Copyright 2013 John T. Reed

I am proud of my alma mater West Point for a number of reasons, but I have also been one of its critics mainly for talking a better game than they play.


Case in point: the CEO of Procter & Gamble, Robert McDonald, just got fired after four years in office. He graduated from West Point in 1975 including a tour in the 82nd Airborne Division and did the minimum five years in the Army afterward. He then got an MBA from the University of Utah.

I was class of 1968 and my first assignment was the 82nd after which I went to Vietnam. McDonald was post-Vietnam. I got an MBA from Harvard.

A.G. Lafley

McDonald’s predecessor at P&G CEO was A.G. Lafley. He hand picked McDonald to be his successor. And when McDonald was fired on 5/23/13, Lafley was called back to be CEO. To an extent, McDonald had to contend with Lafley’s various strategies like moving to higher-priced products in 2007 and 2008—years when consumer spending began to tank and has stayed low ever since.

Lafley is my Harvard MBA classmate. I did not know him. He is also one year younger than I which is unusual for my Harvard classmates. They averaged around 25-26 when they entered. I was 29. That usually means the MBA student was in the military before going to grad school. And indeed, Lafley did a tour in the Navy including Vietnam before Harvard.

Too small of a sample

One is too small of a sample size to be the only basis for conclusions. We learned that at West Point. On the other hand, West Point would have you believe that the intensive 47 months of 24/7 training has a tremendous benefit to all grads in terms of leadership and all that.

West Point costs about $500,000 or some such per graduate to operate. Many grads say, “Yeah, shoved up your ass one nickel at a time.” That is a bit of an overstatement, but it was an God-awful ordeal that I still have nightmares about, and the only life experience I still have nightmares about.

The Wall Street Journal story today 5/24/13 did not mention where McDonald went to college. But prior stories about him at P&G often did. Why?

They never mentioned where Lafley went to undergrad (Hamilton).


In my Succeeding book, I talk about mystique at some length. One way I said it manifest itself is reporters say you were an X (like a West Point grad) when it is not relevant to the story abut you. They do not say you are a Hamilton grad, as in Laffley’s case. But they will mention West Point. Why? It has mystique—a vague notion that it turns grads into people who are different from regular people.

On pages 18 and 19 of Succeeding I give a list of background training or experience or singling out that would typically be mentioned in that irrelevant way in a brief story about the person in question. It’s not just special colleges or always good. The list includes:

Navy SEALs



pro athlete

combat veteran

clergyman or nun

FBI agent


But I have noticed a unique thing about West Point in that regard. When a grad is ascending, they often cite his being a West Pointer. But when he is descending, they leave it out.

Chainsaw Al

Why? I guess because there is a great national fondness for, and pride in, West Point and the reporter does not want to do damage to such an iconic American institution. This was quite evident in the business career of Chainsaw Al Dunlap. As he was rising at Scott Paper, Crown-Zellerbach, and Sunbeam, his being a West Point grad was always mentioned, as sort of an explanation of how he was achieving such success. He made the cover of the West Point alumni magazine. You rarely saw an article about him that did not mention his West Pointness, until he went off the rails at Sunbeam.

That company went bankrupt and engaged in a practice called “bill and hold.” He sold a bunch of product before year end by using extraordinary discounts. When you use“bill and hold,” you are supposed to refrain from booking the sales until you deliver the products in question. Dunlap booked the sales before the products were delivered. Subsequently, Sunbeam booked a $60 million loss for the quarter. Dunlap was fired. Shareholders sued him. He agreed to pay $15 million to settle the suit.

I noticed that when he was on the way down, the stories no longer mentioned that he went to West Point.

The current head of Johnson & Johnson is also a West Pointer: Alex Gorsky, a Wharton MBA. How is he doing? I do not follow such things but I seem to recall reading that J&J was a troubled company of late. Here are a couple of lines from a Pharmalot story:

Two of the most contentious scandals have taken place in business units on his watch.

In other words, Gorsky has had direct supervisory responsibility for J&J (JNJ) businesses that purportedly strayed far afield from the credo. There is nothing to suggest that Gorsky committed any wrongdoing, but as a West Point graduate and six-year veteran of the US Army, he most likely understands the notion of the chain of command and taking ultimate responsibility for events on his watch.

