Basketball star LeBron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to play with two other star players in Miami is a reminder of a very old maxim: no one succeeds alone. One must be on a good team -- whether it's an office or a company or a government agency -- at a good time to have outsized success.
LeBron crossed my mind as I read reporter Russ Mitchell's smart look at Meg Whitman's record at the online auction company eBay in the Bay Citizen. Mitchell focused on the part of Whitman's tenure that she doesn't talk about: her final four years from 2004 to 2008, when the company lost half of its market value.
Mitchell writes: "What’s notable about Whitman’s career at eBay, however, is how her record cleaves into two neat parts: She did well during the company's go-go growth stage, but much less well as the company became large and mature. The state of California, of course, is likely more analogous to the latter than the former."
That last thought, while expressed well, may go a bit too far. Running a company, a profit making endeavor, is not the same thing as serving as governor of California, which is about preserving institutions, avoiding mistakes that can harm individuals and the economy, and managing resources so that young people are educated and the needy receive assistance.
It's also possible to conclude too much for the ups and downs of a candidate's record in business. In fact, it's reassuring to see a candidate who has tasted defeat and experienced setbacks -- particularly when it's someone like Whitman, whose immense wealth insulates her from so many of the pressures that voters feel. It'd be nice to hear Whitman talk more about these years, about why eBay struggled, and especially what mistakes she made and what she learned from them.