Category Archives: Leadership

Five leadership lessons from Arsene Wenger

By Kier Wiater-Carnihan Monday, 29 October 2012

Arsene Wenger has managed Arsenal for fourteen years straight. Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson is the only manager to have spent longer at his current club. So how can you emulate the staying power of the man they call ‘Le Professor’?

1. Make your name synonymous with your brand

‘Who?’

That was the headline in the Evening Standard when Arsène Wenger arrived in London in 1996 following two years in the managerial wilderness at Japanese side Nagoya Grampus 8. Tony Adams, Arsenal’s then captain, recalls thinking, ‘What does this Frenchman know about football? He wears glasses and looks more like a schoolteacher’. An inspirational leader on the pitch but a hopeless alcoholic off it, Adams defined a club thirsty for both success and the strong stuff, riddled with epic drinking sessions, out of control gambling, eating competitions and cocaine abuse (and that was just Paul Merson’s pre-match warm up).

Now it is Wenger who defines Arsenal. He immediately replaced the card schools and liquid lunches with dieticians and acupuncturists, bringing a continental outlook to the club and developing a free-flowing, attacking style of play. Fans under twenty-years-old haven’t known the club without him, and his association with the Arsenal brand is so strong that even a distinct lack of recent success hasn’t threatened to sever it. If you can achieve that level of personal identification with a brand – think Sir Stuart Rose and M&S, O’Leary with Ryanair – your position will be similarly unshakeable.

2. A beautiful game is less important than a beautiful balance sheet

For the last seven seasons, Arsenal have come about as close to winning trophies as the government has to implementing successful economic policy but the board remains absolutely delighted with Wenger’s work. When American real estate billionaire and sports mogul ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke took a controlling stake in the club four years ago, some suggested he might want to bring in his own man. From a financial point of view, he’d have been mad to do so. An investor looking to profitably navigate the sheik ‘n’ oligarch dominated, regulation-light ‘Wild West’ of British football couldn’t choose a better steward than Wenger. An economics graduate in an environment where possessing anything beyond a GCSE is a rarity, his attention to fiscal detail is unwavering.
Most importantly for the balance sheet, he’s also taken Arsenal into the lucrative Champions League every season since he arrived. At last week’s AGM, an increasingly fractious affair, he reiterated his belief that qualification for the competition is more important than winning a domestic trophy. Driving home the fact that Arsenal FC now plays second fiddle to Arsenal Holdings PLC, chairman Peter Hill-Wood later insisted that it had been ‘an extremely good year’ for the club, a statement that was met with derision by many fans.

And as long as Wenger continues to get the team into the Champions League, he’ll be richly rewarded. With an estimated annual salary of €9m, ‘Le Boss’ currently takes home a higher salary than Sir Alex Ferguson (€8.5m). The latter, it’s worth pointing out, has won four league titles, three league cups and a Champions League since Arsenal’s FA Cup victory on penalties against Manchester United in 2005. It goes to show that shareholders are generally less worried about competitors’ successes if their own bank balance is firmly in the black.

3. Invest in youth, but don’t expect loyalty

Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie; all signed by Arsenal at a young age as virtual unknowns (Fabregas had never even played first-team football) but all sold for many times their initial fees. Along with players like Thierry Henry, they owe a large part of their careers to Wenger’s confidence and nurturing, while he in turn has benefited from the policy of targeting younger players – identifying a talent early is much more cost-effective than trying to compete for the biggest names, especially when your rivals can out-spend you.

However, while the top players Wenger develops frequently talk up his significant influence on their careers, many still seem to end up taking said careers elsewhere. Every close season seems to bring a transfer saga more tedious and predictable than even the most protracted of Eastenders storylines, inevitably ending with another high-profile exit. The club may make a huge return on these players, but fans would argue that £20m-worth of profit on van Persie might not be as valuable as, you know, actually having van Persie. Sadly, while harnessing young talent and launching fledgling careers is satisfying and can be profitable, you must be hard-nosed and recognise that team members will move on.

4. It’s great to have a philosophy, but don’t stick to it too rigidly

There’s no denying that Wenger’s Arsenal has produced some fine football over the years. Yet Wenger’s preferred formula of favouring technical superiority over tactical pragmatism seems to fail increasingly frequently. Partly this is because Arsenal doesn’t possess the same level of collective technical ability as they once did, but it’s also because other teams have learnt how to stifle and frustrate them. Yet Wenger continues to send his team out in the same formation, playing the same tactics, in virtually every game. It’s like going out every day in a crisp pair of suede shoes regardless of the weather forecast – sure you’ll look fantastic most of the time, but when it starts raining you’ll look like a berk.

You can’t assume that a certain strategy which brings rewards for a while will remain effective forever. Arsenal’s consistent financial prudence is different – their spending power has been hampered by the huge expense of building the Emirates Stadium, thanks to a few less-than-lucrative commercial deals. It is also partially an attempt to future-proof the club against Uefa’s planned Financial Fair Play directive, under which clubs will face strict penalties if they fail to control their debts. If FFP were to be brought in tomorrow, Arsenal would pass with ease while their rivals would struggle to hide the liabilities loading down their ledgers. Sadly there’s no guarantee that said rivals wouldn’t find a loophole to worm their way through, but if the FFP arrives bearing teeth then Arsenal’s financial strategy will look very smart indeed.

