Friday, March 20, 2009

Late Stage MBA- Josh Moritz, Blow Up Marketing, AIG and Obama

I find it kind of amazing that living in Westport, CT is considered part of the Eastern Seaboard Gold Coast. I am not feeling that well off this year, and never even considered myself as part of the elite. Despite my own business, well off middle class, not Maserati Class.

The AIG witch hunt did come to Westport as well, seeking out devious capitalists with contracts. Despite being an unapologetic lefty capitalist, the witch hunt is nuts. While I question the moral fiber of things like CDO's, swaps and derivatives sold to unsuspecting sophisticated souls, my feeling is that contracts are contracts. I know, when we sold a company, we had a contract, and although we exceeded expectations, I would have been really pissed off if someone had come in and unilaterally taken away my contract.

More to the point. As of March 31, 2009, the AIG blow-up is off the front page, in fact it has disappeared from our consciousness.

Speaking with my friend Tim Manners, a local spin doctor and owner/editor of the HUB, just after the the AIG fiasco aired in mid-March, we both felt that the way it was handled in the press was a classic Blow UP Marketing. While the Clinton administration did not know how to handle Blow UP Marketing, and the Bushies were just too Republican to get it, the Obama Administration has embraced Blow UP Marketing as a critical communications tool.

It works like this: You take the irritant, build on where the press is going is going with the irritant, check the poll numbers to see if the public is getting good and crazed and if they are, fan the flames of fury like a tornado. Like a good old fashion laser canon that vaporizes everything in it's path, the fury is gone in a few days. It is cathartic. You cry your eyes for a week and forget about "it" and then focus on the real problems at hand.

Thus, the NY Times breaks the AIG Story on Sunday March 15th, the administration got rightfully indigent in the press on March 16th, Congress got into the act on March 17th and by March 25th or so all the fury was spent. No more bus visits to homes of rich people, the President called off the witch hunt and even some of the AIG folks paid back some if not all of their bonuses.

It's been blown up, its gone, at least until the next irritant.

Late Stage MBA- Josh Moritz- AIG- Lawyer Says Blame Congress

I love lawyers. There was one on NPR who blamed congress for the mess AIG is in. You see Congress passed a law that allowed AIG to do Credit Default Swaps. Since Congress let the tiger out of the woods, it's Congress' fault that AIG created mayheim.

Put that lawyer in front of a jury in the Bronx and he can forgetta about it. They'd tell the lawyer to go slap his clients around the head, say some nasty words and throw them in jail if they violated the law. Even on a lesser count, eating all the cookies in the cookie jar, the jury would tell the lawyer to tell the clients that there be the financial equivilant of no more TV, computer games, FACEBOOK, hand over your Blackberry's and cell phone. No dinner, go right to bed. Curfew is at 7pm.

To suggest that some highly educated adults from Harvard, Yale, Rutgers, (dear god I hope not Babson) the London School of Economics, are incapble of understanding what they were doing seems pretty dumb. Think about it, people pay upwards of $120,000 to get an MBA from Harvard and you are going to tell the jury that they don't get understand how we can insure bonds for more than then the GDP?

The lawyer proably feels that when his kid turns 21, that the kid has no responsibility to drive safely and not tresspass because he is of legal age.

Tell me this lawyers name and I ask him if he gets a ticket for speeding is it his fault or the fault of the ordinance that says he can only do 25. How about when he smoked pot in college? Did he get caught? Probably not since he was admitted to the bar. But if he did, who would he blame? The law or himself?

Starting today, if anyone has some good case studies on how Congress allowed highly educated adults to break the law, send me the post.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Late Stage MBA-Josh Moritz-Money Magazine Again

The question has come up from a colleague how did I get in Money Magazine? Through my online networking group, MENG (, a reporter asked to speak to adults with some experience on how they are using education to change their careers. I pitched my story and voila, I am in Money Magazine. The publicity has been pretty good so far and has opened more than a few doors.

See the email from my classmate, Curt:

From: Curt
Wed 3/18/2009 12:25 PM
To: Moritz, JoshuaSubject: Money magazine article
Hi Josh,

Just read your article in money magazine:

Congratulations on the press and way to go, on plugging Babson's MBA program! Us Babson MBA's need to look out for each other.

How did you get hooked up with Money Magazine?


Late Stage MBA - AIG: The Pall that Is Settling Over Westport, CT

There is a pall settling over Westport, CT, a well off town on the Long Island Sound.

