The Smartest Guy in the Room

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Jeff Skilling is currently on trial for his role in the Enron debacle which brought down an entire company and most of its employees and was likely the major culprit in the California energy crisis of a few years ago. Under Skilling’s leadership, in less than a year Enron’s stock soared and then crashed in a spectacular flame of arrogance and deceit.

Skilling’s story is the age-old story of hubris. writes that “the very qualities that make Icaran executives special – self-confidence, visionary insight, and extreme competitiveness – spur them to take misguided and even illegal chances.” This sentence could have been written for Jeff Skilling.

“In part, Jeff Skilling’s influence can be explained by his particular brand of intelligence. When people describe Skilling they don’t just use the word “smart” — they use phrases like “incandescently brilliant” or “the smartest person I ever met.”
Skilling in the late 1980s wasn’t a physically striking man — he was smallish, a little pudgy, and balding — but his mental agility was breathtaking.

He could process information and conceptualize new ideas with blazing speed. He could instantly simplify highly complex issues into a sparkling, compelling image. And he presented his ideas with a certainty that bordered on arrogance and brooked no dissent. He used his brainpower not just to persuade but to intimidate.
Without question, Skilling’s formidable intelligence had a lot to do with turning Enron into a company that was successful — at least for a while.

But he also had qualities that were disastrous for someone running a big company. For all his brilliance, Skilling had dangerous blind spots. His management skills […]

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By |2017-04-02T09:41:13-04:00April 18th, 2006|Crime|Comments Off on The Smartest Guy in the Room

A Loose Cannon in Chapel Hill

I live in the (usually) peaceful town of Chapel Hill, where the only big news is usually about the local Tarheel’s sports teams. Last week that changed when a would-be Islamist drove a rented Jeep through a busy campus courtyard gathering place called the Pit, striking nine pedestrians with the intent to kill. His stated motive was to avenge the US for its treatment of Muslims. He later called 911 and calmly turned himself in. Photos and footage on the nightly news show him smiling directly into the camera, looking very pleased with himself. The disconnect between this expression and the gravity of the situation motivated me to take a look at Taheri-Azar’s birthchart to see what could possibly be behind this.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar was born to Iranian parents, and lived with his mother and sister in Charlotte NC after his parents divorced in 2003. Reports differ as to whether he was born in Iran or the US. He was a fan of fast cars and had a history of speeding and other violations. He was a member of the Sigma Epsilon fraternity, but was either expelled or not admitted for his antisocial behavior (depending on the news source). Fraternity members say that he smoked marijuana and drank heavily, and was nearly always high–behavior that does not accord to Islamic law.

The local Muslim student community quickly reacted to the attack, saying that Taheri-azar was not a member of the Muslim Student Association. Some Muslim students said that he practiced his own unusual form of Islam, and one said he had never met a Muslim who was so “anti-Arabic.” He would not respond to the […]

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By |2017-04-02T09:41:13-04:00March 19th, 2006|Crime|Comments Off on A Loose Cannon in Chapel Hill