Friday, November 07, 2008

Anne Mulcahy on the Obama Economic Team

Two of my idols (some would say crushes) are on Obama's economic team: Anne Mulcahy (Xerox's CEO) and Warren Buffett. (Hopefully they offset the lunacy of Michigan's Govenor and her failed policies, who is also on the team) I'd heard Anne Mulcahy talk about her personal politics at a Business Week symposium I attended in Manhattan. Regardless of her political views, I hold her in the highest esteem in terms of her ability to lead thorugh economic crisis, as she's done multiple times at Xerox. She understands culture, leadership and transition better than any leader I've seen.

Warren Buffett is an interesting bird. On one hand, he's the wealthiest man in the world with a wealth ranked earlier this year at $62 billion. He's brilliant, humble and frugal. On the flip side, he plans on giving away all of his wealth, with the majority of it going to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. He believes the rich should pay more to help those less fortunate. I've read and watched everything I can on the man because his simplification of the business world fascinates me. I also like his view on philantrophy:
I don't have a problem with guilt about money. The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. It's like I have these little pieces of paper that I can turn into consumption. If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life. And the GNP would go up. But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing. I don't do that though. I don't use very many of those claim checks. There's nothing material I want very much. And I'm going to give virtually all of those claim checks to charity when my wife and I die.
Paul and Jon may hate both of these people, but I respect them both greatly.


Noel Heikkinen said...

I'll be praying for you. I know this must be a difficult time.

Ken said...

I might have to call you names...

boilermaker97 said...

I guess I'll comment since Jon doesn't like public discussions.

I know nothing about Anne other than what you've posted. She's speaking a bank conference in two weeks, so I may have more thoughts after that.

As for Buffet, he has stood the test of time in both his investing record and his ability to not allow wealth to change him. I respect both attributes and may even make the trek to Omaha some day for the experience.

If someone's life could be segmented into neat categories and stop there with Buffet, it would be all good. I would say the same of BO's rhetorical abilities.

However, I don't think we can look at particular characteristics of an individual and ignore the rest. Especially when someone is elevated to the 'hero' category, their worldview becomes of primary importance to me. The end result of Buffet's life is an endowment to population control (among other more worthy projects the Gates Foundation manages see He returns to dust and his money lives on serving an ignoble purpose.

For me, heroes are more in the vein of Tyndale and Wilberforce and in the modern day someone like Piper or Alcorn.

Dave Kurt said...

I'm pretty good at segmenting, so I've got people like Warren Buffett, Barry Sanders and Anne Mulcahy on my list.

John Piper? Not only am I not a big fan of his stuff, I have a tough time lumping him in with William Tyndale or Mother Teresa. Unless you're segmenting him in the "lots of books written" category.

Sounds like you've never read Dallas Willard. Never heard of Alcorn.