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Antipatterns

Lionization of a Lunatic

I’ve been waiting to share some antipatterns to the type of leadership we talk about on these pages. Bingo! Got one today.

Imagine the writer of today’s Wall Street Journal feature: The Covid Crisis Taught David Farr the Power and Limits of Leadership. In his presence? A prideful ass. This is a portrait worthy of an M.C. Escher illustration, splendidly serving the article’s two very different intended audiences. It’s a masterpiece — you must read it, really — but be prepared to need an Alka Seltzer by the time you get to the end.

Mr. Farr keeps five baseball bats in his office, including one signed by St. Louis Cardinals greats Stan Musial and Albert Pujols. He likes to swing the bats while he thinks. During earnings calls, he is known to poke people with a bat if he thinks they aren’t doing a good job of talking to investors.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from the man himself:

  • “We have a company to run.”
  • “We have customers to serve and we can’t frickin’ do it if nobody is here!”
  • “Why did we miss it?”
  • “I might be wrong, but we get paid to make decisions and make calls.”
  • “I would never jump off a cliff without knowing a bit about what is at the bottom. But I know you have to take jumps.”
  • “I got into a lot of heated battles around here in St. Louis because I had the opinion that you can live with this virus.”
  • “I’m not going to die.”
  • “I’m too busy to die.”
  • “I’m not dead, though people have tried to kill me. I’m still quite strongly in charge. And as long as I’m here, our dividend will not be cut.”
  • “We’ve gone that route, rather than where everyone wears a mask.”
  • “If there’s more of us around, you got to be doing the right things, you’ve got to be following your own rules.”
  • “Look. I make s—, and you can’t tell me how I’m making s— when you’re sitting in your goddamn living room.”
  • “Get your a— out to my factories, look at my people on the line, and tell me if they’re telling me the truth or lying. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s why I pay you $25 million a year.”
  • “It was very energizing to be on the plane.”
  • “It’s all going back to trying to make people feel like we’re back in business, it’s back to normal, it’s safe, I’m here to talk.”
  • “People are getting tired of and stuff like that.”
  • “I can’t believe this thing. It’s July 7th.”
  • “I got to see some of them for the first time in several months. It was pretty exciting, and I drank too much.”
  • “People were a little closer than 6 feet.”
  • “We’re going to have to bring in automation.”
  • “We’re going to have to take labor out.”
  • “As soon as you hear someone say ‘the new normal,’ plug your ears, and say, ‘bulls—’.”

Most of all, do read the comments. Hook, line, sinker, check.

Imagine how much more shareholder value he might be able to provide if he were better perceived by analysts.

Would you really want to work for someone like David Farr?

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🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJhaCoI76tA.

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