Wenger’s work to get the club into that position is why he’s one of the only football managers you’d trust to run an actual business. Few of his peers could’ve kept a team so near the top of the Premier League while financing a huge new stadium, and for that he deserves credit. However, just as some Gunners have misgivings about their football club being run like a business, you’d generally be wise to avoid running your business like a football club. No one wants a Glasgow Rangers on their hands after all.

5. Delegation is not a sign of weakness

In 2006, Wenger hired former Arsenal defender Martin Keown on a temporary basis to help out the coaching staff. That year, despite their defence being heavily depleted through injury, Arsenal embarked on a record-breaking run of ten consecutive Champions League matches without conceding a goal, leading to a début appearance in the season’s show-piece finale. Keown was widely perceived as being pivotal in tightening a previously leaky defence, yet his services were not retained the following season. Arsenal have not been close to a Champions League final since.

Pat Rice’s replacement as assistant manager, Steve Bould, had partnered Keown in a mean central defence as a player, and received similarly praise for shoring up Arsenal’s defence at the beginning of this season, with the team conceding just three goals in their opening six matches. However, this newly found steel seems to have dissolved of late. Former player Stewart Robson has suggested the sudden loss of form stems from a rumoured rift between Bould and Wenger. ‘I hoped that [Bould] would do more with the defence,’ Robson admitted, ‘but I’m not sure whether he’s being allowed to do that by Arsène Wenger’.

Wenger is sometimes painted as an inflexible control freak and perhaps a part of it is simply an effort to keep his job secure – the more he does himself, the harder it is for one man to replace him. Other staff being credited for on-field triumphs could also be viewed as a threat. Still, MT would advise against autocracy. ‘Always employ people who are smarter than you,’ goes the old adage. Not only does this strategy reap greater rewards in the long run, but AGMs will be a whole lot less volatile too…

Leave a comment

Filed under Champion, Leadership, Management, success

Richard Branson

Image

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do

Leave a comment

June 13, 2012 · 5:30 pm

If Steve Jobs Had Applied His Talents To Energy And Climate Change

FC Expert Blog

By Boyd Cohen

Steve Jobs created innovative products that change the world of technology. Imagine the other industries he could have disrupted.
The anecdotes and stories of Steve Jobs’ career continue to pour in, with the sad news of a life cut too short by cancer. Like many Fast Company readers, I have been a fan of what Steve Jobs and Apple have managed to do over the past decade or so. I also own an iPad 2, an iPhone 4, and a MacBook Air. As has been written many times, Jobs’s genius helped Apple to reinvent at least three different industries (computing, mobile phones, and music).

I began to reflect today on what Steve Jobs meant to those industries he reinvented. Even competitors like Bill Gates have praised Steve for how he has innovated and changed the face of so many industries. He set a high bar inside Apple and forced his competitors to “innovate or die.” Given that my focus is on profitable innovations for the low-carbon economy, I thought it would be interesting to consider what the U.S. would look like if Steve Jobs had applied his passions to reinventing the energy industry and related systems.

Passion and Commitment to Change the World
The first thing we know is that Jobs would have been relentless in his pursuit to reinvent the ways that we interact with, consume and produce energy. Steve Jobs only spent mental energy on big ideas that could change the world that he was truly passionate about: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking,” he said. And: “Try to make a difference in this world and contribute to the higher good. You’ll find it gives more meaning to your life and it’s a great antidote to boredom.”

Telling the Right Story–It’s Not About Climate Change, Stupid
One of the biggest failures of the environmental and climate change movement has been its lack of proper storytelling. One of the best attempts to tell the story about climate change was Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth book and movie project. I have to give him props for raising awareness of climate change by trying to explain, sometimes with some technological wizadry, why the climate is changing and why humans are partially to blame.
However, if Steve Jobs were Al Gore, he would have done this completely differently. He would not try to scare people with the doom and gloom of climate change. If Steve Jobs wanted to change the dialogue and collective consciousness about this challenge, he would have done it in a way that inspires optimism and excitement about the convenient solutions that will make our lives better. My friend Peter Byck has tried to do this through his documentary, Carbon Nation, and my co-author Hunter Lovins and I tried to do the same with Climate Capitalism. But imagine if Steve Jobs were telling the story about how much better his new GPS and smart grid-linked EV mass transit system would allow us to get anywhere we wanted to go, faster and smarter than we ever have before.

