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Thursday, August 13, 2020
Opinion What part of ‘here’ can you not hear?

What part of ‘here’ can you not hear?

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

What part of ‘here’ can you not hear?

 

Despite all of that, [Ron] Johnson and 9 other senior executives, many of whom came with him from Apple, commute to the company’s Plano headquarters via private jet. It was actually part of his agreement with the company that he be permitted to continue living in Palo Alto.

– Business Insider

 

What part of ‘here’ can you not hear?

I have had a rule for many years. No more non-paying board seats for me. I’ve been on plenty of boards and, quite frankly, honored to be asked to serve. But I accepted those back in the days before I realized you could collect $25,000 to $100,000 plus stock grants and options to meet four times a year and listen to executives report about their great success. Often these speeches are occurring while the company’s stock tanks.

Are you listening, RadioShack and American Airlines?

If you are – and there are local residents or former ones on the boards of these companies – then you know what I have been telling you and your new CEOs for the past month.

Your CEOs need to move to Fort Worth. And I mean Fort Worth, not out with the golf pros at Vaquero or in Southlake. Fort Worth.

Definitely, do not go to Dallas. Doug Parker, about to be the new CEO of American Airlines, would be better off staying in Arizona if he is going to live in Dallas.

Move here. Buy a home here. Put your kids in school here. Listen to the folks. Eat breakfast or lunch – hell, eat both – at the Montgomery Street Cafe. Find out what the real people think about your companies.

Live where your employees live.

On March 21, we got to read this story about CEO Ron Johnson and other executives at J.C. Penney who do not live in Texas. They commute on a Gulfstream jet at a cost of more than $41,000 per trip. The story from the Business Insider-War Room Select and linked here says Johnson refused to move. 

The J.C. Penney board should have explained to him when he refused to move that the interview door swung both ways – in and out. Bye, Ron.

Johnson was allegedly a marketing star  at Apple and that is why he was recruited. It’s clear he’s a total flop at Penney’s. Truth is, he might have done better if he had moved to Texas, home of the company’s headquarters. He and his Palo Alto buddies are about as close to J.C. Penney’s customers as they are to denizens of skid row.

I am not sending a bill to either RadioShack or American for this advice.

Insist that your CEOs move to Fort Worth – not just Texas, Fort Worth. RadioShack’s non-executive chairman, Dan Feehan, lives here. He should expect the same of his newly hired CEO, Joseph Magnacca.

On a serious note, one of the problems most often overlooked at troubled companies is the composition of the board. These boards have folks with fancy resumes and those who have worked for big companies – Fortune 500 companies. Give me someone with small-business experience and I will show you someone who knows how to run a business with a common sense, listen-to-the customer approach.

Put some real people, some “C” students and local ones on your boards, American and RadioShack, and you’ll start to get quality advice and direction.

Here’s one of the first things they will tell you:

Working remotely and not living in the community you serve and where your employees live does not work. You have to know your constituency.

 

Contact Connor at rconnor@bizpress.net

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