Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Corporate America Trained

The mayor was the luncheon speaker at the Sioux Falls Business Conference - Innovation - A Changing Market Place a week ago and he gave the conferees a "business" lesson. He said he was the "business guy" and he was going to share what he learned over 25 years in business.

He said he was Corporate America trained; he managed hundreds, motivated thousands, spent millions and millions of dollars and generated billions of dollars.  He went on for the next 45 minutes outlining what he believes are the basics in business.

Most of the "basics" are common tips that you hear consultants present in training classes. A few of his comments regarding some of the basics stand out to me:

  •  Working smartest and harder than anyone else will not get you noticed. You have to market yourself.  He said there were the smartest and strongest people working at Citibank and Premier and nobody knew who they were.  I find that an interesting comment. I was corporate trained for 15 years in the Bell System before coming to work for the city and working hard and working smart is exactly what got people noticed and what got them promoted. Marketing yourself is not equal to working hard and working smart. You may talk a good game, but if it is just smoke and screens eventually you will fall flat on your face because you are just a talking marketing cardboard cutout.
  • When you make a mistake, notify your boss. You should be thanked for it.  That is not what I hear is going on at the city. Three words - culture of fear. He said in city government there is a strong feeling of not making a mistake for fear of the press and the people. I submit there is a fear of him and his reaction.
  • If you don't like it here, leave. When you leave, you will be replaced in an instant.  The mayor went on to say when he left Citibank, he was the "golden boy."  I agree with this philosophy to a point. No one is irreplaceable or indispensable. However, there are varying degrees and reasons  why people are unhappy. Some are just complainers and don't value what they have in their job. For others, their dislike for their job or their unhappiness could be because of a new management style or an intolerant boss mentality.  It could be because of something we as leaders do to make the environment difficult. This "just leave" philosophy is dangerous in the workplace and disenfranchises people without further investigation. It's how you lose good people. A "my way or the highway" philosophy is not an admirable "business acumen" trait.  
He talked about giving the city council a book about how to become a millionaire and how controversial it was and that the city councilors missed the point. He gave it to them because he said it was about sacrifice, hard work and discipline. He said, "folks, you are not what you drive." I doubt they missed the point. He believes this book is an example of who he is. Easy for him to say as he lives in the most exclusive residential section of the city and as he builds his new "vacation home."

Yes, his luncheon speech was good for those in the audience who may just be entering the business world. I would venture most of the seasoned "business" people have heard the "basics" before. He always seems to mar the message by his grandiose reflections of himself, however. He has to constantly tell us he is working hard and working smart. He is constantly "marketing" himself.

Another thing he hammers over and over again is his constant reflection on his corporate business experience. It is a major put down to the hundreds of professionals in the city who may have never been corporate trained but have dedicated their entire professional life, education and training to public sector work and are excellent leaders and managers in the city.  It's as if working in the public sector does not count, that somehow it is mediocre.  He comes across that if you are not "corporate trained" you have no credible "business acumen."

Business is business whether it's public sector or private sector. Do you bring value to the public sector when you are Corporate America trained. Yes, you do. Does it make you better than everyone else there? No. You may have come from Corporate America but you don't know jack s...... about government and how it operates. It's a whole new learning curve.

Maybe, just maybe, the mayor should quit beating everyone over the head with the Corporate America trained and business acumen mantra and his personal marketing agenda and move on by listening and try to learn and understand something new. Oh, and maybe listen to the public sector experts once in a while.

His "basics in business" are common sense basics that don't just apply to or come out of Corporate America. Contrary to what he thinks, city government is a business too. After a year in office, he still thinks Corporate America is the only real business place that counts for anything.

I suggest he take a class offered by the city called Situational Leadership Training, taught by T. J. Reardon.  Maybe just maybe, he will learn something new and useful about leading a new "business" called city government.


  1. The Mayor is a very nice man. Some of what he says is very correct, government can learn from good businesses. But, business is not perfect either. If they were, why did the U.S. Government have to bail out the biggest banks on Wall Street? Citi, top amongst them. Because business does not always do it right either.

    Also, government is not business. Their goals are different. The Mayor is finding that out. If customers asked business to do what they ask their governments, they would mostly be told NO. But, they are told yes everyday by government. More and More.

  2. Does any one feel like he is T Denny owned?

  3. " he managed hundreds, motivated thousands, spent millions and millions of dollars and generated billions of dollars." "I was the golden boy"

    I, I, I are always in his speeches. New tag words for this mayor are Exagerator, Boastful, Prideful. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.

  4. Market yourself - isn't that a nice term for brown nosing? I got along fine on smarts and hard work, thank you.

  5. Market yourself - isn't that a nice term for brown nosing? I got along fine on smarts and hard work, thank you.

    Exactly what I was thinking. My career was spent working smart and hard. It paid off for me, and would not have wanted to do it any other way. You were too kind in your description of marketing yourself. It's called a$$ kissing. It works for a small percentage of people, especially in corporate America. But then these a$$ kissers are the joke of those they "work" with. I'll take the nose to the grindstone approach any day.

    As for being owned by T Denny? Based on this me,me,me mayor,I'm guessin T Denny and the Premier CEO gladly showed him the door as fast as they could when "honest" mike told them of his political aspirations.

    I ALMOST feel sorry for the guy. Really...I do.


  6. "Working smartest and harder than anyone else will not get you noticed. You have to market yourself."

    So that means the directors Huether replaced were hired because they could market themselves and he has no idea if they are truly competent or not.

    I guess if his "marketing" approach destroys City Government, I'll be invited to leave if I don't like it in Sioux Falls anymore.

  7. That is good, Polly. Makes you wonder what the parting at Premier was really all about since Huether was out of a job for a year "marketing" himself for mayor. I just cannot stand to listen to this guy talk and I feel sorry for those city employees who have to endure him for three more years not to mention all us citizens who now have to worry about all the damage to personnel, budget, etc. he is going to do during his remaining term. Can't you just hear him say " I am going to hug myself, I just love me!"

  8. What is this egomaniac going to do when the events center vote goes down with a resounding NO! We can only hope he will resign. Wishes!

  9. Hopefully after the next election Mayor Huether will have all the time in the world to enjoy his new vacation home.

  10. I admit that I voted for "My Man Mike" last year as a vote not for him but a vote against Kermit Staggers. Can I change my mind? He certainly likes to use all of his hot air to toot his own horn.

  11. Mayor is a new politician. It seems like many who voted for him are unhappy, are others who did not vote for him now his supporters?

    My guess is that if Candidates like Costello, Brown and Peterson do not split their vote next time, one of them or someone like them could defeat the Mayor.

    Voters are fickle. South Dakotans only really liked something like his style once in the past, that I remember.

  12. A new game has been developed when listening to a speech by the Mayor. It's called: "Count the number of I's!" It's a little distracting - you don't really get to hear the gist of what he is saying, but don't worry. He never says anything new and it's a great way to avoid nausea.

  13. It's a pretty well known fact that there were no tears of sadness by his co-workers when Huether left "Citi" or "First Premier".