Friday, October 24, 2008


The smirk on my face all but got wiped out when I saw the University of Colorado 2005 report [‘Worker wellbeing and supervisor gender’] which confirmed beyond doubt that “working in a more female dominated environment” was truly beneficial for employee health! Chauvinist that I was, I couldn’t digest the fact that finally, to get ‘healthier’, I had to work under – of all blistering barnacles – a female boss!!! I mean, there obviously had to be better methods to get healthier than getting fried in the devil’s pan, right?! And there began the quest of my team members to escape perdition.

In fact, if one thought that not having a female boss would lead to productivity losses, the National Business Group on Health [representing 185 companies, primarily Fortune 500 firms covering more than 40 million workers...] shows how, for US firms, “...productivity loss resulting from... smoking related diseases cost a staggering $157 billion every year.” [In fact, the Purdue University’s Health Care Special Report puts this at a killing $234 billion]. This dirge is just the tip. The US Office of Technology & Assessment conclusively proved [in ‘Burden of Tobacco on Your Workplace’] that smokers averaged a whopping 300% more sick leaves than non-smokers. Seattle University showed how “the propensity for smokers to become disabled and retire early is almost 600% greater than for non-smokers!” But what left me stunned was this incredible research of Cappelli, Pauly & Lemaire of Wharton, [‘The Effects of Obesity, Smoking & Drinking...’] who quote that “obese individuals have 30%-50% more chronic medical problems than those who smoke or drink heavily!”

The authoritative US National Bureau of Economic Research and Chicago GSB confirm in their benchmark September 2008 paper that “expenditures on health care in the US are likely to rise from a current level of about 15% to about 29% of GDP by 2040.” That is a mind boggling $3 trillion even at current prices! So are global firms getting worried? Hewitt Associates’ April 2007 survey found out after surveying 8 million workers that now 77% of firms are “profiling chronic health conditions prevalent in their workforce!” This figure was a mere 43% just a year back. Without doubt, employee health & productivity are perfectly correlated! Period! GEMI, a top non-profit research firm with Fortune 500 firms as members, irrefutably proves [in ‘Clear Advantage: Building Shareholder Value’] that excellence in health [and even environment and safety issues] can add dramatically to shareholder value by almost 50 to 90%, apart from reducing operational and capital costs [16% less for high performing companies, as per the noted Towers Perrin ‘2008 Health Care Cost Survey’].

So who should take the blame for all the productivity losses occurring due to bad health habits? The big league Watson Wyatt covered 5 million workers in their stupendous 2005/2006 survey [‘Staying@Work: Employee Health...’] and established that a compelling 74% of organisations believe that “their employees should be held accountable.” Weyco Inc, a top health care firm, now has a policy of throwing out employees even if they smoke at home. BusinessWeek’s February 2007 cover story shows how the ‘totally-smoke-free’ $2.7 billion Scotts Co. throws out its employees for failing nicotine detection tests [for which, Jack Welch exclaimed to Scotts’ CEO Jim Hagedorn, “Man, you have balls of steel!”]. Tell me now boys, after reading all this, doesn’t it occur to you that there are obviously better ways to improve productivity than to have female bosses?! Tony, to have the guts to say yes, all you will need, like the thrice-married Jack mentions above, are two metallic spheres! Got them?


Friday, October 10, 2008


Narcissistic! That’s how it was described. I found myself staring at the report quite disbelievingly. But I should have known, the warning signs had already been there for years. You tell me, would you ever like such a person around you, especially as your superior – a person who dominates meetings, a pathetic listener, not at all showing empathy, with a clear distaste for helping others and one who believes in giving vainglorious visionary speeches? In fact, would you want your CEO to be a narcissist?

Well, I’ve seen such losers all around. This man was born to a teenage unwed girl, who gave him up for adoption! A dropout from the Illinois University, he’s known for his ultimate arrogance, and has not spared even his family members, what to talk about employees. The four times married – thrice divorced – man once boasted to BusinessWeek many years back, “As long as Stanford keeps turning out beautiful 23 year old women, I will keep getting married.” His best friend, not surprisingly, is Steve Jobs, another temperamental leader with many similarities [including being put up for adoption and being a dropout]. Till date, this man doesn’t know who his real father is. Another friend, Andy Grove, warns in the BusinessWeek report, “I would beware of him as a businessman,” while Gates adds, “His hype has expanded to fill his ego.” In 1977, he founded Software Development Labs. From 1986 till late 2008, he has made its shareholder wealth grow by 950% to a super $102 billion!!! His vision is stupendous. His objectives are as arrogantly audacious as his attitude. He’s the 14th richest person in the world. His company is better known as Oracle. He’s Larry Ellison, my vainglorious visionary, whose biography is titled, ‘The Difference Between God & Larry Ellison: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison!’

But does one example prove the complete hypothesis? Unbelievably, ivy league research now supports the concept that visionary leaders are narcissistic. In fact, considered amongst the ‘Best of HBR’ is their 2004 report, ‘Narcissistic Leaders – The Incredible Pros...,’ that says, “Many leaders dominating business today have a narcissistic personality. That’s good news for companies that need passion and daring to break new ground.” The report confirms that productive narcissists – like Welch, Soros etc – have “the audacity to push through massive transformations..., and have compelling, even gripping visions” due to their intense desire to compete and – through their awe inspiring speeches – have the capacity to inspire scores of people, despite their being poor listeners, lacking empathy and hating criticism. Professors Chatterjee and Hambrick of Penn University proved in their spectacular May 2006 paper, ‘Narcissistic CEOs...’, that narcissism in CEOs “is significantly positively related to several company outcomes, including strategy dynamism...”

Think about it. From the sniggery “You’re fired!” Donald Trump to the volcano-headed Steve Jobs, from the shoot-from-the-hip Michael Eisner [Disney CEO, added 2747% to shareholders’ wealth from 1984 till 2005, when he quit] to the don’t-know-don’t-care Roberto Guizueta [CEO, Coca Cola, 7100% increase, 1981-1998], the world’s top CEOs have been atrociously egotistical. Which brings me back to the report I started with at the top of this editorial. Lest you be mistaken, the report did not pertain to my ego-state [Oh please, I’m married; not a visionary!]. It was my irritating cook’s. His annual checkup – on which my money got wasted – threw up what I always knew. The ego-maniac is pompous, cooks up visionary unpalatable dishes, hates criticism, is a pathetic listener, and goddammit, behaves like a CEO all the time!