Ken Lay

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

I’m a see guy not a hear guy.

I write better than I talk.

Expressing myself on the phone is difficult while e-correspondence is a breeze. I’m good at it; I get to the point; I don’t waste people’s time.

Nothing drives me crazier than the voice-mail jail that certain organizations have instituted. They start with the following recorded message:

“Your call is important to us …”

Whereupon I am given a world-class runaround of confusing choices—all recorded—that takes me further and further into the corporate labyrinth. One wrong choice and I am sent back to “GO.” Finally I get:

“All our representatives are currently busy … However, your call is important to us …”

What that message is really saying: “We’re having happy hour here in India and you are a big fat pain in the ass.”

Why would I open an e-pitch from Harvard Business Publishing?

Because four days earlier it was reported that, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, Harvard University's endowment had earned an 8.6% return that took the value of the foundation from $34.9 billion to $36.9 billion. On Friday, it was announced that Yale did a paltry 4.5%.

Management of the Harvard endowment fund was overseen by Robert S. Kaplan, former VP of Goldman Sachs and a management practice professor at the Harvard Business School.

Given the outrageous shenanigans that went on in the markets over the past year, professor Kaplan appears to be the only sane, responsible and honest person devoted to making money for his clients (in this case one client, Harvard) and actually succeeding.

I am berserk. After reading this, you might also be berserk.

In the late 1970s, I was hired to write a membership mailing for Comp-U-Card, a Stamford, Conn. organization that claimed to have built “a data base of price and product information on approximately 60,000 brand name products.” Consumers could tap into this wealth of information and presumably save many times the $25 membership fee. Goods were shipped directly from wholesalers to the customer. I met briefly with the president, Walter A. Forbes, who was good-looking, articulate and very intense. At one point in our meeting, he took a phone call and asked me to step outside, which I did. When I returned, Forbes told me that

Clang, clang, clang goes the lockdown The play ends as a tragedy. All three of the major characters lived a morally reprehensible life that doomed them to Hell; when they are given a chance to escape from Hell, they choose to remain, knowing that there is No Exit from their evil natures. For them, life on earth was no different than life in Hell; at least in their present circumstance, they have only each other to torment. --Monkey Notes "No Exit" by Jean Paul Sartre Many years ago the late reporter and editor Mike Kelly recited one of the rules of life passed on

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