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What Profits a Man
by Dennis Ricci
03/11/09
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“It sure is unusual for the big guy to call a meeting like this on such short notice,” John Marshall said to himself. The faces of his two colleagues, already seated in the conference room when he arrived, betrayed nothing about what came next.

“I’ll get right to the point,” said Ed Rasmussen, founder and CEO of Globalstar, while taking his seat.
“I need to leave for Tokyo tomorrow to visit Fujisaki, our potential merger partner, and I’ll be gone for eight weeks.”

“I’m putting the three of you in charge while I’m away. John, in addition to North America, I’m giving you Latin America and Europe. Mike, I’m giving you Asia in addition to R&D, and I’m also asking you to accelerate Project SkyWhisper; we need to present a prototype to Fujisaki in seven weeks. Bob, I’m putting you in charge of our Middle East/Africa region in addition to global HR.

“I want your recommendations in two weeks for how we can achieve 100% revenue growth by the end of this fiscal year. This will greatly strengthen our position in setting merger terms. That’s it, we’re done.”

Marshall knew immediately how he was going to hit the mark. He summoned an all-hands conference call, and within four hours put action plans in place to accelerate sales. Mike Regazzi summoned his R&D leaders and told them about SkyWhisper. The program manager committed to having the prototype ready.

Bob Lewis went back to his office shaken. I’m an HR guy, he muttered to himself. I’ve never run a line organization in my life. He thought Ben Harari, head of the Tel Aviv office, could pull this off. Trembling, he called Harari late that night, and Ben reluctantly agreed to take on the challenge.

Rasmussen returned without notice to Globalstar headquarters after six weeks, because the prototype presentation was postponed. He immediately called a meeting with Marshall, Regazzi, and Lewis for progress reports.

“The customization incentive is working great in Europe and Latin America,” Marshall said. “We’re expecting to increase our order rate 125% by the end of the third quarter.”

“Outstanding, John,” Rasmussen said. “I’ve had my eye on you to take over more territory, and you’ve proven yourself ready. I’ve decided to promote you to President of the Americas and Europe.”

“SkyWhisper is a home run in Asia,” Regazzi said. “Looks like we’re going to have to schedule multiple demos next month!”

“Excellent!” Rasmussen said. “I’ll schedule the meeting with Fujisaki for after the customer demos. I’m promoting you to President of Asia-Pacific.”

Lewis sat strangely quiet. “How’s Israel going, Bob?” Rasmussen asked.

“When you asked me to take on Israel, I didn’t have the first idea how to do what you wanted,” Lewis said. “So I lined up Ben Harari and delegated the responsibility to him. A week later, two of our customers had major issues, and Ben had to drop everything to deal with them. So nothing got done.”

“Bob, you should have come to me,” Rasmussen said. “You didn’t trust me enough to admit you were in over your head. I need you tell me the truth fearlessly.” He paused then told Bob that he was giving him two choices – accept demotion to U.S. human resources or twelve-months severance.



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