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Bad Advice For James Cayne

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People have been offering advice to James Cayne since he announced his intent to take off more days from work to play golf than any other CEO on Wall Street by '08. Now that he’s achieved his goal ahead of schedule, it’s time to reevaluate many of these recommendations. The following are four main mistaken pieces of advice:
Mr. Cayne should never, ever play golf again. His father, Mr. Cayne, who contributed to this story by the power of a Ouiji board, agrees with the treatment programs his son has tried and believes that he should never, ever play golf again. The elder Cayne swore off golf himself not long ago, after a posting one horrendous handicap after another leading to his being banned from the club. Although this advice is well-intended, it is implausible. What are the chances Mr. Cayne will abstain for the rest of his life? After his second stint in golf rehab, wearing a golfing monitor, he lasted about a week before playing golf all night.
The alternative view is that the 73-year-old Mr. Cayne will almost surely play golf again and he needs a fallback position to be safe. This might include having his "people" shut him off from playing golf too much, or setting a max for how many days he can take off work per week to hit the links. Failing this, someone -- if not Mr. Cayne himself -- needs to keep him from making decisions that directly affect investors and/or shareholders when he’s been on the green all day and has no idea what’s going on in the world of business. That way, he can at least survive to try to do better down the road.

Mr. Cayne needs to learn that he is a lifetime golf-addict. He inherited the golf-addict gene from his father, right? The alternative position is: Who knows that is true?
Another young Hollywood star who was branded an addict was Drew Barrymore. Remember when she appeared on the cover of People magazine at age 13 as America's youngest addict? Ms. Barrymore had many substance abusing relatives, including her parents, and so experts concluded she would be addicted her entire life. But, almost 20 years later, in 2007, Ms. Barrymore was on the cover of People again -- this time as the world's most beautiful person! No one thinks of her as an addict any longer. Young people often ultimately outgrow youthful problems, sometimes quite serious ones, including drinking and drug and golfing addiction.
Mr. Cayne needs to remain locked in treatment for a long time, with no day passes. Critics note that Mr. Cayne was permitted out of his treatment program to go to play in a bridge tournament. Other addicts, such as Daniel Baldwin, tut-tut that this is too permissive. Mr. Baldwin should know -- he's been in treatment nine times. In his 40s when last treated, he now claims to be off cocaine for good.
On the other hand, maybe it is no wonder Mr. Cayne and so many others relapse after being restricted in residential programs for months. The minute the doors of the center shut behind them, they are out on the street facing the same old playmates and playgrounds.
An alternative approach would be to treat Ms. Cayne as an outpatient. This offers him the opportunity to expose himself to the world under supervision. He could then practice how to deal with his freedom while maintaining his golfing-sobriety. For example, he could be guided towards new employees and ways of blowing up other funds. Anything that’s not golf is good. Of course neither the hospital nor the outpatient setting can work miracles right away -- it took Drew Barrymore years to reform her life.
Mr. Cayne should avoid show business. The problem obviously is his involvement in movies, coupled with all of the golfing community’s temptations. He watches one scene from Caddyshack and he’s on an 980-day all-golf, no work binge. If he just stays away from movies about golf and the golferatti (Nichols is particularly enabling), he'll be fine.
But Ms. Barrymore didn't need to leave Hollywood to change. The alternative view is that Mr. Cayne is a talented person who can achieve success in business, and that work is therapeutic. Not all him business wisdom has been heavy on the wisdom. Hiring a blogger y movie critic to run his hedge fund business wasn’t a fantastic idea, but he had a tournament that weekend and didn’t have time to interview anyone else. But he has done good work, like demoting the blogger and that other guy yesterday. More opportunities like these could help him to learn professionalism, discipline and self-respect.
Ms. Cayne needs to grow up, realize his talents and find ways to fill his time that aren't self-destructive. Coming to see himself as an adult, accepting responsibility, and developing pride in his skills are difficult but time-tested therapeutic techniques. These are things Mr. Cayne won't learn in standard treatment programs.
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