The Famous Bear Stearns 'Paper Clip' Memo

Bear Stearns' MS Paper Clip

Alan (Ace) Greenberg was the CEO of Bear Stearns between 1978 and 1993 and, during that time, wrote a series of humorous memos to his staff to underline the importance of certain critical business tenets.

And here's the famous 'Paper Clip' memo 

'I was just shown the results for the first quarter. They were excellent. When mortals go through a prosperous time period (however), it seems to be human nature for expenses to balloon. We are going to be the exception. I have just informed the purchasing department that they should no longer purchase paper clips. All of us receive documents every day with paper clips on them. If we save these paper clips, not only will we have enough for our own use, but we will also, in a short time, be awash in the little critters. Periodically, we will collect excess paper clips and sell them (and since the cost to us is zero, the Arbitrage Department tells me the return on capital will be above average)'.

And another example:

'This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Federal Express is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Bear Stearns'.

Greenberg also created a fictitious mentor, Haimchinkel Malintz Anaynikal, who, through Greenberg, sent pearls of wisdom to Bear's staff.

Here some of Haimchinkel's simple rules:

Stick to thine own business

Watch thy shop

Limit thy losses

Watch thy expenses like a hawk

Stay humble, humble, humble

Hire PSDs (poor people, who are smart and have a deep desire to be rich)

Make decisions based on common sense and avoid the herd mentality

Help all departments grow, because this year's starlet can be next year's dog

Avoid using catchy phrases you don't understand

 

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