It’s often remarked that the two remaining taboo topics in today’s world are your age and your salary. This in an era where sex n’drugs n’ rock n’roll have made discussion of previously off-limit topics like frequency of intercourse a commonplace (Sex and the City conversations are routine in Silicon Valley watering holes).
But it’s an odd thing about life at the top: CEO’s have no privacy. There’s dozens of sources that tell us everything about a CEO except the color of their underpants. Forbes reveals that HP’s Mark Hurd is 49 years old, and earned in excess of $23M in the 9 months he spent at HP in 2005.
Over at GE, they helpfully provide a Bio of past CEO Jack Welch that includes the year of his birth (1935). Since Jack is one of the best-known CEO’s in the world it’s not just his age and past remuneration that are widely known, but every aspect of his marital history and most of his private life.
Perhaps CEO’s have a tendency to brag about these two aspects of their life that the rest of us jealously guard. Jack and Suzi Welch don’t seem to shy away from publicity – they have books to sell. But the average CEO is probably uncomfortable with everyone in their organization knowing their age and tax bracket. It’s the price they pay for the top job.
Meanwhile, the further down the organization you go the less people know about you. If you are responsible for cleaning the offices or cutting the grass outside the building no-one even knows your name.
The position of the CEO is like that of a President or head of State. They are given power and privilege but they must sit in the hot-seat as the ‘man in the middle’. The Western Spiritual Adept Adi Da Samraj spoke of this in one of his first published talks in Los Angeles in 1973:
There is a danger in all associations of men. Because we appear within this human condition, this “dream” world, men tend to live from the point of view of this condition. There is an ancient ritual that men unconsciously desire to re enact … an ancient game called “Scapegoat.” There is an ancient ritual called the “round dance.” Men tend to encircle the center, a book, a man, a symbol, a Guru. They tend to encircle him, and acquire all things for this circle. The group becomes inward-directed. It becomes “occult.”
Anciently, the highest product of this cult is the sacrifice of the one in the middle. Traditional societies, throughout the ancient world, did this yearly. The guy in the middle was killed, or ritually deposed, and a new guy was installed in the center. The execution of Jesus is an example of this same ritual. The addition of this ancient ritual process makes the death of Jesus into the “sacrifice of Christ.”
Just so, HP sacrificed Carly; the US sacrificed Nixon, and tried the same with Clinton. Talk is that Bush is fighting that tendency right now. Want to know the color of Ken Lay’s underpants over at Enron, stick around, Court-TV will have details at eleven.
Oh, today is my birthday. I was born in 1952.
I earn considerably less than either of the CEO’s mentioned above.
I prefer light blue boxers.