Two is not a big enough sample either, and Gorsky is doing better than McDonald so far.

But on the other hand, the sample is not going to get much bigger. Here is a list of the colleges that granted degrees to at least 10 Fortune 500 CEOs. Note that West Point did not make the list, nor did either of the other self-proclaimed “leadership” colleges: The U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis or the Air Force Academy.

Where are your leaders?

The ancient question “If you’re so smart why ain’t you rich?” inspires a similar question to West Point.“ If you produce such great leaders, where are they?” Not in the Fortune 500, not in academia, not in coaching, not in politics, not in innovation.

Actually, if you want to find where living West Point graduates are, there is a pretty comprehensive list in the alumni association’s annual Register of Graduates. In there, the vast majority of grads have abbreviation-laden bios. I have spent hours going through various editions of it. The fact is West Point graduates as a group probably match up best with a college like the one whose SAT scores they best match: the University of Maryland at College Park.

By and large, as a group, West Point graduates are middle managers, public school administrators, and professionals like doctors and engineers, ministers.

Did not all stay in the military

Some may say, well, they have not become civilian leaders because they devoted their lives to the military. No, they did not. Something like 73% of my class did not stay in the Army for a career. The guys who stayed for an Army career got out when they were in their early 40s.

Not enough MBAs?

Some may say they lack business training like an MBA. Boy, is that wrong. The most common advanced degree among West Pointers in my era and maybe still is a Harvard MBA. There are 23 in my class of 706. The two West Pointers described above have MBAs. The West Point head of 7-11 has an MBA from Kellogg.

Our valedictorian has an MBA from Chicago. A great many of my classmates have MBAs from Long Island University (professors traveled from LI to West Point teach it to grads who were teaching at West Point in the evenings and on weekends).

The West Point of American Business

Harvard Business School has been called the West Point of Business. Better West Point should aspire to be the Harvard of War. Harvard leads the list of CEO producers with 65 compared to #2 Stanford with only 27 and 40 of Harvard’s CEO are from their Business School. Harvard is also the leader in undergrads who are CEOs, albeit tied with Stanford.

Even Rutgers is on the list of top producers having awarded degrees to 11 CEOs. Rutgers, to which I had a state scholarship, was my safety school. While I was at West Point learning how to be a great leader, the kids who went to my safety school were preparing for leadership jobs they actually got.

West Point has the opportunity to produce great somethings

West Point certainly has the opportunity to be the great leadership school. It only lasts 47 months, actually rather brief nowadays when kids take five or six years to graduate. But look at the hours.

My youngest son’s college, Arizona, requires 30 credit hours to graduate. West Point required that we take 40.5 credit hours freshman year, 45 sophomore year, 43 junior year, and 44.5 senior year.

We went to class six days a week. The only Saturdays when we did not have morning classes were when we went to the Army-Navy Game, another away football game each year, and to march on Fifth Avenue in the Armed Forces Day parade in Manhattan. Plus we had mandatory intramural athletics twice a week all academic year long, mandatory parades two or three times a week weather permitting in the fall and spring, and two months of five-and-a-half days a week summer field training.

Even got trained at meals

And don’t think the intramurals and parades were not training. Seniors were coaches, officials, and administrators of the vast intramural program and seniors and juniors commanded the parades. We also marched into three meals a day on weekdays and one on weekend days, again with seniors and juniors commanding. Hell, even each ten-man mess table had a commandant and plebes executing several daily duties. In the movie The Recruit Al Pacino’s character said again and again, “Everything is a test.” At West Point, everything was either training or a test—even meals and intramurals.

The only times we could wear civilian clothes—and this only came in when I was a senior—was we could wear a navy blue blazer, gray wool slacks, a white shirt, and tie to leave West Point or to return to it after leave. Once you put on that outfit, you had to go straight off the post or straight to your room to change into your uniform. I almost got in trouble once for stopping at the Hotel Thayer, which is next to the gate leading out of West Point, to pick up my date on the way off post.

