Lawrence Cunningham, a leading authority on corporate culture and governance, is well-known for his distinctive expertise about Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. This dates to the 1996 publication of his worldwide best-selling book in collaboration with Mr. Buffett, The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, which has sold a half-million copies.
Lawrence Cunningham NACD 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
The other thing that Mark Leonard said when I told him I was getting this award. Besides that I was too young was. Why don’t you ask him for a bloody good Decade Award. But I don’t think you’re going to give that one out. So. I know NACD Well I’ve known him for a long time and I know. The. Powerful positive impact it has had on corporate governance. So. Despite Mark’s advice I accept the award. Thanks are due to many people. The NACD itself. For professionalizing. Board service and training. Good stewards of shareholder capital. Dating way back. To its founders in the 1970s including a great friend of mine.
Still going strong at 98 years old man who my kids call Uncle Pete. Some of you in the room may know him he’s a hero. In corporate governance. Pete Scotties mentors from my early career advising corporate boards from the law firm of Cravath. SWAINE and more especially. Mentors. SAM BUTLER In the late George Gillispie. Supporters from my initial days in corporate governance leadership back in the 90s. Including the namesake’s of the. Governance Center that I ran. Sam and Ronnie Heyman as well as Bob Denham Ira Millstein Monroe Price and the late Frank Macchiarola. Collaborators especially Warren Buffett, who in 1995 helped me publish what is now a classic. The Essays of Warren Buffett Lessons for Corporate America. And Hank Greenberg who later asked me to co-author his spectacular corporate biography. The AIG Story. Great editors who’ve made me look good in print especially Jim Christy And CDs. Very Own Judy Ward. I’ve had great bosses like to you heard from John Garvey and Fred Lawrence and others like Roger Fairfax and Blake Moran. I’ve had amazing students some of whom are here tonight and great colleagues. Especially those who have helped me build. The GW. Corporate program here in New York. Paul Boston Wendy Goldberg Jeff Cohn and NATO and fellow directors. Who encourage me to go the extra mile to add value beyond what’s expected including all my colleagues. On the Constellation Software board. As well as Charles Elson. Cindy Glassman. Who is here tonight.
And thanks Cindy for that great video contribution. Shareholder friends. Who helped me keep their perspective., in mind, in the boardroom especially Jack Bogle, Tom Gayner, Sandy Godsman, John Petrie, Tom Russo and Yeager plus many others. A great firms. From Akkari capital to Rubén Caniff but above all. Thanks to my wife. Stephanie Cuba here tonight. A very talented a very talented business executive director and writer as well. We recently wrote a book about. Buffett’s Berkshire shareholders with a message on governance I’d like to share. How to attract and retain.
Long term committed owners. This is a top concern I hear from CEOs and fellow directors across corporate America with rising, index investing and shrinking holding periods plus, widespread activism, is the committed long term shareholder an endangered species. What does it mean for governance when average holding periods are less than one year. What it means. Is a majority of votes in annual elections are cast by shareholders who won’t be shareholders for the rest of the directors term. Our research. Provides insights to address this problem. First. Berkshire’s shareholder base is the most patient and committed. In corporate America. They have. Far longer holding periods. And far higher levels of concentration than any other company and this is not an accident. It was a conscious goal Warren said for himself beginning in the 70s and he achieved it. Through sustained policies that appeal only to long term committed shareholders. Second a number of other companies have.