With This Lifeguard, It's Sink Or Swim

Many employees at insurer USF&G Corp. got their first glimpse of their new chairman by way of video. Talking into the camera in the somber tone of a father telling his children something distressing, Norman P. Blake Jr. said he would have preferred to meet employees in person, but time wouldn't allow it. "The financial condition of our company is weak," Blake told the 9,000 workers who could not be at Baltimore corporate headquarters in January to hear him. Later, he added a subtle warning: "There is no such thing in life as treading water. You're either sinking or you're swimming."

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