For perspective, pall is a relative thing. Westport will never be Detroit or Cleveland where the housing stock has gone bad, or home to unionized labor (well maybe there are a few) that have to make concessions to make sure GM will survive. Nor does Westport have to worry about the Headstart program will be eliminated (there is none), or that our community pool will close this summer because we can't afford lifeguards. No, none of that.

But there is a pervasive feeling that economically the town is off kilter. Well educated people from well heeled schools with MBA's, PHD's, MA's and law degress are feeling a wee bit of concern that a certain lifestyle guaranteed by money and education is not quite what it used to be. Give back the Bentleys and hold onto that BMW.

Those people - as our proudly over-educated, bi-racial (her description), perpetual student, piano playing, book-keeper would say-- are employees and refugees from places like UBS, Citibank, WPP, AIG, Goldman Sach's, and a variety of law firms, unique hedge funds and smaller companies. Many are now self-employed and often self-important.

There are plenty in denial, while others are hunkering down in the way that the well off know how to hunker down: they buy coffee machines for the office instead of going to Starbucks, they bring in cases of Snapple (50 cents each when purchased by the case from Costco), they cancel Aspen and go to Vermont. Florida on miles. They begin to tend to their own lawns, but when you own a 15,000 square foot house on two acres, you buy a garden tracker.

As if they could not get away from doing a bit of M&A work, some people are seriously thinking about combining several kid's Bar Mitzvah parties into one to acknowledge these trying economic times.

People are beginning to wonder: what do you do when there is no bonus?

Maybe I should have gone to MSW school to become a therapist. MBA is beginning to seem so last year.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Late Stage MBA - Josh Moritz - Babson; Money Mag. Redux

A note from Babson student:

From: Paul R*
Sent: Tue 3/3/2009 10:42 AMT
To: Moritz, JoshuaSubject: Money Magazine


I just wanted to say hello. My name's Paul R.* and I'm a Babson Fast Track student on the West Coast, in the Portland Cohort. I graduate this year.

I was waiting for a flight yesterday in the airport and flipping through Money magazine. I saw your name/article and it made me proud to be a Babson student, so I wanted to say thanks, and hello, and see how things are going for you.

I also used to work in the ad agency world, but on the PR side. I did public relations for 6 years in Philadelphia. I now am in tech sales at a company called Smarsh.

Take care, and maybe I'll see you in May at graduation if you're in the same year as me?


*Paul asked that his name be abbreviated for privacy reasons.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Late Stage MBA - Josh Moritz --Civil Rights, Martin Luther King and Jack O'Dell

I was reading my marketing text book last night about marketing in a socially correct manner. It focused on sound and socially responsible ideas like not targetting cigarettes to children or saying nasty things about people in general.

But what about the concept of marketing for social change? At Babson there is an emphasis on social entrepreneurship -- which I think is pretty amazing since Babson celebrates, honest, legitimate capitalism with a big "C". The school is out to create dynamic individuals with a moral sense that know how to work as teams in a collaborative way--amusing since I usually think of entrepreneurs as some of the most territorial people in the world -- that might actually want to take their talents and use them for the social good in NGO's, non-profits and in education.

One gentleman who would have fit the social entrepreneurship mold at Babson goes by the name of Jack O'Dell. Without realizing it in 1961, he may have had a hand in influencing the elections of 2008.

O'Dell created and led direct mail fund raising campaigns in 1961 that accounted for over 50% of the organizational budget that supported Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s civil rights efforts.

In that first year, for an expenditure of $10,000, this direct mail campaign generated over $80,000 and a master list of 12,000 proven contributors, a significant feat for 1961. In 1961, he was one of the pioneers in direct mail fund-raising. He learned direct mail marketing from courses he was taking at New York University.

This achievement is more remarkable given what O’Dell had to work with in 1961: there were no civil rights donor lists, no opt-in databases, no donor histories or credit scores, no demographic or psychographic profiles, no Facebook, Twitters or Linked-In. There was no data analysis or computer to crunch the numbers. Success was a combination of great judgment and masterful execution.

O'Dell did not know that he was as social entrepreneur, but his actions helped to change the way Americans live. Like some NOVA documentary on PBS, you could almost trace history from that day in 1961 when O'Dell sent out those fund raising letters through all sorts of social change that includes voting rights, civil rights, Title 9, non-discrimination in housing and even politicians.

For more information about O'Dell see the book “Parting The Waters, America in the King Years 1954 to 1963,” copyright, 1989, Taylor Branch, published by Simon and Shuster, pages 574 to 575.

