You probably know exactly how much time is eaten up by the meetings you're forced to attend. Now you can calculate the cost, too. Meeting Miser, a widget just launched at PayScale.com, uses the Web site's database of 10 million income profiles from 4,000 companies to estimate meeting participants' salaries. A user enters attendees' job titles and the company's regional location, and the electronic meter calculates (roughly) the cost per second. The widget can be loaded onto a laptop or mobile device, with results exported to a spreadsheet. As it ticks, the meter can also be projected alongside PowerPoint slides--an element sure to startle some life into a ho-hum presentation.
White-elephant stadiums may become a rarer sight, as cities hosting the Olympics, or hoping to, plan resizable arenas. For the 2012 Summer Games, London is to build an 80,000-seater that will be pared to 25,000 seats afterward. And as it competes for the 2016 Games, Chicago is proposing an 80,000-seat stadium to be largely dismantled later--leaving 5,000 seats. The plan, praised by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge as a "blueprint for the future," involves designing components to withstand just 30 weeks of activity. The cost: about $350 million, says Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky, a third of the price of a permanent 80,000-seater.
In case you didn't catch it the first time around, former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) director Tom Perkins--co-founder of venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers--says it once more with feeling: He thinks former HP chair Patricia Dunn was bad at her job. Perkins devotes the opening chapter of his memoir, Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins (Penguin), to Dunn. "Why not start with what the average reader associates my name with?" he told BusinessWeek. Dunn, he writes in Valley Boy, was obsessed with rules at the expense of strategy--an obsession that led to her probe into board leaks and to the now infamous "pretexting" that prompted him to quit. (Dunn denied knowledge of the practice, by which directors' and reporters' phone records were obtained under false pretenses.)
Perkins then moves on to personal topics, many discussed with a dose of self-congratulation. ("Harvard Business School was a snap, a breeze.") Much of the book details his adventures in collecting cars and other pricey playthings. More entertaining, though, is a chapter on his search for an artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet in the mid-1980s. He faced a negative press, demoralized dancers, and, interestingly, a dysfunctional board--including a leaker.
File under Sorry, Wrong Number. In July a broker making cold calls from Saxon Financial Services in Atlanta reached the home of Jake van der Laan in Canada and made a tantalizing offer: Invest in call options for unleaded gasoline and foreign currency and reap a 300% windfall in three months. Two problems: Promising investors such returns is illegal--and van der Laan happens to be the enforcement chief at the New Brunswick Securities Commission. Feigning interest, the regulator took up to four calls a day from Saxon over the next two weeks (including at work), until he had enough information to act. On Oct. 31 the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission joined in, announcing it had charged Saxon with fraudulently soliciting Canadian and European retail customers to invest in oil, gas, and foreign currency options. Among other allegations, the CFTC contends that most investors lost heavily, despite a tally on Saxon's Web site showing customers making money. Saxon, whose Atlanta office is shuttered, could not be reached for comment. "It was the ultimate coincidence," says van der Laan's boss, Rick Hancox, who heads the New Brunswick agency. "What are the odds you would dial up the director of enforcement?"
A group of alumni has put an unusual condition on an $85 million donation to the University of Wisconsin School of Business: The B-school can't be named for any donor for the next 20 years. The gift, announced on Oct. 27, is a twist on today's naming game. Carnegie Mellon's B-school, for instance, became the Tepper School of Business in 2004, after hedge fund manager David Tepper donated $55 million. The strings attached to the Wisconsin donation go beyond Midwestern modesty. Ted Kellner, one of the 13 alums who each gave at least $5 million, says the gift is a "creative way to leverage a very important asset": naming rights. By 2027, says Kellner, CEO of Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management, such rights may bring $225 million. John Fernandes, president of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, says other "unnamed" schools may now try to get do-not-name donations.
People, operations, and performance--they all have to be managed. Which countries do that best? A study of 4,000 midsize companies by Stanford University, McKinsey, and the London School of Economics' Center for Economic Performance ranked 12 nations on their practices. No. 1 in people: The U.S., partly because a mobile labor market makes such a skill necessary, says John Van Reenen, director of the center. Japan, birthplace of "lean," led in the performance area. And Swedes were the top operations managers, thanks, probably, to a skilled workforce, Van Reenen says. The researchers' advice to managers? Be self-critical. Some 85% of those surveyed rated their own firm's management above average.