Are speechwriters always the heroes?

Two days ago it was CEO Sunday in The New York Times. The business section had a splashy and happy profile of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and the Sunday magazine had a profile of J.P. Morgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon.

Provocatively titled, “America’s Least-Hated Banker,” the Dimon profile had some telling anecdotes from a writer who had spent some time with Dimon. There was an account of a speech, at a New York business conference this fall:

Dimon, without so much as an introductory remark or joke, launched into a 45-minute fusillade on the “massive issues,” both regulatory and economic, facing J.P. Morgan. Dimon’s staff had asked him to tone down his political jibes, but he couldn’t resist showing a slide in which the new regulatory authorities created by [The Dodd-Frank Act] appear as hopelessly tangled as strands in a bowl of spaghetti.

I talk to speechwriters all the time. I never hear stories like that. The only stories I hear are of executives too timid to say anything meaningful, and their scribes trying to spur them on. Is that just because those stories are more fun to tell than the ones where you tell the boss, “We can’t say that!”?

Talk to me.


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