Some biographical information from the Web:

"Born in 1923, Jack O’Dell was raised in Detroit and educated in its public schools. He has spent nearly 50 years as an organizer for the labor, civil rights, and peace movements. While a Merchant Marine, he was active in the National Maritime Union. Briefly a member of the Communist Party in the early 1950s because of its anti-racist stance, he resigned to join the Civil Rights movement in the late 1950s. By 1959 he was a field organizer for the first “March on Washington for Integrated Schools,” which was co-chaired by A. Philip Randolph, Harry Belafonte, and Jackie Robinson. The following year he joined Dr. King’s efforts and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A close advisor to Dr. King, he helped to plan the historic 1963 Birmingham campaign which helped pave the way for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Along with his subsequent writing and teaching and his work with Jesse Jackson in Operation PUSH and the Rainbow Coalition, he has consistently applied his organizing expertise to help plan and carry out nationwide demonstrations against wars and weapons proliferation from Vietnam to the 1991 Gulf War.

O’Dell is currently residing in Vancouver, Canada with his wife, Jane Power."

Late Stage MBA - Josh Moritz - Maserati and My Mother

Mother's never stop.

When I told mom that I was thinking about an MBA she said, why not get a Maserati instead? Live a little, she said.

My mom was thinking that her son was having a mid-life crisis. For the fun of it, I had just test driven a Maserati Quatroporte. Ever the direct marketer, I was intrigued by the direct mail offer that Maserati sent to me. The reward was a $100 gift card to the Smith and Wollinksy steak house in New York. Drive a great car and eat well. What's not to like?

Mom did have have a point, but it sounded a bit like to me the economic rule of instant gratification vs. saving for the future.

For comparison's sake, a three year lease on the Maserati actually costs less than a Babson MBA, about $40,000 vs. roughly $51,000 to $55,000 all in for business school. Throw in the cost of extra gas vs. my hybrid which gets roughly 37 MPG, I figure it was a wash.

The seats and stereo are nicer in the Maserati vs. Olin Hall at Babson, and you don't have papers, finals and quizzes, work in a study group, or for that matter work 25 hours per week on homework. The Quatroporte is a lot faster than even the two Fast Track Babson MBA program.

Doing a primitive NPV analysis, I figured out that that if I was right, the Babson MBA was likely to pay bigger dividends in the long-term, although in the short-term there are days now when it seems the Maserati would have been more gratifying.

From an intellectual side, you can't do mechanical things yourself on a Maserati like I was able to do with my oil burning Chevy back in college. You need a master's degree in mechanics. The car would have been fun to drive, my wife and I would have gone parking maybe a couple of times, the kids would have put their feet on the dash and dog would have left her hair on the seats.

The Maserati sales person even informed me that there were only 7 other people in my town that were driving them. Reminded me of the time in Barney's Men Store when the sales person said would you like to buy a Mercedes or a Chevy. I looked at the Chevy suite I was test driving, thought it looked a hell of lot nicer than the one I saw at Brooks Brothers and said "Chevy."

Although I like a good meal, wearing fine clothes some of the time and driving fast cars, status conscious I ain't.

So to mom I say this: my Babson MBA won't depreciate nearly as fast as the Maserati, no matter what the sales person says. Besides it might get me somewhere faster in the long term.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Late Stage MBA - Josh Moritz - No Boots No Glory Panel Background

FYI, the promotional Email from the Bootstrap Panel
No Boots,
No Glory
Wednesday, March 4 - 6:00-8:00pm
Blank Center Rotunda

Learn from 4 experienced entrepreneurs that used credit cards, cash, and retirement accounts to launch successful businesses without outside financial help

Marco Protano has worked for more than twenty years building businesses through strategic marketing within Fortune 100 clients, such as First National Bank of Boston, Nestle, RJR Nabisco, and Bristol Meyers. He has started his own ventures in e-commerce and CPG brands and sold the ventures to public and private firms.

Jane Moritz began her career as a marketing executive working for advertising agencies like Ogilvy and Mather, Wunderman, Barry Blau and Partners and McCann Erickson. She started her first venture in 1987. Initially focusing on newsletters for exercise studios and gyms, the business grew into a successful direct marketing ad agency. She then bootstrapped her second venture, through a variety of methods.

Steve Lehman has over 30 years experience in sales management, marketing and general management with a comprehensive background in publishing, media, marketing, advertising and franchising. He has held a variety of executive and management positions from Advertising Director to SVP, Group Publishing Director, President and CEO. He has led the development and launch of new products as well as spearheaded three E-Commerce and Marketing web sites.

Karen Couto started NewGround Publications on a very small budget, keeping costs low until revenue began rolling in. Profits were reinvested in marketing the business. NewGround now has 14 small business guidebooks in Spanish and English which are sold in bulk to large banks, colleges, and SBA organizations.