He Would Make Public Transit Exciting
North Americans generally think that public transit sucks. And to be honest, most of our public transit systems are pretty bad–we often see long waits for buses that are frequently late at stops that are exposed to the elements, and are usually still stuck using the same roads that all the other vehicles use (meaning they aren’t very fast, either). I am convinced that if Steve Jobs had been in the role of, say , Mayor of Los Angeles, he would have introduced some radical innovation to the public transit system, making it cooler than using your own car.
Trying to channel Steve Jobs is impossible, but whatever his solution, I bet it would be faster than single occupancy vehicles, make more use of smart technology, be powered by renewables, generate more energy than it consumed, and send excess energy back to a brilliant grid.
And what would a discussion about Steve Jobs’ talents be without considering how he might bring his design aesthetic to any innovation? Transit would be cool because he would design it to be so. It would be sleek and sophisticated, yet simple. Touch screens would allow passengers to know exactly when their transit vehicle was arriving and when they would arrive at their destination, thanks to GPS and other tools we haven’t thought of yet.
A Brilliant (Not Just Smart) Grid
I recently wrote about the challenges of smart grid adoption in the U.S.–something that poses the potential to revolutionize how we produce, distribute and consume energy. If Steve Jobs were the CEO of an energy company, even a mainstream oil and gas company like Shell, I think he would have seen the writing on the wall a long time ago and made a major shift into renewables as well as the convergence of IT and energy. He would convert a company focused on outdated paradigms into the next big thing, turning the potential smart grid into a brilliant grid.
In his words: “Innovation has no limits. The only limit is your imagination. It’s time for you to begin thinking out of the box. If you are involved in a growing industry, think of ways to become more efficient; customer friendly; and easier to do business with. If you are involved in a shrinking industry-get out of it quick and change before you become obsolete; out of work or out of business. And remember that procrastination is not an option here. Start innovating now.”
And of course there would be large scale adoption of the brilliant grid technology because again, it would be easy and maybe even fun to use. The design of the systems used by consumers (i.e. smart meters and appliances) would be so intuitive and elegant that no one would even think about complaining about low-level radiation from smart meters technology. Smart meters would become the thing everyone needs to have in their home.
I know that Steve Jobs had his critics. But more often then not he proved them wrong. He was a once-in-a-generation genius at reinventing industries. Through his storytelling and innovation skills, he easily could have reinvented the dialogue about climate change, changed public perception and use of public transit, and accelerated the adoption of a super smart grid. Maybe there is someone else on the horizon who will be the next generation’s Steve Jobs, prepared to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems– water and food shortage, climate change and energy. If there is, they probably wouldn’t use focus groups either.

Boyd Cohen, Ph.D., LEED AP, is a climate strategist helping to lead communities, cities and companies on the journey towards the low carbon economy. Dr. Cohen is the co-author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Challengers, Change, climate, Creative, Development, Leadership

Mazur: John Deuss Oil Trader Max Bernegger Speaks

Monday, 18 December 2006, 2:12 pm  Article: Suzan Mazur

Max BerneggerI remember Max Bernegger’s disarming smile the day he walked through the doors at Alexandra Christie, the 1970s fashion company owned by Dutch oil trader John Deuss — where I was the model. Max was expensively tailored in a dark suit. I had no idea who he was, but I was certain he was not there to write an order for slinky silk chiffon dresses.

Max Bernegger was the man behind fashion icon Norman Norell – America’s Balenciaga – for many years. He moved with the confidence of a great image maker. However, to my shock and dismay, Max had come to shut down the Alexandra Christie company. And when I found out, his smile seemed somehow inappropriate.

I would later discover that his philosophy about success in life was to embrace failure and triumph over it. Maybe it was a lesson that came from a lot of bruised knees on the soccer field in his native Switzerland where he played semiprofessional ball as a kid.

I don’t think I ever saw Max Bernegger again after those three fateful days when he rolled up the bolts of silk chiffon and took the mannequins for their last spin in the showroom’s mirrors.

But, we did have subsequent conversations. And he did introduce me to John Deuss after he took a position with Deuss’ JOC Oil Company. In fact, Max became John Deuss’ star oil trader. [ John Deuss’ Editors On Record On The Man]

Max Bernegger has now retired from the oil business. He did not know about the Deuss First Curacao International Bank scandal when I reached him by telephone a few days ago. Our conversation follows:

TRANSCRIPT BEGINS:

Suzan Mazur: What was it about Dutch oil man John Deuss that made you toss your high profile fashion industry career in the 1970s for the clang of JOC Oil’s telex machines? For years you were the man behind legendary fashion designer Norman Norell.

Max Bernegger: I didn’t know much about John Deuss before he interviewed me. It was 1974 and Deuss was looking for an advisor for his fashion business. He had a fashion house at 550 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan called Alexandra Christie, which of course is where you and I met. John Deuss – The Manhattan projects]

The advisor position lasted three days, because after reviewing Alexandra Christie’s performance I suggested that John close the doors of the company. The clothes were pretty but the company lacked structure. John would have had to sink a lot more money into the business to turn it around.

Deuss weighed my decision and said to me, “Well Max, if we close the fashion business, you won’t be able to advise us.”

I said, “Look, in good faith I cannot tell you to put more money in.”

And John said, “I’ll make a deal with you. Close the business in three days. I want to hire you for JOC Oil.”

I liked his deal.

Suzan Mazur: Did you ever determine who was in charge at Alexandra Christie?

Max Bernegger: Essentially nobody was in charge. John was being fed a lot of bull about the company’s profile. Plus the designer was a bit wacky, although her sister was one of John’s very competent secretaries. John Deuss did not know the fashion business.

Suzan Mazur: What was it about Deuss that you saw?

Max Bernegger: John Deuss was a very, very exciting type of guy. He had a cool kind of fire. Highly intelligent and without formal education. He didn’t even go to high school as a matter of fact.

