In his latest 2021 Letter to Shareholders, Tom Gayner discusses his win-win-win philosophy to building an exceptional business. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
Several years ago, we laid out our aspirational goal to “Build one of the world’s great companies.” We defined that as a company driven by the idea and architecture of Win-Win-Win. We believe that if a company aspires to be great, the customers need to win, the employees need to win, and the shareholders need to win.
Customers win when we serve them. We provide something they want or need, and we do it in such a way that they end up better off because they did business with us.
Employees win because they can provide for their families and their communities. Our people win because they can continuously learn, be creative, and reach their full personal potential over time.
Shareholders win because when our customers and our employees win, the capital our shareholders provided us with to operate the business earns a fair and durable return.
We believe that this Win-Win-Win structure is the ultimate in sustainable business. We think it goes without saying that this ethos, which underlies and pervades Markel, sets an excellent standard when viewed in the context of the current popular focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles that should guide any business. It seems to us that ESG phrasing is a set of new words for old things.
Good environmental, social, and governance principles have, and always will, describe Markel well.
We are not perfect, and we never will be. Principles are qualitative. They are the intangible but powerful ideas and beliefs that drive actions and behaviors. They can never be precisely measured or metricized.
Things like love, kindness, concern, and empathy for fellow human beings, are the most important things in the world but we don’t believe there is a score for them. You either have these principles at the core of your existence or you do not.
We live and act them out every day. Exactly how they are lived and what specific actions take place may change over time as our knowledge and understanding increases. The principles though are unchanging and simply cannot be measured with precision. As always, we will continue to do our best to act in accord with our principles.
We cannot imagine operating our business in any other way. We’ve believed in these timeless and valuable principles since the founding of this company in 1930 and we always will.
You can read the entire letter here:
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