Chris Lau - Seeking Alpha

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I Can't Remember If the Car Left First, or If the Girl Left First

Carl Icahn is an American billionaire financier. He appears in headline news as a "corporate raider." This means that his company will do what it has to do to unseat existing management of poorly run companies. The purpose for doing so is to change the way it does business. Most recently, Icahn wants to break-up Motorola. He believes its wireless division is worth more than the 0 value that the market is assigning it.

I am reviewing Motorola. Its wireless division is undervalued. Indications for strong sales are favorable:  Motorola's Droid and Cliq are very well-designed and well-received.

In the video below, Yale University's Professor of Economics Robert Shiller introduces Icahn as guest lecturer. Icahn speaks extensively about the lack of accountability in many (but not all) corporations. He explains that these CEO's are morons. They are selected to run the company, because they move up the corporate ladder by being:

1) likeable
2) politically astute.

A CEO's assistant is "dumber" than the CEO for the reason that the job security of the CEO will not be threatened by the assistant. When the CEO retires, the assistant gets promoted.

h/t for originally posting this video.

"I Can't Remember If the Car Left First or the Girl Left First" - Icahn, on winning ~$10,000 in poker, losing it all in 1962, and then deciding to earn money through his own skill and intellect.

Watch it on Academic Earth

During Q&A, Icahn talks about how to handle when things are going well or going poorly:
If you are do great, don't think you are a genius. If you are doing poorly, don't think the world is coming to an end.
- @27:42 min

So what? Work hard. Believe in your abilities. Stay on course (Embrace luck, which comes and goes). Below is Kipling's poem, If, Icahn mentioned to illustrate this frame of mind. My markings are in bold.

By Rudyard Kipling 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!