Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks!

Almost a month ago, beginning this day, I felt the world change for me. That day was the day that I felt called in to action, big time. I sleep less, think more and with such greater clarity. I feel so much more engaged with my family, my community, and the world in general. So much knowledge that I had absorbed over my life seems to have become profoundly relevant and I just want to write it all down and share.

So this Thanksgiving in addition to being thankful for all the things I am usually thankful for – my family, our health, our friendships, our home – I am also thankful to all of you who by visiting my blog, receiving my newsletter, posting a comment. sending me an email ....... are in some way connected to my passion to change the world for the better. I give thanks for your words that you have shared that say how committed you are to social change. It is in us all caring, just a little more, that the world will become a better place.

So this Thanksgiving I would like to share a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I turn to for inspiration. In countless ways this poem is of the moment, for me, and I know for many of you....I hope you enjoy it, and have a joyful Thanksgiving.

IF .............................................

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Citgroup Bail-Out, Fiscal Stimulus, the Latest Fed Program

I was pleasantly surprised by the positive market move on Monday in response to the Citi bail-out plan, which to me is a more than a little scary. I agree with some of the commentaries that are yelling for a coordinated and thoughtful approach rather than the Sunday night plans that commit billions and billions of taxpayer dollars. As for Obama’s announcement of a huge fiscal spending plan, yes we need one, but again this has to be extremely thoughtfully implemented. What we do not need is a plan of the likes of this past summer which was a complete waste of money. Big issues remain in the credit markets but I am confident that the FED and the Treasury are doing everything they can to improve the markets. This Program annoucement is a good one, but they are doing just SO MUCH that I am worried about the cummulative impact of it all on their balance sheet. We are in unprecendented times and they are doing unprecedented things.

Yesterday I sent out a newsletter that summarizes the factors that I believe contributed to the financial crisis, as well as some steps you can take with respect to financial preparedness. If you have not yet signed up, please do, good stuff to come!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Brief Letter to the New Treasury Secretary and Be A Superhero!

The National Council For Research on Women invited me to submit piece in the form of a brief letter to the new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Please find it here. Also Read Sara Gould's submission and a related article. As I said yesterday I am very excited about the choice as I hear he is a very smart guy and a great listener. He has big challenges ahead of him as these two articles in the papers yesterday point out. Here and here.

I have been thinking a lot about leadership these days, and the failure there of. Eight years ago I left my position running the fixed-rate mortgage trading desk at Goldman and moved to the executive office to help "manage the careers af the firms managing directors." ( internal memo ) In that capacity I spent a lot of my time on leadership development, and served on the task force from which Pine Street, the firm's leadership development effort, emerged. We met with countless leadership gurus and I collected stacks of books and articles on leadership but one of my all time favorites was a piece written by Tom Peters in March 2001 called "Rule # 3 - Leadership is Consfusing as Hell." From the intro..."For the next five years, it's business on a wartime footing...." doesn't that feel like now? This is a must read piece. He goes on to put forward 50 leadership principles, with the 49th one inviting readers to submit their own.... here was mine.

"Be a Superhero. Remember what it was like to jump out of bed on those Saturday Mornings so you could rush to turn on the TV to get another dose of Superman, Batman, or in my case Wonderwoman! These characters inspired you to change the world, to do the right thing, to fight evil wherever it reared its ugly head. To be an example, and yet hide your true identity because it was not about personal glory. They never asked "what is in it for me"and they tried not to let the bad stuff get them down. They had a job to do and damn it they approached it with absolute enthusiasn and discipline. Be a superhero!"

We need a lot of Superheros right now and I hope Mr. Geithner proves to be one of them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Citi Gets a Bailout Package, New Appointments, and the Credit Crisis Continues

It was one of those weekends, again. We wake this am to news that CITI is subject to a massive bailout package. Of course we knew this was coming, but the details were unsure. The good news, they got help, the bad news, they needed it. They are taking just over of $300 billion of assets and separating them out. It seems no change in management will occur.

“And so we need to understand the significance of that guarantee. The significance is as follows: Once Citi owns $312 billion in assets on which they can only lose $42 billion the remaining pool must be worth $270 billion. That $270 billion is guaranteed by the US Government – as the FDIC is a full faith and credit organisation. Citigroup can put that $270 billion (plus the $42 billion in non-guaranteed assets) in a pool and repo it – and as Treasuries yield very little they will wind up paying well under a percent of interest. The Sheila Bair decision was equivalent to a cash injection into Citigroup of 270 billion because the repo-market will turn government guaranteed loans into cash.” (full piece) Holy smokes. Holy, holy, smokes. More on the FED's quantative easing here. Key quote, "Now we are back to using money in a brute force fashion, but with no benchmarks. Lovely."