Suzan Mazur: Because of the explosives accident he had as a teen? Did he drop out of school?

Max Bernegger: He did not drop out of high school. He never went. He wanted to go out in life and do things. He probably finished 8th grade.

Suzan Mazur: Is that right?

Max Bernegger: He told me that.

Suzan Mazur: As Deuss would say, “Unbelievable!”

Max Bernegger: There’s something very magnetic about him. But you know him too.

He would look into your eyes. He was very, very penetrating. I was really fascinated by him. And of course, he offered me a lucrative job. It was big money at the time.

He put me in charge of establishing the collecting of waste oil in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. The oil fed a refinery he bought in Bayonne, New Jersey. He was reclaiming oil – taking waste oil from cars in garages – and using it as feedstock to produce #3 and #4 heating oil.

There were a lot of crooks involved in collecting this stuff. And you had to be worried about ending up floating in a tank. Honest to God.

Suzan Mazur: Like the scrap metal business? Same characters?

Max Bernegger: Exactly. Most of them you wouldn’t trust across the street. Somehow I was able to convince them to work with us though. I had to be very nice to them. And I can be very nice — as well as a son of a bitch.

Suzan Mazur: You were headquartered though in the Olympic Towers in New York?

Max Bernegger: No. No. No. The Olympic Towers came after I established the network. I was working out in New Jersey, at the refinery in Bayonne, New Jersey. In Bayonne, we had the trucks coming in discharging the waste oil. We had to be very careful. Because these guys would try to cheat you with a lot of water in the waste oil and stuff like that.

Suzan Mazur: So you put away the Valentino suits.

Max Bernegger: It was an unbelievable switch from high fashion to waste oil. It was a lot of fun really. Exhilarating. And the operation became successful. You feel like a winner. You get a lot of confidence.

And John Deuss promised me that two years after the operation became successful, he’d get me into New York trading oil, which I, of course, was looking forward to. That was the incentive for all the hard work, for the 16 and 18 hour days I’d been putting in every day and every weekend.

Suzan Mazur: Did you socialize with John?

Max Bernegger: Oh yes. Lunches, dinners. Travel to Bermuda, to Curacao. Flew with him to Venezuela regarding contracts, etc.

John Deuss in business was unbelievably demanding okay. He demanded even of himself as much as he could possibly. He demanded that you do the same.

Suzan Mazur: But you got along with him.

Max Bernegger: Oh yes. I got along with him. He challenged me a lot of times. At tennis, etc. I was a pretty good athlete myself — I’d played soccer in the National League in Switzerland when I was 15. But I was older than Deuss. He was 31. I was about 42.

I remember one day in Curacao on the way back from Venezuela. He was at the air check about 150 yards away and he challenged me to a race. I beat him. He didn’t like that. It hurt him.

I liked him in business too. But he was tough.

Suzan Mazur: Did you have any knowledge then of the bank in Curacao, First Curacao International?

Max Bernegger: I knew there was a bank. But I had nothing to do with the bank.

The charming thing about John Deuss was, the moment business was over he became private. The most unbelievable guy. Gentle. Friendly. And the most generous person I’ve ever seen.

Just to give you a quick idea. Two years ago, I went to visit Jock Ritchie [John Deuss’ role model, who also served as an officer of JOC Oil] in Florida. Jock’s wife had recently died of Alzheimer’s disease and Jock himself had become forgetful. During the visit with Jock, he told me a story about John Deuss.

Jock told me that he’d wanted to go to Scotland. And Deuss said to him, “Look don’t worry about reservations and all that. I’m going to have my pilots fly you and your wife to Scotland.” Ritchie’s wife was still alive.

And then Deuss said, “When you’re ready to come back, I’ll send the plane to bring you back.” He was generous beyond belief. A really great, wonderful guy.

Suzan Mazur: I know how special it feels. John’s pilots once flew me back alone to New York from Bermuda. I called in to the fashon house – Donald Brooks, I believe – where I was booked that day, to let them know I’d be late, and no one there would believe I was calling from a jet circling Butler Airfield. In fact, they canceled the rest of my bookings.

Max Bernegger: Of course there were times when we had differences. As a matter of fact, I once left John Deuss’ company. He was very unhappy with me about that. But it was because one time he really dressed me down. We were on the telephone with somebody sitting there hearing the whole story. I said, “I don’t need this type of thing anymore.” And I quit.

Suzan Mazur: You quit.

Max Bernegger: I quit. But John Deuss flew back immediately and tried to convince me to reconsider.

Suzan Mazur: What year was that?

Max Bernegger: 1979.

Suzan Mazur: And you stopped working with him when?

Max Bernegger: About 1979.

Suzan Mazur: What was it like trading oil at JOC in the Olympic Towers? A place of great intrigue in the 70s. Aside from Deuss’ oil company, the Arab African International Bank and Chief Executive Magazine on the 19th floor, there was Halston on the 20th floor. And on the residence side of the Towers, arms dealer Adnan Khassoggi shared a floor with Kuwait’s Alghanim family. . .