Food and drinks will be provided.

To RSVP email

Late Stage MBA-Josh Moritz-Babson Boot Strap Panel

Gee Wiz, another diversion from the application process.

One of the great things about Babson is that their secret sauce is teaching people how to start businesses and to teach and encourage people to network. Babson will supply all the coffee you need to keep going. You want to have dinner or lunch with someone in the Babson community and all you have to do is flash your student or alumni ID and bingo you have lunch.

If your were a shy person going into the program, you learn how to talk to walls by the time you leave.

In the undergraduate community, there is almost a requirement for teams to put together proposals, get money from the school and start small businesses. It's the Obama Stimulous package on steriods.

With my classmate and fellow entrepreneur Mary Sandro (Babson Fast Track Section 2, October 2008) owner of a ProEdge Skills, we put together a panal on how to start your business with boot strap financing. Tish Costillo and Dan Marques of the Babson Blank Center ( hosted the event. Panelists included my wife, Jane Moritz, owner of the, Karen Couto, owner of http://www.newgroundpublications/, Steve Lehman, owner of, Mary, At the last minute I was recruited as the moderator (my website:

The Blank Center is one of the many nexus of entrepreneurship development at Babson. Headed up by Patricia Costello, the Center's mission (from the website) is to "lead the global advancement of entrepreneurship education and practice through the development of teaching, research, and outreach initiatives that inspire entrepreneurial thinking and cultivate entrepreneurial leadership in all organizations and society."

To me it is like opening up a pint of Jerry Garcia Ice Cream from Ben and Jerry's. Delicious, innovative, forthcoming, friendly and extra-ordinary helpful--which I know is hard to say about Ice Cream. Including Ms. Costello and Dan Marques, I have been networking like a fiend with various Blank Center people as a means to build my contact list for new assignments and new business opportunities. I soon realized the plying various people with cookies from my wife's business wasn't enough and that volunteering my time was probably the best avenue to say thank you and get in the kitchen to meet even more people.

I learned this lesson during some volunteer work I was doing in the early 1980's. What I found was that literally working in the kitchen prepping food and cleaning up was a great way to network with people of similar concerns and bearing. While then it was more to build a network of friends, applying this concept to business seemed natural, only it took me another 20 years to figure it out.

Thus I volunteered to do this panel, recruited Mary to help out, convinced Jane my wife to be the first panelist and voila we are rocking along.

The purpose of the panel was to demonstrate how entrepreneurs start businesses without any outside venture money, face credit short-falls, credit cut-offs and dip into savings and retirment accounts to start and maintain businesses. Many of the start-up stories were downright funny, but the critical lesson was that you always have to find a way to keep your credit rating great by paying all your bills on-time, even if you have to pay the minimums due. Negotiate with vendors when shot with cash, but pay everyone something every month.

We were not talking about just the credit cards, but all bills.

We all had great stories to tell about using retirement accouts, savings and credit cards and friends and family to help get the business rolling. We all faced the moments of dread when we had to pay bills (kiting from one credit card to another was a popular example) and the need to apply for credit when the going is good. When the going is bad there is no way to get credit.

One of the best stories was the time one of the panelists used a 401K to start a business without realizing that you can't just take the money our of a retirement account out forever without penality. The panelist recalled that they were single when they did this. By the time the IRS caught up with the mistake, they were now married -- it took about 18 months. As you know the IRS does not look kindly on these mistakes and assesed a pretty hefty penalty on what was now a couple not a single person. Talk about a marriage tax penalty!

The moral of the story: timing is everything. To secretly share your start-up costs with a significant other, do it during the dating phase but don't admit to it until you are contractually committed to each other and the IRS notice comes due.

To the point about networking, the students attending the panel had preprinted business cards to hand out. I never had a business card as a student -- to the Babson folks it is their badge. Two undergradates flashing these badges: Evan Morkawa and Marco Morales who started a company called Alight Learning ( and are taking a 1 year sabatical from the Olin College Engineering school --which my classmate Kam He says is like MIT only better. Whipping out business cards faster than muggers with handguns on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the mid-1980s, these two guys were on the hunt for information from marketing to money.

Fast Tracker classmates in attendence included Kam, who arrived from China about 20 years ago with two suitcases and was now flashing a card promoting himself as a venture capitalist --last month I thought he was a software engineer. Ilaya Ilyin from Russia who commented on the fact that things were a bit more liberal in the USA than Russia when it comes to finance, Mary of course, and Sal who is in a class ahead. Sal is actually bidding on using incubator space at The Blank Center to start a business while he is in school and working. But more on that in another Blog posting.