A lot of news also came out of Washington Friday and through the weekend - Obama will appoint New York Fed President Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary's post. Hilliary Clinton wil be appointed as the Secretary of State. Larry Summers will be chosen as the Director of National Economic Council. Bill Richardson might be chosen as the Commerce Secretary. President's Economic Team will be named on Nov 24. I am happy about Geithner but I have concerns over Larry Summers. Yes over his comments about women’s innate abilities to succeed but also because I hear from lots of people that know him that his ego is MASSIVE. Do you really need smart GUYS who think they are right all the time advising us on what to do right now? Is that now what got us in to trouble in the first place? The leadership that is going to lead us out of this mess is decisive yet INCLUSIVE leadership. Leadership that invites alternate views to the table yet is able to quickly and thoughtfully drive to consensus. I think that is more Geithner then Summers but I am told there is no doubt that Summers will be in the driver’s seat. I am also told he is a true Keynesian so the fiscal stimulus is coming.

Oh my gosh I could write forever - I am trying to get my next newsletter off so this will just have to be enough for this early morning.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Tonight, I am very sad to say, our neighbors house burned down. Gone. Thankfully no one was hurt and the fire was contained but it was huge. My heart goes out to this wonderful family. As we stood there, with our children, watching, you realize that it can all be gone in a second. Though stuff is just stuff, a house is a home and full of memories from which a life is built. May we all take a moment to say thanks for all we have and move on to make sure we all have emergency plans in place.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Diversity Program Challenges, Saving the World, and DEFLATION

Yesterday was another one of those days. It was a day so fascinating, so filled with interesting people and ideas, I felt like my head was going to explode. Here are the bullet points from each of three meetings:
- In the morning I spent some time speaking with some passionate women leaders of a major institution talking to them about their challenges and opportunities with respect to lay off, hiring, managing and promoting their women employees. I have A LOT to say about corporate diversity programs and why generally speaking, they have failed to move the bar. Here is the problem at this moment: a disproportionate number of women are going to be fired in these downsizings. Should there be heroic measures to save them for the sake of the numbers? If so, under what conditions. In the time of bail-outs - do they implement their own human capital management ‘rescue programs'? Subject of a longer piece.
- Next I had a lunch with John McArthur, the policy director at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Millennium Villages Project, collaboration between the Earth Institute, Millennium Promise, and the UN Development Program to promote community-level achievement of the Millennium Development goals across Africa. I have written on them before and I was interested in learning more, in particular and in particular learn more about MD Goal 4 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. My “Why Invest in Women” OPED is in the works so stay tuned. We had an explosive conversation that was filled with hope. Why? People everywhere, but in particular young people, are embracing change and want to use their talents to make the world a better place by addressing social challenges, like climate change. They see it as their job, not someone else’s, and we are going to see exciting new businesses emerge. My friend Alan Webber is all over this idea… you go Alan!! I am hooking them up.
- Lastly, I had the incredible opportunity to spend 1 ½ hours with David Rosenberg of ML. David has been predicting a recession that is both bad and different, for some time. Today his conversation focused on his latest publication “The Frugal Future.” If you can figure out a way to get a copy of it through someone at ML, do. Warning, do not have any sharp objects close by when you read it. This 90 page wallet size flip book is filled with charts and graphs and one liners that are both true, and frightening. His conclusions? Deflation. Deflation. Deflation. He figures we are at about the 3rd or 4th inning of this deleveraging process and there is going to be much pain before this process is over. We were quick to ask him where he thought the bottom of the S & P might be. Though he suggested we might call a proctologist who actually is an expert on bottoms, if we forced him to put on the rubber gloves, he thought 650 was the new level where we might hang out for a while. I could go on and on and on about this but just get your hands on what you can by this author and come to your own conclusions. I would also suggest reading this piece coming out of PIMCO. What do you do in a deflationary environment? I am neither an investment advisor nor do I give investment advice but here is what I have read about doing so far. Hunker down. Spend less, pay down debt, sell what you can sell if prices are at ‘old world’ prices are close to it, be very selective about equities and consider buying government longer term bonds. He also likes Gold. I continue to be VERY worried longer term about the US dollar and once I have that all figured out, I will get back to you. For a go deeper, must read, on the topic of deflation - read this speech by our current FED Reserve Chair. More from yours truly on deleveraging - click here.

