This Just In – CEOs Are Human…

13 July 2007

And humans make mistakes. Foods

Yesterday, business newswires throughout the world had a field day when word surfaced that Whole Foods’ CEO, John Mackey, had posted comments about his company on the Yahoo Finance message board under a pseudonym – something that I’m sure he regrets doing.

Despite a rough ride for WFMI’s stock price since the beginning of 2006, few can deny that Whole Foods is a fantastic company and that Mr. Mackey is the brain child of its success.  After all, those who invested in Whole Foods 10 years ago are still up 408%.

CEOs become CEOs for a reason. They are generally smart, insightful, visionaries, and strategic – all those good things.  They also tend to be risk takers and sometimes, dare I say, feel invincible.

There are those who will say “just because he is the CEO of a public company doesn’t mean that he can’t make comments on a message board like anyone else can.” This is a great argument in the land of utopia.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in utopia, and CEOs are held to a different standard than others.  In today’s world of corporate governance it is difficult, if not impossible, for a CEO to “shoot from the hip” and creatively express his/her opinions in an off-the-record format. 

I think that every investor relations professional should forward the story of John Mackey onto their respective management teams.  Not as a way of further embarrassing the man, but to serve as an example.  When you are king of the castle it’s best to assume that someone is always watching, even if you are using a pseudonym.

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