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Excerpts of Win One for the $hareholders

book coverHere are seven key thoughts from Win One for the $hareholders

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there...Lewis Carroll

My job—which, like Alice’s journey, is always an adventure—is to quickly restore the truth and bring an absolute sense of reality to the situation at hand. How do I do it? Through a powerful mix of crisis-management experience, a proven turnaround model, a precisely crafted plan for the unique situation and a sense of urgency that creates a straight line from point A to point B and out of the rabbit hole. My goal, and the new reality of the company, when it comes out the other side of my process, is restoration of the equity value for existing shareholders through new profits and the new cash generated from their once broken and lost company.


All TUC-kered Out

Professionally, I focus on companies that are not yet distressed and that can be saved from the world of bankruptcy or worse—going out of business. These companies are what I like to refer to as TUCs or troubled and under-performing companies. Basically, these are companies that have lost their way on the corporate superhighway—with their bottom lines and shareholder value impacted by the detour—but can still find their way back onto the right road. If a company has temporarily lost sight of, but not abandoned, good business basics, has a supportive Board and dedicated management team AND a market (both clients and the industry at large) that is receptive to its products and services, it can often be saved.

70% of Turnarounds Fail

According to an article in the May 2000 edition of Harvard Business Review, 70% of all corporate turnarounds fail. When you think about the definition of turnaround, it's probably not surprising so many turnarounds fail. The definition of a successful turnaround is: A situation in which a company, which has had poor performance for an extended period, experiences a positive reversal of performance for an extended period. Transforming an extended period of poor performance into “a positive reversal of performance for an extended period” is no easy matter. But, as my twenty-year turnaround career has shown, it's not impossible.



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Introducing the Proven Model for Change

The battle to achieve a successful turnaround is largely fought before the turnaround ever begins. The turnaround executive must have a proven model to create the discipline required to conceptualize the turnaround plan and ultimately to actualize the plan.

In my case, the model has been constructed around years of experience and outcomes that have made it clear to me which solutions work and which do not solve the specific problems of a TUC. The model is also a way for the Board of Directors and shareholders to get a sense of what they are buying when they entrust their company to a turnaround executive and literally put the future of the company in his hands.

Transitioning to Growth and Profitability

If the reader takes nothing else away from the book, I want the following statement to be tattooed on his brain: A TUC needs more than a turnaround to survive long term—even one that's been perfectly executed. The TUC must be strengthened across all of its core competencies—and on its balance sheet—by a respectable amount of new capital at some point during the turnaround, or after the turnaround is complete, to successfully make the transition to the next stage of growth.

Rising Out of the Ashes

The spirit of a turnaround is a beautiful thing to watch evolve. It is like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, lifting the spirit of the company and its employees. It is what gives me my greatest joy when the turnaround is complete and success is at hand. It is also the fuel for the energy that takes over within the company after I provide the initial spark for the turnaround. Developing this new spirit within the management and employee infrastructure is a critical variable of the overall turnaround effort. So I watch closely, and if it does not take hold, I know I am doing something wrong as the CEO of the company and leader of the turnaround effort.

The American Way

In summary, I am frequently criticized for my strict—almost religious—adherence to the belief that the Board, management team and employees all work for the shareholders and that the shareholders MUST make money on their risk capital before we share in the fruits of our labor or equity appreciation in the company. After all, the fundamental truth of capitalism is that risk capital must be rewarded, or capitalism will cease to be capitalism because the investor will stop investing. 
Biography

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TURNAROUND FACTS

Ed Whitacre, the newly appointed chairman of bankrupt General Motors, proved in his turnaround of AT&T—which began in 1993 with the purchase of the company by Southwestern Bell—that creating growth and new revenues from product development is the key task in turning around a troubled company. Let's hope GM and the federal government listen to him.

President Ronald Reagan, my old boss, taught me the golden rule of turnarounds when he told me after a cabinet meeting in 1983, “ Al, you can get a lot more accomplished in life if you are willing to let other people take credit for your ideas.”

  
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