History Lessons: Nurture Stakeholders - Marie Antoinette

Born Maria Antonia Josefa Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen in 1755, 15th child of the emperor and empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Marie Antoinette left Vienna at 15 to marry the French Dauphin.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Out of her depth in the murky French court, and urged by her family to push Austria's interests, her marriage remained unconsummated for seven years. She consoled herself with retail therapy, splashing out on diamonds, backing horses and having her own village built. She may never have uttered the line 'Let them eat cake', but she cerainly had her slice and ate it - as her French subjects starved. Such extravagance was not new to European royalty, but its timing was bad, and 'Madame Deficit' soon followed her husband to the scaffold. Business royalty has made the same mistake - just look at Conrad Black and his wife Barbara Amiel. Neglect your stakeholders at your peril. Let the office fall to ruin while wining and dining your non-execs and see what happens. It could be 'off with your head' ...

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