Tag Archives: 100% satire


Thrilling, not-at-all-appalling news today out of Minneapolis! Read all about it:


Either those are fireworks, or the entire city is orgasming.

I never saw this one coming. No one else did, either… Not even US Bancorp CEO Richard Davis, as recently as February 2012:

I caught up with U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis on Friday to ask about a rumor that had the Minneapolis-based lender offering to pay for naming rights to a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium. The catch, my tipster said, was that the stadium would need to be in Minneapolis…

But it didn’t check out. Davis, speaking as a past honoree at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Executive of the Year event in Minneapolis, told me that neither he nor his bank has made any such offer.

Davis said the opportunity makes sense for the bank, but that such discussions would be premature since there’s no stadium location or financing plan yet.

And I definitely did not, day before yesterday, have dinner with friends at Brit’s and swear on the patio that it was only a matter of time before this announcement happened. I was completely, utterly blindsided.

Obviously my first thought is: “this really speaks to the quality of US Bank’s corporate leadership.” This is, after all, the same Richard Davis who brought us the popular Minnesota Orchestra lockout (Mr. Davis, in fact, was chair of the management’s negotiating committee for months, months, and months). And I remember during his tenure there, back in 2012, when regional finances were deemed so tight that the Minnesota Orchestra’s deficit of a few million dollars a year was rendered completely unsolvable by the combined wealth of the state. But since that “very painful time“, US Bank’s fortunes have apparently improved…so much so that they now have $220 million to invest in naming rights for a stadium. O, what bold and intrepid leadership! From dredging the lowest depths of poverty to buying a stadium name in a mere three years! That is some “fortitude and consistency of planning,” right there. Indeed, every Minnesotan taxpayer is in US Bancorp CEO Richard Davis’s debt.

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Richard Davis Debates Richard Davis

Hey, do you guys remember Richard Davis? Yeah, me neither. We haven’t heard much from him lately. But presumably he hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth, as he is still listed as immediate past chair of the Minnesota Orchestral Association board of directors, and is therefore a co-architect of the lockout.

While I was Googling aimlessly this morning, I came across this shocking interview with Richard Davis from June 2012. It’s explosive. Second Quarter Richard Davis (in other words, “2Q Richard Davis”) has some extremely pointed criticism for Fourth Quarter Richard Davis (or “4Q Richard Davis”). Let’s listen in on their heated debate about how they should be running the Minnesota Orchestra Corporation.

Richard Davis v. Richard Davis

Inside the Performance Chain: An interview with US Bank’s Richard Davis

Congratulations to Richard Davis for his induction into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame — today!

US Bank: Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $330 billion in assets, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States. The company operates 3,089 banking offices, 5,092 ATMs in 25 states, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions.

About Richard: “I could have been a pastor as easily as a banker.

“I started as a teller, working my way through school.  I became interested in ‘how does it all fit together?’  I’m one of those guys – ‘just tell me how it works.'”

Ouch. What a stinging rebuke by 2Q Richard Davis to 4Q Richard Davis, who has repeatedly shown a lack of interest in learning how orchestras work. Expert after expert has condemned the current contract proposal and the way the lockout has been conducted:

For decades, Minnesotans have taken pride in the accomplishments and extraordinary talents that make up the state’s most prominent cultural institution. In dramatic contrast, this management and board is out to destroy it, even though they may not quite realize that yet. – Frank Almond, Non Divisi, 2 October 2012

Traditionally, the diminution of artistic quality produces an equal decline in ticket buyer and donor interest, which in turn could initiate an unavoidable spiral of decline resulting in exacerbated financial crisis. The cure stands a high degree of probability for killing the patient. – Drew McManus, Adaptistration, 19 November 2012

He’s [Henson’s] wrong if he thinks that Minnesota Orchestra will “always have great appeal as a place to have an orchestral career.” I’m sure they’ll always get musicians to audition for positions. But everyone now knows that the Minnesota Orchestra is not a trustworthy employer, even in an industry full of employers who are having trouble making ends meet. It matters to musicians considering going there that their chosen course of action, in the face of supposed financial problems, was 1) complete lack of transparency; and 2) a refusal to bargain in good faith with its musicians. I think the Minnesota Orchestra’s reputation has been wrecked for years amongst musicians by recent events, especially amongst the musicians who they would most want to recruit – those at the top of their game. – Robert Levine, Polyphonic blog, 9 November 2012

An orchestra does not recover easily, from such drastic cuts, if ever. – Edo de Waart, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Neville Marriner, 6 October 2012, Star Tribune

And yet! Despite these incredibly dire assessments by outside experts, 4Q Richard Davis never alters his position, and shows a consistent refusal to learn from them. The insinuation may be unspoken, but it’s obvious: 2Q Richard Davis thinks that 4Q Richard Davis should start listening to experts who know how orchestras work, and modify his positions accordingly.

Richard is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Bancorp. He has served as Chairman since December 2007, as President since October 2004 and as Chief Executive Officer since December 2006.

“When I stepped into my role, we had disaffected employees. We are in a service business which means we need really, really engaged employees who serve and create happy customers, who in turn lead to results for the bank.

