Mark Jaffe, founder of Jaffe & Wyatt more than 25 years ago, is not the first executive-search professional to write a book.

However, Jaffe, also a satirist who eschews self-righteous rhetoric, is the first one I know of whose book cover demonstrates how to make the noose that can hang your career.

And "Let Me Give It to You Straight" is a funny, outspoken guide on how to work with "headhunters," advance your career and achieve cubicle enlightenment without the sugarcoating.

The style reminds me a bit of Bob MacDonald, the insurance executive and founder of Life USA who retired to write provocative, insightful books such as "Cheat to Win" and "Old MacDonald's Ethical Leadership Farm" and who blogs at They are both independent thinkers, good writers and funny.

Jaffe says too many career-related books assume a "self-important, sanctimonious tone" or bounce around too many clichés.

"The perception is that because we're paid by the corporations who retain us, search people seldom if ever shoot straight with candidates … preferring instead to store them in a warm, dark cellar," Jaffe said in a recent e-mail interview. "The clients, too, probably feel at times that they need to read between the lines."

The chapters include: "Stop Reading Career Advice Columns," "When Bad Résumés Happen to Good People," "If Peyton Manning Is Old, Then So Are We" and "Passive Aggressive? Moi?"

"Search people are functionally comparable to psychotherapists," writes Jaffe. "We get to ask impertinent questions, probe and poke around to our heart's content, then make our diagnosis. Unlike mental health professionals, we don't aspire to improve the subject's condition. We are bound by the charter of our mission to sit in judgment, to be vigilant gatekeepers and to prevent the unworthy from entering Paradise. Then we go someplace nice for lunch." More on the book at

St. Paul builds Internship Program

President Mike Crowe of Crowe Construction Management is big on St. Paul Washington Technology Magnet School junior Kaoly Her, who interned last summer.

"Kaoly was not only a great intern, she truly is an exceptional individual," Crowe reported. "Her personality made the experience rewarding for our entire team."

Similarly, Heidi Benedict, director of Xcel Energy's High Bridge plant in St. Paul, is high on Harding High School intern DeShaun Baker, who learned computer and office skills last summer.

"This job started my adult life," Baker said.

This pleases St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is intent on growing the city's "Right Track" internship program through increased opportunities with employers.

The program has grown from 21 professional internships in 2013 to 90 in 2014. In 2015, the city hopes to place 200 teens. A summer intern typically costs employers about $1,500 in wages.

Former Mayor R.T. Rybak and U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis, godfathers of the much-larger Minneapolis Step-Up internship program, have proved that these experiences can be great for kids and employers. Both programs target lower-income minority kids.

"Right Track is [an] important part of the work we're doing to close the achievement gap, the income gap and to create pathways to success for every young person in our community," Coleman said.

To learn more, visit or contact Catherine Penkert at 651-266-6422.

Thanks, and please send a $63,000 check

Last year, the city of Wayzata needed to replace a water main under an Xcel Energy power line.

To accommodate the work, the Minneapolis-based utility took emergency steps to bury 600 feet of wires along the BNSF Railway tracks, according to a regulatory filing.

BNSF's attorneys later sent Xcel a contract with a proposed fee for the newly buried power line — $63,000 a year, or $105 per foot, with 3 percent annual increases. Now, Xcel has asked the state Commerce Department to step in, saying the charge "is neither just nor … reasonable."

BNSF said it is just updating a right-of-way fee dating to 1957, and "values of property have certainly increased over the past 50 years."


The juice is flowing Up North

Cold weather and a warmer economy in northern Minnesota drove up electrical demand to an all-time peak last week for the Duluth-based utility that powers the Iron Range.

Minnesota Power, the state's third largest power company, said the 1,817-megawatt load on Tuesday exceeded the prior peak of 1,804 megawatts set July 21, 2014. A megawatt is 1 million watts.

"Our region is growing," said Al Rudeck, vice president of strategy and planning, citing expansions like Magnetation, which extracts iron ore from mine tailings and recently opened another plant near Grand Rapids. "There is a lot of momentum in the region. Unemployment is lower. We are feeling pretty good about the region, and our customers had a good year."


Minnesota Chamber Begins Search for President

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has launched its search to replace longtime president David Olson, who died of cancer last year.

The chamber offered no comment on whether interim president Bill Blazar is a candidate. Blazar, 64, a 20-year-plus chamber veteran who leads Grow Minnesota!, the successful retain-and-expand existing-business initiative, has worked in government and industry affairs for more than 30 years.

Olson, 57, ran the state's largest business association and lobbying group for 23 years.

The chamber's 48-member board will oversee the process. It has retained Ballinger Leafblad of St. Paul to conduct a national search for candidates. The job paid $472,931, according to the organization's most recent filing with the state attorney general's office.

Frels STEPS BACK AT Mairs & Power

Bill Frels, 75, a dean of the local investment trade, is calling it a career in mutual fund management at employee-owned Mairs & Power, one of Minnesota's oldest and most successful investment firms. Frels, like the late George Mairs before him, will continue to keep an office and manage some private funds.

Mark Henneman, 53, succeeds Frels this month as president of Mairs & Power's three no-load mutual funds — Growth Fund, Balanced Fund and Small Cap Fund.

Andy Adams joins lead manager Henneman as co-manager of the Growth Fund; Kevin Earley joins lead manager Ronald Kaliebe as co-manager of the Balanced Fund and Allen Steinkopf joins Adams as co-manager of the Small Cap Fund. Henneman has been appointed president of the Mairs & Power Funds Trust.

The conservative, long-term approach established by George Mairs and Frels will not change, Henneman said.