Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Year's Resolution Suggestion to Corporate America

After spending 26 years working for the car rental giant - Enterprise Rent-a-Car - I became all too familiar with the way big corporations run

As we all know, the vast majority of big companies in corporate America are run by humorless bureaucracies that don't really understand what it takes to operate in a manner conducsive to achieving maximum productivity.  They may think they do, but they don't have a clue. 

If you work for a big company, chances are you agree with that assessment; unless of course, you happen to be the CEO.  If you're the CEO of a major corporation, you probably don't understand why most of the employees working under you don't seem to like their jobs.  You don't understand why just about everyone you oversee has an "attitude problem"; after all, they have jobs, so they should be grateful; they should work harder.  What's wrong with them?

The problem  is you, pal.  Maybe you're not a pompous, self-absorbed tyrant; maybe you're actually a nice enough person; but you're clueless when it comes to running your...enterprise. 

Let me fill you in on what I observed during my 26 years of faithful service to Enterprise.  It's a scenario that plays out repeatedly in big business; especially when a relatively small company achieves some measure of success; that's ususally when the trouble begins; they get too big for their own good and start changing their operational structure, and worse; they lose focus on how they should deal with employees.  Sound familiar?

When I began my Enterprise career (1974) they were just a little regional company that had a knack for providing great customer service; just as important, they provided a great working environment for their employees, gave them fantastic career opportunities, and turned 'em loose.

It was simple formula for success, and it worked quite well; the company grew like crazy, and guys like me became upper level managers, making tons of money in the process.  By the mid '90s, Enterprise had grown to become the largest and most profitable car rental company in North America; all seemed well in paradise.

But a funny thing happened on the way to becoming Number One; they moved their corporate office to a big, new, fancy facility and started adding layer upon layer of additional corporate management.  It seemed logical; after all, Enterprise was now a corporate giant, and corporate giants are supposed to have gigantic corporate headquarters, staffed with all sorts of important people running around trying to look like they're doing something; sound familiar?

Welcome to Corporate America; an overstaffed and inefficient bureaucracy; where micromanagement, finger pointing, and backstabbing reign supreme.  In this hostile environment, is it any wonder things are in such a mess?

It doesn't have to be this way; the solution to much of Corporate America's woes requires a pardigm shift in the way most hierarchial operations conduct business.  This requires a tremendous leap of faith from the CEOs, themselves; they've got to place more trust in their management teams in the field; a successful organization gives the maximum level of autonomy to its high level managers; let them do their jobs!  Cut the red tape, the useless reports, and the fruitless meetings; focus on the things that really matter in running the business.  By concentrating on providing better service for the customers and creating a positive work environment for the employees, everybody wins.

That's the way any good business should operate; unfortunately, that's not the way many businesses are operating nowadays; I witnessed the corporate bureaucracy first hand; especially during the last four or five years of my career.

Being subjected to unreasonable scrutiny - living under the corporate microscope - was a very stressful time for me; but at least it made for a pretty good book; and I know I was doing a good job for the company.

That's good enough for me.

Larry Underwood wrote Life Under the Corporate Microscope - A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective

To order directly on Amazon:

Or check out the author's webpage:

Friday, December 4, 2009


I don't care how think your skin is, if you get whacked from your job, it's going to hurt.  It's been almost nine years since my last day with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and I don't really think I ever really admitted it (even to myself), but getting forced out of my job really hurt my ego.  Sure, I knew I was still doing a worthy job, and the decision to gas me was driven by economics (although the company never admitted it), but it never feels good to be told you're no longer welcome with the company you spent over a quarter of a century toiling with.

But, shit happens.  I got whacked, and I had to move on.  I suppose I could've landed another job, but the prospect of going back to work for another slice of corporate America didn't really appeal to me; so I stayed retired, licking my wounds; trying to heal my bruised ego.  Whatever.

It's been nearly a year since I published my iconoclastic masterpiece, Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective; and I must say, I think it's even better than I originally thought.  Wow.

You see, when I first wrote it, I thought it was merely a little historical perspective about the company that grew to dominate the car rental industry---Enterprise.  Sure, it was irreverent as hell, and packed with more LOLs than just about any "business" book ever written; but, is that really saying much?  Come on.

What I've recently come to realize is, this book is much more than some humorous recollection of the car rental industry from some talented, fun-loving executive.  The fact of the matter is, this book represents "the truth" about corporate America, and how it's morphed into a humorless, fear-based micro-managing bureaucracy, that is really only good at draining the life out of its employees.  Enterprise is really no better or worse than the vast majority of corporate America; it merely represents a typical slice of that stifling, oppressive work environment which everyone loves to hate.  The culture of fear permeates the entire organization, because that's what corporate America does best---intimidate and alienate its employees.  It's no wonder employee engagment is so fragmented everywhere you look; it all starts at the top of any organization, and works its magic down through the disillusioned front-line employees.

Nobody's having fun at work anymore; hell, I used to have a blast every day, toiling in the trenches, making close to nothing, while working my ass off for 60 or 70 hours a week.  To me, work was recreation; a chance to mingle with my friends while we were in the process of creating something very special.  We didn't really know for sure that this company would grow to dominate a very competitive industry; but that's what happened.  We were a vibrant, fun-loving enterprise and most importantly, we knew ownership really cared about us.

At that time, "ownership" was not some faceless corporate hierarchy; it was the man himself---Jack Taylor---probably the greatest entrepreneur to ever walk the face of the earth; and I mean that with all my heart.  When the inevitable process of age put Jack Taylor on the sidelines, the company started acting like a big corporation; certainly, they have long since become a huge corporation, but as long as Jack was in charge, they refused to act like one.

