Skip to Content

Power Sheet – August 7, 2015

Whom would you follow?

Amid the staggering volume of analysis of 200 minutes of debating among 17 assorted Republicans yesterday, it helps to keep a few fundamentals in mind. One, these candidates are competing for the biggest leadership job in the world. Two, a leader is, at its most basic level, someone who has followers. So who among those 17 seemed most like someone you’d follow?

I won’t keep you in suspense about my call: By the followership test, the winners were John Kasich and Jeb Bush.

Why not the others? Among those in the prime time debate, Donald Trump stayed with the trademark bombastic blowhard braggadocio that has served him well over the past 40 years, and the crowd loved it, even when they were booing him. It’s good TV. But you wouldn’t follow him because you’d have no idea where you were going. Rand Paul was hot-headed, and in any case I don’t think he expects to be the nominee; his mission for now is getting libertarianism into the mainstream. Chris Christie was doing well until he got into a skirmish with Paul, and that troubling nastiness took over; suddenly he seemed petty.

Marco Rubio is getting there, but he actually merits the cliché about a deer caught in the headlights; give him another eight years. Ben Carson emphasized his strong personal attributes but still wasn’t ready to talk policy, and you don’t want to follow someone on faith that he’ll figure it out eventually. Mike Huckabee was impressively polished but played so heavily to Iowa’s evangelical caucus-goers that he seemed uninterested in a broader followership. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz did okay but came across as flat, just faces in the crowd.

Kasich and Bush weren’t perfect onstage. Bush seemed strangely nervous at first, not something you want in a leader. But they both found their footing and came across as judicious leaders who had thought through their policy positions and could articulate them in a broadly appealing way. As governors, they’ve both made hard decisions in executive positions. And though neither will likely mention this in the campaign, both have worked in business: Bush in banking, real estate, health care, and other ventures; Kasich on Wall Street (at Lehman Brothers when it was doing well). Some of us actually consider that a plus.

The election is a long way off, and much will change. Through it all, we can keep ourselves grounded by asking: Would I want to follow that person?

What We’re Reading Today

At the GOP primary debate…

Donald Trump stood out as combative and opinionated. No surprises there. Some, like Marco Rubioperformed well, while others, like Chris Christie, struggled. The candidates said plenty that would affect business. But the real winners were those who made the case for more donation dollars, and they weren’t named Jeb Bush or Trump.  NYT

New letter between Steve Jobs and ex-girlfriend found

In the note, Jobs‘ ex asked him for $25 million for herself and $5 million for their daughter. It’s a glimpse into the less often discussed, darker side of Jobs, as he built an empire and revolutionized personal electronics. Fortune

If you’ve ever thought about letting the inmates run the asylum

Here’s a cautionary tale from Conde Nast’s experience running Reddit. A laissez faire attitude led to a number of executive changes, including most recently Ellen Pao, and now it seems like the site is out of Conde’s control.  Bloomberg

McDonald’s cuts back on executives

With stagnant sales as it struggles to adjust to new consumer tastes, McDonald’s laid off 135 executives at headquarters and 90 employees overseas.  Reuters

Senator Chuck Schumer will oppose the Iran deal

As the leading Jewish voice in Congress and a prominent Democrat, it’s a big blow to President Barack Obama’s hopes of securing a deal.  NYT

Wal-Mart connects its suppliers with U.S. manufacturers

With a new website, Wal-Mart suppliers can now find parts that are manufactured by U.S. based companies. It’s an effort to bolster Wal-Mart’s “Made In the USA” promise to buy $250 billion of products that support American jobs. WSJ

The U.S. created 215,000 jobs in July

While the unemployment level remains at 5.3%. The numbers were basically in line with expectations, but Americans are not feeling much better about the economy. Fortune

Two Become One

IBM will buy Merge Healthcare for $1 billion

It’s a continuation of IBM’s healthcare ambitions. Reuters

Blackstone joins forces with Hellman Friedman

To buy Worldpay, a large credit card processor in Europe. The bid comes as Worldpay’s owners prepare for an IPO. Sky News

Anthem’s merger with Cigna has its critics

U.S. hospitals have urged the Department of Justice to probe the combination of the No. 1and No. 5 largest health insurers. In July, Anthem agreed to buy Cigna for $47 billion.  Reuters

Building a Better Leader

A cautionary tale of succession

The Lotte Group, which is led by a South Korean family and owns several retail chains, as well as Krispy Creme donuts and TGI Fridays, is in the middle of an old-fashioned power struggle, involving its 92-year old founder Shin Kyuk-ho and his two sons, Dong-joo and Dong-bin. It’s a made-for-TV warning over succession planning. WSJ

Most small businesses are unprepared for chip-and-pin credit cards

Visa and Mastercard have called for all merchants to begin accepting the chip cards by October, but less than half of small businesses surveyed by Wells Fargo have done so. Consumerist

If you want to build a culture of ‘we’

Then you can’t be afraid of making mistakes. “It’s not only admirable, it’s a necessity.” Fortune

A look at a pasta sauce company to discover…

Why wages and productivity have struggled to grow. Despite the difficulty in finding qualified candidates, Chelten House Products doesn’t see the need to increase the salaries it offers to applicants.  Reuters

Up or Out

TrueCar founder and CEO Scott Painter has decided to step down at the end of the year, as the used car repository fights off lawsuits against dealers.  MarketWatch

The Huffington Post has named Jared Grusd, a former executive at AOL and Spotify, CEO. He takes over for Jimmy Maymann, who will run all of AOL’s consumer brands. WSJ

Fortune Reads

Ever wonder how much Apple pays to keep Tim Cook safe?

Well, it isn’t peanuts, but it pales in comparison to the security budgets of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison or Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Fortune

Carly Fiorina won the early GOP debate 

At least, if we’re going off of Google searches. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO may have found some fans, or at least gained some name recognition. Fortune

What to do with a narcissistic, devious coworker

There are no easy fixes, but not all hope is lost.  Fortune

Birthday Wishes

The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, turns 49.  Biography

Robert Mueller, who served as the sixth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, taking over the agency a week before the September 11, 2001 attacks, turns 71 today. Biography

Produced by Ryan Derousseau