This is a metaphorical essay on personal ethics, worthy of a serious read and contemplation. When I saw the title I was intrigued but suspected it had something to do with Andy Grove’s adage, “sewage flows downhill,” which means “if anything bad happens it will eventually flow down to you.” This is about ethics. The points made here are particularly apt in light of the huge number and sheer scale of recent business frauds: the Volkswagen fraud, LIBOR, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, Conrad Black in Canada, Olympus in Japan, Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom, Tyco International, stretching back all the way to Enron, Michael Milken’s junk bonds, and the 1980’s savings & loan debacle.

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Liar’s Poker is one of those books one of your friends strongly urges you to read. A short little book, the recommendation I got from Bill Howe, my Canadian Intel colleague in Europe, was that it was a hilarious read. And so it was. It reads like Animal House. Michael Lewis also recently wrote The Big Short, his analysis of the 2008 financial meltdown. Liar’s Poker has been described as a comedy, and The Big Short as a tragedy, which seems very apt to me if you have heard Michael discuss both books. Many may know Michael best for his recent success with Moneyball.

Some people seem to be having a problem with Nick Hanauer. He seems to have pissed off a lot of people, but at the same time, he seems to be talking sense and to have achieved significant traction. This often seems to happen in times of turmoil and change. A multi-millionaire in his own right, but also someone with a profound liberal arts and humanities grounding, Mr. Hanauer has called “foul,” with the behavior of the 1%. I am personally fascinated with people like this, because I sense that Hanauer is somewhat like me. I worked with Ivy League MBA’s at Intel who said to me that they wished that they had my humanities education, while I told them that I wished I had their management education. I now teach management in a prestigious university and can comment intelligently.

  Clockwise from  top to bottom, former Nortel CEO Frank Dunn, CFO Douglas Beatty, and Controller Michael Gollogly […]