(As Jon Stewart would say… “Go on.”)

“When we held a large investor relations event about a year after I became CEO in 2007, I built my whole presentation about how employees were going to take the front seat.  One analyst who follows the bank publicly questioned the approach. She doubted that a focus on employees would have the needed impact.”

A year later, that analyst told Richard he was right – focusing on employees was paying off.

Aww, snap! Did you hear that, Richard Davis? Did you hear that? Richard Davis is mocking you! He’s clearly insinuating you’re being fiscally and morally irresponsible by not fostering a work environment within the Minnesota Orchestra that results in “really, really engaged employees who serve and create happy customers,” which will then “lead to results” for the Minnesota Orchestra! Are you listening, 4Q Richard Davis? Are you just going to let that shocking accusation stand?

Richard turns to CPR when he talks about the evolving needs of the constituents: Consistent, Predictable and Repeatable. For investors, predictability is the most important aspect, while customers appreciate all three, making sure there are no surprises in their experiences. CPR gives employees confidence, and they enjoy representing the organization.

“The key is not to do things out of character with who we are as an institution. It works.”…

OH! OH! And the brutal hits to 4Q Richard Davis just keep on coming! 2Q Richard Davis thinks it would be a good idea to have a Consistent orchestra – a Predictable orchestra – a Repeatable orchestra…but 4Q Richard Davis doesn’t want any of those things. 4Q Richard Davis actually said of musicians in September 2012 – “There’s a risk that they find their way to another place, and those who can leave will. It’s going to be a personal decision where they want to perform.” (Well, actually technically I guess that was 3Q Richard Davis, but apparently 3Q and 4Q Richard Davis share many of the same beliefs, so…) Rarely do we hear such wealthy powerful people criticizing each other so publicly. I wonder what will happen the next time Richard Davis meets Richard Davis at a cocktail party. Yikes.

What are the key attributes of your company’s performance chain that come to mind?

“People. Empowered people.”

Can you relate to how speed, flexibility, predictability and leverage play a role in the way your company operates? Let’s start with predictability.   

“Predictability goes with ‘CPR.’ No surprises – consistently good service.  Communications across all levels of employees is critical.  We have a quarterly leader meeting with 1,000 leaders.  We talk about the business and the environment. We talk up to them and empower them to do the same with their employees. Rather than controlling the flow of communication, they asked that we expand the information sharing, so we’re now having a similar conversation with the next 6,000. The idea is to build understanding and empowerment, leader to leader.

If we want consistent performance, we have to rely on each employee to act within their role with as much information as possible.

Ooo, that is a powerful indictment. He didn’t spell it out specifically, but of course all of us who have been following this story know exactly what 2Q Richard Davis is referring to: 4Q Richard Davis refuses to give musicians information they’ve requested multiple times, including the current 2012-13 budget, an audit report from FY 2011-2012, minutes from a meeting of the Trustees of the Oakleaf Trust, a joint independent financial analysis, and confirmation or denial that a reduction in “contributions and pledges…was related to these contract negotiations.”

You know, I can’t help but think that things would be different at the Minnesota Orchestra right now if 2Q Richard Davis was in charge. Perhaps the lockout would even be over by now. I wonder: is it too late to get 2Q Richard Davis on the Minnesota Orchestra board?

“In our business, leverage is all about people. Again – I fully believe if employees are happy, empowered and know what to do, they will drive happy customers. Happy customers drive results.”

Wow, 2Q Richard Davis isn’t even trying to hide his scorn for 4Q Richard Davis anymore! As the entire music world knows, 4Q Richard Davis’s actions have resulted in widespread customer anger. In fact, the following comments were all posted by customers on the Orchestra’s Facebook wall within the last couple of weeks:

Michael [Henson] can stop sending me letters trying to prove that he has a) an argument or b) any integrity…

I am standing here with money in my hand, to give to the Orchestra as soon as you fire management…

You are holding the citizens of Minnesota hostage by not negotiating. We will not attend sub standard part time concerts no matter how shiny a new hall you build. Settle this now. You are in the process of lowering the standards of our proud state which has a history of supporting and appreciating the arts. Shame on You Board of Directors. Shame on you…

Just read Maestro Vanska’s letter to you. Beautiful and heartfelt. Shame on MN Orchestra management for picking out one paragraph in their letter to patrons to make it sound like he unilaterally supports their ridiculous and unfair stance. Yet another classic example of Management’s deceitfulness. Lord help us all…

I just purchased my tickets for the December 16th concert by the musicians. This will be the second Minnesota Orchestra concert I have attended this year and neither will have been under the auspices of the MOA. Michael Henson, Jon Campbell, et al: What I care about is the music. I have not, and will never, buy tickets to attend a concert of administrators. Your only purpose, and the purpose of the MOA is to facilitate the delivery of music. You have failed to do so, yet the music plays on. I guess that means you are irrelevant…

Those are some awfully unhappy customers! You know, I hate to take sides in this smackdown argument, but it does appear that 2Q Richard Davis has a point here.

I look forward to documenting any further debate between Richard Davis and Richard Davis.


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