they went into banking because they felt they would get some degree of job security. They also are the kind of people that do not deal well with stress, confusion, or ambiguity. They’d last about ten minutes in the glass and metal business. Note to reader . . . At this point you tell a humorous story about something dumb that a banker you know once did. It helps if it’s a true story, but feel free to make one up if you have to. Try to make some kind of point but don’t worry if you don’t I never do!

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS: For the most part, mergers and acquisitions are carried out with the belief that the newly-formed, combined entity will be stronger than the individual, separate units. Supposedly, each participant will learn from the other and will capitalize on the strengths of the other. However, it is my observation that sometimes the weaker partner drags the other down to it’s level. This may be particularly true when the weaker partner was the one that did the acquiring. A very attractive but dimwitted young woman once allegedly suggested marriage to George Bernard Shaw stating that their offspring would be unbelievably blessed with his brains and her beauty. "But madam," Shaw replied, "what if they were born with my looks and your intelligence?" As history has taught us, not every match is made in heaven. Note to reader . . . At this point you think about a merger or acquisition that has really gone bad. Do not laugh out loud. You’ve got to stay focused until you’re done with the article.

CLOSING THOUGHT: Get well wishes go out to Jerry Wright of AAA Glass & Mirror in Fort Worth, TX. Apparently one of the deer that Jerry was hunting decided to fight back. He’s now recovering from two broken hips. Use a gun next time, Jerry. You’re too old for hand to hand combat . . . even when the opponent is named Bambi!

OK, that’s it. Thanks for helping me get through this. Talk to you next month.


USG

Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.