Jack was a truly humble man; self efacing and good hearted; a man who really cared about people---customers and employees alike; it was the magic formula for incredible success.  Unfortunately, when companies grow too big for their own good, they often lose that sense of loyalty towards people; short term profit rules the roost.  Senior managers, who were paid handsomely for their efforts---based on performance---were now considered expendable; that of course, includes me.

Less skilled replacements were brought in; sure, they were paid less, but they were also performing at a lower level of competency.  Very few upper level managers from my last year on the job are still around; one by one, they've been getting whacked; business as usual in corporate America.

What a mess.  Interestingly enough, there have been many fine books that have been published over the last few years which identify the problems in corporate America, and offer very real solutions to fix the disaster.  Will anyone ever listen though?  With the enormous egos of the majority of the CEOs running amok out there, the future doesn't bode well.

One thing I have realized however, is I'm a goddamned smart fellah; if I were in charge of some big corporation, I'd listen.  You better believe it, baby; I'd listen.

Yeah, check out my website so you can order my masterpiece:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"We Come in Peace!"

The hilarious satire, "Mars Attacks!", was made well over a decade ago, yet its outrageous social and political humor is even more applicable today than it was at the time of its initial release; during the relatively tranquil Clinton administration.

Yes, those were the days.  "Homeland Security" as far as our former President was concerned, consisted of keeping Hilary out of the Oval Office, to allow him enough time to enjoy a good cigar.  I wonder if any of the Secret Service guys were enlisted as Bill's "wingmen"?  I wouldn't doubt it.  After all, Clinton was one of our most engaging head-honchos; a charming silver tongued devil who knew how to get what he wanted out of people.  Let's not forget; he did a pretty good job of  running the affairs of state (no pun intended).

He was a darned good leader; forget the guy's character flaws.  Clinton certainly had a great admiration for our late, great President,  John F Kennedy; including his free-wheeling lifestyle.  Enough said.

Getting back to the motion picture industry; what makes "Mars Attacks!" the hilarious iconoclastic phenomenon that it became, was the brilliant parody it portrayed of American life; in all its banal, gullible, superficial and self-serving splendor.  The premise is quite simple:  The Martians decide to pay a visit to Planet Earth, and after a few conference calls back and forth (but no lunch), agree to meet the United States' military representatives out in the Nevada desert (Parumph), not far from the entertainment capital of the universe---Las Vegas.  I suppose Parumph was chosen, just in case our visitors might be feeling a bit frisky after the long trip from Mars; but I don't think earth girls were what these aliens had in mind when they landed.

After an elaborately planned dose of pomp and circumstance greets our new friends from outer space, the Martian leader steps forward to address the world.  His words bring immediate joy and relief to the masses attending this historic gathering: "We come in peace!"

At that point, some clown in the crowd, rejoices "They come in peace!" and proceeds to let a white dove of peace fly around, oh so peacefully...for about two seconds.  The stunned Martians zap the poor little birdie (into pieces), along with dozens of not-so-smart military and civilian personnel at the scene.  It was total (hilarious) chaos.

If that's their idea of "coming in peace", I'd hate to see how they'd act in they "came in violence".  Holy galactic calamity, Batman!

But wait!  It was all just a "cultural misunderstanding".  Clearly, that bird was a sign of "aggression" on the part of the earthlings; at least that's what our fearless leader---our President---determined, after a meeting with his so-called "brain trust".  After all, they did say they "came in peace", didn't they?  Surely, they're not lying about something like that.  That just wouldn't be fair.

The next meeting with the Martians is even more disatrous, as they zap 90% of Congress out of office (not a bad idea, really) right there on national television.  By this time, the President realizes this could be trouble.

In the end, most of the earth's population is wiped out, but the survivors do manage to use a little American ingenuity to defeat those demons, in a hilarious conclusion to the flick.  The heroes, a young man who works in a rural donut shop and his lovably demented granny, receive medals for their efforts, amid all the rubble that was once the White House.  The planet will continue, on a much smaller and simpler format; and that's what makes it a happy ending.  We're starting over, from scratch.  Maybe, the second time around, we'll have a clue.

I suppose it's human nature to want to believe what we hear from strangers; or from our politicians, for that matter.  We want to believe them, if they're telling us what we want to hear.  It's much more convenient than doubting them; resistance can be so inconvenient; so unpopular.  It's always easier to jump on the bandwagon.  Certainly, what "everybody" is doing must be right; so the rationale goes.

Wrong.  People make mistakes all the time; including who we vote into office.  It's great strategy for a politician to claim to be "transparent".  It's another thing for them to really live up to that claim.  We must keep an eye on those in Washington, DC.

Trusting our politicians is about as sensible as trusting those little devious aliens from the movie.

"We come in peace".  Yeah.  Right.

Larry Underwood is a corporate cynic, a government watch dog, and the author of Life Under the Corporate Microscope.

Visit his Author's Webpage for more information on the book that shook corporate America.  It's also very hilarious.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Book That's Shaking Corporate America

Corporate America doesn't like being exposed for what they are---a humorless, bureaucratic, backstabbing, micro-managing mess. Not only that, they're doing a lousy job of producing goods and services that are really "good enough" to make them a decent profit.

So they lose money. When they lose money, they blame the economy, as they lay off thousands of loyal "ex"-employees. And so it goes.

Employee morale? Forget about it. They hate their jobs.

Productivity? Well, with everyone running around hating their jobs, let's just say, productivity is "diminished".