Thanks for reading! If you have not signed up already for the NEWSLETTER, do on the right. Signing up will NOT send you my blog entries but there will be good stuff coming to your inbox.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Trouble With America is.....

Yet again I felt compelled to write this piece. Thanks to HuffingtonPost for getting it out in the world. The theme, that we can all do something to make a difference is so important right now. People, working individually and collectively, to create a more just and equitable world is truly the force that will get this country back on track.

At the bottom of the article I make reference to a video featuring ROB BELL that is part of the NOOMA series. We have most of the videos and I cannot recommend them enough. We watch them with our children, with friends, with anyone who is willing to have their world view challenged and perhaps.... shifted. My personal favorites are RICH and LUMP. They are going to be my gift of choice this holiday season. ( along with Wonder Woman T-shirts)
The one line of his that keeps going through my mind is - It is dangerous thing "when you begin to think that our world, is the world."

The Problems With Iceland

In my view the news in the financial and economic world continues to get worse, not better. I guess the markets agreed as last week equities in general were down with the benchmark S & P off 4%. I very much doubt we have seen the market lows. Why? The main reason is that the consumer is under massive retrenchment and with that comes the profitability of most of corporate America. The downward cycle is taking hold. People are spending less, so companies need to cut back, increasing unemployment, leads to more cut backs ….. and so on. I really wish I could tell you that this all ends nicely but right now I just don’t see it.

Things could be worse… you could live in Iceland. Please take a moment to read this chilling account of what happens to a country that spiraled out of control.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One of My Biggest Worries - Too Much Debt!!!! Plus GM and Ford

For a while know I have been asking people this question. How is the US going to fund our deficit? Who is going to buy all the debt we are going to need to issue? This question was addressed in a thoughtful piece in the FT yesterday called “Bonds caught between supply surge and deflation.” On the one hand US bonds look attractive because it is likely in the short term that inflation rates will be low. With inflation low, real rates, the difference between what you earn on a bond and the inflation rate is high. But on the other side is the massive supply issue. The FT suggested that the US will have to issue somewhere between $1.4 and $1.7 trillion of new debt. That is US treasury supply. They you have all the other kinds of debt – agency, munis, investment grade corporate, high yield, asset-backed – domestically and foreign, rollover debt and new debt. In this deleveraging world where capital has evaporated, this presents a huge problem.

Who is going to buy all this debt? Who? The answer that most people give is sovereign wealth funds and foreign central banks, but I ask the question why on earth would they want to buy debt yielding 4% when they have so many other choices of what to do with that money? And even if they are willing, they do not have enough money to do it.

This is going to be a problem. I know it in my bones. The end result will be much higher US rates which is going to cause even more pain. We are in between a rock and a hard place in this country. Torn between needing to spend to keep the economy going, and fear of spending because of the amount of debt we are creating. This is exactly why a rosy economic scenario is so hard to come up with. The answer will have to be we print money. Print it. Longer term that will mean a falling US dollar and inflation. There is as I see if no other way out.

A note on GM and Ford. This is a big problem that I have addressed previously but we are coming to a tipping point. They are running out of cash! Fully expect to wake up one morning soon and hear something BIG. By reading the paper I get the feeling that 'bailing them out' is less and less likely because it is WAY expensive and many feel irresponsible without a strategic plan to solve the problems plaguing the industry.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Leadership In Difficult Times – A Women’s Perspective

How I spent my whole day yesterday was truly my idea of a good time! I spent it in a room with approximately 300 successful businesswoman, listening to some of our countries top women leaders ( and a few men too) talk about what is going on in the world, how they are managing it, and what is coming next! The speakers included Brenda Barnes (CEO of Sara Lee - pictured here), Cathie Black ( President of Hearst Magazines), Andrea Jung (CEO of Avon), and Cokie Roberts. ( Political Analyst for ABC News and NPR). The day was hosted by Morgan Stanley and I would like to say THANK YOU for this important conversation and for making Women’s Leadership Visible!!!!

