Hello, sir. I know you don’t start until January, and I’m sure there are a lot of people giving you guidance today, but I thought I’d offer a few tips as you prepare to ascend to the top slot at Morgan Stanley.
1. Say hi to people: Many guys suddenly get a big head on them when they become CEO, and forget all the little people who were their colleagues on the way up. Don’t be one of those. A nice “Hi, Bob!” in the elevator can make an executive vice president’s day.
2. Don’t make any sudden moves: Everybody’s going to be watching you very carefully as you try to steer Morgan Stanley out of whatever incipient mess your predecessor created with all the help of his good advisors, yourself included. Don’t satisfy your urge to shake things up right away. Listen to people. Then you can chop their ears off.
3. Eat a good breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Too many busy CEOs gobble a muffin before their 5:30 AM conference call and wash it down with a pot of scalding coffee. That’s no way to set up a successful 16-hour day!
4. Get a new wardrobe: True, you were already a co-President of the operation before this bump to ultimate power. But Presidential suits are not appropriate for a CEO. When you enter a room, the first thing people should say is, “Whoa. Nice suit.” I’m pretty sure they don’t say that now, because you had a boss who probably wanted that distinction for himself. That’s you now, sir!
5. DON’T give any interviews: Too many guys come in and start bloviating about what they intend to do. Then they have to do it. That’s most unfortunate, because people in business seldom do what they think they’re going to do even in the best of circumstances, and we’re not in those. Be quiet. If you must talk, talk to your hometown newspaper about your love of hamsters and go-carts.
6. Be inclusive: At the start of your term, people are going to be wondering who your “inner circle” is going to be. Don’t tip your hand. Of course, you’ll eventually execute a fair chunk of the remora who hung off the pelt of Mr. Mack. But you don’t want people to be too sure of where you stand for a while. This will make the entire executive team perky and nervous, which is a good thing during any transition.
7. Don’t say anything bad about the prior Administration: This may be difficult, since you’ve probably been seething one level below for two years, waiting for your opportunity to do something different. But people hate to see their leader questioning the actions of the guy who use to be in his chair. It makes them nervous about the whole lines of authority thing, and doubt the solidity of their reporting structure.
8. Don’t say anything GOOD about the prior Administration, either: Beyond everyday lip service. You’ve been put in there because it was time for a change. So stately recognition of the greatness of the past is fine. Enthusiastic embracing of the days of yore (i.e. last week) is not.
9. Be kind to small life forms: They may take a thorn out of your paw one day.
10. Have fun! It will all be over before you know it, you know. Make the most of it while it lasts. And stay away from those risky financial instruments! I mean it!
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