How to handle ‘slow’ business owner and staff in a family firm
Posted Monday, April 9 2012 at 13:55
“If we ask Charlie something and he says ‘no’ then we put all of our money in it. If he says, ‘that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,’ then we make a more modest investment.”
Warren Buffet on his deputy, Charles Munger, fondly referred to as ‘the Abominable No Man’.
Almost everyone in the world of investment knows Warren Buffet, founder of Berkshire Hathaway, an American multinational holding company based in Omaha, Nebraska. So they should. This company has delivered an average of 20.3 per cent annual growth to its shareholders for the past 44 years. However, very few of us have ever heard of Charles Munger, Warren’s number two in the company. Many of the young investors and founders of family businesses want to be the Buffets of this generation.
Many of the young investors and founders of family businesses want to be the Buffets of this generation.
Many chamas (investment clubs) are founded with an intention of being the Berkshire Hathaway’s of Kenya and Africa with some well on the way to outstanding performance.
While these intentions of excellence in investment are noble, the need for an able number two is often overlooked.
The leader of an organisation, no matter how brilliant and able they are, cannot operate in isolation.
They need a person who can objectively look at proposals.
So how come we never hear about Munger? Perhaps it’s because he has a melancholic temperament — deep feeling, idealistic, self-sacrificing, sensitive, faithful friend, analytical, considerate, perfectionists, orderly creative, among other traits, as demonstrated in Munger’s case, prefer to operate behind the scenes.
Melancholics are deep, solitary thinkers, serious, predisposed to reflection and solitude. Famous melancholics include Plato, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln and, in modern times, Nelson Mandela.
Lincoln, who experienced the extremes of this temperament, had dismal spirits and many times was prone to clinical depression, which he overcame by telling many jokes and humorous stories.
Melancholics appear slow, reacting weakly to stimulus, that is, difficult to excite. But hose fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to implant an impression in them will find that this grows deep and is almost impossible to erase.
They are pious; studying the past and looking to the future with pleasure, seeking causes, correlations and principles according to which man should act.
How do you deal with melancholics in the family business?