What happened?

After (26) years of hands on research, as an active member of Corporate America (a top executive with Enterprise Rent-a-Car), I saw what can happen to an otherwise fine company when they get too big for their own good.

They lose its sense of humor. They discourage its employees from having any fun at all. Instead, they instill a culture of fear throughout its organizations, which leads to the aforementioned micro-managing and backstabbing. In other words, Corporate America has become a bastion of pompous stupidity, where any dissenting points of view are usually met with a swift boot out the door. Who's going to have the courage to disagree with the CEO?

In this environment, is it any wonder so many businesses have failed? Nobody wants to tell the head-honchos of Corporate America their strategies are flawed; their greed and hubris is misguided. So the culture of fear becomes an abysmal pit of failure.

What a mess.

Don't worry. I know how to fix it. In my book, Life Under the Corporate Microscope, I narrate a story which will entertain and enlighten you. It's a quick read which you won't want to put down. It's guaranteed to provide you with more LOLs than any other business book. But that's not saying much, eh?

No, it's guaranteed to make you LOL about as much as any book on the market. Well, I can't really guarantee that, but I do feel good about that statement. I'm 99.44% sure you'll love it. How's that?

If you don't like your job---whether or not you happen to work for Enterprise---you'll get a kick out of my irreverent perspective. If you do like your job; congratulations. You're either the boss or you don't work for a big corporation. You'll still love my book.

To order directly through Amazon:

To check out my Author's Webpage:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recommended Reading

For anyone who has ever gone through the process of writing a book, most will agree, writing it was the easy part. Editing it is usually a grind, taking up to three times longer than the fun part---writing it.

Even after you finally get the thing in print, you then realize the real job has arrived---Marketing it. As a first time (self-published) author, I never realized I'd have to spend time actually trying to sell my book. I thought it would mysteriously sell itself. Lol.

For anyone who has ever written a book and had it available for sale on Amazon, they probably realize to pay very little attention to that crazy Amazon ranking system. It's all based on projections and extrapolations that really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things; especially in the early stages of the post-publication process. I recall a week or two after my press release came out about my book, it appeared I was destined to make the New York Times Best-Seller list. It peaked out at something like 8750, which had it in the top 100 in my category (Business General).

Then reality hit. After the initial wave of buyers, things started slowing down a bit. Then things started slowing down more than a bit. And so on and so forth. I was concerned, to say the least.

Then I stumbled across a book written by the President of Outskirts Press, our hero, Brent Sampson---"How to Sell Your Book on Amazon". Brent revealed some pretty good marketing secrets, one of which has become a full-time endeavor for me---doing reviews on Amazon. The logic behind this strategy is simple: The more reviews I do, the more exposure I get for (a) being an authority on my niche and (b) having my book attached to my Amazon reviewer name.  People read my stellar reviews then check out my book.

Finally, I can see the strategy's paying off a bit. I just polished off my 300th review and now my book's starting to sell at a torrid pace again. Lol.

Luckily, the books I chose to review were, for the most part, very good efforts; some were great. As a service to you, the blog reader, I thought I'd pass along my most recent favorites (posted on Twitter). The subject matter ranges from business tips to self-help advice, with a little thought provoking material thrown in for good measure.

Here are a dozen books I really enjoyed, and I bet you will, too:

The Power of Full Engagement (Jim Loehr)

The Power of Less (Leo Babauta)

On Writing Well (William Zinsser)

Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently (Gregory Berns

Primal Management (Paul Herr)

Economics in One Lesson (Henry Hazlitt)

Self-Promotion for Introverts (Nancy Ankowitz)

Have a Little Faith (Mitch Albom)

Endless Referrals & The Go-Giver (Bob Burg)

That Which is Seen & That Which is Not Seen & The Law (Frederic Bastiat)

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't plug my masterpiece. I hate being remiss.

Life Under the Corporate Microscope (Larry Underwood)

There you have it. After you read these books, why don't you head over to Amazon and write your very own reviews? It's almost as much fun as reading the books; I guarantee it.

The author can be probed further by going here:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Corporate America's Love Affair With Washington, DC

It doesn't matter if a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican is in the White House; nor does it matter which party is controlling Congress.

What matters for the vast majority of fat cat CEOs in Corporate America is being able to manipulate those politicians running this country; to follow their specific agendas, which may or may not be so good for "we, the people", or the overall economy.

Although most big corporations prefer to have a Republican administration running the country (only because manipulating them is easier), they'll act like good Democrats if necessary; they're very good chameleons.

What makes them good chameleons is money.

Money is used to control legislation, and it's all very legal. The conveniently legal way to pay off politicians is through lobbyists, who are paid by the CEOs to pay off the politicians.

Say hello to Corporate America and Washington DC's little friend: The Political Action Committee, aka "PAC" (man).

Personally, I think the politicians should receive no extra compensation for doing their jobs. Instead, they're taking money from the fat cats in exchange for favorable legislation to keep the fat cats fat.

This is nothing new. It's been going on for ages. It'll keep going on for ages. Money has power and Washington DC's power brokers call the shots---to a certain extent. There's a beautiful balance of corruption there, however. The power brokers need the fat cats' money, so the nefarious relationship will always endure. And "we the people" are screwed.

Sure, "we" can vote the corrupt politicians out of office, but there's a two to four year lag time of corruption taking place. Besides, since the corruption---the payola---is across the board, there's really no difference between the power brokers. They're really all the same; and they can never, ever be trusted. Never, ever.

