My dad watches a lot of CNBC. This morning, Jack Welch was on CNBC as a commentator and to remind people of his corporate management company. The CNBC crew are lobbing softballs to Welch, so he talks about how he got his start upselling women on purple shoes that cost 5 times the in-store alternative of black shoes. He goes on to talk about his years as the head of GE, and the crew get ready to switch to a new segment.
When out of nowhere, Warren Buffett calls in to the show. He prods Welch, "How did you sell the shoes?" Welch is blank-faced, and Buffett prompts "What did you say to get the women to buy?" Welch is still blank, "I don't know." Buffett "I remember you said you told women that they would stand out more and that more men would notice them!" And with that, Buffett said thanks and goodbye.
No one at CNBC had any clue what that exchange was about. So, possibilities include:
Or you could assume that one or both of them is losing it. Maybe Buffett inadvertently tested Welch; you figure that Welch has given his "started off selling shoes" spiel a slew of times, a well-practiced spiel looks like this (or is Kevin Smith really that good ?;), and maybe what we saw was Welch just forgetting how the full story goes.
Or maybe Buffett's losing it? Say you were Buffett, how would you know / deal with losing it?
The most recent Blue Bloods show had a sub-plot where the Grandfather had been getting into car wrecks and his son was trying to get him to stop driving. With the most recent accident, gramps said that he didn't wreck and had a police report to show for it.
It turns out that gramps used his (extensive) relationships with the local cops to get a fake report written up. In this case, it's fairly obvious that everyday driving is exceeding his capabilities. That's not always the case, though. How aware are Buffett and Welch of their mental states?
We can monitor our slide into senescence, and react accordingly. However, no one wants to be tested (on live TV!) and found wanting. Better to proactively simplify operations and to start spinning them down or out as one ages. A controlled loss of control, as it were.
Otherwise, families can descend into difficult arguments which preserve dignity for no one.