What were some of my main take-a ways? (It is hard to be brief given I have 30 pages of notes..but…)
- Women are there managing and leading in many organizations but there are few places where there is critical mass. We need to collectively figure out where, in what industries, we can get there and move in to those spaces to really see what female leadership looks and feels like.
- Who is CEO matters greatly. The direction of the company and the culture is heavily influenced by who is running the show. The values and priorities of that leader trickle down and seep in to every crack of an organization.
- Leadership in the times of crisis is about knowing where you are going, staying calm and focused, and relentlessly communicating!
- As a worker bee think about being essential to your organization. Be a problem solver and keep a great attitude.
- The general economic conditions for business are bad , everywhere. These CEOs are focusing on cutting costs and serving their customers well.
- We talked about many of the big problems out there: the failing auto sector, our growing budget deficits, the lack of availability of credit, rising unemployment, how to stop the slide of housing prices…… and so on. There are big problems that are not going to go away any time soon. The solutions are there but they are going to involve some tough choices and pain.
- Many speakers mentioned how much excitement there is around Senator Obama’s victory globally. They see it as very good for the US longer term.
- There was clearly a bunker down mentality in the room but there was also optimism and hope.

When people asked me what I did for a living I gave many of them this answer – I am helping to lead a women’s leadership revolution. As a woman leader I am worried about the state of the world and I believe that it is in the power of women working together that solutions lie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Taking Science Personally" - The MJF Foundation

I have to give a total 'shout-out' to the New York Times for yesterdays Giving Section! Love it. In particular I have to call your attention to the piece on the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research. My good friend Debbie Brooks is a co-founder of this organization and I recently invited her to speak at Circle Financial Group on this very topic! (Medical Research Philanthropy) I invite you to read the piece and celebrate the hope that they are offering to victims of this horrible disease. Give now.

By the way - I am starting a list of outstanding women in philanthropy and social change - and Debbie, your name is on it. You are a leader in this space and we thank you for the work you do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

GM: Running Out of Money and Running Out of Time the Government (will) Come(s) to the Rescue

Perhaps this, sadly, will be a major business theme for 2009.

Take GM. Friday they reported an loss of $4.2 billion and their stock is now trading at an all time low. It seems likely that a government bailout will occur, but in what form? I agree with Paul Ingrasssia in “Detroit Auto Makers Need More Than a Bailout” that there is a MAJOR problem with the business model that preceded this economic crisis. For years the major automakers have been in trouble but we avoided making tough decisions that perhaps could have given that industry a hope of a less painful turn around. Bottom line is their costs are too high and they make a lot of cars/trucks/SUVs/Hummers that Americans should not be driving. As I commented back in August when they reported a $15 bb loss, this was going to end badly.(for my piece on this back in August click here)

I went to France this summer and we tried to rent an SUV and we barely could find one. They do not exist over there. We got the biggest vehicle we could find and barely fit our suit-cases and two children in the car. Though we were shocked to be paying more than 4 euros for gas, we also did not need to fill up very often. I remember commenting to my husband that ‘this is what a fuel efficient vehicle feels like.” The government was smart. They taxed the heck out of gas which changed behavior. High gas prices this year threatened to do that here but those days are gone and the dream of purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle are fading as fast as our stock portfolios.
So what do we do now? As the author suggests ‘we’ (the taxpayers) have to come to the rescue. I agree that shareholder equity should be wiped out, contracts have to be renegotiated, unions are going to HAVE TO accept less and their needs to be new management brought in that has the vision and the political support to make it happen. But YIKES. This is not going to be easy. GM, FORD… are going to chew through so much taxpayer cash that it literally makes me want to throw-up. Yet again here is an example of “too big to fail.” First it was Fannie and Freddie, then AIG, then the Investment Banks, Banks in general, Money Market Funds, Muni Markets, Commerical Paper Market... now the auto industry. Next?

I cannot write an entry like this to say, yet again, failure of leadership!!!! Both the people who run these companies ( these White American Males - sorry dudes but you are) and the government are too blame. A solution that would have worked years ago would have been to see how the world was changing, and plan for it. ( much higher taxes on the sale of big cars, higher gas taxes to subsidize the business model transition) We should have taken the pain in the short term, to have had a hope of success in the long run. Yes Senator Obama the auto industry is the backbone of America, and the back is broken. Any doctor will tell you that the back is a tough thing to fix. America. Americans. We are going to be paying the price of this brokenness for a long time to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"How Far Will Deleraging Go?"

