Magazine

Revenge In Business: Handle With Care


"Sweet revenge" (Cover Story, Jan. 22) reminds me of advice given by basketball legend Bill Russell: "Select your enemies well. One day you will be just like them."

Alec Hill

Madison, Wis.

In a former workplace I had a chance to undermine a co-worker who'd previously earned my dislike. Due to a computer malfunction, a 100-page document she was composing vanished. The loss guaranteed she'd never make her deadline.

I watched her stress mount for a moment or two, but I couldn't resist pointing out something she didn't know. She'd accidentally CC'd me a recent draft of her document. Relief washed over her as she realized she'd make her deadline after all.

Why did I do that? I guess having whiffed the dregs of retribution, I realized something George Orwell once wrote: "Revenge is sour."

Timothy Chambers

West Hartford, Conn.

It's fitting that your cover story on revenge is in the same issue that notes Howard Stern's second-act success ("Stern's Latest Bonanza," The Business Week, Jan. 22). For all the flak he got for jumping to satellite and all the verbal barbs he took from rivals over his initially smaller audience, there is no better revenge than an $83 million bonus on top of $100 million base pay in 2006.

Lincoln Merrihew

Northborough, Mass.

Like managers across the U.S., I've been pulling together annual performance appraisals for my employees. Needless to say, your article on revenge was timely. The last thing I needed to read were details of retribution, spite, and loathing from unhappy employees. It reminds me of advice from an ex-human resources mentor before annual appraisal season: "Don't forget to install your remote car starter."

Michael L. Puldy

Superior, Colo.

I was extremely disappointed that you chose revenge as the topic of your cover story. Surely, with the unparalleled pace of change and the challenges of the business world today you could have found a more progressive subject that reflects this change and the thinking of modern management gurus.

Revenge is about short-term gain at the expense of long-term health. Whatever happened to doing the best you can because of your own standards? Didn't your mother ever tell you that the only competition is with yourself?

Lou Schwartz

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Repeatedly listing an overpriced house as "newly listed" is not illegal. However, it is unethical ("New listing! (sort of)," News & Insights, Jan. 22).

If a seller is not willing to sell a house or property for market value, it should be taken off the market indefinitely. The free market should not be manipulated by broker shenanigans. Buying a house is the most important and expensive decision most consumers will make.

Real estate agents need to start policing themselves or run the risk of being regulated. Perhaps part of the titling system should involve a unique, permanent Multiple Listing Service number that is assigned to a particular house and is used every time it is bought, sold, or listed. That way, brokers would have one less way to dupe honest, trusting home buyers.

Charles E. McCannon

Darlington, Md.

"EMC: A fresh tech star" (Inside Wall Street, Jan. 8) included a paragraph stating: "It was a very good year." In fact, it was a terrible year. On Jan. 6, 2006, EMC (EMC) closed at $13.72. The article refers to a current price of $13.47—in a year when average equities averaged double-digit advances.

Kent Van Allen

Lynchburg, Va.

In "Outsmarting the market" (Special Report, Jan. 22), you say the lesson of Barclays Global Investors' brainy work is that the average investor should "Get thee to an index fund. Now." You also state that the Standard & Poor's (MHP) 500-stock index has outperformed 71% of large-cap managed mutual funds over the past five years.

So why does BusinessWeek continue to regularly feature best-investment articles that list performance histories of mutual funds? If past performance is indeed not a predictor of future performance, and if only about 30% of funds can be expected to outperform the index anyway, are you not doing your readers a disservice by offering them what at best amounts to nothing more than drivel and at worst steers them in a dangerous direction?

Dan Rothman

Fountain Valley, Calif.

While I have great respect for those who earn a living critiquing wines, I often find it hard to take some of their overblown pronouncements, such as "pinot noir...is of little interest" ("These pinot noirs live up to the hype," Executive Life, Jan. 22).

As someone who has derived pleasure from drinking wine for more than 50 years, though I still enjoy the complex Bordeaux in my cellar from the 1970s and '80s, I truly love the simple, pleasant, easy-to-drink wines from the Côte de Beaunté, the Beaujolais, and the delightful Sangioveses from Tuscany, to say nothing of the pinots from Carneros, which I have relished for 20 years.

These put-downs are something I have long resented and ignored as nose-in-the-air, holier-than-thou, irresponsible statements for an audience with which I am not familiar.

Mark Wittels

Oro Valley, Ariz.

Your book review of Coronary: The True Story of Medicine Gone Awry ("Open-heart nightmare," Books, Jan. 22) unfairly portrays Stephen Klaidman's unfortunate account as endemic in a profession with an "all-too-frequent association of medicine and profit-mongering." It leaves the reader with the "stark and enduring lesson" of considering a second opinion when seeking medical care, as if to say that many (if not most) doctors may well be motivated by profit at the expense of patient care.

As a student at Harvard Medical School and a frequent observer of what goes on in many of the hospitals in the Boston and New York areas, I find this portrayal to be grossly inaccurate.

Virtually all the health-care providers I have met and worked with are clearly honest, humanitarian individuals with a sincere desire to help those in need, even at the expense of extra profit. Cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and orthopedic surgeons alike will dependably opt to medically manage their patients, when indicated, even if this means no invasive procedure and therefore less money.

Many of my classmates, in fact, had the opportunity to work for hedge funds or investment banks but went to medical school instead because they wanted to be healers, even though they knew they would not earn as much money as they would have if they had entered the business world.

Yehoshua C. Levine

Brookline, Mass.

"Meet the funds that perform" (Personal Finance, Jan. 22) looked good at first blush, but when I looked up the A-rated funds in the foreign category, 12 of the 14 were closed to new investors.

To put it mildly, this is not very useful for an individual investor who is trying to find a good fund. How about also listing the open/closed status as well?

Mike Kwan

Sunnyvale, Calif.

Editor's note: For an updated list of which mutual funds are open and which are closed, please go to www.businessweek.com/extras.


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