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Power Sheet – October 20, 2015

After a welcome lull in political leadership news, it’s back in a big way and will likely dominate headlines for the rest of the week. The big theme? There isn’t one, other than the extraordinary difficulty of leading a large group of diverse constituents.

Start with the saga of Paul Ryan and whether he’ll run for Speaker of the House. The conventional view two weeks ago was that he was the only person who could unify House Republicans, and the job would be his for the asking, if only he would ask. But that analysis seemed too simplistic, and apparently it was; a group of House Republicans has announced it would oppose him because of his too-lenient views on immigration. If that group includes 30 or more members, Ryan would need Democratic votes to win the Speaker’s job. He could get them, but then he wouldn’t be the leader of the majority party.

I spoke yesterday with a former high-level House staffer with close knowledge of Ryan, and he expects a scenario like this: Ryan returns to Washington this week and tells fellow Republicans he doesn’t want the job, and they should find somebody else. Two or three days later they come back and tell Ryan they couldn’t find anybody who could win. Ryan then reluctantly agrees to run – he’d hold the job only until January 2017, when the next Congress is seated – and a Republican majority is cobbled together. Speaker Ryan then faces the same impossible bind as Speaker Boehner, moving crucial legislation like spending authorizations and the debt ceiling increase, while a significant faction of his party wants to block it. It’s entirely unclear how Ryan would work the needed magic when Boehner couldn’t.

A new poll shows that Republican voters are still aggressively anti-incumbent, favoring Donald Trump and Ben Carson far above anyone else. Trump has 25% support and Carson 22%; Marco Rubio is at 13%, with everyone else in single digits. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s moment seems to have passed – she’s at 7% – in which case it will have been the briefest moment of any candidate in memory. I continue to believe that for now we’re seeing a demonstration of brand power. The strongest brands are highly differentiated, and it’s significant that the two leading candidates in this very crowded field are the loudest one and the quietest one – both making outrageous statements that the others wouldn’t dare to utter. When the field winnows down to two or three, more substantive differences will become clear.

Canadians threw out the incumbents yesterday, which is hardly surprising – Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been in office for nine years – but the way it happened is significant. Voters turned to the least experienced politician in the field, Justin Trudeau, age 43, who began his political career only eight years ago. Of course he’s a familiar name, his father Pierre having been prime minister. It’s striking that in a tight three-way race, his Liberal party won a clear majority in Parliament. Soon he’ll confront a new challenge: facing the pervasive anti-incumbent mood.

What We’re Reading Today

United Continental names acting CEO

CEO Oscar Munoz suffered a heart attack last week after only five weeks in the job. General Counsel Brett J. Hart will now serve as acting CEO. Hart steps in at a tricky time for the company that is still under investigation over former CEO Jeff Smisek‘s negotiations with the Port Authority of New York New Jersey. Financial Times

Yum Brands to spin off China business

The owner of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC has established itself in China more successfully than almost any other U.S. company. It operates some 6,600 restaurants there, accounting for over half the company’s revenues. But the complexity of dealing with China’s regulations, some operating problems, and a push from activist investor Keith Meister led to the move. CEO Greg Creed announced the decision, saying it should occur by end of next year. Mickey Pant, Yum’s China head, will lead the new company. MarketWatch

Canada votes for sweeping change

In a rout, the Liberal Party rocketed from 36 seats in Parliament to 184. The results sweep in new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 43, whose father was prime minister. It also ends Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper‘s tenure after nine years.  BBC

11 more car manufacturers could be added to Takata recall

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) chief Mark Rosekind says that up to 11 other car manufacturers could be added to the Takata air bag recall. GM has already recalled 400 vehicles over issues at a Takata plant in Mexico. Rosekind asked other manufacturers to move as quickly as Mary Barra‘s company did. More details will be announced Thursday.  Reuters

Building a Better Leader

It’s harder to empathize when you’ve had the same experience

And that could change whom you seek for help in your own company.  Harvard Business Review

These companies are bringing back 40-hour workweeks

Which means no emailing on weekends, either. Fortune

Nearly 2/3 worried about security…

…when buying online. But the concerns do not seem to hurt sales. Inc.

Tech Battles

Amazon goes after NYT expose

Two months after the New York Times detailed an awful work culture at Amazon, Jeff Bezos‘s company has gone on offense. Spokesman Jay Carney wrote a rebuttal on Medium outlining one of the quoted sources’ tenure at Amazon, which NYT Editor-in-Chief Dean Baquet replied to. While Amazon must defend its culture, it’s hard to see how a public battle serves either company’s interest. It may serve the public interest, however, as Amazon addresses issues raised in the story and NYT defends its reporting. Fortune

Tim Cook says Apple Music has 15M subscribers

That number includes 6.5 million paying listeners. It comes as reports suggest that  use of Apple Music, particularly among younger people, is tepid. Cook also announced that the new Apple TV will begin shipping next week. WSJ

Santander probes the impact of fintech

The head of the bank’s fintech investment fund, Mariano Belinky, said that Santander has run war game-like scenarios to see if the rise of fintech startups would kill off various parts of the business. It also provided insight into what areas of fintech are worth investing in. Business Insider

Up or Out

Genworth Financial has named Kelly Groh its new CFO, replacing the departing Martin Klein. StreetInsider

Former Under Armour CFO Brad Dickerson, who announced an impending move last week, will join Blue Apron in the same role. Business Insider

Fortune Reads and Videos

LinkedIn ties compensation to diversity goals

And that means comp for operating managers, not just HR staff. Fortune

IBM’s sales slumped last quarter…

…but Ginni Rometty‘s company isn’t diverting its focus from cloud computing and data analytics. Fortune

Intel boosts fertility benefits

The chipmaker will pay for egg freezing and quadruple the amount it provides for fertility services.  Fortune

The EU is set to fine Starbucks, Fiat

Apple and Amazon could be next.  Fortune

Today’s Quote

“We knew we were the luckiest kids in the world. And we had done nothing to actually deserve it… It was instead something that we would have to spend the rest of our lives to work very hard to live up to.” – Justin Trudeau, the new Canadian Prime Minister, speaking at his father’s funeral, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in 2000.  The Guardian

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau