by Norman Horowitz
In 1960, at Screen Gems International, I met a “tall, dark, and handsome” man named Larry Hilford.
Larry was very smart and very charming when he wanted to be. He was a Yale graduate, as well as a Harvard MBA, all of which I could tolerate. But I will never forgive him for his “movie star” good looks.
Larry and I both worked for Lloyd Burns, a South African/Canadian who was the personification of “two faced.” Lloyd had a farbissina punim, which, loosely translated from Yiddish, means that he was sourpuss. He saved his farbissina punim for people like me and other junior staff people. He was at his charming best when with our major customers and senior management.
Yes, he was smart, but to me smart is not enough for an executive (or politician) to function as effectively as possible.
Larry and Lloyd were a study in contrasts. Larry would cringe when anyone called him a salesman, but that’s what he was: a well educated man of vision who could sell what he believed.
I have noticed in my career that people like Larry, an actual operating executive and salesman, were not then, nor are they today, respected as they should be. America has bought into the notion that MBAs and lawyers are somehow qualified to run operating divisions or companies. Nowadays, it seems that senior management executives are mostly operationally inexperienced and sport their farbissina punims as a badge of honor.
The combination of intellect and charm and operating experience matters, and to me the political poster child for this would be Bill Clinton.
Antithetical to this would be Congressmen Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and Darrell Issa.
While I never agreed with the policies of the Bush boys or Ronald Reagan, none of them could be referred to as having a farbissina punim. The same cannot be said of these three infantile Republican Congressmen who, not too long ago, were setting sail for a witch hunt against Eric Holder, while a good deal of the world is falling apart.
Much to the chagrin of many of my Republican friends, our President Barack Obama is bright, charming, and ingratiating, and I would ask those who might be open to it to compare the countenance of Barack Obama to our three resident farbissina punim champions, Darrell Issa, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor.
I’m reminded of my days at MGM, where I was accused of being a bad manager because I was “too nice.”
Welcome to America.