I know this sounds a little impolitic, but I want to offer tips for CEOs that are coming into a lot of money -- legally or no -- and now are contemplating spending it.
Tip one: Don't draw attention to yourself. WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan's building that $15 million mansion in Florida was just asking for it. The natural question people ask is, "Hey, this is a telephone executive building this place, right? And he's not even the boss?"
Tip two: Don't act bitchy. Fair or not, Martha Stewart, that's just how you struck some people. So when things looked bad for you, your reputation sank faster than one of your burned bundt cakes.
Tip three: Don't show off buying fancy artwork. It's so nouveau riche, anyway. If you didn't have culture before, it's a little late for buying it now. Try pouring the money into yodels.
Tip four: If you insist buying artwork, for god's sake, pay the damn taxes on it. Tyco's former bigwig Dennis Kozlowski didn't and neither did ImClone's Sam Waksal and look where it got them!
Tip five: Don't hire a PR person. If you can't speak the truth yourself, hiring someone to create it for you is essentially admitting the obvious. You're screwed either way.
Tip six: Don't show up for your big day in court in a big, fancy limo. Take a jeep. Better yet, take a cab.
The point, my little robber-baron friends, is you don't want to look like a robber and you don't want to sound like a baron.
Image counts for a lot. Money can buy you lots of things. Trouble, shouldn't be one of them.
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