Max Bernegger: Once in the Towers, I had to learn to trade. I already knew the product from the Bayonne operation. And I knew refining. So it was somewhat easy for me to learn to trade.

Oil trading is nice. But it’s tough. You have to be very, very precise. You have to know what you’re saying. There’s no way of backing out.

And JOC Oil at the time did not have a very good performance reputation in the market place.

Suzan Mazur: I thought it was considered the most important independent oil trader in the late 1970s?

Max Bernegger: In the late 70s yes. But we’re talking now about 1974-75. We had a big struggle to start working with major oil companies like Mobil, Exxon. Phibro wouldn’t deal with us.

So I got the hang of the trading, which didn’t take very long. John Deuss gave you one month, two months to do the job.

I still remember the first Transworld Oil cargo of #2 oil sold. There were only 450,000 barrels. And they were so damned proud to do the deal. I was sweating, making sure I did everything right and proper. And then I had to start rebuilding John Deuss’ trading company, later Transworld Oil.

I established working connections with all the companies in New York. At one time we had a deal with Gulf Oil to buy 10,000 tons of aviation fuel and jet fuel in Curacao and the price in the meantime went crazy.

We had to perform. And Deuss was a little on edge and said, “How do we get out of the deal?”

And I said, “Look, John,” and Jock Ritchie was with me, “we are going to perform on this deal if it costs us a million dollars.” Our reputation was at stake. And he immediately agreed.

I did a deal where I bought Gulf Oil #2 fuel oil in Canada. Picked up some additional heating oil #2 fuel oil from the Venezuelans. And brought it to Australia. Deuss made $4.5 million on that cargo. On a small little nothing cargo.

I put those deals together one after the other. And we did incredibly well. One year I made $100 million profit for TWO.

Suzan Mazur: Can you tell me about the controversial Soviet deal in which Deuss was slow to pay for shipped Soviet oil because the Soviets failed to provide sufficient signatures on the contract?

Max Bernegger: I knew John Deuss owed money to the Soviets. He went to Moscow basically to negotiate and they took his passport away from him. And he called me from Moscow and I was working on another deal and didn’t know about this.

Deuss said, “Max, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Suzan Mazur: That was in what year?

Max Bernegger: I think it was 1975. And he said, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen here.” But somehow he went to the Dutch Consulate and got his passport back and he got out of the Soviet Union.

The only reason I think they let him go was that there were too many people in the Soviet oil company who would lose their heads if the government found out how stupid they were in their dealings with Deuss. They made some major mistakes with Letter of Credit that went beyond the date.

While the Soviets delayed the presentation of the L/C, they increased their crude oil prices — breaking the agreed upon contract — as fully loaded ships were en route to the US. John could really have told them, I don’t owe you anything.

Of course he intended to pay the Soviets. But at the time he was in real trouble. We were happy that he made it back.

Suzan Mazur: You said you don’t agree that he was one of the catalysts in the collapse of the Soviet Union. I mean he’d been an early player in the Soviet Union trading oil and also in the Arabian Gulf.

Max Bernegger: He had the connections to people in the Soviet government who make very important decisions and who were the ones in charge. And when the Soviet Union collapsed, of course, those were the guys who made the money, who were the people you talked to and tried to make deals with. That was the normal thing.

Deuss had less influence and connections in Russia than Marc Rich. Deuss had this strength because Oman was behind him.

Suzan Mazur: What more can you say about the Soviet collapse over oil?

Max Bernegger: The Soviets at that point were influencing markets because they had so much gasoline in the tanks, holding back as much as they could and then letting it loose on the market. Then, of course, the market was suddenly flooded with the stuff and the prices went down.

Suzan Mazur: Do you think Deuss was one of the catalysts in the demise of the Soviet Union?

Max Bernegger: I definitely think he probably saw the thing coming. He’s very very smart. And when the man sees an opportunity before anybody else sees it, then he will seize the opportunity and capitalize on it.

Suzan Mazur: Is Deuss his own master?

Max Bernegger: I think John Deuss is totally independent. His whole way of thinking. He’s a very unique guy who stands on his own. Who will probably make deals with anybody as long as he can profit.. He has no qualms about that. But I have never known him to be beholden to anybody or to any organization.

The only time John Deuss had very strong backing was in the 1980s with Oman. That was organized through a Shell guy. I don’t know who that guy was. [Michael Corrie who introduced spymaster Ted Shackley to John Deuss?]

But the South Africa network was organized long before Deuss knew Ted Shackley. The South African thing was something in which I was involved early on. I made the connection with the international oil company that needed oil in South Africa. But they couldn’t bring it in.

The oil came from Saudi Arabia, but was not allowed to go from Saudi Arabia into South Africa. There was an exchange okay.

The oil could not come from any of the Gulf states. They all boycotted South Africa. The refineries in South Africa were partly owned by US Majors. And they had to feed their refineries. So the deal was that they would deliver to Deuss Saudi light crude. They would sell to Deuss’ Transworld Oil Saudi crude, which TWO would sell on the world market. TWO would then supply non-Saudi crude to the South African refinery.

Deuss had a deal with a Middle East supplier where he could exchange the Saudi crude. Bring Mid Eastern crude to South Africa to a refinery, a partly-owned American refinery. It was altogether legal because it was delivered by an offshore company and by a Mid Eastern willing supplier who would close his eyes to the final destination of the crude.

