Big-Time Fees: Big-Time Stick

It’s not nice to talk about money, so Mother-and even the Feds say.  Mother, of course, was thinking manners. The Feds? Price fixing….. Yet, everybody’s doing it. Tonight, including me. It’s just too interesting, especially given the economic times. What caught my attention is media coverage about the current rash of  former CEOs thought headed for the dole. As it turns out, there’s a core of C’s who’ve been ousted only to become consultants. That’s the funny thing about leaders. Like cats, they often find a way to land on their feet even when tossed off the couch. Fee ranges? Reported to be between $3,000 and $5,000 an hour. Case in point is CEO William Pulte of Pulte Homes. He’s the $5K an hour guy. Same article reports Pulte, the home building company, has lost more than $5 billion since 2007. Nice work if you can get it, as the Gershwin tune goes. And I’m not implying or saying there’s any correlation at all between one Pulte’s loss and the other’s gain. Really. I’m not. I have no idea… I do think it rather bad press, just as Mother would have thought it bad manners to discuss…. Of course, My Wise Mother would have thought it bad manners, because women of her experience knew that talking about money is likely to either make people envy you – if it’s a lot, or make people lord over you, if it’s not.

On the other hand, the CEO fee situation reminds me of one of my childhood favorite koans or Buddhist teachings where the Master says to his Student, “If you have a stick, I’ll give it to you. If you have no stick, I’ll take it away.” Looks like some CEO’s have the “stick,” even if they don’t have a company.

The question is, is this bad or good? Either way, why? A penny for your thoughts…