Ralph has a new book out, The Rebellious CEO: 12 Leaders Who Did It Right and in this episode, we profile three of them, Andy Shallal, owner of the restaurant “Busboys and Poets,” John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, and Robert Townsend, iconoclastic CEO of Avis Rent-a-Car and author of the classic business book “Up The Organization!” Mr. Shallal joins us in person while financial advisor and Boglehead, Rick Ferri, talks to us about the late John Bogle and Robert Townsend Jr. explains the origins of his father’s philosophy. Plus, Ralph gives us an update and a call to action on Gaza.
Click on the link to order your copy of The Rebellious CEO.
Andy Shallal is an activist, artist and social entrepreneur. Mr. Shallal is the founder and proprietor of Busboys and Poets restaurants in the Washington DC area, which feature prominent speakers, poets and authors and provide a venue for social and political activism. He is co-founder of The Peace Cafe, a member of the board of trustees for The Institute for Policy Studies, and a member of the advisory council for the American Museum of Peace.
The whole idea of this book The Rebellious CEO is to show that these CEOs reverse the business model. They didn't just have a vision and say, “We're gonna squeeze workers and consumers and environmental indifference to maximize the profits.” No, they started out saying, “We're gonna treat the workers well. We're gonna treat the consumers well. We're gonna confront the environment. We're gonna speak out against injustice.” And they all made money. Every one of them in the book said they always paid attention to profits because without profits they couldn't do all the things they wanted to do.
Ralph Nader, author of “The Rebellious CEO”
It becomes very personal. And when it's personal, it's hard to separate yourself from the business. So everything that happens in the business, it's not a one -off, it's about me. If the business is treating my employees badly, it means Andy Shallal is treating his people badly. That's a very personal way [of looking at it] and it's a way for I think a lot of these folks that you write about in the book to kind of stay on mission and say, “This is my name. This is my legacy. This is my entire being that is on the line.”
Understanding those dynamics and how race plays out in this country and how people interpret and see race is really a very important part of our training— to make sure that people do not fall into the trap of saying, “I don't see race,” because race sees you. And unless you are proactive in how you deal with people as they walk through the door, you're gonna probably make mistakes.
Rick Ferri has worked for 35 years as a financial adviser and he is the host of the Bogleheads on Investing podcast. Mr. Ferri was a pioneer in low-fee investment advice and portfolio management using ETFs and index funds, he has authored 7 investment books and hundreds of articles published in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and several professional journals, and he is the former president of the John C Bogle Center for Financial Literacy.
[John Bogle] was very determined. He believed in giving investors a fair shake on Wall Street. He believed that we should get our fair share of market returns. He believed that there was a conflict of interest in the investment industry between the people who owned the investment companies and the investors in those companies—the people who bought the mutual funds. And he said, "You cannot serve two masters."
That's our mission—to build a world of well-informed, capable, and empowered investors. And that's what the Bogle Center and the Bogleheads are all about.
Robert Townsend, Jr. is the son of Robert Townsend, who was president of Avis Rent A Car from 1962 to 1965 and was the author of the best-selling and iconoclastic business manual Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits.
[Robert Townsend, Sr.] was definitely iconically an iconoclast, but I don't think he saw himself that way. He didn't just believe in partnership. He saw that—and teamwork— were the only things to accomplish. So he found, just through serendipity or synchronicity, partners everywhere he looked.
Robert Townsend, Jr.
[Robert Townsend, Sr.] embarked on a new career of consulting…He would come back from consulting with somebody or other, finding out, “All they wanted was me to tell them they were doing it right. And nothing I said actually made any difference.”
Robert Townsend, Jr.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. The tide seems to finally be shifting in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza. Democracy Now! Reports “British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a ‘sustainable ceasefire’ in a joint article in The Sunday Times. The pair said efforts should be focused on a two-state solution after the assault comes to an end. The U.K. and Germany had previously declined to call for a ceasefire and abstained from voting last week on the U.N. General Assembly’s ceasefire resolution. Also on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called for an ‘immediate and durable truce’ while meeting with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Tel Aviv, saying ‘too many civilians are being killed’ in Gaza. This comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel earlier today, where he is expected to focus talks on transitioning to a ‘lower intensity’ war.’”
