CEO compensation — another perspective

August 19, 2008 at 9:49 am | Posted in Business | 1 Comment
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In a recent post, I talked about how high CEO pay looks to most non-CEOs.  But what about another point of view (though several commenters have already given some insights on the last post)?

After 5 years of coaching high school football, I knew I wanted to be a head coach someday.  I couldn’t get around the thoughts of what I would do different if it were my team.  Three seasons later, that became a reality.  A good friend who coached with me once commented, “I wouldn’t do your job for 10x the salary I get now.”  To him, the thought of parent calls, meetings, administration, legal responsibilities, mean-spirited attacks, physical threats, etc., etc., just wasn’t even remotely appealing.  To me, they were just prices that needed to be paid to perform a role that I loved.

How much more so in business, often with millions of dollars on the line?  Yes, we read about all the posh sides of the compensation, but we rarely read of the pressure, loneliness, isolation, and constant scrutiny that comes with the job.  A couple of those may surprise you, but I know from coaching and from business, that you can’t confuse phony “friendships” with real relationships, and often trying to distinguish between the two is a full-time job when you’re in power.  It is draining and full of disappointments.  After a point, the money is a way to keep score more than a means to live, so “real life” sneaks in regardless of the size of your bank account.

I know enough wealthy people, several from playing in the NFL or coaching at high levels of college or pros, to know that the old saying is true: money can’t buy happiness.  So they still face tons of pressures associated with being held ultimately responsible.  Maybe some get golden parachutes that leave them fat, dumb, and happy regardless of the companies success, but I think most do not.  And a good one — a REALLY good one — how much are they worth?  I believe it’s a mighty big number.

That said, I think the biggest concern today is that too many, effective or not, are collecting mighty big numbers without mighty big results and without having truly earned it with a proven track record.

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  1. Sorry if this is not a great sporting analogy. I would be interested in how you would have approached the following situation. You were offered the lead coach role for the best team in the league starting next season, but at the end of the current season they are losing their 3 best players. Team management is looking for a star coach who can minimize the impact of this, but you know the fans are going to hold the coach responsible when the teams ranking falls regardless.


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