Wednesday, February 3, 2016


There's a new book, just released, titled The Confidence Game, the tagline for which is Why We Fall For It...Every Time. I would suggest this tag line as a framing question.

OK, friends, here's what we've learned:
  1. Smilin' Jerry receives (it would not be appropriate to use the term "earns") a salary + benefits estimated at in excess of $700,000...annually. 
  2. He quite clearly does not manage: Israel/Overseas, JFNA-Washington (and inquiring as to when he will get his next invitation to The White House does not qualify), the Network (may not know what "the Network" is), or FRD/Philanthropic Resources (what are those? he might ask). In fact, wasn't Mark Gurvis hired to "manage" those operations? If so, great job!
  3. He does spend time interfering with Marketing and Communications 
  4. He keeps very careful records of his "earned airline Mileage" on an annual basis
  5. He keeps his lay leaders and those he perceives as his Large City Executives close
  6. He may update his rumored "Enemies List" on a daily basis
  7. His favorite phrase is "I'll get back to you on that" and then...doesn't
  8. GA after GA have been underpopulated by lay registrants and new ideas
  9. Though he shouldn't, he gives interviews 
  10. He visits communities with regularity. For example, he just hit Milwaukee which cut its overseas allocations in a Draconian manner -- he did not mention this on his visit; maybe he was unaware.
  11. Does he sit in a darkened room and read all of his staff's outgoing e-mails?
And, here's what I know: when JFNA offered the CEO position to a great communal professional who was known to have minimal management skills, nonetheless he was proffered the position (which he turned down (more than once), because he was a spectacular preeminent fund raiser. What was the rationale for Smilin' Jerry's retention -- neither a manager nor a fund raiser? Good personality? Great dancer? Etiquette? Heckuva dresser? None of the above?

Why would anyone, especially communal/systemic leaders have "confidence" in this CEO? Do they see something that is not evident to anyone who studies the record? 

I, we, have a sense of what Smilin' Jerry does. What we also have a sense of is the sum total of five+ years of his "efforts" -- not one substantive accomplishment beyond those of the continued programs of UJA and CJF, which JFNA implemented from Day 1; not one beyond those benefits of the spectacular work of William Daroff and the legislative/lobbying staff. 

I can tell you that when Rabbi Brian Lurie was UJA's CEO new and successful programs grew from his fertile and creative mind like clusters of grapes on old vines. At the JFNA of today federations have been left to fend for themselves at a cost of $30 million per year.

You tell me...what does he do?



Anonymous said...

He says all the right things (with a smile) yet when finished has said nothing and turned it back on to you. Moreover, he talks about "disruptive change" (in the next JFNA budget), yet when asked his priorities, you hear the same laundry list as when he started. So much talk...jotting down notes in his notebook...and so little happens -- again and again and again!

Anonymous said...

How? about asking the JFNA Compensation Committee?
They must have had a list of criteria that compelled them to extend his contract.

Anonymous said...

There are no good answers to the question you've posed -- JFNA could actually use what Silverman has called for -- but the "disruptive change" should start with his departure. After a wasted 5 years why would anyone suggest that this CEO is capable of even minor changes let alone "disruptive change?" What is abundantly clear is that it's time for a change, severance and all.