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Private Dancer

(originally published by Booz & Company)

Dear Monte:

Let us review the events of the past few days:

On Monday, you tell the board that due to lingering hurricane damage to the Louisiana plant, along with the downturn in U.S. automobile sales, you’re cutting AmSmelt’s earnings forecast this quarter. The founder’s twin sons — AmSmelt directors Otto and Carl — are not pleased.

On Tuesday, the board votes to extend your contract and increase your compensation package, citing your steady leadership in tough times. Otto and Carl abstain from the vote.

On Wednesday, in a piece of colossally unfortunate timing, the New York Post runs an item in its Page Six gossip column that has the former Mrs. Stellar (Caroline, the real estate agent) showing an apartment to the current Mrs. Stellar (Katherine, your former interior decorator), which is described as a “homey little pied à terre,” for $22.9 million. Otto and Carl are outraged.

And on Thursday, you suddenly discover that there’s a new Web site: “,” wherein the anonymous blogger is not only calling for your head, but has posted the floor plans for the NYC apartment, all your AmSmelt stock trades, your political contributions, and the flight plans of the AmSmelt corporate jet for the past 90 days.

This time, you’re outraged. And you suspect that Otto and Carl are behind it. So here’s my advice:

1) You can’t shut the blog down; you’re going to have to live with it. Alas, there is no such thing as “privacy” for the director of a publicly held company these days.

2) No matter how painful it may be, read the blog. Ignore the vitriol, but check out the comments section. There may be some useful information posted here from rank-and-filers that isn’t bubbling up to you.

3) Take heart in my suspicion that blogging is the new CB radio: for most people, a passing fad. It’s a maw that has to be fed. If sites aren’t continually updated, traffic drops off. You can only repeat the same thing so many times; sooner or later blogging fatigue sets in — for both the blogger and the reader.

4) Take the current Mrs. Stellar out to a nice romantic dinner, and inform her that for the next year or so, she’s going to be staying in hotels when she visits Manhattan.

Beyond this, allow me to quote from one of those Harvard MBAs you’ve just hired: It’s time to “intensify your value proposition,” start looking for “new ideation resources,” and “re-analyze your innovation fulcrum.”

In other words, go back to work.

I’ll be in touch –

The Biffster.

P.S. With regard to Otto and Carl: Several weeks ago you mentioned that Otto tried to expense a $27,000 “sales incentive meeting” at an infamous “gentleman’s nightclub” in New York City, and you’d put off confronting him about it. Perhaps you should drop by his office and encourage him to write a personal check, as “this is precisely the kind of thing that could turn up on a blog.” Yr. thoughts, pls.

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