So if you add up all the mandatory stuff we had eleven months a year, you get something like a ten-hour day, roughly six days a week (Saturday morning, mandatory Sunday chapel to which we marched, and Sunday supper), about 44 weeks a year for four years. That’s 10 x 6 x 44 x 4= 10,560 hours!

Here is line from the Wikipedia write-up on Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.

Throughout the publication, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

Here is a line I propose for tee shirts to be sold at the West Point Association of Graduates gift store.

I spent 10,560 hours doing mandatory stuff in college and all I got was this undesignated bachelor of science degree!?

Two bachelors degrees, two masters degrees, and a PhD

If you spent that many hours doing work toward your degrees at a civilian university you would would end up with a couple of bachelors, a couple of masters, and a PhD. What students do 10,560 hours in colleges and universities? About all I can think of would be medical doctors. Can medical doctors do something others cannot? Hell, Yes! Like surgery.

Can West Point graduates do something that others cannot after their similar volume of training? Not really, unless you count giving parade commands or making their room look really neat really fast.

So if West Point would focus on something with all those hours—instead of making us so well-rounded (we had a mandatory non-credit course in “Cadetiquette”) and such jacks of all subjects but masters on none—we would be the premier college grads on earth at whatever they trained us that many hours at. But they wasted most of it by spreading it so extremely thin. We finished not even well trained enough for the platoon leader and company commander jobs we almost all ended up with before we got out of the Army.

In On the Waterfront, Marlon Brandon as boxer “Terry Malloy” laments that he “could a been a contender,” one of the most famous movie scenes and lines of all time. We graduates of West Point could have been contenders, too. We had the potential when we entered that storied institution. We were willing to spend the 10,000 hours going through an extreme ordeal. We did spend the 10,000 hours! But we were betrayed by the olive drab office politicians who run the place who by their efforts to be all things to all people, spread our 10,000 hours of striving so broadly and so thin that we ended up with little to show for them. They treated our education and training like some weapons system that has to cerate at least a few jobs in every single Congressional district so it can never be canceled.

Grads from my era and before can’t even claim to have majored in anything in college! 10,000 hours and we are not even masters of a single academic discipline! I remember hearing the following repeatedly about top-of-their-class recent grads while we were still cadets. They arrived at civilian grad school only to be told they had to take some undergrad courses first because, in spite of our orders-of-magnitude-greater academic workload at West Point, they had still not yet completed all the prerequisites for the masters program they were admitted to!

The four-year West Point program may be the most egregious example of “jacks of all trades and masters of none” extant. The people who design the curriculum at West Point seem to get points for the number of trades they can make us jacks of but no credit for our mastering any of them.

I have often described our military training at West Point as “introduction to everything but expertise in nothing.” One week at Camp Buckner I drove a road grader, built a timber trestle bridge, set off c-4 demolitions, and built a pontoon bridge. If it’s week two, it must be engineer training. Sounds like some kids summer camp where they try to fit as many activities into the brochure to make the parents think they are really getting their money’s worth. Indeed, Camp Buckner is actually a former kids camp called Lake Popolopen.

Then I never had any occasion whatsoever to use what I had learned in engineer training. Ditto many of the academic subjects we had to study: nuclear physics, automotive engineering, ordnance engineering, surveying, golf, handball, Never used any of it for a single second in my life, let alone in the Army.

I also spent three and a half years studying Russian getting mostly A+s. That created a bit of actual expertise. And the Army had absolutely zero interest in ever making the slightest use of it. What was it all about? West Point simply wanted to brag to Congress and the general public about having many students like me studying Russian. West Point and the Army, in their usual form over substance mode, see the Army’s college as a credential, not an education. Process orientation, not results orientation. Look at all the stuff we studied! Not, look at all the things we know how to do!

Apparently, they only made us study all that stuff, including in the summer field training, so they could brag about the fact that we studied it. We got a million academic and military tickets punched then graduated without proficiency in any of them. And our lack of proficiency was exceeded only by the Army’s lack of interest in any such proficiency

The lack of leadership success by West Point graduates is especially maddening when you look at how many were class presidents, team captains, most likely to succeed, etc. or all of the above in high school. My first roommate freshman year was all those things. Another roommate who was my best man more or less was, too. Those guys were very common at West Point. They probably would have become CEOs and other types of leaders in greater numbers if they had NOT gone to West Point.

