Who is the Face of Your Company?

Who is the Face of Your Company?
Image by greyson joralemon on Unsplash.com

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

Where did the big corporations of today come from? As it turns out, nearly all of them evolved from the small business started by an individual or a family. This was true for the Rockefellers and the Fords, for Walmart and Selfridges, for Walt Disney and Goldwyn Mayer.

Many of those who succeeded remunerated themselves (and their families) handsomely, and deservedly so, since they have taken large risks and could quite possibly have belonged to the statistically likely 90% of entrepreneurs who fail within the first three years. By succeeding, these entrepreneurs have contributed to the community, the society, and their respective countries.

I was therefore not surprised to see the results of a survey conducted by Times of India that showed how seven out of the top ten female earners of India belong to the promoter group. For those readers who might not be familiar with the term, the promoter group can be defined as people who are the masterminds behind the formation of a company. The brigade was led by Kalavathi Kalanithi of Sun TV in South India, who earned nearly $10 million a year, with the rest of the list bringing in about $1.5 million a year or slightly lower.

Similarly, the Economic Times in India also featured a list of the most eligible bachelors in the world with information sourced from Forbes magazine USA. Of the five bachelors on the list, only one – Albert von Thurn und Taxis, with a net worth of $1.6 billion, showed his source of wealth as “inheritance”. The other four bachelors made their fortunes for themselves, such as Drew Houston (Net Worth $1.2 billion) the founder of Dropbox, Eduardo Saverin (Net Worth $4.1 billion) of Facebook, Robert Pera (Net Worth $2.7 billion) of Ubiquiti, and Yoshikazu Tanaka (Net Worth $ 1.6 billion) of Social Networking.

In both cases of the wealthiest women in India and the most eligible bachelors in the world, it is quickly apparent that not only were the promoters more likely to be the wealthiest group of people, but their names and faces were synonymous with the success of their company.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Fortune magazine’s annual list of the most admired companies of 2014. A look at the top ten companies shows how the founder still casts a shadow across his organization, even though he may have passed away long ago. Take a look at the list of the top ten companies, and see if you can name the respective founders or CEOs (The answers can be found at the bottom of this article).

1. Apple

2. Amazon

3. Google

4. Berkshire Hathaway

5. Starbucks

6. Coca-Cola

7. Disney

8. Fed EX

9. South West Airlines

10. General Electric

How many were you able to identify? Surely names such as Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett were recalled the moment you saw the names of their companies. This shows that the admiration of the company is high when the performance of the company is excellent AND when the founder / leader maintains a visibility that is largely tied to the success of the business. While not every company can have a promoter champion with a larger-than-life presence as the aforementioned giants, it certainly is fascinating to see how public perception of a firm can be strengthened or in some cases, weakened by its connection to the founder.

Answers to the above:

1. Steve Jobs

2. Jeff Bezos

3. Larry Page, Sergey Brin

4. Warren Buffett

5. Howard Shultz

6. John Pemberton

7. Walt Disney

8. Frederick W. Smith

9. Gary C Kelly

10. Jack Welch