Mr. Warren E. Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Omaha, NE 68131
Dear Mr. Buffett:
This is to inform you that I am opting out of writing a column this week. The demands – and the anxiety – have become too much.
My editors demand that it be a certain length. In a certain format. And finished by a certain time.
You won’t believe the immobilizing stress that this is causing me.
Sometimes when I ensconce myself in front of my computer, all I can do is sit and stare – just like the kids barred from reading a book or doing anything else when they opted out of state reading and math assessments last year but still had to show up on exam day.
The result is that journalism is not fun anymore. In fact, if it weren’t for the money, I’m not sure I would do it.
All this tension, and for what? Newspaper columns are supposed to be a diagnostic tool to help society figure out what is wrong and for readers to jointly come up with solutions. Yet, as with the school tests, the feedback I get is rarely constructive – or even feasible. (It’s anatomically impossible for me to do that to myself).
That is why I’ve decided to take a stand, just like the courageous students who this week are at the forefront of the anti-testing movement in New York State. Never has the prophecy been more true: And a little child shall lead them.
Unfortunately, not everyone is following
I called the bank that holds my mortgage; it said I couldn’t opt out. Ditto for my car loan. And the folks at the utility company just hung up on me.
I know that as chairman of The Buffalo News, you’ll appreciate my dilemma. I’m confident you will recognize I’m not just a column-inch or paragraph count, and my worth – and remuneration – should not be based on this high-stakes writing exercise that has nothing to do with journalism.
Mr. Rod Watson
The Buffalo News
Buffalo, NY 14240
Dear Mr. Watson:
Rest assured your paycheck will not be diminished by your epiphany on what society and the workplace have become.
In fact, we may give you a raise for your pain and suffering.
In the meantime, write as much or as little as you like. Take as much time as you want. Turn it in when it feels right. As long as you are progressing productively, deadlines will not apply because company leaders already are mobilizing around this new movement.
In fact, Bill Gates and I will hold a forum this summer at Woodstock to counter the oppressive culture of high standards and help the business world embrace the new paradigm graduates are bringing with them from school.
To lead the way, Berkshire Hathaway will abandon management-generated metrics like profit. Instead, we’ll have workers design assessments they think best illustrate their uncaptured genius, regardless of measurable output.
We are going to make America great again – but only if it wants to be, and if it’s not too much trouble, and nobody gets too stressed out.
Warren E. Buffett