Doo-Doo Diligence and Buccaneer Businessmen
Merry Christmas, chumps.
Some recent examples of doo-doo diligence:
* Donald Trump Trump bought the Plaza Hotel in 1988 for $390 million and took out a full-page ad in The New York Times. “I haven’t purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece—the Mona Lisa,” Trump crowed. “For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal that was not economic—for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful the Plaza becomes.” Two years later—after letting the property run down—Trump sold it to a Saudi prince, taking a $65 million loss. Every time I see Donald Trump—in magazines, newspapers or on TV, with his comb-over do and perpetual sneer—I say to myself, “You had within your grasp the premier real estate treasure in New York, and through doo-doo diligence, buccaneer business practices and gross mismanagement, you lost the Plaza Hotel! You are a world-class schmuck!”
* The 2008 Beijing Olympics—a catastrophe waiting to happen. The International Olympic Committee committed to a Chinese city so beset with smog that tens of thousands of people will be seen on worldwide television wearing surgical masks and eating a food supply so laced with hormones and poisons that athletes who do not bring their own proteins and greens will flunk anti-doping tests. In terms of negative publicity, China and its thuggish government operatives very likely will look like utter fools, as will the International Olympic Committee.
* Hiring somebody? Due diligence is not easy. If you are called for a reference by someone who is thinking of hiring a former employee, you are limited to saying that the person did indeed work at your company and the dates. Period. Say any more, and you can be sued. A high-powered woman lawyer I know was recently called by another law firm for a reading on a former associate—a turkey—who was up for a job. “We’re thinking of hiring So-and-So,” the caller said. In a tone of voice dripping with contempt and sarcasm, my friend said, “Oh, r-e-a-l-l-y?” “Thanks very much,” said the caller and hung up. According to a 2005 ad for “Hiring the Best,” hiring the wrong person will cost you three times the annual salary. “A $50,000 employee costs you $150,000; a $150,000 employee costs you $450,000,” the copy states. “That’s for starters. There’s also lost opportunity costs ... plus lost business, potential customers and momentum!”