John Gutfreund, president of Nutrition 21

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 13, 2001.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: 69-year-old Bob Lutz slips back into the driver’s seat, or at least the front seat over at General Motors. And now a former Wall Street wunderkind turned wise old owl does the same.

John Gutfreund, the former sultan of Salomon Brothers, now the new one at a company called Nutrition 21, which makes dietary supplements. John here to explain why he’s getting back into the swing.

John, good to have you.

JOHN GUTFREUND, PRESIDENT, NUTRITION 21: Nice to see you again, Neil.

Doctor, welcome. Good to have you with us.


CAVUTO: Congratulations.

GUTFREUND: I’m having fun.

I’ve got a number of interesting companies that are small. I bring something to bear. I’m really very pleased with it.

CAVUTO: But is there something in the water now? All you veterans are coming back, and it’s like your...

GUTFREUND: It’s the reassertion of the ancient values. No, I think that the experience is all of a sudden being looked at as a positive. I don’t think 22-year-olds have all the answers.

I asked you about children before the show. You indicated a 16-year- old. I have children from 42 to 16. None of them, an aggregate -- and they’re only four of them -- are that much wiser than I.

CAVUTO: Careful, they might be watching.

GUTFREUND: They’re quicker...


GUTFREUND: ... they’re better-looking. But I’ve got something going for me, and that’s knowledge of what I can do.

CAVUTO: But it’s interesting, too, because I had noticed this trend - - we mentioned the Lutz example in the beginning. But the number of these companies that bring back consultants 70 years old or better just to help them and to guide them, and that’s begun to be a very big trend now.

GUTFREUND: I hope so, because I have no agenda, and that’s, I think, what gives me some value. I don’t anything to anybody, not that anybody owes anything to me. But it’s not where you’re climbing a ladder and you’re worried about offending someone.

If we’re having a problem with our financing, if we’re having a problem with our public relations, if our lawyer’s lousy, this is the kind of thing that I can go in and say, gee, you ought to just get rid of these people.

CAVUTO: But can I ask you a personal question, John? Your wife, of course, who thought after Salomon, maybe John’s going to relax now, he’s going to take it easy, he’s worked his butt off all his career, and now he’s going to chill, and then be with the kids, be with the family more. Anything but for you?

GUTFREUND: Well, I have more time for my adolescent than I had for my previous adolescents. He’s 20 years younger than my second son, third and fourth. And I would tell you I’m glad to be in the office. The pressure at home with a child is very, very difficult.

I’m joking a little bit. You realize...

CAVUTO: Actually, I’m not. I’ve been there and I think you’re right.

I mean, but so when you see this happening, you and the Lutzes and some of these others, the small- to medium-sized businesses that have gone to some veterans to help them through the rough patch -- these Internet concerns that are now bringing in seasoned executives -- Semel's at Yahoo! and what you -- what do you make of that?

GUTFREUND: I make of that that they’re looking for somebody with some judgment who isn’t going to make the same mistake that the previous management made.

CAVUTO: But is this damning thing on the young managers, the whipper- snappers, the gum-chewing, tieless group that thought they knew the world?

GUTFREUND: No, it isn’t.

CAVUTO: You can trash them if you want.

GUTFREUND: That’s not my thing. I have an awful lot of people who worked at Salomon who were smarter than I, and I’ve had people now in the companies I’m working with again who are smarter than I. And the advantage of having people like that is they’re smart enough maybe to listen to somebody who has a little experience.

CAVUTO: John, congratulations. Good seeing you again.

GUTFREUND: Thanks again, Neil.

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