Maybe if McDonald had spent more of his cadet time on management and leadership and decision theory and results orientation instead of process orientation, and less on properly aligning his shoes under his bed and marching in parades, he would still have his job.

With those 10,560 hours of cadets’ time, West Point has the greatest opportunity of any college in America to impart know-how.

With their willingness to spend 10,560 hours acquiring know-how, during their college years of all times, West Point’s cadets are potential great contributors to making a better America.

But because the cadets trust the administrators of West Point, and those administrators squander the 10,560 hours, every year, West Point and its cadets more or less put that most precious commodity—time—in a huge pile and set fire to it.

A West Point graduate reader notes that whatever we did learn at West Point academically atrophied starting immediately after graduation. Although West Point and the Army officer corps in general have extreme intellectual pretensions, the fact is that the work of a recent West Point grad in the Army is approximately as intellectually stimulating as attending a DMV orientation program for new trainees or supervising a crew of day laborers clearing weeds on the side of a highway. Your ability to differentiate equations or to apply the right-hand rule fades.

Here is his email:


Bravo--another excellent article!

The 10,560 etc. hours computation was surprising--but the math holds! Holy crap! I guess we really did all that.

And what to show? I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering.
[Reed note: This is a more recent grad. They now major in a subject there.] The first 2 years after graduation, my comparing notes with the MIT folks showed that my level of knowledge was equal to or greater than theirs.

The problem was that, by about year 3, I had forgotten most of what I had learned because I WAS NOT USING IT! All my knowledge and training had atrophied away whilst I babysat a bunch of drunks, carousers, and drug addicts. Any hint of intellectual prowess was laughed down by officers and enlisted alike as not "cool." Even Military History and hand-to-hand skills were laughed down as "not cool"--in a profession that is supposed to use combat knowledge/skills to defeat the enemy.

So why the overkill at USMA if all of it went out the window immediately upon graduation?

Also can't figure out USMA's obsession with "every Cadet an engineer." The Roman Army was said to have defeated more enemies with their shovels (combat engineering) than with their swords. None of them had engineering degrees--yet the ramp they constructed from scratch to conquer Masada (67 AD?) still stands today. Sort of pointless to cram calculus of the highest order down everyone's throats (and Philosophy, and Physics, and Statistics, for that matter) only to have 99% of us NEVER USE IT AGAIN FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!!!

Sort of continues to support the position that they should shut down the Service Academies. An old, old WWII vet once told me a joke post-graduation: "what is the most worthless thing in the Army?" Punchline: "a Second Lieutenant." He seems to have been correct. No other successful army in the history of the world (prior to the 1600's, I believe) ever trained a bunch of sequestered youngsters to such an extent that they were "combat geniuses" by the age of 22. They grew their leadership from the ranks--from people who had proven their war fighting and leadership abilities on the battlefield.

Jeff Owen

Here is another email from a grad of West Point. I started to respond to it then got bored with all his generalities—apparently acquired wile majoring in being a “generalist” at West Point. Here is his email, which sadly is typical of West Point grads trying to justify the details of what they do at West Point, and my response:

Mr. Reed,
Thank you for sharing your provocative essay on your website, a classmate forwarded me the link and I enjoyed reading it. I thought you might be open to feedback.

Like you, I am a grad, with Ranger Tab, and Harvard MBA.

West Point attracts those who seek challenges. As you know and describe well, there are very few things as challenging in the world as 47 successful months at WP, followed by the privilege and opportunity of leading Americans sons and daughters, potentially in combat.

It is a significant challenge to get As across Physics, Chemistry, Mech E, Thermodynamics, Philosophy, English, Sosh, Juice, etc., demonstrating mastery of complex subjects, which goal-oriented cadets are driven to do, yet few want to graduate and spend their days in front of a computer or in a lab. It is more of a challenge to lead people and manage resources at a young age in postings around the globe.

Spreading cadets thin with so many tasks and none mastered is excellent prep for managing, even being a CEO. Large Organizations are so varied with highly specialized tasks that a CEO could not possibly do, let alone master. The bigger an org, the more they tend to be run by generalists. WP trains to prioritize an overwhelming # of tasks and develops generalists with excellent capabilities to operate in a decentralized environment where a variety of problem sets may be encountered, vs one specialized skill (like concentrating for months on building the most perfect bridge or transistor).

