Vice Presidents Anonymous is a conversation by and for corporate managers on the firing line. It is a private organization. Participation is free. Participation is anonymous.
Everywhere else in the corporate sector, career goals went off a cliff. The U.S. was just coming off inflation, record high interest rates (18% for a mortgage), the bailout of Chrysler, the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, the second collapse of the Savings & Loans, the Iran hostages, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and the death of once great household names like Singer, Zenith, International Harvester, and Pan Am. The Fortune 500 was decimated. But our banks weren't. We'd be getting our VP titles within a year or two, as we'd expected, and we'd shoot up the ladder from there.
We started Vice Presidents Anonymous accidentally over drinks after work. We were grousing about the long hours we were spending and how things were inefficient and not getting done and how certain whack-jobs kept getting ahead. It was in 1981, before any of us was actually a full Vice President. So, in a way, the birth of Vice Presidents Anonymous was the product of standard corporate career expectations.
About a year ago, it suddenly occurred to us that a lot of mid-level corporate executives and managers probably face the same kinds of challenges we've all been facing down through the years. There aren't any statistics on it, but with all the economic turbulence of innovation, globalization, and capital flight, on top of the devastating infestation of the Quarterly Earnings Disorder, we figured there must be at least a million mid-level executives out there who know exactly what we're talking about--but, unlike us--have no one to talk to about it.
In the old days, if you got fired, it was because you were incompetent, lazy or disruptive. The only thing corporations liked about recessions was that they could fire the people who were incompetent, lazy or disruptive--and not feel bad about it. Corporation's still fire people during recessions. But nowadays they also fire people in expansions. In fact, nowadays they fire people all the time. They have to. People cost money, and investors want their money back sooner rather than later. Since the people who are incompetent, lazy or disruptive were all fired several recessions ago, that means the only people left to be fired are competent, hard-working team players. So sooner or later, nowadays, everyone gets fired. Which means that nowadays getting fired is fair. Sort of. But, as they say, you can’t take it personally. Investors want their money back and they are pretty sure they know your business better than you do. And, anyway, it's their money.
The Friday after Thanksgiving Every Year
It was only a year before the whole thing cratered all over again--Mexico and Argentina defaulted, the biggest U.S. corporate lender--Continental Illinois--tipped over, the Japanese bought Pebble Beach, the whole of Texas slid down a dry hole--and took Kansas with it, Mike Milken and the leveraged buyout MASTERS of the UNIVERSE bought out our whole client base, the Rust Belt shipped heavy industry overseas for good, and the Savings & Loans went down for the third and final time. The whole of industrial America got laid off. This time the banks got hit. Yes, we all got our VP titles, but within 10 years the kind of banking we did--long term corporate relationships--was dead, and all the banks we worked for got merged. Everything went transactional--investment banks, leveraged buyout firms, hedge funds, private equity firms, pension funds--the investor took over the industrial base, boardroom, shop floor, parking lot, smokestacks and all. Within a decade, the banks we all worked at were gone--and so were those long, reputable, and well-compensated careers!
Starting NOVEMBER 29, 2019
NATIONAL BELEAGUERED MANAGER'S DAY
Which is why we created this Vice Presidents Anonymous platform. It is time that the mid-level corporate executives who get the job done right have a chance to be heard. And it's time that they get a chance to help each other get the job done right. Getting the job done right is still about vision, commitment, ethics, discipline, hard work, self-respect, and teamwork. But it's also about having one hell of a lot of fun. We know because we've been having fun since we started in 1981, and we've been at battle stations the whole time. So, join the conversation!