I was recently speaking with Peter Cuneo who was turnaround CEO at Marvel Entertainment. In 1999, the company had just come out of bankruptcy and had no tangible assets. In 2000, cash was as low as $3 million and the stock traded under one dollar. A decade later Marvel sold to Disney for $54 a share. Peter told me ” I’d like to tell you we had a brilliant strategy, but we actually had only one option which was to capitalize on the IP of thousands of characters that had been mostly existent since the early 1960’s. We did not have an option to investment spend so we focused on a licensing model to maximize cash flows. We got to know the movie business intimately during those early years and were ultimately able to make our own films by forming Marvel Studios “

Peter is humble, but is perhaps the premier turnaround CEO in America having done 7 including Remington and divisions of Black and Decker and Clairol as well. What I have learned from Peter, and what I believe many CEOs can learn is the power of being practical, weighing options and doing what is toughest, One other idea, when you are facing a turnaround is Peter’s thoughts on the role of culture in a turnaround, “ Not recognizing the importance that organizational culture plays in a turnaround. Just as you might find a company that is bankrupt, chances are the culture is bankrupt as well.”