CEOs tend to be risk takers, and visionaries. They fly high and also crash hard. WP trains to toe-the-line, be conservative, and the Army time post-grad reinforces that. CEOs tend to have flitted from company to company, with a host of corporate recruiters inflating their achievements at their past jobs, while WP inculcates loyalty and honesty.

"While I was at West Point learning how to be a great leader, the kids who went to my safety school were preparing for leadership jobs they actually got."

This is a fantastical statement. Visits to Rutgers show those kids were partying hard and just happened to have some personality types willing to take enormous risk and talk a mile-a-minute to get to the top (fake it til you make it does not work well in the halls of WP or in the line units of the Army, however it is a proven success model in the business and political world). A lot of CEOs are not actually good managers, they are visionaries with smarts & personality and they hire good managers below them.

WP teaches to solicit and absorb feedback. A lot of successful CEOs are damn-the-torpedoes types, they push regardless of customer and employee feedback. The normal distribution curve suggests that some of the outliers will be successful just based on luck, not necessarily anything else. That Rutgers kid with big personality and average leadership skill was in the right career field at the right time, and his fake it til you make it attitude got him to the top more than any collegiate skills preparation.

Many who have sought ultimate challenges have burned out, and/or have become disillusioned with the reality of cronyism and favoritism in the real world of civilian leader selection. Duration of CEO jobs tends to be very short, and the risk associated with aspiring to those jobs is often weened out at WP, though not always.

It is a hokey assertion that McDonald might still be CEO at P&G if he hadn't wasted time aligning his shoes. Attention to detail may be present in some CEOs, and nearly non-existent in others. So many variables, including luck, determine CEO tenure. You would not say that being a paper boy or Eagle Scout guarantees success, in the same regard preparing for SAMI is not a waste of time (though I fervently wished I was chasing girls at UCLA instead of cleaning the mirror with newspaper on those lame Friday nights).

Thanks for provoking my thoughts, I hope they are accepted with goodwill.

Best Regards,
I left his name out

Here is my answer:

Your statement on spreading cadets thin is theory and logical in your phrasing. But I see no empirical evidence to support it. I am a CEO of sorts. And have been head coach, company commander, and so on. I do not recall ever being thankful in those roles for USMA’s master-of-none approach.

As cadets, we had no one to whom to delegate. A business manager has a rather narrow focus on recruiting, training and retaining good subordinates and evaluating, counseling, and firing bad subordinates. The subject matter spread at West Point—academic subjects, shoe shining, parades, etc.—is relatively unrelated.

We should have spent more time on learning how to recruit, train, and retain good people and how to figure out which to fire. Indeed, since military officers, almost unique among managers, do not get to choose or fire subordinates very often, they essentially are almost devoid of the main skill and experience needed to be CEO.

CEOs are not generalists. That is West Point party line talk. They are CEOs, that is, recruiters, trainers, retainers and firers of subordinate executives. The sort of generalist WP seemed to be preparing us for was a sort of reference librarian/ barracks housekeeper/rifle cleaning/parade performer. Your logic says that any hodge podge collection of topics and skills makes you a great CEO because the hodge podge is general and CEOs are generalists. They are not. They are recruiters and managers of executive personnel, clearly a specialty and not one that is learned by doing a little of everything..

I have no idea how you can use the word “decentralize” in the context of West Point and the military. Virtually all military decisions were made in the White House or Pentagon—including your haircut. I have accused military generals—generalists they— of having so little authority to do anything that they spend an inordinate amount of time changing military acronyms for no apparent reason.

Conspicuous by their absence in your email are the names of West Point graduates who prove your point. You are all theory and logic, but your theories are refuted by the empirical evidence—an absence of real world examples of West Point generalists being great CEOs. My article had a number of names of West Point CEOs.

