Saturday, March 13, 2010

Win Churchill's Winning One-Liner

I always take pleasure is seeing good things continue to happen for my past authors. My congratulations to Win Churchill on his receiving the Yitzhak Rabin Public Service Award from the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce this month. Churchill is a founder and managing general partner of SCP Partners, a venture firm that has invested in many Israeli start-up companies.

"I have received many awards in my life for charitable efforts," Churchill said in an interview with the Jewish Exponent, but the newspaper reported that he points with particular pride to this latest honor. "We are plowing money back into the Israeli economy. ... In terms of covering the broader areas of my life, this is the best award ever."

I have an award I would give Win Churchill. It would be the award for the best one-liner about executive compensation to ever appear in the pages of Directors & Boards.

Let me set the context. In late 1993 Churchill was the kickoff speaker for the inaugural session of a new corporate governance program being launched in Philadelphia — the Wharton/Spencer Stuart Director's Institute (formed by prime movers Dennis Carey and Robert Mittelstaedt). He was then chair of an investment firm, Churchill Investment Partners Inc., that he had formed in 1989, a few years after practicing law for a lengthy spell with a Philadelphia law firm. He was also serving on several boards then, as chair or director. So with that background he had quite a bit of wisdom and counsel to offer to the attendees of this board educational initiative housed at the Wharton School.

His talk was titled, "The 10 Commandments of Ownership." (I kept that title when I published his speech as an article in the Spring 1994 edition of Directors & Boards.) He presented a set of guidelines for how institutional investors should be thinking about exercising their role as responsible professional owners. The guidelines had crossover application to how board members should be acting as responsible overseers.

Commandment 9 is the one that wins the alltime best one-liner award for governing executive compensation: "Successful management should end up wealthy; unsuccessful management should not end up wealthy."

Now, I ask you: Is there not more wisdom in this baker's dozen worth of words than in any, or all, book and article texts ever devoted to the topic of managing exec comp?

Win, the award is all yours.