Off the Cuff

  • The biggest mistakes small business owners are still making

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    “You get a little bit of money, you get a little bit of success, and you kind of lose focus,” he said.

    But there was one person who could bring him back in to focus.“I remember my mother coming to my house one day and she looked at my car and said to me, ‘You got to be kidding me.  I mean, really?  You're in your 20s.  What do you do next?’  She said, ‘You're more impressed with what you're able to acquire than what you're able to give away.  And I'm not impressed.’"

    His mother may not have been impressed, but others were.

    Lemonis was born in Lebanon and adopted as a baby by a Greek family that owned car dealerships in Florida. The family was also very close with American business icon Lee Iacocca, who changed Lemonis’ career and life.

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    In 2003 he started buying up RV dealerships and three years later he merged with Camping World. The combined business now makes up about 25 percent of the entire RV market and is worth about $3 billion.

    Making those layoffs cut Lemonis deep.


  • 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.

  • Novartis CEO is a quick study—and he had to be

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Joseph Jimenez thrives on competition, and that’s a good thing, because he’s now working in an industry that has never faced such fierce competition as it does today.

    “The industry is really in a state of flux,” said Jimenez, the CEO of Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant.  “On the one hand, you have increasing demand around the world; we have the aging population and we have increased chronic illness in emerging markets.  At the same time, you have financial systems around the world and payers that are trying to contain costs.”

    “I was not a physician, and I wasn't a scientist,” he said. But he was determined.

    He took a crash course on the pharmaceutical business, being tutored two hours a day, every day, for a year.

    “We went over every drug in the company’s portfolio in great detail. We talked about the biology of the disease each one was intended to treat. We discussed the mechanism of action of various drugs—how and why they worked,” he said.

    His quick study of the company and of the industry has proven to be exactly what was needed at Novartis.

  • Deloitte Consulting CEO Wants Other CEOs to Relax

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    When he was fresh out of college, Jim Moffatt was managing about 40 employees. Not bad for a 22-year-old. Now at 55, Moffatt oversees 25,000 employees as the chairman and chief executive officer at Deloitte Consulting, one of the largest consulting service providers in the U.S.

    A lot has changed in the 30 odd years including what it’s like to actually be a manager.

    “Leadership has changed a lot over the years. You think back to the '80s and '90s; it was very command and control, very top-down oriented. The employees of today are much more eclectic. They're not looking to go to the same place and stay there forever. They're looking to be challenged. They have broader ideas of what really inspires them.”

    His advice to today’s CEOs: Open up.

    “A CEO has to be much more open; has to spend more time talking to their employees; has to really listen to what they're concerned about. It's not just ‘do this’ and they go do it, you have to really spend time with them.”

    Today’s employees Moffatt said will no longer just follow blindly, they want more information and they want to connect with their bosses.

  • Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf: I Never Set Out to Be CEO

    Gloria McDonough-Taub at Off the Cuff 3 yrs ago

    Growing up on a poultry and dairy farm on the prairies of Minnesota, John Stumpf, one of 11 children, learned a lot about hard work, competition and sacrifice. He shared a bed with two brothers. “I never got to sleep alone until I got married,” he joked with the Associated Press.

    Life in that packed house also taught him a lot about teamwork.

    “Even though we were very poor financially we learned the value of plural pronouns – we and ours…there wasn’t a lot of time for I, me and my,” he told Forbes.

    Those early lessons he learned while surviving those harsh winters have stayed with him and he employs them now as Chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo. 

    “We call our employees team members, and we think of them as our assets. We believe in plural pronouns, us, we and ours.”

    His rise to the top came the old fashioned way – he earned it.

    (Read more: The Most Overrated Jobs of 2013)

    So how does he do it?

    And when things go bad, they can go really bad.

  • 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. “