Get Into the Game

As a fan of baseball, I found it a pleasure to read John Anderson's article [" A Lesson in Grit," April]. I would, however, have liked to see how Omar Minaya managed to rethink the business strategy of the Expos with over 100 new staff members and less than a year to reach his goal. Such an effort does not occur by magic; a few citations on the problems of business marketing with an entirely new staff would have been valuable. The Expos' turnaround seems incredible given the horrific state of affairs Jeffrey Loria left his former franchise in -- truly a Cinderella story.

Matin A. Sheikh, Application Developer
UBS PaineWebber
Weehawken, N.J.

Customer Rituals

Alison Wellner's " Consumers in the Mist" [April] may seem way-out, if not wacko, to those not familiar with ethnographic research. In reality, it's not a new field. Paco Underhill's seminal work on store design, Why We Buy, is based on sending armies of researchers to observe every action of shoppers in retail settings, for example. I have one burning question, though: Have these researchers been able to derive any general "truths" about the settings they have studied? Wellner would have a marvelous feature-length article, if not a book, if the results of the ethnographic research firms could be collated and analyzed.

Eric A. Sohn, Chief Executive Officer
IdeaFountain Business Coaching
Stamford, Conn.

Troubled by Tyranny

What Adam Hanft says in his April column [" Down With Bossocracy"] is all too true. I know, oh brother, do I know. I've been a serf in more bossocracies than I care to think about. Your article particularly reminded me of when I was with a megalithic company's in-house agency. We were creating a brochure for one sales group, and naturally, the vice president of that group had to stick his hands in everything. He demanded that all headlines be printed in purple. Why? Because purple was his wife's favorite color. No other reason.

Ad and marketing firms are also susceptible to another form of oppression, "ideocracy." They're so obsessed with the "hot new concept" that they forget their raison d'être: to create advertising that creates sales. But which would you rather have: more sales or a handful of awards?

Michael C. Westlund, Independent Consultant
Garden Grove, Calif.

Big Banker Is Watching You

Norm Brodsky's advice in Street Smarts [" Yes, a Borrower Be, but ...," March] was sage. However, he forgot another mistake: thinking that your banker is your friend. Most decisions to pull the plug on a company are not made by your friendly loan officer. They're made by "asset specialists" whose only objective is to remove the loan from the bank's books. There is no concern about whether that is accomplished by refinancing from a new lender or liquidation of the company's assets. As soon as this procedure begins -- typically with the bankers asking for additional collateral or a loan paydown -- you'd better get a skilled specialist to assist.

Alan H. Silverman, Managing Director
Silverman, Smith, Bingen & Rice
Kalamazoo, Mich.

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