As millions of Americans are increasingly frustrated with the current adminstration's handling of every issue imaginable; remember this---Corporate America (along with the liberal media) is engaged in a (slobbering?) love affair with Barrack Hussein Obama---The Master of Economic Trauma.

How else do you explain all the bailouts? In a true free-market economy, bailouts would be a preposterous notion. However, this isn't a true free-market economy.

The Federal Government is controlling the economy, and doing a lousy job of it. We're becoming a socialistic bailout nation, with little regard for the financial implications. Why? Politicians don't care about the long-term effects of their poor economic policy. They care about one thing, and one thing only: MONEY.

And Corporate America will keep doling it out, to keep this vicious cycle of corruption going.

Ironically, MONEY does make the world go 'round. The people who have it, often don't deserve it. Welcome to Obama Nation.

Larry Underwood is the Author of  Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective http://www/

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wading Through the Jungle of Amazon

I wrote a book, Life Under the Corporate Microscope, chronicling my 26 year career with the car rental giant, Enterprise.  It's been selling at a pretty good pace on Amazon, although not what I envisioned when I first published it early this year.

I figured every living ex-employee and every living current employee (redundant, eh?) would want a copy (or 2...or 3) to call their very own.  Then reality set it.  Sure, it's getting read by a lot of people, but it's been surprisingly "shared" by a fairly large circle of cronies.  Book sharing?  I suppose in this economy, saving a few bucks is important...

Just when I was on the verge of abandoning my marketing efforts, I've noticed a sharp spike in sales.  I suppose "word of mouth" is helping out, or maybe it's all those reviews I've done on Amazon over the past several months.  I read a lot; and I review a lot. 

According to the head of Outskirts Press, my self-publisher (the cost effective way to go)---a guy by the name of Brent Sampson---it you really want your book to be a best-seller on Amazon, you'd better get busy doing those reviews...lots of 'em.  Currently, I'm closing in on the 300 review plateau...

When people log on to Amazon to check out the latest bestseller, they'll more than likely see a review from me, Uncle Larry.  If they like what I've written in the review section, they might be even tempted to actually buy one of my masterpieces.  It really is good; I just polished off another reading session last night, and I think I'm appreciating its brilliance more with time (why, I don't know).

Of course, another marketing ploy is becoming a credible authority in the world of the internet.  I've been hooked on Twitter for six months now and I've got a base of  "followers" over 4000 now.  By engaging in real time conversation with these folks, I'm building credibility...and some of those fellow Twitter-ers...have been checking out this book.  Very clever, indeed...

Now, I've got to accomplish two missions if I'm going to keep the sales momentum going...

NUMBER 1:  I need the public to head over to Amazon buy my book; and very importantly post a 5 star review for my wonderful book. For your safety and convenience, here's the direct link to get you over there:

NUMBER 2:  I need the public to head over to Amazon and read my stellar reviews as well.  At the conclusion of my enlightening and engaging review, when asked if my review was YES!  I guarantee that review was helpful; take my word for it---more help from me to you.

Thanks for visiting.  I'll return again when I have something relevent to post...

Now go buy a (another) copy of my book...Everybody needs at least 5 or 6...They make great stocking stuffers and whatnot...

Still not convinced?  Go to my Author's Web-Page

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is the Bad Economy Tempting Corporations to Do Bad Things?

Even when Corporate America was making tons of money, there were a lot of shady things going on with that gang of thieves; usually, revolving around that dynamic duo of "greed & hubris".

Economists and other experts close to the scene have written books by the score, recounting the worst global financial crisis since The Great Depression.  The failure of capitalism, the housing crisis, the failure of common sense, and the failure of Wall Street have been the most compelling topics of failure. 

Naturally, these books recounting all these failures have been bestsellers; at least something's succeeding in this economy.

In the meantime, as corporations continue struggling with layoffs and less than stellar earnings, I wonder how many of them have begun cutting corners and started doing some unethical things in order to make a few extra bucks.  And when they get caught, their response is to blame it on a "glitch".  Sure, a "glitch" explains it all.

Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Recently, Enterprise Rent-a-Car purchased approximately 66,000 Chevrolet Impalas and decided to save $175 per car by deleting the passenger side panel air bag.  In other words, they callously decided that $11.5 million in their coffers was more important than putting thousands of customers (and employees) at risk while all those cars were in service.  Let's assume that they had those cars in service for an average of 18,000 miles per vehicle.  That's nearly 12 million unsafe miles for those cars to be driven.  I wonder how many accidents occurred in those instances where a passenger was hurt or killed due to the missing air bags?

It gets worse.

Enterprise recently turned around and sold hundreds of those air bag challenged Impalas to unsuspecting buyers, claiming the cars were fully equipped, air bags and all.  Luckily, they got caught and the story was exposed in a recent Kansas City Star investigation.  Enterprise was caught red-handed.  It was bad enough they put the cars in service without the air bags; but they lied about it when they sold the cars to people who apparently paid for the phantom air bags and drove those cars with that nice feeling of safety thinking those air bags might save their passengers' lives if they were plowed into by some drunk driver.  Nope.

So now Enterprise has been exposed.  The cat's out of the bag.  What's their explanation?  "Uh, it was a glitch."

A "glitch"?  That's nice sounding business jargon that completely skirts the issue.  Exactly how did the "glitch" occur in so many different vehicles in so many different locations across the country?  I'd really like to know.

I'm wondering if any investigation is going to be performed on this "glitch"?  Or has Enterprise PAC money bought their way out of trouble with the political power brokers?  I've got a feeling that this story is going to be buried and the public relations spin doctors will concoct a convenient explanation how this whole thing was still just some mysterious "glitch"; but don't worry...It's fixed now.  Thank you very much and have a nice day.

