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How to be a “Master of the Universe”

February 24th, 2012 by Jim Plagakis

First, You Have To Look Good.

An MBA Master of the Universe has to look like he knows something and he has to express his ideas with authority. An MBA Master of the Universe must be prepared. He needs to use pie-charts or, better yet, Power Point presentations. It does not matter if the Master’s ideas blow everything up and cause embarrassment and failure. Like the Rite-Aid 15 minute guarantee. At the meetings with the CEO and the executives, it sounded like a helluva good idea. When it failed dismally, I’d bet that the MBA Masters of the Universe blamed it on the pharmacy staff, the pharmacists and technicians.

You can bet that the MBA Masters of the Universe who pose at Rite-Aid’s offices in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania did not get their MBAs at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Wharton graduates are working on Wall Street at companies that have four names with no commas. They are at hedge funds, brokerage houses or the investment banks. They are not going to hitch their wagons to a broken down nag. They are working for that million dollar bonus in January.

If the Masters of the Universe at Camp Hill got their degrees from a major university MBA program, I would be surprised. Think night school, perhaps on-line. Giving these people the creative reins has gotten us to the edge of disaster. I know pharmacists who have MBAs. Companies that offer pharmacy services should seek them out. Hire them and listen to them.

When they say, “Sir, that PBM contract is a loser. We would be, in effect, paying them for the privilege of providing prescriptions. That is idiocy. We cannot sign it”.

MBA Masters of the Universe look for ways to grow and for ways to cut costs. They have no standing in the pharmacies. They don’t know the difference between $1.40 profit from an Rx drug billed through ESI when the cost is $98.00 and a $1.40 profit for a cash Rx for 15 tablets of HCTZ 25 mg. It is pathetic that they have the ear of the CEOs. At Rite-Aid, the CEO has no standing in the pharmacy. He is a grocer. The nuances of our profession are a quantum distance from his paradigm. What was the RAD board thinking? How can they expect a man who was spawned as a grocer to guide a pharmacy-centric company out of the huge hole that RAD is in?

He cannot possible know what it is like to try to get five people a day to have flu shots in February. Most of the older patients have already had the shot. If they haven’t, they are patients who have said NO before. This is a desperate policy to try to pump up the profits. Desperation is a very unhealthy position for a company.

The MBA Master of the Universe who came up with this is probably in favor even though it was a stupid idea. He has no idea. He just knows that the profit on a flu shot is satisfying, a really good return on investment. His plan is SELL MORE FLU SHOTS. And, if a pharmacist fails, fire her. Fire her especially if she is a 20 year veteran, with lots of vacation weeks and the highest wage. We have a list of new pharmacists who will take 15% less in wages and we can get away with holding back benefits.

The young Master of the Universe heads for the local go-to restaurant and bar for a few drinks with a couple secretaries and a guy from accounting. After a few tequila shooters, he brags that his plan is win/win. ”If they sell the shots, we win. If they don’t sell the shots, we win because a high-priced pharmacist will be on the streets.”

A forty-something youngish man is sitting with his attractive spouse at an adjoining table. He is retired military. He frowns as he listens to the conversation.

His wife touches his forearm. “Please don’t, Chad,” she says in a whisper. Her eyes warn him to relax.

Chad was in the Rangers. Mogidishu was the worst experience of his life. His shoulders tighten and then he relaxes.

Rite-Aid has traditionally thrown money at all of their problems. Where do they get it? Look at the RAD stock price. What happens when Cardinal refuses to ship? What happens when they don’t pay the medical insurance premiums?

A blonde with a husky voice at the next table asks, “Fire them? Just because of flu shots? That’s awful.”

“That’s business, Sugar. Just business. Survival of the fittest.” Harrump, ha ha ha.

The music as a too loud thump of bass. The singer is not Springsteen. He is trying to sound like Springsteen.

Chad stiffens. His wife studies his face. The artery in his neck begins to beat stronger. He smiles at her, but she has seen this before. There is nothing that she can do. She says that she needs to visit the rest room.

The Rite-Aid Master of the Universe cannot shut up. Alcohol has loosened his tongue. The secretary pushes his hand away. ”What, don’t you like me?” he asks slobberly. Then her eyes widen. Chad is standing beside the Master of the Universe.

“What the hell do you want, !**@!?” The Master of the Universe drains another tequila shooter and laughs at Chad. ”Get away from us.”

Chad’s arms are relaxed by his side. ”I got my degree with the GI Bill,” he explained. ”I am new to this. I don’t think you will be able to get away with firing pharmacist for no good reason.”

Then, the tequila making him too brave, the Master of the Universe stood and went nose to nose with Chad. ”What are you, a do-gooder?” He put the palm of his and on Chad’s chest and pushed, but Chad did not move. Then, the Master of the Universe mad a fatal error. He threw a punch.

Bif Bam Pow. A right to the ear, a left to the mid-section and a head butt and our Master of the Universe was on the floor. When he came about, he hollered, “Call the police.”

His waiter, a small Puerto Rican named Ricardo said to Chad, “I am your witness. He punched and you were protecting yourself.” The Master of the Universe had called Ricardo an illegal alien. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States.

Chad’s wife suggested that they go elsewhere for dinner. On their way to the door, an older woman dining with an elderly friend said, “Aren’t you the pharmacist at Rite-Aid?”

What a brilliant fantasy, huh?

A young Master of the Universe wearing a nice suit can blow smoke with RAD’s CEO. All the guy can do is nod his head, show airy fairy projections and a grocery store man will go along with it.

I have to get ready for my Friday shift at the pharmacy. I’ll recap. To be an MBA Master of the Universe you have to look good and you have to be persuasive. You do not even have to have any evidence that your ideas will work. If they do not work, if they fail, you

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