Suzan Mazur: And how did you feel about world opinion regarding the South African apartheird regime?

Max Bernegger: I knew a few other trading companies that sold oil to South Africa on similar conditions. It is a lousy explanation and certainly not a moral one.

Suzan Mazur: Do you think what’s happened with the bank in Curacao – the carousel fraud VAT-skimming deposits – may have been some type of payback by the Russians for Deuss taking advantage of the missing signature contract of the 1970s?

The bulk of the 2,500 FCIB accounts in question are said to be Russian.

Max Bernegger: I don’t think so. If this was payback by the Russians, it would not have been from that time. Deuss has done deals with the Russians in between. Major deals. With Russian oil companies controlled by the government. I don’t think this was retribution.

There will always be high stakes. Whatever is behind this, which I think is more Deuss being questioned to find out what is happening and who is involved and so forth.

Suzan Mazur: Does it make sense to you that he’s being held for months without charge?

Max Bernegger: It’s totally ridiculous. He went back to Holland, his country, voluntarily to answer questions. That they would put him in custody there is ridiculous. The man is so prominent. If he wanted to flee, he could have flown from Bermuda to another country where there’s no extradition.

And it is outrageous to keep him in custody for months without indicting him and keep him at Christmas. I think they’re just putting tremendous pressure on him to come up with whatever they want to know.

Suzan Mazur: Then you have to wonder why a bank like FCIB gets shut down over financial irregularities while the big banks are maybe penalized by a fine and continue to operate.

Max Bernegger: Because it’s a little bank. If you’re a big bank, say Citibank, it’s a different story. Little banks can get shut down very easily. In the Caribbean there are other banks that are so much more secretive. They cannot be touched at all. Why they went after him, I don’t know.

John Deuss is a brilliant man. I’ve been in many, many meetings with him with lawyers. He makes lawyers look stupid. He’s so smart, so quick. He would avoid anything that would threaten him with jail. It’s all so bizarre.

Suzan Mazur: Where did you go after you left John Deuss’ TWO in 1979?

Max Bernegger: I got together with a small company in Texas and started an oil trading company in New York called Quasar Petroleum. It did extremely well. But it came to the point where we needed so much capital to trade big time that we decided we didn’t have the money to do it. We needed a few hundred million dollars with credit lines and all that.

Then I started a company where we did oil brokering. Within two years we were number two.. We did very well. Made a lot of money. I enjoyed it. It was very successful.

I was on top of the world in the fashion business. Next on top of the world in oil trading. Then on top of the world in brokering. I am 74 years old and I feel like I’m 15.

I owe John Deuss an awful lot. He brought me into the oil business and had confidence in me. He changed my life.

TRANSCRIPT ENDS

Suzan Mazur’s reports have appeared in the Financial Times, Economist, Forbes, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Bermuda’s Mid Ocean News, CounterPunch and Scoop, among others, as well as on PBS, CBC and MBC. She has been a guest on McLaughlin, Charlie Rose and various Fox Television News programs. Email: sznmzr@aol.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Billionaires, Entrepreneurs, Leadership

Steve Jobs said

1. Steve Jobs said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Innovation has no limits. The only limit is your imagination. It’s time for you to begin thinking out of the box. If you are involved in a growing industry, think of ways to become more efficient; more customer friendly; and easier to do business with. If you are involved in a shrinking industry – get out of it quick and change before you become obsolete; out of work; or out of business. And remember that procrastination is not an option here. Start innovating now!

2. Steve Jobs said: “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
There is no shortcut to excellence. You will have to make the commitment to make excellence your priority. Use your talents, abilities, and skills in the best way possible and get ahead of others by giving that little extra. Live by a higher standard and pay attention to the details that really do make the difference. Excellence is not difficult – simply decide right now to give it your best shot – and you will be amazed with what life gives you back.

3. Steve Jobs said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
I’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” Seek out an occupation that gives you a sense of meaning, direction and satisfaction in life. Having a sense of purpose and striving towards goals gives life meaning, direction and satisfaction. It not only contributes to health and longevity, but also makes you feel better in difficult times. Do you jump out of bed on Monday mornings and look forward to the work week? If the answer is ‘no’ keep looking, you’ll know when you find it.

4. Steve Jobs said: “You know, we don’t grow most of the food we eat. We wear clothes other people make. We speak a language that other people developed. We use a mathematics that other people evolved… I mean, we’re constantly taking things. It’s a wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that puts it back in the pool of human experience and knowledge.”
Live in a way that is ethically responsible. Try to make a difference in this world and contribute to the higher good. You’ll find it gives more meaning to your life and it’s a great antidote to boredom. There is always so much to be done. And talk to others about what you are doing. Don’t preach or be self-righteous, or fanatical about it, that just puts people off, but at the same time, don’t be shy about setting an example, and use opportunities that arise to let others know what you are doing.

5. Steve Jobs said: “Be entrepreneurial.”
Look for the next big thing. Find a set of ideas that need to be quickly and decisively acted upon and jump through that window. Sometimes the first step is the hardest one. Just take it! Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

6. Steve Jobs said: “Do your best.”
Do your best at every job. No sleep! Success generates more success. So be hungry for it.

