How Gerald Ratner lost $10B in 10 seconds

Excellent story by Zachary Crockett in The Hustle about how one CEO sank his own business with a few bad jokes. It’s amazing how a mere slip of the tongue — even back in the pre-Internet shame cycle days of 1991 — can kill a reputation. It’s also a cautionary tale about using humor or sarcasm when one isn’t a professional comic. Heck, even a stand-up comedian can torpedo themselves in an instant nowadays.

This is why I’ve always told clients to avoid the annual April Fool’s Day post or press release. I offer this amendment to Stirling Moss’ observation that “there are two things no man will admit he cannot do well: drive and make love“: or tell a joke.

Thanks to Om Malik who pointed out The Hustle story about Ratner in his weekly newsletter.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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