Loyalty is not a virtue. To see if loyalty in a given case is a virtue, you must ask what is the individual in question’s hierarchy of loyalty subjects. In other words, when his loyalty to a person conflicts with values like integrity—which it did daily in the Army when I was there and apparently still—how does he resolve the conflict? The Army officers I saw, including West Pointers, almost always resolved values conflicts in favor of protecting their careers, which is contemptible.

You say that WP inculcates integrity. I’m beginning to think you were preserved in aspic upon graduation. West Point talks a good game with regard to integrity, but West Point graduates sign false documents as officers often starting on their first day at their first assignments. “Inculcate” implies both teaching and the students adopting the behavior in question. WP teaches integrity, but the officers at West Point would not be there if they had not lied each and every time it was necessary—which is often daily in cases like motor officer and company commander—for career protection.

WP teaches integrity, and when I was there in the mid sixties, we cadets abided by the cadet honor code. More recently, the code ha been stretched beyond the recognition of the ’60s and earlier grads. But WP graduates are not appearing in media stories about their refusing to sign false documents.

An Ab-scam congressman who went to jail for corruption was a WP grad. Petraeus was lying to his wife. McChrystal lied as a cadet about how he was going to use weapons borrowed from the museum, lied on Pat Tillman’s silver star citation, and got promoted to 4-star and head of Afghanistan in spite of a career spent lying, then, when he told the truth about how he felt about Obama and Biden in front of a Rolling Stone reporter, he was promptly fired from the Army. McChrystal was inculcated all right, with play-the-game, take-care-of-number-one cynicism. He is everything we asked in the Cadet Prayer not to be.

Pray tell what corporations are Petraeus and McChrystal now CEOs of?

The warrant officer who stopped the My Lai massacre was given a medal and invited to speak to cadets at West Point 30 YEARS LATER! And only after Annapolis shamed them into it.
A West Point general and generalist who you would have us believe had integrity inculcated into him at West Point, Samuel Koster, was the division commander of the My Lai massacre. He covered it up dishonestly. When he was found out, he was superintendent of West Point and was fired from that job and forced to resign from the Army. I think he got demoted, but only one or two stars. The cadets and officers at West Point—inculcatees and inculcators of integrity in your phrasing—put on a “voluntary” parade in “honor” of the superintendent fired for lying before he left West Point. They were inculcated with loyalty all right, but integrity; not so much.

West Point talks a good game about the integrity of its graduates in the Army. There is NO empirical evidence to support that and much to prove the opposite.

I have stopped reading your email. You are 100% West Point party line and theory, no empirical evidence or naming names to support what you say. Nothing but vague generalities about abstract “generalists,” “leaders,” and “visionaries.”

I will name a name from Rutgers where you say they were partying—Milton Friedman. He managing to accomplish a few things and was far more of a leader in his field and the world than any of the many West Point grads who also went into economics. If the world is divided into the colleges that does not party—namely West Point—and those that do—all the others— it is a wonder the graduates of any college other than West Point are CEOs or in other leadership positions in our society. While the notion that regimentation is better CEO preparation than partying is logical in theory, it would appear that your description of what goes on at civilian colleges appears to have left some non-partying activities out.

Here is Jeff Owen’s response to the “I left his name out” guy plus my comments:

“Fake it ‘til you make it” was espoused by at least 95% of the Cadet population at USMA whilst I was in attendance, and by 100% of the Active Duty Service personnel stationed there. To be completely honest, I have observed quite a lower percentage of folks who espouse this ideal in the civilian sector than I did in the two aforementioned locations. Which is why most (if not all) USMA 2LTs are despised when they get to their first units. Because all they know how to do is “fake” and the EMs and NCOs see right through them. So don’t tell me that USMA folks follow a trend different from their civilian counterparts—they don’t. They lie, cheat, and steal whilst at the Academy (first-hand observation), in the Army (first-hand observation), and, in civilian organizations (again, first-hand observation). I recall officers at West Point admonishing us to never bluff and recall no fake it til you make it etos or talk.

