As a Harvard Business School MBA, I learned that the leading edge of knowledge about the American psyche can be found in the back rooms of Madison Avenue. Other than the NSA, probably no group is more in tune with American desires than advertisers. They survey, they run focus groups, they look at what’s trending and what’s actually generating sales…and they put their bullets in the marketing guns that will win the battles for their clients.
This morning I opened my day-after-Christmas newspaper and the advertisement pictured below fell out onto my breakfast table. Continue reading “What America Wants…according to Walmart”
The following, in Shonnie Brown’s “Neighbors” column, appeared in The Healdsburg Tribune, our local weekly, on February 9, 2012. [Most of the images were not in the original.]
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Ann, born and raised in Casper, Wyoming, has the dubious distinction of attending high school with both Dick and Lynne Cheney and participating in student government with Dick. Dick, who Ann recalls as being “good looking” back then, wrote “I’ll be your friend forever” in Ann’s yearbook.
Ann attended a Catholic college in Denver and then got married — resulting in a breakup and three kids. She returned to college, putting herself through law school, and then became a New Jersey prosecutor. She moved to the Bay Area in 1984 and Continue reading “Two Lives in a Small Town”
For fairly obvious reasons, Harvard Business School keeps very good track of and contact with its alumni. One of the best things they do is their magazine, HBS Alumni Bulletin. Some of the articles are interesting, okay, uh-huh, but the real reason alumni turn this mag’s pages is the Class Notes. Every class that still has a living member has someone who actively solicits personal stories about those individuals. Much of the blather is routine stuff: “My wife sits on the hospital board. I golf whenever I can. And the kids are struggling to make ends meet in NYC on traders’ salaries.”
I skim those entries, looking for the unusual. Like this in the September 2011 issue from Continue reading “Steve Cotler in Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin”
On a balmy Saturday morning in late-1978, two 30-something brothers boarded a Pacific Southwest Airlines flight in Los Angeles. As they walked up the outdoor stairway into the PSA jet, the two men looked suspiciously like Arab terrorists during a time when Arab terrorism was non-existent. They were traveling under their real names, but to almost any observer they could have been Ali Balak Qatlar and Satif Luwi Qatlar. The former looked deranged, the latter somewhat simple.
Their destination was Oakland, where they would be met by their widowed 61-year old mother. She had decided Continue reading “Sheiks on a Plane”
Within my college circle, a career in business was not an admirable path. When I revealed to my friends that I intended to seek an MBA from Harvard Business School, for the next several meals I became invisible. No one spoke to me. I had died, and they referred to me in the past.
I got my MBA in 1968, and the world was surely different then. In my class of 700, there were only seven women, with not a single one in my section of 100. Fifty women were in the 1970 cohort, and by 2007, the Harvard MBA class was 35% female [source].
One thing hasn’t changed, however: business managers are still viewed as grasping, self-interested, and greedy. Continue reading “MBA Oath — “My purpose is to serve the greater good””
Treswick was a big cat, a bad cat. He was, his owners averred, tres wicked.
It was 1967. I was a first-year graduate student living in Peabody Terrace, the married students’ housing, a walking bridge across the river from Harvard Business School. These were tall, narrow buildings, four units to a floor, all sharing a long narrow balcony that looked east over the Charles River toward Boston. We had the uppermost balcony, a twentieth-floor apartment. When the weather was warm, all four apartments might be open to the balcony, on which rested only two heavy chairs, the frequent strong winds making predictable patio furniture a hazard to ground dwellers.
Treswick lived two apartments away and often walked the parapets, pacing the railing, three feet down on one side, 200 on the other. One evening, Continue reading “A House Cat Murdered My Wife…That’s My Story”