A commenter below and Ms. Nikki Finke snark on Robert Iger:
It's just out in the Walt Disney Co's 2008 proxy statement. The CEO who signed a new five-year contract last February received $13.95 million in salary and bonus. Actually the figure is $30.6 million with all the bells and whistles, up 11% from 2007. And what’s up with that $645,368 for security? ...
Actually, I don't begrudge Mr. Iger his millions. Disney's stock has dropped 14%, but that is way less than the other entertainment congloms. And remember. Robert Iger had to endure for years as Michael Eisner's #2, which was anything but an easy assignment.
But while we're on the subject of executives, they're kind of a breed apart from regular working stiffs, and not just because of their salaries. Here's what a long-time entertainment exec told me last month:
If you're smart, you learn to delegate. And if you're very smart, you learn to delegate to very competent people who do the job well and make you look good. And when you've done enough delegating and do it right, you've got some serious free time on your hands ...
In the years I've been kicking around, I've noticed a few artists who have gone the executive route. When I first became a business rep, there was Michael Webster, a one-time assistant animator who became the head of Disney Television Animation in its early years. I never asked Mike about his move into the executive ranks, but a friend of his said:
Michael worked on the lightboard for years, but he figured out that it was a better gig for him to be an executive. More money and more longevity.
If you don't believe the longevity part, consider that Mr. Webster's major domo Tom Ruzicka is still working as an exec at Universal Cartoon Studios, twenty years further on.
But you want to know how smart executives operate, you need look no further than a small tome entitled Executricks. In a few hundred pithy pages author and corporate exec Stanley Bing gives you his take on the executive life, also his strategies for living that life in the most efficient and relaxing way possible:
Ronald Reagan was widely derided ... as President for sleeping during meetings and alowing his wife to act as ... chief executive.
... Today a huge number of Americans cite Reagan as one of the great Presidents in American history, with nary a word that the man snoozed through a fair amount of his second term.
1) Receive work.
2) Designate recipient.
3) Assign work.
4) Monitor as necessary.
5) Receive work.
6) Evaluate and redelegate.
7) Receive revised work.
8) Accept work with thanks.
9) Pass along work to original source; accept credit.
10) Continue policy of inattention.
The above sounds about right to me, both from direct observation and conversations with various corporate managers over the decades. Four years ago, a Disney staffer said about Michael Eisner: "He's a micro-manager who pays no attention." In a weird way, that also sounded about right.
And three years ago, I had a very cynical corporate lawyer tell me: "The company stock has taken a beating the last year and a half and the CEO just went to the board to get an eight and a half million dollar bonus because he 'needed it.' So of course the directors gave it to him. The guy put all of them in their jobs."
But if entertainment execs are overpaid, they are pikers compared to the potentates in the Financial Sector of our fine economy.
Consider Ken Lewis, the genius head of Bank of America. Old Ken has managed to make one brilliant decision after another over the past six to twelve months, all with sparkling results.
[Ken Lewis's] disastrous acquisition decisions--first on Countrywide and now on Merrill Lynch--have brought Bank of America to the brink of collapse. He has destroyed the firm's shareholders, and, once again, forced U.S. taxpayers to bail him and his demolished firm out.
So let's not rag on studio CEOs too much. Because whatever you think of Bob Iger ... or Sumner Redstone ... or Rupert Murdoch, remember this: They haven't driven their companies to bankruptcy while getting billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars.
Face it. That's got to be the best Executrick of all.