(FORTUNE Magazine) – Exxon Gets It

I'M AN EXXON LIFER, and never have I read words from an outsider so on target on our culture as Nelson Schwartz's "Exxon Mobil: The New No. 1" (April 17). If Congress chooses to penalize Exxon Mobil, that will be the sole result: It will penalize Exxon Mobil. The price of gas won't drop--it may even go up--and if anything, more money will be routed to state-controlled companies. Politics as usual.


HP the Old Way

RE "THE HURD WAY" (April 17), Adam Lashinsky's story on Hewlett-Packard and its CEO, Mark Hurd: It sounds to me as if he's using some of the 1950s philosophies to run a successful business: Simplicity is the key to success. Be effective, then efficient. Works every time.

Thanks for the fine article.


THE HP WAY never did put employees ahead of profits (No. 1) or customers (No. 2), but staff was very important to Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett. And I never noticed a bloating of employees--they just worked smarter and were always ahead of the market. Packard told me himself about the importance of the customers and responding to them. Focusing on the customer and on individual sector sales was the way it used to be.

DOUG MECHAM Waldport, Ore.

How I (Over)Work?

AS THE FORMER HEAD of a $600 million company, I feel compelled to comment on "How I Work" (March 20), on the habits of highly effective executives. In my experience, if a chief executive needs to rise at 4 A.M. and toil through 20-hour workdays, he may need to address several potential problems:

•He is highly inefficient and wastes a significant amount of what could be productive time spent managing the business. •He has not done a solid job of surrounding himself with a world-class management team he can delegate to. •He has virtually no interests (family or otherwise) outside his job.

Bottom line, American executives need to learn to work smarter, not harder. Instead of glorifying people who sacrifice their family, friends, and virtually all outside interests in pursuit of their career, FORTUNE should profile a highly effective CEO who can manage a $1 billion company and still find time to attend a school concert.

PETER SMITH Former Managing Director, Starkist Baden, Pa.

Rebuilding New Orleans

I HOPE THAT KB HOMES and its CEO, Bruce Karatz, do get to build their houses in New Orleans, and that, as Jon Birger relates in "Man on a Mission" (April 3), they stay close to the New Orleans architecture and throw in a few low-income houses or apartments. What a dream come true!

My husband and I build homes on a very small scale, but I would love to be doing what Karatz is doing. His belief in the Gulf Coast region is so uplifting. And what a great hands-on way to give back to the country!

JEAN MARIE SMITH Santa Ana, Calif.

BASED ON EVERYTHING that I've read and heard, we are at the beginning of another period of violent hurricane activity. My concerns are as follows:

•One more blow will end the possibility of attracting vacationers, let alone prospective homebuyers, to the region. •Insurers will be less likely to provide homeowner coverage at affordable rates, if at all. •Lenders will be unwilling to provide mortgage financing without coverage.

We are one of the many families who have moved out of South Florida for the very reason that hurricane seasons are expected to become more severe--something Bruce Karatz doesn't address in your article, although he has no doubt weighed all the downside risks.

We closed on our new home in Farragut, Tenn., on June 30, 2005. Our former residence in Coral Springs, Fla., was hit later that summer.

WAYNE LEEDER Farragut, Tenn.


In the reporting of "Pfizer's Puzzle" (April 17) a Pfizer spokesperson told FORTUNE that the company's experimental cholesterol-lowering drug torcetrapib was acquired in Pfizer's purchase of Esperion Therapeutics. In fact, torcetrapib was discovered by Pfizer.

Also, in FORTUNE's list of the 500 Largest Corporations (April 17), Genworth Financial (No. 223) was incorrectly shown as a property and casualty insurer in the listing by industry; it should have been identified as the nation's fourth-largest life and health insurance (stock) company. FORTUNE regrets the errors.


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