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Picking The Low-hanging Fruit: Case Studies for the Innovative Business Exec

Upgrading Your IT Infrastructure

To keep pace with your competitors, you need to replace your entire IT infrastructure every year. This is quite costly and with a recent dip in sales, you’re tempted to access your line of credit in order to pay for the additional investment. A better approach is to go to the apple orchard three miles down the country road next to your office, pick the ripe apples and then sell those apples. Use the proceeds to fund your IT expenditures.

Raising Venture Capital for Your Tech Startup

Your burn rate is out of control and you’re facing a six-month runway. At this point you need a major capital injection or the company will fail. On the way to your meeting with the prospective venture capital firm, stop along the way at a strawberry field. Pick the strawberries closest to the ground (they are ripest there) and take them to your pitch meeting. Hand out the berries to the investors and tell them that they are locally-sourced, fair trade, but not scalable (unlike your app). If the strawberries are delicious, you’ll get the money you need—VCs love strawberries.

Downsizing in a Recession

An economic downturn means you have to let some of your workforce go. Firing people is never easy, no matter how vital it is to your business or how unproductive your employees are. One approach is to perform 360-degree reviews of all your employees to determine which are least essential to business operations. A better approach is to go to Trader Joe’s and buy as many berries as you can (the berries should be in season so as to reduce expenses) and put them in a big bowl in the middle of the office. The people who don’t eat the berries can be safely let go—they’re not hungry and you’re going to need hungry people if you want to regain your market share.

Presenting Bad News at the Quarterly Earnings Report

You’ve been CEO for two years and the turnaround has stalled. This call is going to make or break your company’s stock price and you need to keep the board of directors and Wall Street happy. The night before the call, sneak onto the nearest pumpkin patch and pick three pumpkins. Mash them up and smear the pumpkin paste on the touchier sections of the report, rendering the bad news illegible. Make a joke about how you shouldn’t be preparing the report while eating your grandmother’s signature pumpkin pie and promise a clean version of the report by end of week. After the call, open aggressive short-sale options on your stock and collect the profits when the stock tanks on Friday.

Navigating a Hostile Takeover

Approach the target company’s shareholders by sending them all an anonymous invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend at your cousin’s vineyard in Napa. Once everyone has congregated, invite the shareholders to spend the day picking grapes from the vineyard. Do not allow them to eat anything besides the grapes (this will be important later). At sunset, allow them to drink as much wine as they want. Once everyone is drunk, tell them the grapes were poisoned and that you will only give them the antidote if they agree to sell their stock at a discount. To show them that you’re serious, take the weakest shareholder, seal him in an empty wine cask, and roll him into the Pacific Ocean.