Captains of Industry

January 09, 2009

Captains of Industry

This week I received my 92nd Street Y catalogue of lectures, events, and everything under the sun that is available at this amazing institution. It truly is a New York landmark of cultural affairs and happenings.  I often attended the Captains of Industry CEO engagements that are moderated by BusinessWeek’s top editor. This year is their 10th year.  So I was eager to see what the schedule would be for 2009. I can’t say I was too surprised to see that it was fairly skimpy. Henry Paulson spoke in December (if he made it out of DC due to the bailout) and Martha Stewart is slated for February 2009. Martha is not one to shy from controversy and take a stand. And that’s it. Executive visibility is probably not too high on company agendas as the economy delivers its daily shock waves.  Or perhaps it’s impossible for CEOs to schedule anything when they do not know if they will make it to the second quarter. BusinessWeek included an article this week on which CEOs were most likely to lose their jobs in the next 12 months. My guess is that CEOs are being ultra-selective about what they do that requires  them to be away from running the business day to day.  CEO reputations are on the hot seat. Makes sense.

More of the speaking platforms are geared towards the economy instead. The 92nd Street Y has Paul Krugman on deck along with Robert Rubin, Gary Hirshberg (CEO of Stonyfield Farm), Larry Summers and real estate pros from Corcoran.  The economy and business are grabbing the headlines whereas captains of industry are busy plugging the holes in the lifeboats (for good reason).

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

  • Joy Marie Sever
    Posted at 01:12h, 10 January Reply

    Interesting observation Leslie. I wonder if the Captains of Industry know that if they are to re-gain the identities they’ve lost, they are going to have to tell their stories – monsters and all. It was not until Odysseus did this (during his stay with the Phaeacians) that he was able to return home to Ithaca and begin to reclaim his role as leader.

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