More Sour Grapes

by Norman Horowitz

The word “dick” denotes a penis.

Degenerates like me use the word often and in many ways. “You are a dick” means that you are not a nice person. “You have no dick” means that you fail to assert yourself and have no backbone. “Don’t behave like a dick” means don’t be a rotten person with others.

A good deal of the conflict in most organization is not in the best interest of that organization. From my viewpoint, the basis of that conflict is what I call “A Dick Thing.”

I believe that if you “Have a Dick” (HAD), you need not walk around proving that you HAD. Sadly, many of the management people I have run into “Had No Dick” (HND), so in order to be respected, they spent a good deal of their time demonstrating that they HAD.  

It was in the late ’70s that David Begelman, the finest executive I ever knew in my career, was forced out of his position for the flimsiest of reasons (check forgery and several other insignificant felonies.) David HAD. The company also forced out its President Alan Hirschfield. Alan also HAD.
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Both Begelman and Hirschfield trusted me to make deals. Hirschfield once told me, “Norman, you’re making a lot of money for the company. If any of the corporate staff get in your way, let me know, and I’ll get them out of your way.”

When Hirschfield and Begelman were thrown out of Columbia, the owner hired two people in New York to replace Hirschfield: Francis (“please call me Fay”) Vincent, who HND, and Robert L. Stone, who also HND.

Stone needed to demonstrate that he HAD at all times, one of the reasons why he spent so much time examining our salespeople’s expense reports in detail. He was very proud to introduce into the company a “travel and entertainment policy guideline” book, as well as a “limousine policy guideline” book. As I recall, they totaled well over 200 pages, which made everyone crazy. This was Bob’s attempt to demonstrate that he HAD.

The distribution organization that we ran was essentially a sales organization, so we all considered it our responsibility to keep our sales guys happy. It didn’t help to have Stone call the salesmen directly to inquire about a hotel or car rental invoice concerning very few dollars. I told Stone and Vincent that our sales guys were away from their homes and families more than 200 days a year, so if they spent a few extra dollars for a room service charge, that was fine with me.  Stone and Vincent went crazy.

Stone subsequently undermined my authority by going directly to one of my domestic salesman whom he used to “spy” on me and report what I was doing.

As it became clear that I wasn’t staying, Stone called me to tell me that I didn’t have the leverage that I thought I had in the area of acquisitions. He said he had conversations with people outside the company and would hire someone for under $50,000 to fill that function — someone who would do nothing else other than acquire product and would be better at it than I was. He didn’t have a clue, but because he HND, he needed to tell me why he HAD. To him, the process of acquisitions was simple. He wanted to prove to me that I was wrong by thinking that he HND!

When Stone was the Chairman of the Hertz Car Rental Company, he was listed as one of the ten most hated American executives by Fortune Magazine. It wasn’t difficult for me to see why.
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