I'm sorry, Enterprise.

I still not buying it. 

I know how you operate. 

This time, your cost cutting measures went just a little too far.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Twitter Power Becomes More Powerful Each Day

I love Twitter.  Chances are, so do you.  Where else can you crawl out of bed, and joke with somebody from Australia about their sloppy housekeeping habits over your first cup of coffee?  Then a minute later, you could be engaged in some philosophical debate with a transplanted American now living in Sweden; and then it's time to catch up with your core base of personal favorites---to see how the Giants did last night, or if that tornado touched down in Houston.

How hot is Twitter?  Incindiary.  Heck, six months ago, I thought Twitter was some silly gimmick to add flair to your emails.  That was my first reaction.  I thought it sounded silly.  It's anything but silly; it's a very, very powerful way to connect with the world, in real time, 140 limit character posts, aka "tweets".  The power of Twitter can kill a bad movie's box office total in a flash.  To me, that's not a bad thing.  It might force Hollywood to start making better flicks.

In Washington, DC, the use of Twitter has actually been banned by the President.  It seems as though the leader of ObamaNation is worried about the bad publicity that's been building within the once liberal based core of Twitters.  The once "silent minority" is silent no longer.  My favorite, is an outrageous stock broker from Phoenix, Todd Fritz, aka @thewonderbroker.  The guy's hilarious in his disdain for Obama and his love for his old home town Brewers.  He's a free-wheeling self proclaimed party animal and he's not afraid to say exactly what's on his mind. 

Speaking your mind---that's the First Amendment.  I like that.  The Constitution.  I like that, too.  Sometimes I wonder if the power brokers in Washington DC have ever heard of the Constitution.  From what I've seen, they may have heard of it, but don't care about its significance.

Maybe in 2012, they'll find out that the vast majority of Americans do in fact, care about the Constitution.  With any luck, we'll see some changes---finally for the better. 

With any luck, Twitter will still be going strong & perhaps the new administration will be active Twitters as well.  Maybe I'll follow them.

Larry Underwood wrote Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Guest Article---What Happened to America? Todd Fritz (thewonderbroker)

If you're one of the 900 or so followers I have from Twitter, you probably know I'm not a fan of our newest President, Barrack Obama---The King of Financial Trauma.  For some reason, the majority of Americans in the land known as ObamaNation, don't feel the same way I do.  That's okay.  I know I'm right, and sooner or later, I'm pretty sure the rest of America will realize that, as well. 

I'm a pretty simple guy.  Give me my golf clubs, an early morning tee-time, a few beers and a hot dog at the turn, and I consider it a good day.  Sure, I'm a stockbroker by trade, but the "good days" in that business are as rare as a double eagle---at least in this millennium.  Will things get better again?  Sure.  Do you have 100 years?

That's kind of a joke, but unfortunatey, it doesn't seem far off the mark.  Our fiscally irresponsible President, B.O., doesn't seem to have a clue.  He also doesn't seem to have a birth certificate.  Yet somehow, he qualified to run for President?  Sure, let's bend the rules for our home boy.  Who cares what country he was born in?   As long as he's got his teleprompter, he can fake it.

Somehow, his lack of motor skills doesn't instill any confidence from me.  Here's a guy who bowled a 37 during last year's Presidential campaign.  A 37.  The obvious question:  Why in the hell did he go bowling to begin with?  And why didn't he ask for those bumpers to keep his ball out of the gutter?  A 37?

Of course, to further his reputation as a complete spaz, he took to the mound in St Louis for the All-Star Game pre-game ceremony, and tossed a ruptured duck to Albert Pujols.  This was supposed to have been the ceremonial opening pitch, but it looked like something out of Field & Stream.  It was the most embarrasing moment I've ever witnessed at a sporting event, with the possible exception of Roseann What's Her Name yelping the National Anthem a decade or so earlier, and then grabbing her crotch after that performance.

Whatever happened to common sense?  How did we let this happen?  The greatest nation in the world went brain dead and nobody seems to care.  Well, I care!  The budget deficits created by this economically challenged politician are killing us.  But nobody seems to care.

The fact that the leader of our country can't even cough up a lousy birth certificate makes me think he's hiding something and I hope we find it before it's too late.  Why should we let him set his own rules for taking over this country?  Either he proves he's a citizen of the United States, or we get him out of office.  It's as simple as that.  Of course, the things that are so clearly obvious, clearly don't matter.

It matters to me. 

I promised Larry Underwood (lau56) I wouldn't go balistic here.  Normally, I do, so you should thank me for being so civilized.  Now, go buy his damned book so he'll let me come back and spout off again one of these days.

Life Under the Corporate Microscope---An Irreverent Maverick's Perspective 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Prediction From America's Foremost Baseball Authority

Now, that's quite a bold statement---"America's foremost baseball authority" is making a prediction.  Never before have I gone so far out on a limb, but wtf...I know baseball, and I know the National League All-Stars will defeat the American League All-Stars in the game played later today in St Louis.

To me, that prediction is a no-brainer.  I mean, come on...The game is being played in St Louis, for crying out loud (home field advantage), and the National League lineup, led by the great Albert Pujols, is far superior to the one put together by the outmatched American League.

Say, "what"?  Oh, the last time the National League won the All-Star Game, Bill Clinton was President, and Monica Lewinsky was still an intern with very limited experience with smoking cigars.  The stock market was going through the biggest bull market of bull markets, and the Florida Marlins had yet to defeat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series...The New York Yankees were reigning World Series Champions after upsetting the previous World Series Champion Atlanta Braves...

