Aug 13, 2014
Some time back in 1995, my agent got a call from John Mahaney, a business book editor at Random House. “You think Andelman would be interested in writing a book with Al Dunlap?” “Sure,” Joel Fishman said. (To himself, he no doubt muttered, “He’ll work with anybody at this point!”)
ALBERT J. DUNLAP podcast excerpt: "The corporations that I went into as CEO were always in dire trouble. To succeed in that situation, you must assemble around you the right team of people. People who are smart. People who will tell you when you're wrong: 'That's a bad idea.' People who agree with you all the time are dangerous to the future of the business."
I had written three small books at that point, including Why Men Watch Football, which Sports Illustrated named that week’s “Sign of the Apocalypse.” Not exactly the makings of a long career in letters. But when I went to meet Dunlap a few days later at Scott Paper headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, a funny thing happened: the man the business world knew as “Chainsaw” – because of the way he blew through bloated companies on their last legs and cut them to their core – liked me. We bonded over shared roots – both poor boys hailing from New Jersey – and a shared love of dogs. And his corporate lieutenants also endorsed me. I was hired and my career hasn’t been the same since.
Mean Business: How I Save Bad Companies and Make Good Companies Great by Albert J. Dunlap and me, Bob Andelman, was published to massive acclaim in late 1996. It was the first book ever excerpted on the front page of USA Today. It was a finalist for the Financial Times of London’s best business book of the year. And it was named one of the Top 10 business books ever. It also sold more than 100,000 copies and became a New York Times and Businessweek bestseller.
ALBERT J. DUNLAP podcast excerpt: "I was on an Ivy League speaking tour many years ago--Harvard, Yale, Princeton. Someone said to me, 'Will you speak at Florida State University?' I said, 'Where's that?' But I went and my opening joke was, 'Gee, you have classrooms? I thought FSU just had athletic facilities!' I figured they'd never invite me back! But I saw the quality of the students, faculty and administration. I met Bobby Bowden, who was then the head football coach, and my wife and I were so impressed that we decided we wanted to be affiliated with this great university."
Al retired a few years after Mean Business was published and spent several years living quietly between Florida and Wisconsin with his wife Judy and their German shepherds, Brit and Cadet. But over the last 10 years, the Dunlaps raised their profile, become community builders, making substantial contributions to everything from the Mayo Clinic’s cancer programs to the Florida State Seminoles Boosters, and from animal rescue to children’s programs in their adopted hometown of Ocala, Florida. You can read about the remarkable Dunlap renaissance in the newly updated edition of Mean Business, available wherever books and e-books are sold. And the original audiobook is now available as a digital audio download for the first time, too.