Retensa’s Top 10 “Biggest Quits” of 2014
New York, NY, January 2015 – In 2014, 10 high-profile resignations left many scratching their heads about why individuals would voluntarily walk away from such prestigious positions. A CEO quit during a company’s best year to date over an office location? A famous talk show host quit his wildly successful show and another CEO stepped down for a significantly smaller role and salary? The world’s fifth richest man left the company that earned him his fortune and the world’s best basketball player left his championship team to play for a much less successful rival? How can we make sense of this?
Those climbing the corporate ladder often envision making it to the top or earning a certain salary. Resignations of the wealthiest and most successful individuals across all sectors are evidence that those goals are simply not what make us happy. The Biggest Quits of 2014 exemplify the adage, “Money can’t buy happiness” by demonstrating that no level of success is worth your time if you do not love what you do every day.
Turnover may appear exceptionally confusing when those in question are making millions, but that is the key to understanding it. Next time you want to appease a disgruntled employee with a bonus or think about cutting costs around benefits, remember that happiness has an ROI and recognize the true costs and drivers of turnover. As we reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, remember this lesson exemplified by the following 10 tycoons.
The end of an era. The two-time college dropout and fifth-richest man in the world stepped down from the company he founded. Ellison now has more time to enjoy his private Hawaiian island. In 1977, Oracle had fewer than 10 employees, a few clients, and less than $1 million in sales. That changed in 1981, when Oracle landed a client named IBM and sales doubled each year. By 2004, Oracle had acquired over 40 companies and numerous lawsuits. Instead of backing down or playing nice, Ellison often dug in and generally emerged victorious....read more
After six years as the first black US Attorney General, Eric Holder steps down with the fourth longest tenure in history. Holder worked at the Justice Department for 26 years, serving in the Public Integrity Section, as Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Colombia, Attorney for the District Colombia, and Deputy Attorney General. One of his biggest accomplishments has been the 10% reduction in crime rates and incarceration nationwide. In addition, Holder advanced his support of equal marriage rights and kept minority...read more
What happens when the best player in the National Basketball Association decides to pick up his balls and leave? Just ask the Miami Heat. After joining in 2010, James led them to two NBA championships. In July 2014, he decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team that also drafted him. This is an especially brutal betrayal since the Cavaliers are in the same conference as Miami and could become their most heated rival. Besides threatening their record, the Heat may also take a hit to the wallet. Since James arrived in...read more
“Side effects of tonight’s show may include euphoria, patriotism, and painful urination.”  Stephen Colbert was a 21st century pioneer in political satire. He transformed a bit part into a 9 year American comedy staple. Acting as a faux ultra conservative on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert headlined his own show since 2005. At the end of 2014, he left to replace David Letterman on The Late Show in 2015. CBS is very pleased with the acquisition since they will replace Letterman with a host who already has a huge audience and will likely...read more
How many of us have ever said, “I love my University President”? For the last 12 years, over 40,000 students at the University of Michigan claimed that about Mary Sue Coleman, and they are not alone. Time recognized her as one of “The 10 Best College Presidents” for her work with “The Michigan Difference Project,” which raised over $3 billion during the peak years of the financial crisis. Even more impressive than the sum is what she did with that money. Under Coleman, UM significantly upgraded dorms and athletic facilities while...read more
In 2006, Alan Mulally took the helm of a sinking ship after several people turned down the role. While he did not seem to be the top pick, he immediately began effecting change through his “One Ford” initiative, a dramatic restructuring plan that included resizing, realignment, and the borrowing of over $20 billion. Highly criticized at the time, the plan paid off in 2008 when Ford was the only one of Detroit’s “Big 3” to avoid bankruptcy. Mulally continued resizing by selling off Jaguar and Land Rover to purify the Ford brand. Mulally...read more
Since he hesitantly became CEO in 2012, David Marcus has had a successful but unconventional relationship with PayPal. Unsure if his entrepreneurial spirit would bode well with a large financial firm, Marcus accepted the position based on his belief that PayPal could create an “unfillable hole in the lives of people.” Despite his reluctance, Marcus took a “fix it before it breaks approach” with his self-proclaimed “invisible turnaround.”  It worked. With a natural avoidance of bureaucracy, Marcus streamlined product lines, collapsing a...read more
[EDITOR’S UPDATE: On January 12, 2015, Bill Gross revealed in an interview with Bloomberg View’s Barry Ritholtz that he was actually fired from PIMCO.] It may just be us, but something is not quite right when investors pull out $68 billion in 16 months. This deluge could be due to the fact that both Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian left PIMCO, America’s largest bondholder. Bill Gross, aka “The Bond King,” built PIMCO from scratch into the $2 trillion mutual fund it is today. Gross personally managed the $168 billion PIMCO Total...read more
You might not have heard of him, but it does not mean you are not sitting on one of his products right now. Steelcase is the world’s largest office furniture maker. At the end of 1994, Steelcase reported a $70 million loss. About the same time, Hackett took charge of the company and corrected Steelcase’s course. In 2012, Steelcase reported a profit of $56.7 million on sales of $2.75 billion. Steelcase’s success story is partially due to Hackett’s vision for integrating technology into the company’s products. As a result of the...read more
With pedigrees that would make Seabiscuit blush, the Rockfellers pulled their last horse out of the political race. For close to three decades, Jay kept the Rockefeller name in politics by representing West Virginia as U.S. Senator. Rockefeller moved to West Virginia in the 60’s after a visit as a volunteer gave him a “mission and a cause” to improve the low-income state. Even as one of the wealthiest men in the Senate, Rockefeller advocated for improving the lives of the less privileged by protecting coal miners, creating jobs,...read more