That was a pretty long time ago, huh?  Conventional wisdom says the American League is incapable of losing the All Star Game.  Bullsh*t!  Conventional wisdom is wrong so often, you could write a book about all the ways it's been wrong in the history of mankind.  I won't even go into that, but "conventional stupididty" might be a better phrase...I rest my case.

So yes, my friends, you can take it from me, Uncle Larry; a guy who never lies and is always right!  Well, at least as far as you know.  But don't take my word for it.  Here's a brief sampling of my baseball expertise, compliments of a book I wrote, Life Under the Corporate Microscope.  I think this speaks for itself.  If not, I'll try better next time!

Chapter 4---"Tell Us Another Story, Uncle Larry"
"Anybody who knows me well knows I like to tell stories.  If the subject matter is baseball, I could go on for hours; actually, I have gone on for hours; I'm a regular baseball historian.
Thanks in large part to growing up in St Louis, where baseball is revered and understood far more than any simple 'pastime'; St Louis fans are widely regarded as the most knowledgeable in all of baseball...
As a franchise, the Cardinals have been successful in winning World Championships more than any other National League team, and rank second in all of baseball, with ten titles.  The New York Yankess are in the number one position, with 1,592 World Series Championships, as everyone knows; but they would've had 1,593 titles, had the Cardinals not beaten them, mercilessly, in the 1964 World Series (actually, the damned Yankees have won something like 26 World Series Championships).  How about that?"
I continue the chapter by discussing the exploits of a turn of the century ballplayer by the name of Dummy Hoy, who singlehandedly changed the game by forcing the umpires to use hand gestures to signal the outcome of a play...You see, Dummy Hoy (aka William Ellsworth Hoy) happened to be baseball's finest deaf mute player.  As the late great Paul Harvey would've said; "Now you know the rest of the story!"
You can look it up.  The reason umpires do those silly little hand gestures is the result of a tradition that was initiated to help a guy by the name of "Dummy", know precisely what the outcome of a given play was.  Thanks, Dummy, for being you!  This Bud's for you.
I'll bet you're wondering how I know so much about stupid little trivia like that.  I guess you could say...I'm just a lucky stiff.  Baseball's my life.  And baseball predictions are my business.  And business is good.  And won't I look like a complete idiot if I'm wrong?  Ha!  It won't happen.  You can take that one to the bank.
Disclaimer:  Results may vary.  Consult a doctor before taking any of my advice (a psychiatrist).
Larry Underwood wrote Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review This!

As a retired executive with valid observations to share on the state of affairs in Corporate America, I've made a few noteworthy observations lately.  Many of my observations stem from my growing interest & influence in that social networking site called, Twitter.  More on that later.

While not engaged in the activity of posting my tweets and reading others' words of wisdom (or spam attacks), I do a lot of reading, and as a result, a lot of reviewing on Amazon.  Year to date, I've polished off close to 100 reviews of mostly good books; some even great; some not so good; a couple, fairly wretched.
One thing I've noticed about doing reviews is the passionate responses that come from the Amazon masses.  If your opinion of a particular book doesn't fit with many people's agenda, you'll experience the thrill of having the review "voted down", which is a curious option for those reading your words of literary opinion.

Frankly, whether you agree with my perspective (very centrist in every respect), my book reviews are stellar.  However, if I mention one piece of criticism towards the author or the subject matter at hand, the Amazonians answer the question "Was this review helpful?" with a resounding "NO".  I'm not sure what satisfaction they derive from voting an honest, and thoroughly comprehensive review "down"; and I won't even try to understand their motive; but it's clear they have their own very strong agenda, and feel it's their duty to quash the facts.  It's pretty lame; especially when they attack something as innocuous as favorable reviews I've given to books about Vin Scully & Joe Torre.  I mean, come on people.  I enjoyed the books, and gave a very valid argument as to these books' merits; there's absolutely no reason to vote them down.

Of course, when you offer opinions on controversial topics, such as anything to do with President Obama, or anything to do with the state of the economy, or for that matter, any type of social issue, the hate mail comes trickling in.  There's no hiding from the angry masses; but that's quite all right.  I've got supporters, too.  It just seems weird that a few paragraphs giving my insightful perspective should be considered so dangerous; so "unhelpful".  Yeah, right.  Review this.

More to come.  My next post will deal with the baffling censorship I've run up against on Twitter's platform for big-shot executives---Exectweets.  Plus, a strange encounter with a Linked In Group known as "Little Media".  I've run afoul with them, as well; simply by having an opinion that didn't meet the agenda of the Group's commandant---a P.hD with zero tolerance for my valid observation.

PS---I wrote a great book about my experience in dealing with Corporate America (which as it turns out, is an "on-going" experience long after the book's release).

The book:  Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective

The book's website:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Introduction (Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective)

After graduating from an institution of higher learning called Rockford College in 1974, and returning back home to St Louis to marry my college sweetheart, I was fortunate enough to have hooked on with a building supply company (Georgia Pacific) that would lay me off inside of four months.

Being young and naive, I never saw it coming, nor did I realize that being laid off was actually a blessing in disguise.  The recession in the housing market, which led to my sudden unemployment created the perfect opportunity to start another random career, this time, in the car rental business, with a company called "Executive Leasing".  I was hired, and stuck around for twenty-six years, while becoming one of its highest paid, and probably, most irreverent executives.

