It is a fact of life that the more prominent a business person becomes, the more chances exist for them to commit a serious foot-in-mouth gaffe. After a late night discussion session we came up with our list of favorites from recent and ancient business history. They should serve as a lesson to us all:
"Ratner's has got very little to do with quality. ... I say so because it's total crap" Gerald Ratner
- The classic Ratner quote, former CEO of Ratner's Jewellers. Gave birth to the phrase "Doing a Ratner", 1991
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
"I like Mackey's haircut - I think he looks cute!" Rahodeb
- Quote from the infamous "Rahodeb", a.k.a. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, 2007
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927
"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
- Western Union internal memo, 1876
"Some of our city center stores are vast open deserts with nobody there." Gerald Corbett
- Woolworths' UK CEO Gerald Corbett, commenting on progress at his stores, 2002
"Very few of our customers have to wear suits to work. They'll be for his first interview or first court case"
- David Shepherd, brand director of the clothing chain Topman elaborating on his claim that his customers were hooligans, 2001
"I guess that's why we're not shipping Windows 98 yet." Bill Gates
- After a 'new and improved' Windows 98-running PC crashed leaving a 'Blue Screen Of Death' during a demonstration in front of about a thousand reporters and live on CNN, 1998