There was a very important piece (yet again as an OPED) in the WSJ that must be read to continue to build an understanding of the financial crisis and what lies ahead. Financial leverage, the borrowing of funds to supplement and magnify investment dollars, contributed greatly to the asset bubble in housing and real estate in general. When asset prices peaked, and started to turn downward, the opposite process began. Money was put in to the system and money now is being taken out. The effect of course is a destruction of capital or equity which lead to the financial crisis/credit crisis. With diminished capital banks cannot lend, unless of course they increase their leverage. So how much capital do they have now? What leverage are they operating under? It is enough to start lending again? These are the questions this article answers and sorry to say - not likely. Though it is possible through changing the rules (namely mark-to-market accounting) to help, the deleveraging process has not yet run it's course. Mr. Roche is estimating another $900 billion in credit related losses which is consisitent with a lot of other estimates I have heard. That capital needs to be provided by someone? The TARP fund just got a whole lot bigger and it is very likely we will end up with a socialized banking system. That is of course if those that have that kind of dough, namely countries that have huge reserves ( China, Japan, the Middle East) decide that owning the US Banks makes a lot more sense then owning treasuries at 1 to 4%. Somehow I don't think that is what Warren Buffet had in mind when he said "Buy American, I am."

I just came across this great piece profiling some of the top women in Business - take a look. (Thanks again to the WSJ - you are making women leaders visible!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

GREAT Women Speak Out !

I have died and gone to heaven. A whole bunch of my favorite women leaders are grouped together to talk about WHAT NEXT " - letters to President Elect Obama. Thank you to the National Council for Research on Women for making it happen. ( I am one proud ex board member and current advisory board member)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kathy LeMay, a Few Must Read Opeds, and a Market Update

I want to open with a shout out to my dear friend and philanthropic advisor Kathy LeMay who offers us some great advice on giving over at Misstroplolis. Kathy serves as a source of continuous inspiration to me on how to lead a generous life. I am hoping Kathy will do a guest post and generosity newsletter for me at some point soon but for now check out her web-site.

I have to bring your attention to a three opeds that were in yesterdays Wall Street Journal.

1) “President Elect Obama” – I went WILD then I read this statement. Wild. “One promise of his victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country.” The myth of racism????? Now because we have a mixed race President not only does racism no longer exist, but it never did?????? I have to add this to the very long list of issues to write more about but I had to draw it to your attention.
2) “I Vote NO Confidence in Congress” – by Harvey Golub. I agree with a lot of what he wrote. I have big concerns that the folks in Washington are not fully comprehending the consequences of their actions.
3) We Need Sustainable Capitalism – by David Blood and Al Gore. I know David from Goldman and he is a great guy. Generation Investment Management is a great example of a capitalism at it’s best.

The Markets – We had a nice rally up until Monday and then reality set it once again. Having bounced approximately 20% from the lows we gave back about 10% over the past few days. Sadly I do not think we have found a bottom. The economic news continues to be horrible. Just horrible. Across the ocean the Bank of England cut rates in a dramatic move that can only mean one thing – major problems.

I sent out my very first newsletter today so if you are not on my mailing list you are missing out. Add your email so you do not miss the next one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations Senator Obama! You Are Changing the Face of Leadership - Now Keep Going.

Congratulations Senator Obama. You have been chosen to be President of the United States and it is a most important point in this country’s history. You! You have the opportunity for greatness and more importantly, inspire others to greatness. Though race NOT been an issue in this election, as the first African-American President, you are the role model. You have shown this country and the world that a person that does not look like the majority in Washington, can get to the top. You made African- American leadership truly visible.

I ask you to keep it going. You promised change, now please deliver on that promise. Change the face of leadership more broadly. When you choose your cabinet and key advisors look broad and look deep. Assemble a list for each role that finds the BEST (intelligent, worldly, compassionate, passionate, connected, holistic thinker, experienced, action-oriented) people that you can, and make sure that there are women and minorities on that list. Don’t believe them when they say it ‘they don’t exist.” They exist; they just may not be immediately visible.

You have a big job ahead of you and I want you to know I am here to help. The economy is in trouble and so is the world. Like you, I have been called in to leadership. I have been called to put myself on the line to speak the truth as I see it. To tell the world that NOW is the time for Womens Leadership and to offer them solutions on how to make that happen. Now. People voted for you because they believed that you are THE ONE that could make America strong again, you captured thier hearts. Now continue to inspire everyone to be part of the solution.

May God Bless you Senator Obama, and may God Bless America!
Welcome to my Blog - Please sign up to the right for an upcoming newsletter. Thanks to all who take the time to read my blog and for your comments.

