Name dropper Sokol - I know people like this ....

A Conspicuous Absence at Berkshire Meeting


But people who worked for Mr. Sokol saw a side of him that Mr. Buffett perhaps did not. His brass-knuckled approach alienated some Berkshire employees, as when he suggested that people with an illness or other personal problems were problematic and when he unceremoniously fired a top executive and made him leave the office that day.

Flashes of his management style can be found in some earlier litigation as well. In one civil case, a judge rebuked Mr. Sokol for tampering with his company’s numbers so that a joint-venture partner would get a smaller payout. In another case, Mr. Sokol sued to find out which employees at a Berkshire unit were disparaging him.

And he irritated colleagues at two of Berkshire’s subsidiaries, Johns Manville and NetJets, by frequently invoking Mr. Buffett’s name to burnish his own image inside the company.

Some people at Berkshire were puzzled over why Mr. Buffett favored him so much, as when he credited Mr. Sokol for a turnaround of Johns Manville even though the unit’s profits fell sharply after he took over.

Comment: Frankly I've been guilty of this myself (probably more in my younger days!) - The name dropper type.  I've seen it in business (typically goes like this ... "Mr Big Wig and I were discussing that and he agreed ...) ... and in churches (Pastor and I were talking about this and we agreed ....).


  1. I like the first sentence; "but people who worked FOR Mr. Sokol saw a side of him that Mr. Buffett perhaps did not." Almost every bad manager I've had is one who would not have had the job if people had talked to his former subordinates.

    I've been guilty of name-dropping, but in my current job, it often had the purpose of sparing the person I was talking to the experience of dealing with a VP on the warpath. So hopefully I can be absolved for that! :^)

  2. Update on Sokol:

    Berkshire Report Faults Sokol

    The report says Mr. Sokol’s response “fell short of the degree of candor required of a corporate fiduciary, and suggests his answer to Mr. Buffett’s earlier inquiry noted above was intended to deceive.”

    The report says Mr. Sokol “voluntarily resigned” from all his Berkshire positions and that he would not receive any severance benefit as a result.


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