7. Steve Jobs said: “I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.”
Don’t equate making mistakes with being a mistake. There is no such thing as a successful person who has not failed or made mistakes, there are successful people who made mistakes and changed their lives or performance in response to them, and so got it right the next time. They viewed mistakes as warnings rather than signs of hopeless inadequacy. Never making a mistake means never living life to the full.

8. Steve Jobs said: “Ask for feedback.”
Ask for feedback from people with diverse backgrounds. Each one will tell you one useful thing. If you’re at the top of the chain, sometimes people won’t give you honest feedback because they’re afraid. In this case, disguise yourself, or get feedback from other sources. Focus on those who will use your product – listen to your customers first.

9. Steve Jobs said: “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
Strive to be a market leader. Own and control the primary technology in everything you do. If there’s a better technology available, use it no matter if anyone else is not using it. Be the first, and make it an industry standard.

10. Steve Jobs said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Are you tired of living someone else’s dream? No doubt, its your life and you have every right to spend it in your own individual way without any hurdles or barriers from others. Give yourself a chance to nurture your creative qualities in a fear-free and pressure-free climate. Live a life that YOU choose and be your own boss.
Each lesson might be difficult to integrate into your life at first, but if you ease your way into each lesson, one at a time, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your overall performance. So go ahead, give them a try.

Leave a comment

Filed under Billionaires, Leadership, Life, Mensen, Startups, success

Book by Carnegie Samuel Calian discusses effective leadership

by Fred Mickaelian

Published: Tuesday August 09, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA. – Leadership has many meanings and applications to people. Whether a business executive or a parent, a school class office holder or active in a charitable institution, we all assert leadership and/or are subject to it.

As the former president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business, Dr. Calian details seven keys to effective leadership in his most recent book, The Spirit-Driven Leader: Seven Keys to Succeeding Under Pressure (June 2010).

Each chapter is devoted to one of these keys: creativity, competence, commitment, character, collegiality, compassion and courage. Each chapter draws on anecdotes to emphasize the author’s point.

How creative is the leadership you have experienced? Dr. Calian points out that creativity often is not welcomed in organizations because they tend to cling to the status quo. He emphasizes that it is to the organizations advantage to be flexible rather than entrenched.

In discussing competency, the author notes that “how we perform is influenced in part by how we learn-from reading listening, writing, or questioning.” He mentions Professor Ronald A. Heifetz of Harvard University, a leadership expert who warns that the “lone-warrior modes of leadership is heroic suicide. Neither leadership nor fellowship can be exercised alone. Partners are needed, both within and without.”

Are you listening, questioning, reading and learning before deciding?

Dr. Calian’s chapter on commitment was probably the most controversial. We both agree that commitment is important and he sites some excellent examples. He sounded harsh on the business community while giving charitable organizations more of a free pass.

However, the spiritual side of leadership including faith, hope and love when practiced together can add to our leadership abilities. This also can influence a person’s character, which is discussed short, but meaningful chapter in the book. Here he points out the traits admired in people of good character, trust being one of those traits. Once lost, it is hard to regain.

In his chapter on congeniality, the sharing of responsibility in a group endeavor is mentioned. Dr. Calian mentions the need for more dialogue, a trait that may be lost in our religious and non-profit organizations. He emphasizes the need to meaningful conversations to inquire and learn. He covers many important areas including salary based on performance, a need to build a climate of consensus and the importance of honesty and apology in performance in any organization.

The segment on compassion revealed Dr. Calian’s cultural and theological background showing his concern for both legal and illegal immigrants and the emphasis on applying the Golden Rule. He discusses eight questions set forth by the late management guru Peter Drucker, emphasizing the need for everyone in an organization to be part of a “we” team, not an “I” team.

Dr. Calian’s chapter of courage may be his best as he referred to a trip to Pakistan with his wife, Doris. He discussed the efforts by a Muslim lawyer representing two Christians-a father and son. They had been sentenced to death under Pakistan’s divine law, the Shariah. The two Christian’s had the sentence reversed on appeal and they left.

The country immediately to avoid the anger of the Muslim community.

Editor’s note: Born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, Rev. Dr. Calian is a son of Armenian immigrants who became one of the longest-serving seminary presidents in the nation, having retired from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2006 after 25 years of service; he has also been board member of Beirut’s Haigazian University. Fred Mickaelian has been a friend of the author for over six decades.

