2012's Most Delusional CEO: Sell His Stock Now
Shortly after leaving Apple(AAPL) , of all places, Johnson illustrated the difference between confidence and cocky arrogance. It didn't take long for him to show us stubborn delusion.
In retrospect, new Yahoo!(YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer's casual disclosure that she was with child has got nothing on the junk Johnson talked early in his tenure at JCP. And, despite the clear fact that he has already failed, Johnson clings to hopes of an improbable turnaround.
Somewhat surprisingly, the elder Johnson could learn a thing or two from fellow first-time CEO Mayer. She smoothly entered the fray at Yahoo!, making tweaks and boosting morale as she surveys the landscape. There's no bombast. No smoke and mirrors. No pomp and circumstance. No outrageous predictions. Just a veteran-like calm, cool and calculated approach as she prepares to make history.
How Not to Introduce Yourself
Long story short, Johnson took the stage at the aforementioned January 2012 investor conference and outlined his trajectory as a high-powered executive. He noted that Steve Jobs essentially questioned his sanity not only for leaving Apple, but leaving Apple for J.C. Penney.
He went on to set the critics straight. Johnson told the crowd of JCP shareholders and, presumably, Wall Street analysts and the media, that everybody thought he was nuts when he left Target(TGT) for Apple. But, as history proves, he left a strong company to help lead -- or so he thinks -- Apple's transformation.
Johnson sees himself leaving Apple at the top of its game like he claims he did Target. He went so far as to compare today's J.C. Penney to the Apple he joined in 2000. But, he made an important distinction -- by several measures JCP is better off today than Apple was at the beginning of the century.
Johnson then made the bold claim that his past successes will fuel an Apple-like metamorphosis at J.C. Penney. In fact, if I read his words, facial expressions and body language correctly, he made eventual triumph at JCP sound like a foregone conclusion. It's not just a possibility; it's destiny. After all, look at what he did at Target and Apple.
Don't Argue With a Delusional CEO
Just walk away. That's your best bet.