Monday, November 3, 2008

WAKE UP and VOTE! The Financial Markets Meltdown, What Next and the Matrix

I crawled out of bed at 4 am, again, because I had to write this piece which was published today on the HuffingtonPost. For the past year I have said bascially nothing on this blog around the election. What I typed this am, on the eve of the election, is what I have to say. In this piece is a list of the factors that I believe contributed to the financial meltown, and what needs to be done to correct it.

My conclusion...." This process does not end with an election; it should begin again with one. Let's put our hope in the new President but then work with him, alongside him, for positive change. For me, this means working to ensure that women and women's range of perspectives are included from top to bottom in the new Administration. In this moment, in particular, I am calling the next President to expand his view and look to women's leadership as he assembles his new team. In this country we do not know what women's leadership looks like, and it is time we did.

Let's turn to our 26th President Theodore Roosevelt for advice and "do what we can with what we have where we are" because this country, this world, this moment is calling to us. We are in trouble and we need everyone to take a helping role. You are "The One." Wake up, America. Wake up and Vote. "

I welcome your comments on HUFFPO.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How About a Little Common Sense?

October draws to a close, and what an October it was. First I want to thank all of you that have taken the time to post comments at Huffington Post, my blog, or have sent me emails. You have shared some of your most personal thoughts on the issues and I honor you all. You have also inspired my next big piece – “Why Women Leave, Why Men Let Us, and Why We Both Should Be Sorry We Did.” Please keep those comments coming. They matter. Women’s Leadership is important stuff. Very important. Plus, I am a little peeved that my husband’s piece on short selling that I forced him to publish got over 300 comments. Womens leadership versus short selling? I know which one I care more about.

The stack of ‘to read’ has now gotten so high that it is scaring me. I have this ‘thing’ where I will not throw out a magazine or a newspaper before I have at least glimpsed through it and this ‘thing’ is now out of control since I get four newspapers daily ( NYT, WSJ, IBD and FT), Barrons, and countless monthly and weekly magazines. I also get a ridiculous amount of online material and some of it is just excellent.

I would like to highlight the latest installment by Bill Gross as an example. As background I have known of Bill Gross for twenty years and have met him once when I visited the PIMCO’s offices as a trading desk manager for GS. He is one smart dude and he has hired very smart people. Very. His piece, SO CQish, spoke to me for many reasons but here is the major one.

I too think of “myself as a pretty smart gal, but not that smart.” I too think of myself as pretty long on the common sense factor which is a broadly underrated quality in this world. He goes on to say that it is the “ability to not just absorb information and recycle it upon demand, but to analyze it and apply it within a uniquely different framework” is what common sense is. Again, I agree. This reminds me of some of the research I have been reading about investment style differences between men and women for a paper I have been working on forever with the National Council of Research on Women that looks at women in professional trading and portfolio management roles. We asked the following questions? Do women versus men manage money differently? Manage risk differently? What does the research tell us? I will report back with a list of those studies but what the research basically tells us is that there is no evidence that women do a worse job, and they may in fact do a better job? Why? Because we take in more information and process it more holistically before we make decisions. Heck, even Warren Buffet has been said to invest like a girl.

His message was so validating to the point I am making about Women’s Leadership. Thanks Bill!!!! Bill is saying that the lack of common sense contributed to this mess. I would take it further and say the lack of common sense is at the root of all of this. Think about how decisions have been made over the past couple of months. Think of how rushed they have been? Is not the main criticism of the administrative reaction to all of this is that it has been seat of the pants? As a CQ woman pointed out to me in a note back on my piece - wouldn't common sense tell us you don't give mortgages to people without a down payment? Wouldn't common sense tell us that you don't buy billions of credit product you don't understand? Wouldn't common sense tell us that you don't leverage your company 35 to 1? Wouldn't common sense tell us you cannot spend your way out of a problem created by too much spending?

Women at a minimum are not likely to be worse leaders, and it is quite possible that we are better ones because we take in more information, think about it longer, before we make decisions. Because of this quality we are seen as more risk-averse, which up until recently, was considered a bad thing.

Go and read the piece as it goes on to talk about how leverage is credit gone nuclear which is why we are in this mess to begin with. I have called it in the past credit on speed. This does not end nicely according to Bill Gross because the deleveraging process is far from over. I would have to agree.
I am sorry I keep turning blog entries in to OPEDs... I cannot help myself as there is just so much to write about.