Monday, February 17, 2020

Life Lesson

From the book Barbarians at the Gate:

During the 1950's Lou Roberts often took his teenage son George [Roberts later to be one of the founders of the leverage buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts] along to business meetings. At an American Petroleum Institute conference one year, father and son sat by a dirt-caked wildcatter in cowboy boots while listening to a speech by the chairman of Humble Oil, the predecessor to Exxon. 

"Which one of those two men would you like to be?" Lou Roberts asked his son afterward.

"I'd rather be like the guy up on stage, the businessman," young George answered.

The businessman, his father explained, had 50,000 employees to watch over, a long, tiring workday, and could expect a pension of several hundred thousand dollars on retirement. The wildcatter, on the other hand, had maybe 30 employees, several dozen oil wells that pumped away while he slept, and was probably worth $5 million.

"Now who would you rather be?" Lou Roberts asked.

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