The company would change its name to Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and I would be embarking on a career that would pay me more money than I ever dreamed possible, in a business I truly loved.  At the peak of my career, which happened to be my final year with Enterprise, I was raking in close to $4 million per year while overseeing one of the company's most profitable and fun-loving operations.

I retired after making it through the first year of the current millennium.  By that time, the company that I loved had evolved into a humorless bureaucracy; not that there's anything wrong with that; but I clearly didn't fit in with that type of environment, so it was time to go, with no regrets; except of course, I wouldn't be making so much money.

The history of Enterprise, through my irreverent eyes, examines the remarkable transformation of a company that only leased cars for the first five years of its existence, started its rental division almost as an afterthought five years later, thus inadvertently going on to become the largest and most profitable car rental company in the world.

This book captures my perspective of the events that shaped Enterprise and profoundly affected not only countless careers, but personal lives as well.  The observations I make are my honest opinion and may not be shared with others however please keep in mind that I'm usually right.

The company's success began with the simple, but not particularly "easy" goal of its founder, Jack C Taylor, to deliver the best customer service possible at all times; and remarkably has continued through the efforts of its front line employees, who so consistently; often thanklessly; take care of its customers, day in and day out.  These are the people who work the hardest and typically get paid on the lower end of the spectrum.  This book is dedicated to you.  Hang in there.  Someday, you may become a big shot.

After all, if it could happen to a guy like me, who never really took anything too seriously, it could happen to you.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Said P.hDs Aren't Funny? Not Me!

Hey, Tweets!  (If you're not a fellow Twitter, sign up after you read this.) Lately, I've come across a lot of funny people on Twitter.  Uh, that's funny "ha-ha", not funny "hmm".  Big difference.  Funny "ha-ha" would be Steve Martin or Chevy Chase from the '70s.  Funny "hmm" would be Steve Martin or Chevy Chase today. What happened to them?  Martin turned into this whiny little weasel and Chase turned into a stupid googly eyed moron, who almost seems to be lampooning himself.  He's just not funny anymore, and should never appear on camera ever again; including his own.

On the other hand, ordinary people like you and me...We're f*cking funny.  Tonight, I got a random call to action from a nice lady who goes by VenerAbility (who also happens to be a hilarious P.hD)  in the Twittersphere, and she invited me to join some sort of group she's putting together on Linkedin because I'm "humorous with marketing ability"...Or something along those lines...

I say, "hell yeah"...Sign me up.  Now I've got to continue being hilarious.  No problem, I'm always funny.  Sometimes, I'm even funny "ha-ha".

I may have my hands full, here, however.  It seems VenerAbility has a tremendous ability to write hysterical stuff.  I read her blog and she's funnier than Steve Martin or Chevy Chase ever were in the '70s; and that's saying a least as far as Steve Martin is concerned.  Chase was funny enough...but today...don't get me started.

Dr VenerAbility has penned some hilarious stuff...Just a quick sample from what I remember was a faux headline she used in one of her witty blogs:  "Thailand Swallowed by Giant Clam".  Genius.  She had other stuff, and I got a kick out of reading her blog...It seems as though some people are really f*cking stupid; they didn't get it.  Dumb-asses.  I thought it was hilarious.  And I'm usually right.  Now go on, and get out of here, after you buy my book.  Bye.

Larry Underwood is the author of Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective (visit his author's webpage:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unleash Your Own Thoughts---You're More Profound Than You Think

Hello to my fellow Tweeters, and welcome to the program.  If you're a first time visitor to the show, drop me a tweet & I'll send you a special gift.  No I won't, but I'll try to say something witty on my next post, and even give you the kids say.  I really don't give props, but I just wanted to segue into the topic for discussion here today---The overuse & abuse of quoting famous people. 

I have from time to time, tossed out a quote on Twitter from a famous person, because it was said so eloquently, and it alligned with my philosophy.  Peter Drucker has been a good source for me.  He was a genius, and his words usually hammered home a point in eloquent brevity.  I love it.

However, a lot of famous people may have said a lot of interesting things, but their observations have only been inscribed in granite (metaphorically speaking) because they once won a Super Bowl, or led the American League in Home Runs a few years ago.  In other words, they have good hand eye coordination, and can run fast, jump high, or utilize their strength in ways to make them skilled at their professions (I won't even go into any debate about possible steroid use at this particular time; it's not relevent to the subject at hand).

I think the ordinary people (like you and me, but not that guy) should start using their own imagination to produce some noteworthy observations.  Just think about a subject you're interested in, or have had some type of experience with.  Then start brainstorming.  You may surprise yourself with your brilliance.  To me, the satisfaction of spouting off something profound---and totally original---is almost as good as winning a Super Bowl or World Series.  When it gets retweeted on the worldwide stage of Twitter, there's nothing better; in my book, anyway.  Or my next book. 

Here's a sampling of some of my zany or even profound observations:

*Survival of the fittest often means having the loaded gun.

*I once said everyone should get married at least once, just to see what it's like.  From my own experience, I have to retract that idea.

*The only thing Corporate America has to fear is the culture of fear Corporate America has created.

*Humorless corporate hierachies usually have a bunch of unhappy, unmotivated and unproductive employees running around collecting paychecks, but not really engaged in the process of "work".

*Survival of the fittest often means being able to display charisma & confidence to some of the scariest people you'll ever meet.

*Personal success is often measured by the success others achieve, aided by your support & guidance.

And so on, and so forth.  I got a million of 'em.  The next time you're on Twitter, try one of your own original thoughts.  You'll surprise yourself with how smart you are.  Now go on & get out of here.

