February 23, 2011
A portfolio manager
client crystallizes the return advantages an investor can expect using an asset
allocation strategy vs. a straight stock selection strategy by saying, "The
difference in the results of these two strategies when you retire will determine
whether you eat caviar or catnip
for the rest of your life." Which do you want?
Hold the catnip. Bring on
the caviar, thank you.
Opposites Attract Attention
In a world where whatever you are selling or advocating frequently sounds very
similar to what the other guy is saying, using opposing images is an effective
way to make your point. Examples abound in the media. Here are some followed by
how these could transfer to business.
discussing how the fortunes of GMAC soured shortly after a $7.2
billion infusion of capital from private equity firm Cerberus in
2006, Allan Sloan in
Fortune captures the essence of the disaster by saying, "The
ink had barely dried when GMAC's mortgage business, much of it
subprime, turned from a crown
jewel into toxic waste. The world financial system
began imploding, GMAC ran out of borrowing power and got
government help to stay afloat in late 2008."
article on President Reagan in
Time, the writer notes that while "Franklin Roosevelt
established political norms that lasted half a century...the
life jacket of one generation can become the straitjacket of the
so, while Reagan's boyhood hero was the New Deal president,
Reagan’s thinking radically changed and he became the leader of
a crusade for a conservative government.
completely reversed the American political calculus of the
1980's and ‘90's. He made the
Democrats the party of optimism and the Republicans the party of
root canal." Joe Klein,Time, 2/7/11
Milken, advocating for health care investment, in
The Wall Street Journal concludes his argument for
healthcare: "Improved public health translates directly into
greater national productivity, which underpins all economic
growth. So, let's get our priorities straight.
America's economy used to be
the sun - the gravitational center - in the 'solar system' of
leading nations. In the future, we'll no longer be the sun. But,
by investing in our own health, we can help solidify our
position as Jupiter, the largest planet."
Translate to Business
Think how you talk about your firm in its competitive space. "We may not be
as large as X, the sun, but we are certainly Jupiter, a very large presence in
the digital universe."
Think how you describe a process, approach, methodology, system. "Program A
will energize your employees while Program B will make their work feel like root
Think how you argue for or against different options. "Which new hire will
become our crown jewel and which risks becoming toxic waste?"
Think how you advocate change to the status quo. "What was our life jacket
client base for the last ten years has become a straitjacket for us as these
clients have seen their businesses go overseas."
My examples for this newsletter often come from business, news, and media
because I read these regularly. No matter what media you read, you will find
similar images as well. Don't just ride by them. Stop. Look. Take a mental
snapshot. Better yet, write the good ones down. Then use them to your advantage
at the appropriate moment.
Make what you say pay — with metaphors.
In Case You Missed It...
People Decide - Everything old is new again.
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Jane Newton, Wealth Manager, Regent Atlantic Capital LLC