Have you heard the news? Warren Buffett has been diagnosed with first stage prostate cancer.
Buffett (aka, the “Sage of Omaha”) is the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He’s one of the world’s richest men, most successful, studied and followed investors – and a philanthropist, as well.
He’ll also be 82 this summer. That’s why, when doctors found the cancer cells in his prostate, no one – including Buffett – was worried. Evidently, the cells exist in pretty much every 80+ year old man – so no surprise and no concern. He’ll start his treatment this summer and, in the meantime, he’s feeling just fine, thank you.
Are you supposed to care? Well, if you don’t you should – in both a general and a specific sort of way.
On the general side of things, one is always concerned for anyone who is diagnosed with cancer…or any disease, for that matter. It’s a sad thing.
On the specific side, it’s not just Buffett’s celebrity that drives the interest in this topic. It’s that it’s a commentary on CEO responsibility overall.
To everyone whose lives they touch.
And Buffett, to give him his due, understands and operates to those responsibilities far more than most. His stated belief and advice is that if you don’t want something you’ve done to be read by everyone in the morning news, then don’t do it.
That’s why the surprise vote on the part of Citibank’s shareholders against the salary package for its CEO, Vikram S. Pandit, was such a happy surprise. Not that the vote is binding…but it shows just how unhappy shareholders are with those CEOs whose performance is ‘adequate’ but they’re paid as if they’re stars.
Too many CEOs are too intent on getting as much money out of their companies as they can. Even when their ‘leadership’ has led the company into dire straits.
Pandit was at the head of Citi in the lead-up to and throughout the recent economic meltdown. His leadership – along with those in other banks and investment houses – not only drove the world economy into a tailspin, it was done on the backs…and houses and IRAs and more…of their unsuspecting customers.
And it’s not even as if Citi is performing that well now. Sure, it’s doing better than it was – but $15million in salary’s worth? Not by a long shot.
So, yes, let’s all pay attention to Warren Buffett and wish him well. Frankly, the longer he sticks around, the better the chances that more shareholders will go activist like Citi’s and hold every CEO to the same measures to which Buffett holds himself.
Further readings on Warren Buffett:
- Buffett on hiring, accounting, cash hoarding, and the avoidance of corporate excess, by Ian Fraser
- Buffett slams Black-Scholes and 'flat earth' economists, by Ian Fraser
- Buffett advocates more stick, less carrot to ensure bank bosses shape up, by Ian Fraser
- The Warren Buffett Way, Robert G. Hagstrom
- The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder
Tags: Berkshire Hathaway , economic meltdown , investor relations , Pandit , shareholders , Warren Buffett