HOW TO LOSE $100,000,000 AND OTHER VALUABLE ADVICE by Royal Little


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Ever the archetypical tycoon, octogenarian Roy Little reviews his long, mettlesome business career. Proprietor of Textron from its first days as a textile manufacturer, Little set it on its profitable way as a monster conglomerate. Though he ingenuously details losses, the gains grew spectacular (last year's sales: $3 billion in watch bands, helicopters, staplers, silverware, chain saws, and other assorted merchandise). After his 1962 retirement, Little dispensed venture capital elsewhere with equally aggressive intelligence. But between the lines there are hints of the ruthless corporate raider. Work-line speedups, self-dealing with charitable trusts, manipulation of pension plans, and bonus-grabbing are all described, lightly, as examples of commercial acumen. Little never articulates a consistent business philosophy. If wartime excess profit taxes were an abomination, the tax uses of net operating loss carryforwards were manifestly wonderful; and if legislative investigators were unfair, the creation of Small Business Investment Corporations was certainly just. But rightly or wrongly, the bucks stopped here. Repetitive and oddly organized, most of the book seems to have been based on corporate annual reports. Like that peculiar literary form, it conceals as much as it reveals and exemplifies the author's confusion of his business with himself. Despite occasional welcome digressions (into golf, skiing, a ride on the Hindenburg, a quiz on an unusual hand of bridge), a session with Little's memoir is a bit like being locked in the executive suite with a mildly megalomaniacal old-fashioned magnate.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Little, Brown