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Power Sheet – March 21, 2016

It’s a busy week in the world of power and leadership. Four events will be especially revealing:

Obama in Cuba and Argentina. The president’s historic visit to Cuba, begun yesterday, will rightly get more attention than his stop in Argentina afterward. But it may be instructive to watch closely the tone of his speeches, activities, and interactions with the leaders of each nation, as signals of how America regards them. What a contrast. Cuban President Raul Castro has shown no inclination to reform his failing economy, which produces per capita GDP that’s a small fraction of most of his Caribbean neighbors’, or to loosen his brutal dictatorship, which receives the lowest possible rating in the latest freedom ranking by Freedom in the World. Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, is taking the helm of another pathetic economy but steering in a radically different direction, courting business, removing currency controls, accepting a drastic devaluation of the currency as a necessary start to recovery, and taking first steps toward freer trade; he’s also chilling the country’s formerly friendly relations with Venezuela and Iran.

When Obama’s trip is over, what will the world conclude about his feelings toward each leader?

-Tim Cook’s strategy for Apple’s future. He’s introducing new products today, and while they’ll undoubtedly be cool and maybe even surprising, the real issue for the company is whether they’ll noticeably move the needle on revenue and profit. Apple is still the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, and value is based entirely on expectations of future growth. Some analysts believe Apple’s 2016 revenue may be less than last year’s, the first such decline in over a decade. Will Cook show them anything that changes their expectations? And if not, will Apple’s valuation trend downward long-term?

Mitch McConnell’s leadership of the Merrick Garland battle. The Senate majority leader was definitive on the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday: This Senate will not consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee at any time, period. Other GOP senators, including powerful ones, are breaking ranks. Orrin Hatch of Utah last week said that if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were to win the election, he’d be open to considering Garland in the lame duck session. Mark Kirk of Illinois went further, saying flatly that his fellow Republicans should “just man up and cast a vote.” The Senate has now gone home for a two-week recess. If senators hear from constituents that they think McConnell is wrong – a substantial possibility, according to polling – will they try to change his mind? Will some oppose him publicly? And what will he do if, as summer turns to fall, his position seems to be damaging the Republican presidential nominee, whoever he may be?

Trump vs. Cruz in Arizona and Utah. The numbers of delegates aren’t big, but at this point each one counts. The big question will be whether the anyone-but-Trump movement – and in these two states, Cruz is the only realistic alternative – is gaining steam. Polls predict Trump wins Arizona, Cruz wins Utah.

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What We’re Reading Today

Obama in Cuba 

The historic trip makes President Barack Obama the first president to visit the country since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. He’s set to meet with President Raul Castro today and is expected to press Castro on opening up the country’s economy and political system. As the U.S. takes steps to ease trade between the countries, CEOs including Marriott’s Arne Sorenson and Xerox’s Ursula Burns are there too. NPR

Sherwin-Williams to buy Valspar

The $11.3-billion deal will make Sherwin-Williams the world’s largest paint company. The deal comes only three months after John Morikis took over as Sherwin-Wiliams CEO and helps the company expand into Europe and Asia. Morikis says he doesn’t expect strong resistance from antitrust regulators in closing the deal. CNBC

Uber’s research plans at Carnegie Mellon haven’t formed

Last year, Uber and Carnegie Mellon announced a research pact to advance studies in mapping and vehicle autonomy. Travis Kalanick‘s company then hired 36 researchers and four faculty members while donating $5.5 million to the robotics program. But no collaboration has occurred, and none is planned.  Reuters

CEO of tennis tournament: Women should “thank God” for male stars

Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore said he believes male players have carried the female players, just after the BNP Paribas Open hosted a match between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. “You know, in my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on coattails of the men,” Moore said. Williams called the statements “very, very, very inaccurate.” Moore retracted the comments in an apology later in the day.  Fortune

Building a Better Leader

When wondering if we should disagree with our boss…

…most of us exaggerate the risk. Chances are you won’t get fired for stating your opinion. Harvard Business Review

Former Lehman Brothers CFO Erin Callan…

…talks about the dangers of leaning in too far. In her new memoir, she writes about the downside of overconfidence and excessive risk taking. Fortune

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg runs a unicorn startup without…

…offices and almost without email. Yet the chief of the completely dispersed company valued at over $1 billion says communication is “oxygen” for its survival. Inc.

Worth Considering

Chief Justice John Roberts talked about Supreme Court confirmation… 

…ten days before Antonin Scalia died. In the comments, Roberts said confirmation of Justices should be based on qualifications, not politics. He noted that the last three justices were confirmed almost on party-line votes, which tells him that “the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees.” Some want the Chief Justice to speak out now, as Senate Republicans continue to vow they will not hold hearings on Merrick Garland‘s nomination because the next president should pick the nominee. NYT

NSA could open the iPhone the FBI wants unlocked

Counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke said he believes the NSA could unlock the phone if the FBI would ask. It hasn’t asked, he believes, because the Justice Department and FBI want the precedent of forcing a computer device manufacturer to let them in. CEO Tim Cook continues to argue that the FBI can’t force Apple to build an operating system for the sole use of unlocking an iPhone. Fortune

Oprah working magic on OWN Cable Network

The network had focused on self-improvement shows but has shifted toward dramas, with Oprah Winfrey leading the charge. Viewership has jumped 30% in the past two years as a result. Winfrey reviews scripts and has taken a more active role in selecting programming. The surge in viewers comes as other cable channels have struggled to grow in competition with online offerings.  WSJ

Up or Out

Telecom Italia will part ways with CEO Marco Patuano.  WSJ

Former head of mining company Vale SA Roger Agnelli died on Saturday in a plane crash. He was 56.  Fortune

Fortune Reads and Videos

Twitter celebrates its 10th birthday today

The question now is whether it can last another 10 years.  Fortune

Amazon spent $10 million in Washington last year…

…on lobbying to get delivery drones in the air. Fortune

Bernie Sanders outraised Hillary Clinton in February

Despite raising $13 million more than Clinton, Sanders has less money after a massive spending spree. Fortune

Apple’s iMessage has a security hole…

…that puts photos and videos at risk. A security patch is coming today. Fortune

Quote of the Day

“Look at my more recent colleagues, all extremely well qualified for the court and the votes were, I think, strictly on party lines for the last three of them, or close to it, and that doesn’t make any sense. That suggests to me that the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees.” — Chief Justice John Roberts speaking about the Supreme Court nomination process before the death of Antonin Scalia.  NYT

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau