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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Tale of Two Salesmen

One man made a fortune in selling executives to invest millions in ventures that held the potential for vast gains for the investors.

The other made a fortune in convincing executives to invest millions in ventures that held the potential for vast gains in waistlines by selling large quantities of beer and donuts.

Today, one of those men is lunching with fellow millionaires, trying to sell himself as the next President of the United States. The other is lunching with reporters on park benches, trying to start a summer camp for city kids.

Massive oversimplifications to be sure, but the contrast between Mitt Romney, founder of Bain Capital founder, and Jack Connors, founder of Hill, Holliday, Connors and Cosmopoulos, is certainly striking. And that contrast goes to the heart of liberal-conservative divide in America.

Romney has built a resume on executive leadership, the engaged CEO. His former administration and finance secretary and Bain colleague, Eric Kriss, brings Romney's core strength down to this:
“Mitt ran a private equity firm, not a cement company. He was not a businessman in the sense of running a company. He was a great presenter, a great spokesman and a great salesman.”
Romney, son of the president of American Motors was born to wealth, built on it through persuasion and PowerPoints. Once he closed the deal, he moved on. Just asked the voters of Massachusetts, who elected him for four years and got two.

Connors, son of an HVAC repairman, built on persuasion and relationships. Once he closed a deal, he built new relationships, never forgetting where he came from and giving back to the community that nurtured his success.
“I’m in the relationship business, no question,” says Connors. “There were years when the creative was great, and there were years when the creative sucked. My job was to keep the client through all of those years.”
Romney closed deals without regard to the impact on the human beings that made up the companies he bought and sold., such as union workers who lost their job at an Indiana company after Bain Capital took over.

“Increasingly, this world of private equity looks like a world of robber barons, and Romney comes out of that world,” James E. Post, a Boston University professor who teaches business-government relations told the Times.

Connors never forgot his grandfather, a Boston cop, was fired by Gov. Calvin Coolidge to break the 1919 police strike.

Connors “hasn’t been successful by making enemies. That is his big thing,” says Anne Finucane a vice president at Bank of America,

Romney was born in Michigan, moved to Massachusetts for college, has homes in New Hampshire and Utah and expresses disdain for his "adopted" home state as he travels.

Connors was born and raised within a 10-mile radius and is the leader of an ever-shrinking executive group that looks out for the future of Boston.

Romney is now investing his time, energy and resources, into running for president, the ultimate resume-building exercise.

Connors is now investing his time, energy and resources into health care, his church -- and summer camps for kids.

Who is the more impressive leader?

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