Your “party hardy” scorn of “civilian institutions” is fallacious from the start. I have never witnessed a higher percentage of dyed-in-the-wool alcoholics per square kilometer than I did at USMA. Cadets were not allowed to drivk within 15 miles of West Point in teh 1960s. If they were alcoholics, it was outside of my non-drinking ken. Double that in the Army. Several of my classmates should have been expelled for being drunks, and, whilst drunk, committing criminal acts, but were “counseled” and allowed to graduate. They’d have been promptly thrown out of West Point in the 60s. Some of them have risen rapidly through the Army ranks. Many of them spent their entire Firstie year in an alcoholic blur. So don’t take the moral high ground on that one . . . you don’t have a leg to stand on.

As for the “neat freak” behavior that they beat into us . . . most (if not all) USMA grads I have observed only follow that “training” whilst at USMA. Once they graduate, they turn into some of the biggest, smelliest, nastiest slobs I have ever seen in my life. I saw no such thing. My classamets seemed to relax somewhat after West Point but generally felt that the neat freak stuff, while overdone at West Point, was basically correct. So if they can’t even be hygienic after 10,560 hours of “top-notch” training, how can one posit that said training, which bears no resemblance at all to what a CEO might require in his or her job, better prepares USMA folks to be successful as civilian leaders?

I will agree that Ivy League Masters-level degrees push folks onto “different” ladders of success. Going to West Point will “assist” one in obtaining entry into one of these hallowed institutions. But it is not, by any means, the ONLY way to obtain admission. One of my professors in business school was a Harvard MBA and retired from a major Fortune-100 corporation as one of the top-3 in the company. She did not go to USMA. She actually graduated from a no-name tier-4 undergrad program and spent 6 years as a grade school teacher prior to “winning admission” to HBS. Kind of makes one wonder, if the end results are the same, why would one mistakenly believe that they have to undergo USMA’s completely pointless and masochistic experience. And don’t try and tell me that she didn’t “make it” in the business world . . . because, obviously, she did. And she beat out a whole lot of other West Point jerkoffs whom (at least based on your smug-yet-erroneous logic) she should not have.

Your (and her) success results SOLELY from your Ivy League degree—and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE OVERSIZED “I’M BETTER THAN YOU FOR GOING TO WEST POINT” diploma that you probably have hanging in your office in an effort to intimidate your “underlings.” I’m also guessing you have something with a Ranger tab on display. What a joke—particularly in that I could take you down the street to an average MMA gym and watch in glee whilst punk kids who have never learned how to stand at “Attention” let alone walk a starvation-fueled patrol whup on your Ranger-trained ass. As with the West Point degree, the HBS degree may get you through some doors, but a week or so after you are there you stop being “the West Point guy” or “the Harvard MBA” and start being Jack or whomever you are. You may get hired on the degree, but not promoted on it.

Moron: your completely self-absorbed hubris is the most ridiculous I’ve encountered in quite a while. Your attempts at logic fail from the outset. Not sure from whence your outlandishly high opinion of yourself originated . . . maybe the cradle? Reinforced by mommy and daddy during your “formative years?” Further exacerbated by the “heady accomplishments” of graduating from USMA and HBS? I actually feel quite sorry for you . . . you’re going to spend the rest of your life living this delusion, completely oblivious to the fact that your contrived superiority causes everyone to HATE YOU. I don’t even know you, and you make me nauseous—I can only imagine your effects on friends/family/neighbors/etc.

Have a good one!


Another reader sent me this link on 2/24/15: It is a USA Today story in which McDonald apologizes for having falsely said he served in Special Forces. Unbelievable! You might think being head of P&G and the VA would be enough for his resume.

The most disappointing and astonishing resume padding I ever heard about a West Pointer was Pete Dawkins. As of the day he graduated from West Point, his resume included First Captain of the Corps of Cadets (the cadet leading the parades), Heisman Trophy winner, and Rhodes Scholar. Yet, when unsuccessfully running for Senate in NJ against Frank Lautenberg, he also said he had been wounded in Vietnam. He was not. Then he compounded the crime by seeming to blame his staff. West Pointers will recognize that as, “Not one of your three answers, Mister.” Meaning he should have just said “To excuse” when discovered.

By the way, McDonald literally said, “I have no excuse,” when discovered by Huffington Post. Better late than never.

I noticed that he recently bragged at a Congressional hearing that he had headed a major corporation. The Congressman he was debating with was not informed enough to know to say, “Yeah! A major corporation that fired you.”

John T. Reed