2 Comments

Filed under Leadership

DISCOUNTITUS, The Disease that’s sweeping the marketing community

Positioning Is the Only Cure

Published: July 06, 2011
Al Ries
Last month, J.C. Penney hired a new chief executive who used to run Apple stores. In a New York Times article, here’s how CEO Ron Johnson described his plans for Penney: “Take this great American brand and make it become something unbelievably exciting.”
Fat chance.
Most department stores are infected
You seldom see a department-store advertisement based on anything except a sale. The latest J.C. Penney ad was a six-page insert promoting a “Fourth of July sale.”
In addition to dozens of “super hot buys,” the insert features “Red Zone clearance, final-markdowns 80% off. New markdowns 50-70% off.” Also featured is “jcpCA$H,” offering consumers “$10 off any purchase totaling $25 & up.”
Belk, Dillards, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and most mainstream department stores are also infected bydiscountitus.
Kohl’s, in particular. A typical mailing: “Start with these incredible sale prices of 20-60% off. Take an extra 15% off everything. Plus add a $5 bonus.”
Airlines to pizza to car insurance
In industry after industry, the discount is the focus of the advertising.
Here’s the opening dialog of a typical Progressive commercial featuring Flo and a potential customer.
“Are you a safe driver?”
“Yes.”
“Discount! Do you own a home?”
“Yes.”
“Discount! Are you gonna buy online?”
“Yes.”
“Discount!”
Over at Geico, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” Geico and Progressive are the biggest spenders in the category. Last year Geico spent $741 million on advertising. Progressive, $506 million. Longtime car-insurance leaders like State Farm ($453 million) and Allstate ($368 million) are lagging behind.
Penney vs. Apple
Over at J.C. Penney, if Ron Johnson plans to use an Apple strategy to turn his company around, it’s too late. Once discountitus has spread through an industry, it’s awfully hard to eradicate.
Take airlines. Yesterday, airline companies competed on the basis of who could build the better brand. Today, airline companies compete on the basis of who can offer the bigger discounts. No wonder Southwest Airlines is a big winner, and most airline customers can’t explain the difference between American, Delta and United.
One reason why discountitus is spreading so rapidly is the internet. Clipping coupons is being replaced by typing on keyboards. Groupon and the other daily-deal websites are only one factor. Anybody who owns a computer today can get competitive prices on a host of items almost instantly.
Unless you want to spend the rest of your life doing discount marketing, you should be asking yourself, “What’s the cure?”
Believers vs. agnostics
Take a closer look at the consumer a company is trying to reach with its advertising and PR.
Psychologically, consumers can be divided into two categories: 1) Brand believers and 2) Brand agnostics. And they vary by category. They can be believers in one category (ketchup) and agnostics in another category (airlines).
Watch believers go through the Sunday supplements. They only clip coupons for brands they already use.
Watch agnostics go through the Sunday supplements. They ignore brands and clip coupons for categories. (Extreme agnostics don’t buy anything without a coupon.)
Discountitus is turning brand believers into brand agnostics. The lure of a “big discount” is enough to seduce a consumer into thinking that all brands in the category are pretty much alike.
In categories that have not been seriously contaminated, the cure for discountitus is a dose of positioning. But as Prophet, a leading marketing consultancy, reported in its latest state of marketing study: “Positioning has always been about differentiation. But in this unfolding environment, differentiation is short-lived.”
We differ on that. The cure for discountitus is not differentiation. Nor is positioning essentially about differentiation, either.
Positioning is owning a word in the mind
As discountitus spreads its way through the marketing community, that word more often than not is “leadership.”
Leadership is what makes Google the most powerful brand in the “search” category. Leadership is what makes iPod the most powerful brand in the “MP3 player” category. Leadership is what makes Heinz, Hertz, Haagen-Daz, Hellmann’s, Home Depot and a host of other brands powerful in their categories.
But how to you get to be the leader? And how does the leader keep from catching the discountitus disease?
Launch a new brand in a new category
Over the past few decades, it’s become clear that the only way to become a leader is to launch a new brand in a new category.
Like Apple did with the iPad, the first tablet-computer. Currently, the iPad has some 75% of the tablet market.
An also-ran that has been line-extended to death has no hope of ever becoming the market leader. The best it can do is to narrow its focus to shore up a position in a segment of the category.
Has Pepsi-Cola ever substantially increased its share of the cola market with Pepsi-Cola Retro, Pepsi Throwback, Pepsi Twist, Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Raw, Pepsi A.M., Pepsi Kona, Pepsi Light, Pepsi Max, Pepsi XL, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi One or Crystal Pepsi?
No, it has not. In fact, regular Pepsi-Cola has fallen behind Diet Coke to third place in the cola category.
What’s next for Pepsi-Cola? More of the same. Pepsi Next.
Lower the boom on price
If you read the papers, you know the regular price of most products or services on the market today is “50% off.”
Every Thursday, our local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, features “This week’s best deals.” Last week, there were eight. One was “free.” One was “40% off” and the other six were “50% off.”
That’s not unusual. By far, the vast majority of daily deals are 50% off or BOGO — buy one, get one free.
When rumors of Apple’s imminent launch of a tablet computer circulated on the internet, the pundits predicted the product would be priced around a thousand dollars.
Apple surprised them with a list price of $495. The company lowered the boom at a level that competitors had difficulty getting under. Today, you find the table-computer market remarkably free of discountitus.
Apple used the same strategy with its iTunes brand by insisting on a 99-cent price. (Don’t feel sorry for Apple. The company is making its money on volume, not on margin.)
When you’re the leader in a category, you cannot be overtaken by a competitor who thinks differentiation is going to make a big difference.
And when you’re the leader in the category and you lower the boom on price, you can inoculate the category from the disease of discountitus.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter Laura.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising, Branding, Communication, Leadership, Management, marketing, Positioning