Cruise to Nowhere

| William A. Schreiner, Jr.

Say what you want to about Warren Buffett, but he made his money by not spending it extravagantly.  The multi-billionaire owner of Berkshire Hathaway, who could live in a palace if he chose to, still lives in a rather modest ranch house in Omaha, Nebraska. 

And while he is “famous for not micro-managing” the businesses he’s invested in, he does have a limit: he recently fired the head of Benjamin Moore, one of his companies, for taking the entire corporate leadership of the paint company on a yacht cruise to Bermuda on the company’s (really, Warren Buffett’s) dime. 

The full report on this was in the New York Post, which has continued to enjoy this story.  It outlines another lesson to add to the ones we cover on this blog: don’t take your company leadership to Bermuda on a yacht, especially when your company has only just turned the corner on five years of declining sales.  Sure, one quarter of increasing sales after twenty of declining sales is something to celebrate – but consider something modest, like an old-fashioned company picnic, rather than a yacht cruise.  You can even spring for creepy picnic clowns. 

This lesson applies doubly if your boss is Warren Buffett.  It applies with perhaps more force if your company’s revenue is, on the whole, down 50% from its peak seven years ago.