Sunday, November 2, 2008

How About a Little Common Sense?

October draws to a close, and what an October it was. First I want to thank all of you that have taken the time to post comments at Huffington Post, my blog, or have sent me emails. You have shared some of your most personal thoughts on the issues and I honor you all. You have also inspired my next big piece – “Why Women Leave, Why Men Let Us, and Why We Both Should Be Sorry We Did.” Please keep those comments coming. They matter. Women’s Leadership is important stuff. Very important. Plus, I am a little peeved that my husband’s piece on short selling that I forced him to publish got over 300 comments. Womens leadership versus short selling? I know which one I care more about.

The stack of ‘to read’ has now gotten so high that it is scaring me. I have this ‘thing’ where I will not throw out a magazine or a newspaper before I have at least glimpsed through it and this ‘thing’ is now out of control since I get four newspapers daily ( NYT, WSJ, IBD and FT), Barrons, and countless monthly and weekly magazines. I also get a ridiculous amount of online material and some of it is just excellent.

I would like to highlight the latest installment by Bill Gross as an example. As background I have known of Bill Gross for twenty years and have met him once when I visited the PIMCO’s offices as a trading desk manager for GS. He is one smart dude and he has hired very smart people. Very. His piece, SO CQish, spoke to me for many reasons but here is the major one.

I too think of “myself as a pretty smart gal, but not that smart.” I too think of myself as pretty long on the common sense factor which is a broadly underrated quality in this world. He goes on to say that it is the “ability to not just absorb information and recycle it upon demand, but to analyze it and apply it within a uniquely different framework” is what common sense is. Again, I agree. This reminds me of some of the research I have been reading about investment style differences between men and women for a paper I have been working on forever with the National Council of Research on Women that looks at women in professional trading and portfolio management roles. We asked the following questions? Do women versus men manage money differently? Manage risk differently? What does the research tell us? I will report back with a list of those studies but what the research basically tells us is that there is no evidence that women do a worse job, and they may in fact do a better job? Why? Because we take in more information and process it more holistically before we make decisions. Heck, even Warren Buffet has been said to invest like a girl.

His message was so validating to the point I am making about Women’s Leadership. Thanks Bill!!!! Bill is saying that the lack of common sense contributed to this mess. I would take it further and say the lack of common sense is at the root of all of this. Think about how decisions have been made over the past couple of months. Think of how rushed they have been? Is not the main criticism of the administrative reaction to all of this is that it has been seat of the pants? As a CQ woman pointed out to me in a note back on my piece - wouldn't common sense tell us you don't give mortgages to people without a down payment? Wouldn't common sense tell us that you don't buy billions of credit product you don't understand? Wouldn't common sense tell us that you don't leverage your company 35 to 1? Wouldn't common sense tell us you cannot spend your way out of a problem created by too much spending?

Women at a minimum are not likely to be worse leaders, and it is quite possible that we are better ones because we take in more information, think about it longer, before we make decisions. Because of this quality we are seen as more risk-averse, which up until recently, was considered a bad thing.

Go and read the piece as it goes on to talk about how leverage is credit gone nuclear which is why we are in this mess to begin with. I have called it in the past credit on speed. This does not end nicely according to Bill Gross because the deleveraging process is far from over. I would have to agree.
I am sorry I keep turning blog entries in to OPEDs... I cannot help myself as there is just so much to write about.

2 comments:

Deborah Siegel said...

Not to compare and compete (hehe) but I do find the kinds of comments currently up at HuffPo in response to your piece last week to be incredibly moving. And now there's one more.

I can't WAIT for your next one on Why Women Leave, Why Men Let Them. SING IT, SISTER, GO!!!!!

Devon Fleming said...

Well done Jacki! I LOVE this! And like you, I am baffled at why women haven't been more recognized and 'gone farther' in the financial industry. AND why some of the country's big thinkers, havent brought in more women to help. As an ex Wall Streeter (was one of Mike Bloombergs first 10 sales people in the infancy of his financial empire in 1988, then was in Fixed Income sales at Dillon Read) turned stay-at-home-Mom- turned principal of multi-media home and lifestyle consulting business...I feel I am a walking example of how women can use their 'intuition' and common sense to contribute and succeed in the 'business world'. I have seen success in the financial industry and then gone on to use our roles as 'superwomen' in running homes, families, careers and philanthropic interests to build a business. We absolutely have different perspectives and can and should be used by people such as Lloyd Blankfein to help better understand basic priniples such as 'common sense'. As how not to repeat past mistakes such as spending more to bail out a spending problem.
I LOVED your Op Ed piece for Huffington- you are a terrific writer and I couldnt agree more with your though processes!
GO GIRL!