Good for the Money: My Fight to Pay Back America is a fascinating and compelling book that captures the passion and anxiety of the recent banking problems and presents a unique view of how AIG recovered its position in the International Economy. Even though it was written as an auto-biography, Bob Benmosche seems to have been a force to be reckoned with across the US business scene. Unfortunately Benmosche died of lung cancer in 2015 and having read the book, it is difficult not to think that we have lost major player from the international economy.
Born in humble circumstances, he was encouraged to be engaged in the family business from an early age, learning about sales and customer service from his formidable mother. Making career decisions that allowed him to climb the executive ladder of several companies, an aspiring corporate officer can see the benefit of certain success habits. Of particularly note was Benmosche’s approach to just getting the job done…
Reading the book, I considered some of the actions that Benmosche took and the impact he had on both the AIG board and the wider company. There as some excellent leadership lessons to be gained here, both good and bad, and while I wouldn’t have acted in the same way in many of the situations, the opportunity to learn from what has worked is invaluable.
In particular, the fiery relationships that Benmosche had with some of the key members of the AIG and the way in which private agendas and the media can derail a recovery effort are lessons that any executive needs to learn. But no matter how you feel about how Benmosche behaved, the outcome and performance is something that is undeniable.
If you are looking for a detailed manual for turning around a large company like AIG, seek this knowledge elsewhere. The book deals with the tactics of the recovery in a very superficial way and the messages are more focused on the strategy taken rather than tasks completed.
More of a memoir than a business book, Benmosche’s personality leaps from the pages and presents a very positive view of his actions within AIG. If the full story is true, then the book demonstrates that it is possible by force of will and a clear strategy to drive a company through a downturn and create a phoenix from the ashes. If not as faithful to the truth as perhaps it might be, there is no denying that Benmosche did what he promised…He paid back the money that the US taxpayers loaned AIG… and with interest. Benmosche was clearly a man of his word and with the integrity to do what was required rather than just step away from the responsibility. That alone makes him someone that stands ahead of the many others during that period.
For a better feel for Bob Benmosche and his personality and business approach, I recommend visiting the SlideShare for his “Bobisms”. They will make you both think and smile, which are good ways to spend a few minutes of your day.