Number One With a Bullet?

Mel Brooks (search) had it right when he said, "It's good to be king." But I never heard him add, "As long as you 'stay' king."

The fact of the matter is, being numero uno is nice, but it hardly guarantees not-so-nice things can still happen to you. Quite the opposite.

Just ask the folks at NBC's "Today Show" — by far, the morning news broadcast leader. Yet because its lead is smaller, its top producer is gone.

Ditto at General Motors (search). The world's top carmaker is now the world's top problem-plagued carmaker. Heads are rolling, G.M. is retrenching and the stock is tanking.

Even the world's most successful software company isn't averse to shaking things up, bringing in an outside CFO, in the outside hope it'll budge the stock. It doesn't.

My point is: Being on top doesn't mean you stay on top. These days, it makes you a target.

It's why CEOs don't last long and the people that work for them don't last much longer.

What's different this time is it's the top producer at a top morning show and the top car designers at the top car company — when they're on top, as they're on top.

Man, what a cold, cruel world. You make it to the top of the world and they're still gunning for you and succeeding.

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