Harold Hook: A Hunter Who Feels Hunted

His acquisitive insurer, American General, goes on the defensive

When Harold S. Hook makes an acquisition, he quickly puts his stamp on it. The chairman of American General Corp. imposes his methods on virtually every area--from administration to marketing--and on the way people talk about them. The key element of his management system is "Model-Netics," a collection of 151 buzzwords, symbols, and axioms he developed in the early 1970s to describe his strategies. The "Northbound train" for example, is AG's strategies and goals: If you don't agree with them, hop off. "It's a lot like the military," says Thomas D. Barrow, a longtime director. "There's a rule and method of doing everything."

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