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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

An Activist Runs A Company

Potbelly shares moving higher in recent trade following report that activist might seek sale of the company— June 21, 2017

“Good morning, thanks for dialing into this ‘all hands’ call. I’m Phil Dickweed and as I’m sure you saw in the press release this morning, I’ve been elected acting-CEO of this restaurant chain—”

“Wait, how did pronounce your name? The press-release said ‘Dickweed.’”

“ ‘Dyke-weed.’ It’s Dutch. And I’ve been elected acting-CEO of this restaurant chain, which has focused so much on benefitting communities across the country by creating thousands of jobs for those without college educations and helping them educate their children and care for their parents—rather than on short-term profits—that it committed an unpardonable sin last month: it missed earnings by three pennies, causing the stock to under-perform its benchmarks for the quarter. Therefore the Board had no choice but to terminate the founder and visionary whose blood, sweat and tears built a business whose focus was entirely on its customers and the worth of its employees to society as a whole. The message I want to bring you is that today, starting right now, all that changes, and from this moment on we’re going to operate this business for the shareholders—”

“Dick-weed is Dutch?”

(Pause.) “Yes, but it’s pronounced ‘Dyke-weed.’ Who’s asking?”

“I’m…Peter Piper.”

(Long pause.) “Let’s move on to the key talking points my assistant has prepared for me. Starting now, we are implementing a zero-based budgeting process that leans into the desire for enhanced shareholder value—”

“Wait, did you say, ‘lean into’?”

“Yes. We’re going to lean into—”

“What does that even mean? Like, you’re actually leaning while you talk?”

“Ah, no, it means starting today we’re a zero-based budgeting company.”

“So why didn’t you just say that, instead of this ‘leaning-in’ crap?”

“Who’s asking?”

“I’m…Monty Python.”


“Yes sir Mister Dickweed.”

“That’s ‘Dyke-weed,’ Monty, and as I said, we’re implementing zero-based budgeting like Warren Buffett’s good friends at 3G did when they took over Heinz and Burger King and Kraft and fired thousands of people and eliminated all unnecessary spending to the benefit of Warren Buffett and themselves through the stock appreciation—”

“Wait, so what kind of car do you drive?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“What kind of car do you drive? Just curious.”

“Ah, it’s a Lexus LC, if you really need to know—”

“So that’s like a hundred grand, right?”

“Well, it’s up there, certainly, but—”

“So why do you need a car that costs a hundred grand, Mister Zero-Based-Budgeting? Why don’t you lean into a car that costs less, like the rest of us?” “Because it has nothing to do with work, it’s my personal choice.”

“Hold on. He has a car that costs a hundred thousand dollars? Who can afford a hundred thousand dollar car?”

“A Dick-weed can.”

“It’s pronounced ‘Dyke-weed’ and it’s a personal choice.”

“What’s his first name,‘Total’?”

“My first name is NOT ‘Total’—it’s ‘Phil’ and the car I drive is a personal choice that has nothing to do—”

“It’s a personal choice that only a guy like you can make with the money you’ve made getting people fired when you do your little ‘activist’ raindance at all these companies you target, right?”


“But if he’s so big on Zero-Based-Budgeting, why does he drive a hundred thousand dollar car? Why not a Volvo?”

“Or a Chevy!”

“Why doesn’t he just take Uber?”

“Too expensive! He should take Greyhound!”

“He should walk.”

“Off a cliff—”

“What about his assistant? What kind of car does his assistant drive?”

“I bet it’s better than mine—”

“This call is ended. Have a good day.”

Jeff Matthews

Author “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett”

(eBooks on Investing, 2015) Available at

© 2017 NotMakingThisUp, LLC

The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of Mr. Matthews. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice, and should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever. Also, this blog is not a solicitation of business by Mr. Matthews: the content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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