Larry Underwood is the author of Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective (visit his website:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Book Every Enterprise Rent-a-Car Employee Must Read

Since publishing Life Under the Corporate Microscope, I've heard from dozens of my old cohorts, some of whom I hadn't seen in years, telling me they'd read it and really enjoyed it.  In fact, many of them couldn't put it down once they started reading it; and there were no adhesives to cause that situation.  They just couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. 

In broader terms, the book gives my irreverent perspective of life in Corporate America; specifically, with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, a company that grew to mammoth proportions while I was under its employ for 26 years (1974-2000).  As I narrate my way through a successful career, which would ultimately make me a multi-millionaire from a wonderful, incentive based commission pay-plan (the more profit I generated for the company, the more money I made, individually); I take the reader along for a wild and fun-filled (often hilarious) ride, from my humble beginnings in St Louis, to my lucrative conclusion, living a very nice life in Las Vegas. 

What makes the book so compelling for anybody associated with Enterprise (and that's a lot of people) is how the company went from a relatively small, regional-based operation when I first started, to go on to become the massive (maybe "too massive for its own good") corporation they are nowadays. 

Not long ago, Enterprise was making so much money, they usually raked in more profit each year than all the other car rental companies, combined.  Lately, times have been tough, they're having trouble making any decent profit, and they even resorted to laying off thousands of employees, last fall, with about 200 of them coming from their overstaffed bureaucratic headquarters in St Louis.

What my book does is bridge the gap between the corporate perspective on what a wonderful company they are, never admitting they ever made a mistake, to reality.

The reality is they're basically about like any other big corporation; no better, no worse.  At times, they were a great place to work, and paid guys like me an awful lot of money to run our businesses.  Other times, they were a company that seemed to distance themselves from the front-line employees, while creating a new corporate culture of micro-managing, finger pointing and backstabbing.

At times, they were the classiest company on the planet, and most of us felt proud to be working for them.  Other times they seemed callous and treacherous, creating a climate of " fear" permeating the corporation.

I think the time is right for a different perspective on this slice of Corporate America, blemishes and all.  I suppose it was my job to do that; it was an enjoyable project to write, edit and now market, I suppose for the rest of my life.  After all, word of mouth advertising is great, but in this instant information age of the internet, there are so many other marketing options to decide to use, it's mind-boggling; and it's also making me blog a lot; which is also mind-boggling, to say the least.

I think you'll love the book, and for more information on it, please visit my other web-site:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Considering a Career with Enterprise Rent-a-Car? Read my Book First!

I got lucky.  I needed to find a job in a hurry; I'd just been laid off from Georgia Pacific due to the collapse in the housing market - not this one - the one from 1974.  After a bunch of worthless job interviews from a varitey of sources from the "now hiring" section in the St Louis Post Dispatch, I randomly selected an employment agency, located in downtown St Louis, talked to some guy named Bill or Billy or Bud; to tell you the truth, I don't remember any of those details.

What I do remember was this guy immediately took one look at me (I was conservatively clean-cut and a bit dorky), and sold me on the fact that I was "Executive Leasing" material.  "Executive Leasing" later had a name change operation, becoming "Enterprise Leasing", and then the final one which made them the world-famous "Enterprise Rent-a-Car".

I was quickly dispatched to conduct an interview with a gentleman by the name of Wayne Kaufmann and was advised to be especially enthusiastic and whatnot since Mr Kaufmann supposedly hires just one out of every ten applicants.  Of course, that was nonsense, but his strategy had merit; I was on my best behavior during the interview, appearing to be totally engrossed with everything I heard.

With Kaufmann satisfied that I possessed the necessary mind-set to work 60 hours a week for minimal pay, he quickly shuffled me over to meet with his boss - a terrifyingly charming and gregarious gentleman by the name of Doug Brown.  I continued my strategy of appearing to be completely thrilled with everything I heard; somehow uttering appropriate responses to mundane pieces of information which made absolutely no sense to me, whatsoever.

Just like that, I had unwittingly - yet successfully - navigated my way through that brief encounter with the scary Mr Brown; the very next day - much to my astonishment - Kaufmann called to offer me the job.  Strangely enough, I didn't immediately accept the offer; I had another one on the table, so I had to give this crucial decision some serious thought, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each career scenario.  As I recall, I turned down the chance to sell office supplies for some outfit that has probably gone out of business by now; unwittingly, I made the best decision of my life when I mysteriously went down that car rental career path.

Nowadays, Enterprise hires more recent college graduates than any other company in North America; the process has become a bit more complicated and drawn out, with various HR people putting applicants through a series of interviews with a wide variety of lower to mid-level management people.  For applicants who are able to maintain that high enthusiasm level for a few additional rounds of interrogation,  the chances of getting hired are probably still as good as when I hooked on way back in 1974.

I spent 26 years with Enterprise, becoming one of its highest ranking officers.  I witnessed, firsthand, the transformation of a small, regional company to international corporate giant; a giant that is cold and  humorless, instilling a culture of "fear" throughout the organization.  Unfortunately, most big corporations operate in this manner; there is little escape from insidious micromanagement, corporate politics, and ultimately, backstabbing.  Welcome to corporate America.

I wrote a fascinating and brutally honest account of my long and successful career with Enterprise - Life Under the Corporate Microscope - A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective - I would encourage anyone considering a career with Enterprise Rent-a-Car to read it; consider it a road map to help navigate through the frequently treacherous corporate landscape in front of them.

By the way, it's not only informative, it's hilarious.  You have my word on it.  For further information, check out my website: