What happened to AT&T (T) - Get Report? Same thing that happened to Lucent (LU) ! Maybe it is something in that mid-Jersey water. It makes people overpromise and then, when they do, underdeliver.

Understand that UPOD -- underpromise and overdeliver -- is the true mantra of business, which is why I was always UPODed during the days when I used to go into

Motley Fool

.

When you overpromise, like Armstrong did at AT&T and like Rich McGinn did at Lucent, you get slaughtered. Armstrong in particular made a lot of promises that, in retrospect, shouldn't have been made.

In fact, some of the AT&T selloff today reflects a growing disillusionment with Armstrong's take-no-prisoners style of management. Some of us here are wondering whether the TNP attitude extends to the customer!

Whatever. The lesson here is that if Armstrong hadn't promised the moon he wouldn't be blaming the stars right now.

Good lesson!

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.