Gerald Ratner’s Expensive Lunch - Although widely regarded as "tacky", the Ratner jewellery chain was extremely popular with the public…. until its CEO, Gerald Ratner, made a speech at the Institute of Directors in April 1991. During the speech, he said:“We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, "How can you sell this forsuch a low price?" I say, because it's total crap.”
Ratner compounded his opening line by going on to remark that some of the earrings were "cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn't last as long.”The result: £500 million was wiped from the value of the company and Ratner was removed from his position 18 months later.
Gerald Ratner was not the first, and he won’t be the last in the long line of leadership gaffes.
Lessons in Leadership Wisdom
- Think before you speak
- Don’t be entertaining if the joke is on your business