By letterhead | December 7, 2009
No one seems to be dancing to Goldman's tune these days. No matter how hard they crank the 'ole gramophone. But they are trying a new approach, actually publishing dance steps to Goldman's Bonus Hustle… a 14-page presentation on why they make so much damned money.
First though… who's getting the blame for Goldman's missteps? According to Charlie Gasparino it's the highest paid PR guy in the business: Goldman PR chief Lucas Van Praag. (Well… it's hard to say in fact he is the highest paid. Maybe George Sard makes more. But $1 million + probably puts Van Praag close to the top.)
According to the Charlie:
"a much-needed shift in public-relations strategy is in the works, sources close to the firm say"
Hmmm… interesting that this news appeared on the same day that Bulldog Reporter's newsletter (The Daily Dog) reported that Goldman has put out a 14-page slide presentation explaining why its executives deserve to make so much money. And boy is it a dooozy!
DO THE HUSTLE!… THE NEW GOLDMAN DANCE CHART
If this represents the company's "much-needed shift" in PR strategy then it is in big trouble.
The charts and graphs are pretty, if entirely abstruse. Its main point seems to be that Goldman does much better than its peers, which is why its execs get paid more. What it doesn't address are all the issues that people actually have a problem with… like:
– Why does the entire sector suffer from bloated salaries and bonuses?
– Why is your bonus pool so stupendously huge… less than a year after you nearly went bankrupt?
– How did you TRIPLE firm revenues in just three years (2004 – 2007) after five years of relatively flat earnings?
– Could it possibly be that you attached a Hoover to the mortgage and derivatives markets — sucking out tens of billions in earnings and leaving the nation's pockets empty?
THE ZERO-SUM END-GAME
When this game of musical chairs is over, Mr. Van Praag may be without a seat at the Goldman buffet, but my guess would be that Goldman's C-Suite is so hidebound and tin-eared when it comes to reputation risk, that no one could talk sense to them. Even if one dared.
But it does show to go ya, you can bite your tongue in the presence of sr. execs and execute on all their bad ideas to save your job and not rock the boat. But bad ideas are bad ideas and they never work. And the one who ends up executed is you.
The short-term incentive is to shut up and salute. In the long-term it gets you the same place you would have if you'd spoken up and challenged them in the first place.
Kinda makes you think…maybe speaking up and challenging the powerful is worth the risk.
Who knows, you might succeed. At least you can say you tried. And you won't end up the scapegoat for all their bad ideas.