George Buckley recently stepped down as CEO of leisure and fitness conglomerate Brunswick
David Gardner : One of the things that has occurred since you became CEO of Brunswick has occurred across American business, and that is some of the new regulations and stipulations coming from Sarbanes-Oxley, which has to be very much on the mind of CEOs across America. You have to be more transparent, in a sense, than ever before. You have to cover the legal backside of your company moreso than before. What is your take on Sarbanes-Oxley?
George Buckley: Well my take is, it is a little bit like the [road] in front of my office. There is a 40-mile-an-hour speed limit, and I may think that the speed limit should be 40 or I may think it should be 45, but it is the law and we have to comply. That is just the way it is, so get over it.
David Gardner : Is it your expectation that the costs of compliance will decline over the years?
George Buckley: No, I think the cost of compliance will probably remain flat. They may grow a little. It depends a lot on how Congress evolves in its thinking about a regulation of this kind.
David Gardner : George Buckley, in addition to being CEO of the company and being an engineer is, I assume, a boat fan. What type of boat are you driving?
George Buckley: Well, I have been using different kinds of boats over the years, but lately I have been driving a Hatteras, which we keep down in the harbor here in Chicago, in Burnham Harbor.
David Gardner : Do you get a chance to take it out a lot?
George Buckley: Probably not as much as I would like, but that is because I am working most of the time.
David Gardner : Do you ever read any books, and if so, what was the last book you read?
George Buckley: Well, the book I am currently reading is the history of King George V. I am also reading The Life of Samuel Pepys. I am a great student of history, the history of art, the history of music, history in general. I just finished, just last week, a new book of the life of the Duke of Wellington.
David Gardner : Now, on The Motley Fool Radio Show, we are of course huge fans of CEOs reading and gaining from literature, and you are obviously a very literate CEO. Why do you block the time out of what has to be a busy schedule, George Buckley, in order to read, let's say, Samuel Pepys, his diaries, or his history?
George Buckley: Well, I think that, you know, we all have this core in our makeup. In my case, I am an engineer, but I have an abiding curiosity in so many different subjects. History is not the only one, but history perhaps is the strongest threat. I think it produces a rounding in people, I think an awareness of what has gone before us that we could learn from so we, as best we can, not repeat some of the mistakes. I think the broadening of ideas and learning about how other people think about issues and problems is very beneficial, frankly speaking, for anybody, not just CEOs.
David Gardner : Very well put. George Buckley, what is one thing you know about the business world now that you wish you knew when you first started?
George Buckley: That is a very interesting question. I think perhaps one of the wisest things that I ever learned from a former boss of mine is never become enamored with the deal, that you will never negotiate the best deal in your life until you are indifferent to the outcome. You have to be [un]interested and aloof and evaluate these things unemotionally but yet, at the same time, without losing the soul of the issue and without losing your passion.
David Gardner : Beautifully put. We will close with our game, "Buy, Sell, or Hold." I will be asking you about things, not stocks here, George, but things happening in the business world or our world at large and ask you, if they were stocks, would you be buying, selling, or holding, and a sentence or two as to why. Are you ready?
George Buckley: Yes.
David Gardner : OK, let's start it off with . well, you are from Britain, he is from Britain. Buy, sell, or hold Mick Jagger, if he were a stock?
George Buckley: Sell.
David Gardner : Why?
George Buckley: I realized that when I listen to Mick Jagger singing, I realized it was the future for me in music.
David Gardner : (Laughs.) It is a downsized version of bowling. Buy, sell, or hold the future of duckpin bowling?
George Buckley: Hold.
David Gardner : Give us a little there.
George Buckley: I don't think that is a growth industry.
David Gardner : Buy, sell, or hold rowboats?
George Buckley: I think probably hold. Again, I don't see that as a growth industry, but yet at the same time, it is a wonderful pastime. It gives you exercise, and you can do it with somebody else.
David Gardner : Buy, sell, or hold the old adage that the two happiest days in your life are the day you buy a boat and the day you sell it?
George Buckley: I think I would say "reject," because the good thing about boating, David, is that unlike many of the other pastimes that you can take on, whether that is golf or fishing or other things that you might be interested in, the wonderful thing about boating is that you can do it with your family. So what better thing for any person to do, male or female, than to spend time with their family?
David Gardner : Let me close with one that my producer came up with. I don't even quite know what this phrase means. George Buckley, buy, sell, or hold disco bowling?
George Buckley: I think buy. Again, I would say that because it is a manifestation of the same kind of thing that we have been trying to do, create an environment that kids like, that kids find exciting, so I think that has a future.
David Gardner : Many of us know the name Brunswick over the years, for many of its different products, but George Buckley is the one who is charged with overseeing all of them. He is the chairman and CEO of Brunswick, and George, one thing you have made clear to us is that one common thread in your company's products is, well, at least with boats and bowling and a few other things, they do bring people together. George, thank you very much for joining us on The Motley Fool Radio Show.
George Buckley: You are entirely welcome, David. It was my pleasure, thank you.
We've struck upon further Foolishness:
Fool co-founder David Gardner holds no financial position in any of the companies mentioned above. He is the lead analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers , heading up the hunt for the next ultimate growth stock.