Friday, July 22, 2011

The Greatest Interviews With The Most Unlucky Businessmen (Part 1)

The following is something I probably shouldn't write. Someone's going to read it and steal my idea or they probably already have this idea too, but they are just waiting for the right opportunity to act on it. They may just be able to accomplish it before me, but that won't matter. We're all different, so if they get to this dreamy interview before me it'll be okay. My questions are probably different anyway.

You're probably wondering what I'm referring to. In the world of namedropping many people (especially writers and reporters) are standing in line and enduring tough times just to talk to Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Jay-Z, etc. Well, there are many with dreams of interviewing top notch reporters just to find out how they made it or how they can be like them. While I want to talk to top-notch people and (hopefully) get advice, they are not the only ones I want to hear from. The greatest interview is not with the most successful people, because they will tell you what you already know.

Instead the greatest interview (and my dream interviews) is with the person who made it to the top and fell to the bottom real hard.

There are so many people and former corporations that fit this description. These people were once big shots who we were trying to model our lives (money wise) around and now no one knows what happened with them. Below are a few of them.

  • Enron's Kenneth Lay- Remember that name? 
At one time Enron was the #1 energy company in the United States and had one of the highest stocks on the market. It's stocks sold as high as $80, which earned the company more than $60 billion. However, the company fell hard. It all started with questions of how the company was making all it's money and ended with CEO defending himself up until the day the company went out of business. If you want to read about the whole scandal click here, because Enron is impossible to interview.

My dream interview would be with Kenneth Lay. Kenneth Lay was the CEO of Enron when all the drama started and faced six different criminal charges from the scandal. The anger that surrounded Lay could lead many to believe he is definitely the most hated man in America. Jesus received more love when he revealed he was the son of God to all the crazy people surrounding him. Supposedly in 2006 Lay passed away. At this point there were mixed emotions. Some people were mourning while many others were mad because they never saw a body.

If Kenneth Lay is still alive I'd gladly interview him. I'd respectfully skip the questions about rising to success. Instead I'd want to know how he kept up the lies for so long, what it felt like to have a world turn against you (the only other people that know are Jesus and Casey Anthony), and if having the spotlight off of you is much better than fame. This man had to go into hiding because he had so many haters. Oh, and I'd also like to know if he was broke. Enroll went out of business, not him.

  • K-Mart's Chuck Conaway, Mark Schwartz, and W. Bruce Johnson (This interview would have to be huge)

What happened to K-Mart was similar to Enron. K-Mart used to be bigger than Wal-Mart. Imagine the bank account. Wal-Mart and K-Mart had hate commercials designed just for each other. Well, it wasn't out-right hate, but the competing prices led you to make shopping choices. However, something went wrong. In the early 21st century Chuck Conaway and (then owner) Mar Schwartz filed for bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy claims K-Mart fell faster than a 90-yr-old trying to go down the escalator (that's just a bad idea).

Currently there are only 1,307 K-Marts still in existence. I know where one of them is, but it's nowhere near me. It's actually in a totally different state and I've never seen any customers in it, but that's not the point. How can a corporation with only 1,307 stores in existence compete with Wal-Mart? They're not and it has nothing to do with changing times. Chuck Conaway and Mark Schwartz were accused of doing practices similar to what created the downfall of Enron. Did you read up on it? They didn't face big court charges though. Instead they were fired.

I'd love to interview those men, but it would have nothing to do with success. I'd like to know how it feels to be responsible for the downfall of a once-powerful company. I'd ask them how they feel about the fact that K-Mart is non-existent in most of the world and it all started with bankruptcy claims. But they couldn't get all the attention in this spectacular interview. I would also need to talk to the current owner W. Bruce Johnson.

A year ago one of my friends was so desperate for a job that he applied to K-Mart. Don't laugh. At the interview they informed him that he didn't fit in with the direction of the company. With that said, I'd have to ask W. Bruce Johson what they hell is the direction of K-Mart in 2011, 2012, or whenever this happens?

Sidenote: It's not all Schwartz and Conaway's faults. K-Mart CEO's also owned K-Mart food stores, Builder's Square, Walden Books (my once-favorite place in the mall), Office Max (owned by someone else now), Office Square (?), Pace Membership House (used to be K-Mart's warehouse but was purchased by Wal-Mart and turned into Sam's Club), PayLess Drugs (and I thought they only sold shoes), American Fare (?), Kmart Chef, The Sports Authority (which was sold to someone else) and Borders (which is about to go into liquidation and then become non-existent by the end of September. Is it safe to say 

Could Kmart possibly be bad business wise? Well, in my future interview with these people who invested much of their lives in the once-booming company, I shall find out. Or maybe I'll just interview people who used to work for Kmart because this interviews are going to be tough to make into a reality.

There's a whole lot more I want to talk about and a whole lot more people I have dreams of interviewing. There's also a lot more I want to dedicate to the downfall of Borders (cries cause I loved that store), but it's for another post. A part 2. This was only part 1.

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