Wanted: CEO. Good looks a MUST

kennedy-sailing-jfkTwo University of Wisconsin economists have released a survey they say proves that Wall Street rewards good-looking chief executives.

The research paper, entitled: ‘Beauty is Wealth’ rated the attractiveness of 667 CEOs from S&P 500 companies.

According to the profs’, their Facial Attractive Index (FAI) indicates good looks have a significant impact on stock returns beginning on day one of a CEO’s tenure.

To further prove their point, the academics tracked CEO’s appearances on CNBC.com (the survey’s co-sponsor) and, surprise, surprise, found shareholders responded positively to viewing attractive CEO’s.

The researchers cited Marissa Mayer of Yahoo (who else?) as a textbook (centerfold?) example of the ‘be a hot-looking CEO or suffer the consequences’ trend.

‘She scored an 8.45 (out of 10) on the FAI, and is among the top 5 best-looking CEOs in (the) sample,’ they wrote. ‘And, Yahoo has been doing well since she became CEO (a 158 percent rise in stock price).’

The Wisconsin study isn’t at all surprising. John F. Kennedy’s matinee idol looks played a huge role in his defeat of the somber, sinister and sweaty Richard M. Nixon. And, I don’t doubt that Republican power brokers factored Sarah Palin’s physical assets when choosing her as John McCain’s ill-fated vice presidential running mate.

In fact, I recall a long-ago a Challenger Gray survey proving that taller men were more successful than their height-challenged peers.

So, what’s a looks-challenged CEO wanna-be to do? Aside from an extreme makeover, I’m not sure what advice to provide. But, if nothing else, the Wisconsin egg-heads are to be congratulated for proving what we already knew: We live in a society that is positively obsessed with youth, vitality and beauty.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see fading Hollywood actors switch gears and, unlike Reagan and Arnold, leverage their good looks to land a corner office in Sunnyvale instead of Sacramento.

And, as you can see from the masthead, good looks had nothing to do with my being a C-suiter at Peppercomm.

And a tip o’ the hat to Michael “Empty Calories” Dresner for suggesting this post.

4 thoughts on “Wanted: CEO. Good looks a MUST

  1. Michael, I’ve gazed into your eyes and seen fat-laden food stuffs. As far as Lincoln, Buffet and the others, they don’t possess Marissa’s swagger. Sadly, swagger has becone the currency of realm. Investors have become as superficial as the society in which they live. Looks and swagger count. Substance doesn’t. We need to accept it and deal with it.

  2. My problem is the inherent fault in research that attaches beauty to performance. I just don’t buy it. Let’s put aside the obvious subjectivity that goes along with what defines beauty, which if course differs with each set of eyes. The fortunes won and lost by top global corporations, financial institutions and governments over time and over very recent years have nothing – and I repeat nothing – to do with the physical attractiveness of its leadership. Now do those leaders need to look polished, sophisticated, self confident? Should they dress in a presentable manner? Speak coherently and in a tone that engages diverse personas? Yes. But the research above was about attractiveness, and to highlight the absurdity of the conclusions, I implore any Repman reader to gaze into the images of Abraham Lincoln, Sam Walton, Louis Gerstner, Warren Buffett, John Lasseter, and Marissa Mayer, and predict relative influence on our society and culture – and stock prices – in the coming years. Centerfolds do not indicate performance or success. They never will.

  3. I’d be fascinated to see how this plays out in the political arena if Chris Christie decides to go after the Republican nomination. We haven’t had a fat President since Taft!