The Corporate Pitch
* Remington's Victor Kiam who "liked the shaver so much I bought the company."
* Richard Branson of the Virgin empire, who was once asked how you become a millionaire. Branson's reply: "Be a billionaire and buy an airline."
* David Oreck, with his eight-pound vacuum cleaner
* Richard Thalheimer of The Sharper Image fame
* Martha Stewart, who bounced back from jail and is hotter than ever
* KFC's "Colonel" Harlan Sanders must be included in this list, but as I recall he was a gentle, avuncular presence in his white suit and kindly demeanor rather than a spokesman.
A Recent Catastrophe
One CEO who should have heeded Ogilvy's advice and stayed the hell out of the corporate ads was the former doyenne of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina.
Her ouster caused an avalanche of I-told-you-so media analysis of the many flaws in her management style, not the least of which was her decision to become the figurehead and mouthpiece of the company.
In the words of Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Kanter, author of "Confidence," a book on leadership and management, "Ms. Fiorina might have set herself up for failure from the beginning when she put herself in H.P. commercials. She was an outsider, and that doesn't bode well for building support."
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Rich Karlgaard listed Fiorina's seven deadly sins, the first of which was that she acted like a rock star.
In the U.S., only entrepreneurs get to act as rock stars. Hired guns do not. Fiorina failed to grasp this distinction. Here, we celebrate Gates, Buffett, Dell, Ellison, Jobs, Schultz, Fred Smith . . . even Leonardo di Caprio as Howard Hughes--borderline crazies overcoming great odds. We love our entrepreneur rock stars so much, we let their sins slide. Fiorina was excoriated for a boneheaded move--giving Compaq shareholders 37 percent of HP's profitable printer division in a swap for Compaq's flagging PC business. Founder-CEOs are allowed to get away with far worse.
- Betty Lehnus
- Carly Fiorina
- Colin Wheildon
- David Oreck
- Edward I. Koch
- Edward Whitehead
- Frank Perdue
- Fred Smith
- Harlan Sanders
- Howard Hughes
- Julie Sloane
- Lee Iacocca
- Leonardo di Caprio
- Martha Stewart
- Ogilvy Mather
- Richard Branson
- Richard Thalheimer
- Rosabeth Kanter
- Victor Kiam