2. Many wonder why these countries are changing their position so abruptly. One explanation could be the efficacy of the Red Sea blockade enforced by the Yemeni Houthis. Thus far, five of the largest shipping firms in the world, including CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk and MSC, along with Evergreen and BP, have “paused or suspended their services in the Red Sea,” due to Houthi attacks, per the Economist. Collectively, these firms represent over 60% of global shipping. In response, the United States has announced its intention to form a naval bloc to combat the Houthis, risking further escalation in the region.
3. Haaretz reports that Al Jazeera is “preparing a legal file to send to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over what it called the ‘assassination’ of one of its cameramen in Gaza.” The ICC complaint focuses on a cameraman, Samer Abu Daqqa, who was “killed by a drone strike on Friday [December 15th] while reporting on the earlier bombing of a school used as a shelter for displaced people in the southern Gaza Strip,” but will “also encompass recurrent attacks on the Network's crews working and operating in the occupied Palestinian territories and instances of incitement against them." The Committee to Protect Journalists reports at least 64 journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7th.
4. On Sunday, Pope Francis decried the murder of two Palestinian Christian women who had taken refuge in a church complex in Gaza, Reuters reports. The Pope mourned that "Unarmed civilians are the objects of bombings and shootings. And this happened even inside the Holy Family parish complex, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick or disabled, nuns…Some would say 'It is war. It is terrorism.' Yes, it is war. It is terrorism."
5. According to NBC Bay Area, “At least hundreds of union members rallied at Oakland City Hall Saturday to call for a ceasefire… The ‘Labor for Palestine’ rally brought out members from 14 unions across the Bay Area [including longshore workers, teachers, electricians, and nurses]. In addition to the call for the cease-fire, a statement put out by organizers said it also wanted the U.S. to stop providing military aid to Israel and ‘an end to Israel’s occupation.’ Organizers also said the rally was the first such labor-led rally in the U.S. this year.”
6. AP reports Tesla is recalling “nearly all vehicles sold in [the] US,” following a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, regarding “a series of crashes [some deadly] that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use.” Dillon Angulo, a driver who suffered brain trauma and broken bones in one such crash, said “This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road…The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”
7. Upon taking office, one of President Biden’s stated foreign policy goals was to overturn Trump’s designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror. Yet, according to the Intercept “in a private briefing last week on Capitol Hill, State Department official Eric Jacobstein stunned members of Congress by telling them that the department has not even begun the review process.” As the article notes, “The terror designation makes it difficult for Cubans to do international business, crushing an already fragile economy. The U.S. hard-line approach to Cuba has coincided with a surge in desperate migration, with Cubans now making up a substantial portion of the migrants arriving at the southern border. Nearly 425,000 Cubans have fled for the United States in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, shattering previous records. Instead of moving to stem the flow by focusing on root causes in Cuba, the Biden White House has been signaling support in recent days for Republican-backed border policies.”
8. In Chile, voters have rejected a far-right proposed new constitution, per PBS. As the article notes, this vote “came more than a year after Chileans resoundingly rejected a proposed constitution written by a left-leaning convention and one that many characterized as one of the world’s most progressive charters.” The new, right-wing draft was characterized as even more conservative than the Pinochet-era constitution it sought to replace as it would have “deepened free-market principles, reduced state intervention and might have limited some women’s rights.” As ex-president Michele Bachelet, who campaigned against the new draft constitution said “I prefer something bad to something worse.”
9. In Argentina, radical right-wing President Javier Milei has announced a crackdown on civil society, “calling on armed forces to break strikes, arrest protesters, ‘protect’ children from families that bring them to demo[nstration]s, and form a new national registry of all agitating organisations,” per Progressive International’s David Adler. While unsurprising, this clearly flies in the face of Milei’s purported ‘anarcho-capitalist’ principles.
10. Finally, did Southwest Airlines cancel or significantly delay your flight during the holiday season last year? If so, you could be entitled to a $75 voucher as part of the Department of Transportation’s record $140 million settlement with the airline, per the Hill. Under the settlement, which the Department of Transportation claims is the largest ever penalty against an airline for violating consumer protection laws, the airline is required to establish a $90 million compensation system to be used for passengers affected by “controllable cancellations and significant delays,” in addition to paying $35 million to the federal government. Last December’s Southwest “meltdown” included “more than 16,900 flights…canceled or delayed…affect[ing] more than 2 million passengers around the holidays.”
This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.