If reality TV ever runs low on ideas, perhaps it should consider covering annual shareholder meetings. Though conventional wisdom suggests that these conferences should be deathly dull, that's not always the case.
For good or ill, we've seen plenty of lively shareholder shindigs this year. Controversial companies such as Goldman Sachs
Smoking with anger
A group of nurses protested and lobbed questions at Philip Morris International's
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a frequent cause-driven activist shareholder, protested against Dean Foods
Secret society shenanigans
Not feeling so well
I loved the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's report on a 12-year-old Home Depot
The fine art of listening
Here at the Fool, we celebrate differences of opinion, since we believe that impartially analyzing various arguments is a crucial skill for successful investors. Contrarian warnings of an impending financial crisis might have seemed ridiculous during the bubble years -- but I'll bet we'd all be better off if more people had paid attention to them. Even the most garish gadflies can call attention to serious issues worth addressing, and real threats to shareholder interests. While you might not agree with every activist shareholder or protester who takes the mic at an annual meeting, you should still hear out their points of view. Hopefully, management will extend them the same courtesy.
Check back at Fool.com every Wednesday and Friday for Alyce Lomax's columns on corporate governance.
Berkshire Hathaway, Home Depot, and WellPoint are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.