Tap Dancing to Work by Carol J Loomis chronicles the life of Warren Buffett from 1966 – 2013 as told through the pages of Fortune magazine. The stories are annotated by Mrs. Loomis based on her relationship with Buffett (editor of his Chairman’s letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders and family friend).
Buffett, well know as the Oracle of Omaha for his no-nonsense, value investing approach, has also been held out as one of the most ethical business leaders in the world. That’s why this book was so interesting. Even the most ethical leaders are occasionally faced with potentially catastrophic scandals and ethical dilemmas.
From Salomon Brothers to Sokol, we are given insight into Buffett’s role and how he managed these situations (good and bad). Buffett’s management approach (acquire great talent and let them manage the business) requires a level of trust. We see how that trust often betrayed him, and yet his reputation, commitment to ethical business, and tenacity brings him out intact. This is strong reminder for internal audit of the importance of both “tone from the top” and “tone from the middle.”
You may be familiar with most of the stories covered in the book, but I found it interesting to have all of it in one series. It is a great read and has a few interesting new tidbits (e.g., Are Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett related?).