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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Feb. 18, 2005 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Tampa edition)

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Don't be like Carly: Talk about great timing. The day after Carleton S. "Carly" Fiorina got dumped by Hewlett Packard Co.'s board, who should roll through town but a guy touting a book called "Why Smart Executives Fail."Just among friends: Palm Harbor attorney Jeff Brown just couldn't make it work as court-appointed attorney for death-row convict Robert Gordon.Bankers to meet: The Florida Bankers Association is holding a workshop for bank directors in Tampa this month.Smart growth: Tampa recently made national news and not because of a blond schoolteacher's affair with a student.Outback's net falls: Rumblings about last year's hurricanes are still being heard in Florida.Downtown residential trend
by: Janelle Makowski Staff Writer

Coffee Talk (Tampa edition)

Don't be like Carly

Talk about great timing.

The day after Carleton S. "Carly" Fiorina got dumped by Hewlett Packard Co.'s board, who should roll through town but a guy touting a book called "Why Smart Executives Fail."

Dartmouth College professor Sydney Finkelstein told the Wharton Club of Greater Tampa Bay that the media had been calling him about the headstrong ex-HP chairwoman and CEO.

Finkelstein says Fiorina displayed some of the classic symptoms of executive hubris that toppled CEOs at 50 or so companies he studied for his book.

HP's acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp., which Fiorina championed, was unwise and most everybody else knew it at the time of the 2002 deal, says Finkelstein.

That's typical of the wrongheaded decisions that Finkelstein has seen. "The key decision makers had the data in front of them," he says. They chose to ignore the obvious.

Finkelstein's book is remarkably free of business management jargon. It provides common-sense suggestions for executives willing to abandon their own grand visions in order to gain true understanding of their customers, employees and markets.

"How confident are you that critical information is reaching the top?" Finkelstein asks.

The Dartmouth prof left the Wharton alums chuckling with a list of the "seven habits of spectacularly unsuccessful people." He poked fun at everybody from the late An Wang to Martha Stewart while illustrating each bad habit.

Just among friends

Palm Harbor attorney Jeff Brown just couldn't make it work as court-appointed attorney for death-row convict Robert Gordon. Not only is Brown a friend of St. Petersburg Detective Michael Celona, who's a key prosecution witness against Gordon, but he also represented Celona's wife in an unrelated legal matter.

To further complicate matters, Brown is a close friend to Assistant Pinellas County Attorney Fred Schaub, who prosecuted Gordon. Brown says Gordon needs another representative to represent him on a habeas corpus motion. No doubt.

Bankers to meet

The Florida Bankers Association is holding a workshop for bank directors in Tampa this month. Headlining the annual event at the downtown Hyatt Regency hotel is Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer. The likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, whose department regulates state-chartered financial institutions, is scheduled to speak on the morning of Feb. 24.

In exchange for listening to Gallagher and his staff, they have approved attendance at the workshop as fulfilling 12 of the 16 hours of continuing education required by the state for new bank directors. Other speakers at the two-day workshop will be from the federal government. They will touch on issues such as how bankers can avoid compliance problems with the USA Patriot Act.

Smart growth

Tampa recently made national news and not because of a blond schoolteacher's affair with a student.

This time it's a native New Yorker who has put the spotlight on downtown Tampa. A front-page story in the Feb. 15 USA Today on the upsurge of downtown living in cities begins with the recent announcement of real estate mogul Donald Trump's luxury 52-story, $220 million edifice called the Trump Tower Tampa, scheduled to open in 2007.

"If you want to know the effect Donald Trump will have on the downtown residential market, there is an answer right there, in terms of exposure at least," said Marvin Rose of Rose Residential Reports Inc. during a Tampa Downtown Partnership meeting.

Anecdotally, the article points out, from Milwaukee to Seattle and from Las Vegas to Denver, there is a boom in high-rise living. Not only is downtown living appealing to the baby boomers and the young professionals, the article says, but more and more cities see it as "smart growth."

Outback's net falls

Rumblings about last year's hurricanes are still being heard in Florida.

Tampa-based Outback Steakhouse Inc., the operator of 881 Australian-themed restaurants, said fourth-quarter net income fell 15% after sales were weaker than expected and produce costs rose following hurricanes in Florida. Net income fell to $38.7 million, or 50 cents a share, from $45.3 million, or 58 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Revenue rose 18% to $846.3 million from $717.5 million.

Downtown residential trend

Five thousand residential units over the next five to seven years: is downtown Tampa capable of absorbing so many units?

Observers say it's possible but a lot of components have to come together at one time.

"How to create an environment in which people want to live in," asked Marvin Rose, publisher of Rose Residential Reports Inc. during the Feb. 15 Tampa Downtown Partnership's "Debriefing Series" on 2005 real estate trends.

"A critical mix of facilities and services"- retail, restaurant and other support services, plus pleasant streets, park and walkways make that environment possible, Rose said.

But how to build a sustainable retail downtown?

"We have to get back to the basics," according to David J. Scher, partner/owner in Stuart S. Golding Co. and Palsher Inc.

And that would mean making retail affordable and walkable with reasonably priced or free parking, Scher said, adding, "They need to be a center of reliable transportation grid, something which Tampa has never heard of."

Private developers and the city have to work together. "It is going to take a lot of help from the city," he said. "I think the idea of a downtown development corporation is good."

And with the residential component taking off with Trump Tower Tampa, there seems to be excitement in the air and a belief in making all of it a success.

"We have the audacity to make this happen," said Ray Sandelli, senior managing director-Florida, C.B. Richard Ellis.

ETC....

  Hillsborough Judge Manuel Menendez won a third term Feb. 16 as the county's top administrative judge. No other judges ran against him.               

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