What thoughts keep magazines bosses up late at night? Late last night John Koten, the CEO of Fast Company publisher Mansueto Ventures, was wondering why his staff hasn't asked him about how great he is.
Here's a memo he sent to all staff at Mansueto, which also publishes Inc., the magazine Koten used to edit, last night:
From: John Koten
Sent: Thu 4/9/2009 11:49 PM
To: ALL MANSUETO
Subject: Thought for the day
I realize few of you want a life identical to mine. However, it does kind of amaze me that in the entire time we've been at 7 world trade center, not a single employee has ever directly asked me....how did you succeed in our business. How did you do it.
This surprises me for several reasons: one, because I think I could give an interesting answer. Two, because it's the subject matter we are supposed to be presenting our readers. Three, because it would impress me and show some respect.
It's a question I constantly asked people when I was young, including all of my bosses and every ceo I interviewed. I asked richard petty, I asked michael jackson, I aslked joe mansueto, I asked john delorean. I asked peter kann, I asked norman pearlstine. I asked john huey. It's a pretty easy question to remember.
And that's at least one tip you can have without ever even bothering to ask me.
Earlier in the day, Koten announced that employees' children visiting for Take Our Daughters/Sons to Work Day "are all going over to see the ceos [sic] boat." And then he sent this email:
From: John Koten
Sent: Thu 4/9/2009 6:56 PM
To: ALL MANSUETO
One of my crew on panet claire is the best sailing instructor in New York. He will be happy to teach anyone sailing ir just take you out on my boat this summer. He also gives private lessons, can help you join the manhattan sailing club (free lessons). 800 bucks plus unlimited access to boats a few blocks from our office. Check it out at msc.org.
A tipster tells us Koten bought a boat last year and spent most of summer working on it.
The tipster adds that Koten suggested employees spend $800 on sailing lessons after two rounds of layoffs in September and January, and a move two weeks ago to force everyone to take two unpaid weeks of vacation, effectively cutting salaries by 5 percent. As for how Koten is "succeeding in our business"? Joe Mansueto, the owner of the company, the tipster says, writes a $2 million check every month to keep his magazines afloat.
Update: We heard from Koten!
That was a hilarious article today. I have no personal objection to any of it. However, joe mansueto wrote me from vacation to ask me to tell you that your loss numbers are way off and uninformed.
You are welcome to come over and chat with me, see our place, see my boat, etc.—any time.
I'll have some news you could break whenever you choose to come.
The style of this email confirms the authenticity of our tipster's leaked memo. It's interesting how Koten manages to reach the shift key to capitalize "I," but doesn't manage it on proper names, even his boss's. (Or he's just an iPhone or BlackBerry user who's grown overreliant on his phone's autocapitalization feature.) We also note that Mansueto didn't specify if our source's estimate of losses was high or low, just "way off."
A tipster shares this theory about the timing of Koten's email: booze. Koten is reportedly a Rangers fan, and gets drunk at games. The Rangers played last night. Ergo, drunken email. Koten says: "Yes, the Rangers made the playoffs last night, so I was pretty happy."
A Mansueto tipster confirms that Koten often shows up at the office at noon. One staffer notes that one of the rare occasions when Koten appeared at the office in the morning was when he announced the unpaid time off — after which he promptly left for a vacation in Jamaica.