by Eric Schleien
On March 12, 2006 I had a chance to meet Carol Loomis who is a writer and editor for Fortune Magazine. Besides talking about her own experiences at Fortune she had a lot to say about Berkshire Hathaway Chairman, Warren Buffett.
(Carol Loomis mentioning something her daughter said to her about retirement) - “Has it occured to you you may not be able to get another job?”
(Carol Loomis on Buffett) - “Might have become a journalist if he had not done investments”
(Carol Loomis recalling Buffett description of her) - “Unusually interested in learning”
On Learning - “Greatest satisfaction of my job.”
Notes on the Loomis/Buffett Relationship
Carol Loomis edits Buffett’s Annual Reports. She noted that Buffett does about 99% while she does the other 1%. She will suggest adding words or ideas as well as editing “antecedents and danglers”.
Loomis says she as an average of about one fight a year with Buffett over editing. Loomis recalled a year when Buffett was making an analogy using Mark Twain. Buffett originally wrote “If Mark was alive today”. Obviously nobody would know who Mark was so she changed it to Twain and sent the edit back to Buffett. Loomis got a revised edit with her suggestion totally ignored. Again, she sent back the report saying “No one ever calls him Mark”. Again, she got the annual report back with it still saying Mark. After more edits, Loomis got a call from Buffett’s secretary saying “
Someone asked if Buffett’s ethics had influence over any CEOs. Loomis mentioned Buffett has had an effect on GE’s CEO in regards to him changing the compensation plan.
Interesting Facts regarding Loomis/Buffett
1) Loomis bought Berkshire Hathaway for under 200 dollars/share in the 60’s and has never sold a share.
2) Loomis plays bridge with Buffett on the internet every week. Friends of Loomis know “never call Monday Night”
3) On the board of the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation
Wrote about Commodities - Didn’t know about it so she opened a commodities account at Merrill Lynch. First she made money which kept her going then shorted silver and lost $13,176 - 75% annual pay at time. “Never since have I gone near the commodities market.”
I asked her what articles she was most proud of:
1) General Motors Story - Doesn’t think GM will make it.
2) Commodities Article (See Above)
3) Article she did on five survivors of the holocaust
She also mentioned she had gotten threatening letters after she wrote the GM and HP stories.
Sold stock after Time merger. Loomis wrote about her dislike of the AOL/Time Warner Merger and figured she should sell her shares.
Her Progression in Fortune Magazine
Research –> Writer –> Editor at Large/Senior Writer
1954 - Women were 2nd class. Only one woman writer at Fortune when she started.
1962 - Managing editor promoted her to writer where she wrote for the investment column
1970 - Time Inc. was sued for sex discrimination. (Time Owns Fortune)
Rebuttle by someone at Fortune "We'd hire an orangoutang if it could write"