Off the Cuff

  • Peter Diamandis: Mining Asteroids, The XPRIZE and Changing the World

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Growing up as a kid, Peter Diamandis fantasized of being an astronaut and flying in space. He never made that trip, but he’s championing some out of this world ideas including reinventing health care and revolutionizing education, saving the oceans and mining asteroids.

    “I think that we're living in a time where there are trillion-dollar opportunities that never existed before.”

    Like mining asteroids.

    “Some of these asteroids that we're targeting are worth trillions of dollars in fuels in strategic metals” and Diamandis believes the sky’s the limit, “asteroid mining really is effectively a limitless marketplace.”

    Having obtained degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT and his MD from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, Executive Chairman of Singularity University and the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources. He also boasts of having created more than a dozen companies.

  • Ken Blanchard: The “One Minute Manager” Remains Timeless

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Thirty years ago the “One Minute Manager” hit the book shelves. It was one of those “once in a lifetime books” a book that created its own category and became the bible for managers around the world.

    The “One Minute Manager,” co-authored by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is a parable; it reads more as a story than a textbook, or as Blanchard has called it, “a kids’ book for big people.”

    It is an easy to read book that reveals three very practical secrets of managing people: one minute goals, one minute praising and one minute reprimands. The theory was to keep it simple so that the complex information would be easy to digest and to put into practice.

    Read More: Meredith Whitney: I Have Doubts All the Time

    One of the biggest complaints Blanchard has with today’s leaders, is the “human ego.”

  • Jim McCann: From Bartender to 30 Million Clients

    CNBC at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Nothing says it like flowers.

    “We got a visit from the FBI one time,” Jim McCann, the founder and CEO of, told “Off the Cuff.” “We’d sent a funeral piece to someone who wasn't yet dead—with a special message on the card. We learned that, some things, you should turn down.“

    They can afford to. With 30 million customers worldwide, the online florist and gift empire brought in more than $716 million in revenue in 2012.

    In 1976, McCann was the night counselor at a group home for young men in New York. He did odd jobs to supplement the low pay. “Being an Irish Catholic kid from South Queens, it's a genetic requirement that I work in a bar,” he said. One day, a man came into the bar (true story). He told McCann that he was selling the flower shop he owned. McCann bought it.

    He bought more flower shops and in 1986 changed the company’s name to the distinctive “1-800-Flowers.” It was one of the first ventures to sell flowers over the phone and to adopt a mnemonic device as its name.

  • John Hendricks: The ‘Discovery’ Man

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    John Hendricks is a curious man whose lifelong pursuit for answers led him from being a history major to making history.

    Hendricks is the founder and Executive Chairman of Discovery Communications, the world's number one nonfiction media company seen in more than 220 countries and territories with more than two billion cumulative subscribers.

    Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the cable giant encompasses 190 networks including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science, Investigation Discovery and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and has a market value of roughly $28 billion.

    But as with any discovery, there were some obstacles along the way.

    “We all make mistakes and one of the ones that I made was to push our company into retail.”

    Hendricks pushed his media company to buy the Nature Stores, a national retail chain based in Berkeley, California and in more than 160 malls across the country. It was a big investment and a big risk. And it failed.

    (Read more: 5 People with the Coolest Jobs Ever)

  • Bob Lutz’s Greatest Fault May Also Be His Greatest Strength

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Bob Lutz is a bigger-than-life executive, filling the room with his presence and his booming, gravelly voice.

    Lutz is one of the most respected leaders in America and best known as the “ultimate car guy” after spending nearly five decades in top management positions at four automakers: Detroit’s Big Three and BMW.

    He’s so highly respected that General Motors hired him out of retirement in 2011 to be its “product czar.”

    Lutz admits that he may be outspoken to a flaw. His battles with “bean counters” and his passion for products have given him a distinct reputation both inside and outside the boardrooms. “My weak points were always a tendency to speak out of turn or speak too long or be too critical,” Lutz said.

    Often his peers would try to talk him out of speaking his mind but, “what kind of sense of responsibility is that on the part of an executive when they will… for reasons of personal safety…let their boss make a serious mistake? I mean, I think that's almost criminal neglect. “

  • Fred Hassan: I’m an Unusual Leader

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Fred Hassan is a soft-spoken man who exudes the manners of a well-born gentleman; polite, confident and restrained. In this era of publicity-seeing CEOs he stands out for not standing out.

    But on Wall Street, he’s a rock star.

    Hassan is a master of change and widely regarded for his ability to turn around struggling companies. His record is impressive: six companies on three continents.

    His secret? The 67-year old told "Off the Cuff" that, in part, it begins with employees: “My secret sauce… is to get the people to buy into the dream. Get them to be aligned around this common dream, and get them to put a lot of their own passion into the execution.”

    Hassan relishes a challenge, but before jumping in, he asks himself one question: “Is there an opportunity for me to add value here? If I can make a difference, I'll take that job,” he said.

    “Generally, when I've looked at companies, they were companies that were in trouble. And there were some big difficulties,” he said. “Usually, it was a broken culture, and sometimes there were immediate financial pressures. “

  • Mark Tercek: A Wall Street Plan for Nature

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    When Mark Tercek describes his job, he puts it this way “we're winning many battles, we might be losing the war.” Many would consider that a bleak outlook especially from the man who’s leading an organization that’s trying to save the earth.

    Tercek is the CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit group founded in 1915 (its name then was the Ecological Society of America). His path to the nonprofit world came via his career at one of the world’s biggest for profit companies, Goldman Sachs where he had worked for 24 years and had risen to the enviable and lucrative position of managing director.

    But even with an enviable paycheck, it wasn’t enough.

    “Lots of people ask me how and why I left Wall Street to join The Nature Conservancy and why, in particular, The Nature Conservancy. I couldn't be happier. As a Wall Street investment banker, I became very interested in the environmental cause. And as a parent, I became very interested in getting my kids exposed to nature.”