We’ll go with a few more items on Joe Pl*meri (head of Primerica, a roving band of used-car salesmen, whom Sandy Weill brought aboard to be the SVP in charge of U.S. Citibanking).
This dude, while he indeed had some very solid business philosophies & excellent approaches to growing the business, was an absolute monster to people, except for those that kissed both his ring as well as his ass.
He was so damned full of himself that it was absolutely sickening.
(As I’ve said previously, if he or anyone that I may have “trashed” in my stupid li’l pieces here wants to sue my ass off, you’re more than welcome to try.
You won’t get anything (duh) & at least, I’ll have the opportunity to swear on the Bible & attest that everything I said/wrote is the absolute truth!)
> I’ve heard from some several very reliable sources that he “forced” the 4 Senior Directors that ran the New York marketplace branches to “pledge their allegiance” to him & make them say that they “owe him for any & all success they’ve enjoyed”.
Supposedly, 3 of the 4 (afraid of losing their jobs & careers) did as instructed…and I don’t blame them in the least.
Not at all.
But there was one Director…let’s call her Doreen (not her real name), whose husband, “Honk”, may or may not have also worked for Citi) who refused to go along with his nonsense.
Sued & eventually walked away with a $weet $ettlement.
(Oh, did I make some spelling miztakes above? Reelly? That’s knot like me.)
> He instituted some very tight spending & expense restrictions on everyone.
Was he within his rights? Yeah.
But once again, they totally removed the human element from everything.
God forbid if you left a tip $1 over the suggested corporate amount, your entire expense reimbursement report (everything was done via paper in those days) was rejected & returned. You could owe thousands on your corporate Diners Club or personal MasterCard/American Express/etc. card & the whole report amount got denied…instead of just adjusting the item in question & denying the excess amount.
Every purchase order over $25 had to be approved by the head of your particular business.
I was able to issue Immediate Credits (on-line & instantaneous credits to customer accounts for up to $100,000 per item) without permission or review, but I couldn’t place a $26.42 stationery order by myself!
Could approve overdrafts & uncollected situations up to $250,000 per item, but wasn’t allowed to buy a dry marker board for $30 without obtaining prior written sign-off from the USCC head.
Yeah, I get it…but then again, I didn’t.
(Some of our corporate expense guidelines were mind-boggling!
For example, we were forced to use a specific travel agency for all our travel & lodging needs. Their system didn’t include Southwest Airlines.
One time, I was asked to travel to New York for a meeting on Friday…and it was Wednesday morning.
A flight on American Airlines into LaGuardia Airport would’ve cost Citi over $1800! That was obscene to me! The fact that the flight was within 7 days, and then, 3 days, made it super-expensive.
Instead, I went against policy & booked a flight on Southwest to MacArthur Airport out on Long Island…that cost ~$300 round-trip!
Even when you add in a couple of long car service rides @ $150 a pop, I still managed to save the bank over $1200 on the trip.
And, of course, I got my wrist slapped when I submitted my expense reimbursement report! Hint: Always plead ignorance when you do something wrong…Who? What? Huh? OMG, I never realized!
Even if it’s not believable.
> Let’s see…what else do I have about Pl*meri?
I told the story about me calling him out at the USCC for lying about making up the slogan “Service is our product. Sales, the result!” and trying to take credit (while I personally created that a good 10-12 years before he claimed to do so).
There was the incident where he allegedly punched a reporter from the American Banker, a well-respected industry publication, & the bank made a nice li’l payoff to keep the incident quiet.
A friend of mine in HR & another in Legal have told me of numerous incidents with him that easily would’ve gotten anyone else fired…but he always had his buddy Sandy Weill, who just happened to be CEO & Chairman of the Board & another snake himself, protecting him with those special Star Trek Mr. Sulu shields of his.
> Once, at a special Directors meeting he held at the NY Hilton (hundreds & hundreds of us attended), he had his Primerica TV camera crew filming the entire session.
As they were panning the audience, they came across a couple of Directors who nonchalantly had their arms crossed in front of them as the Li’l Führer was speaking.
Seemed totally harmless.
But Pl*meri took exception & actually stopped his talk to call them out, solely for the purpose of trying to embarrass them.
One guy realized what was happening & unfolded his arms. The other one, however, was totally oblivious to what was going on! (He was being called out AND being shown on the various projection screens!)
At lunch, Joe’s henchmen came around to every table, looking for them & asking everyone if we knew who they were.
I didn’t, but even if I did, I wouldn’t have said anything. (Snitches get stitches.)
> At a 3-day Area Director conference up in Westchester County, NY one time, Pl*meri suddenly went crazy – – out of absolutely nowhere – – and sent everyone home.
On the morning of Day 2
Nothing had happened. No one had said anything to upset him.
He was talking to the group when he suddenly, simply got disgusted with everyone. For absolutely no reason & without any prompting.
“Get outta my face! Go home! All of you!”
It was about 10:00 on Wednesday morning & the conference was supposed to last through Thursday evening.
Everyone wondered what happened…and exactly how we were going to get home!
Lo & behold, we were instructed to see a couple of people on his staff as they had something for us.
We were each handed an envelope, with airline tickets & boarding passes for our return flight home…that very same afternoon. A few people had to really rush as their flights were due to take off soon.
I may have been born at night, folks, but I can assure you, it wasn’t last night! You suddenly freak out, yet your staff already had our return flight tickets & boarding passes printed & ready for us?
You ate your dog’s homework?
I wondered how many other times he pulled a stupid stunt like that.
> I just got informed by a friend & former Citi associate of mine (I wouldn’t want her dragged into any legal action here) about the time that Pl*meri held a town hall meeting at Sea World for the entire USCC. (I, myself, wasn’t able to attend this wonderful affair as I was working from home when Laurie was very ill.)
Apparently, he was doing his regular routine (ranting & raving like a evangelical preacher on steroids), in an eggplant-colored suit, no less, when he made the claim about Citi becoming the #1 bank in the country.
“And if any of the other banks don’t like it, well then, they can just…”, followed by an Italian NY gesture (yes, obscene)
The problem was that he was in San Antonio with a generally-young audience…and very few people actually understand what he meant!
I’m sure it went over well (better?) at the town hall meeting for all the employees at the Citigroup Tower, One Court Square in Long Island City, NY, but down here in southern Texas, it was neither appropriate nor understood.
I wonder if his henchmen sought out everyone who didn’t belly-laugh & cheer.
Oh, well, he was certainly a piece of cake! Not sure exactly what flavor he is or what God-forbidden bakery created him, but his time @ Citi didn’t last forever.
And even after being dismissed, his good ol’ buddy Sandy (whom I personally despise as the world’s worst & most evil snake oil salesman ever) had an office set aside for him over at our corporate HQ at 399 Park, until he eventually landed on his feet again.
Do snakes actually have feet?
BTW, he was canned by John Reed after a number of sexual harassment claims were filed by several employees.
I guess enough was enough, heh?
As always, thank you so much for listening!