Stanley Bing

The 2,000-year-old businessman

By Stanley Bing


FORTUNE -- Retirement used to be something that happened at age 65 come hell or high water. Due to advances in stem-cell research, cryogenic regeneration, and calorie restriction, however, careers are getting longer and longer. Even so, it's surprising to run into a guy who's been in the corner office of his corporation for 2,000 years. We took a few moments to chat with this gentleman while he was on his way to one of the therapies that keep him fit and ready for action.

BING: Bob? May I call you Bob?

BOB: Well, considering that my original name was Titus Anginus, Bob sounds fine.

BING: You were born during the Roman Empire?

BOB: Yeah. Not too long after Larry King, I believe.

BING: To what do you attribute your longevity?

BOB: Well, first of all, my primary rule -- never retire. Every time they came along and told me I had reached retirement age, I had the messenger executed. In recent years there's been a move away from shooting messengers. I think that's a mistake.

BING: There must be some medical program that's keeping you so spry and chipper.

BOB: It all begins with stress reduction. Stress can't be eliminated, it can only be transferred to somebody else. Attila the Hun was good at that. I learned a lot from him, as did the other guys who are still around from that time.

BING: There are others like you?

BOB: Oh, sure. They don't make a big deal about it. But how do you think Warren Buffett makes all those great investment decisions?

BING: I often ask myself that.

BOB: Also, fruit.

BING: You eat a lot of fruit?

BOB: No, I wear it. What are you, a moron?

BING: Any other secrets?

BOB: Well, right now I'm headed off to a clinic for my regular hemapheresis. All it takes to keep me going for a whole week is the blood of two McKinsey consultants.

BING: I wasn't aware they had any.

BOB: That's why I need two.

BING: Tell me, Bob, who are the greatest business minds you've seen during the past 2,000 years?

BOB: Well, I'd have to say the Sheriff of Nottingham could handle tax issues better than anybody I ever met. Nobody was better at post-merger integration than Genghis Khan. I also enjoyed watching Jack Welch operate for the 1,250 years he ran General Electric. I have no idea why he stepped aside. Now what does he do? Play golf? Write books? God help me.

BING: But what about enjoying the relaxation and contemplation of one's golden years?

BOB: !@# that!

BING: One last thing, sir.

BOB: Dude, I gotta see a man about a horse.

BING: You've been an observer of the business scene for two millennia. What, in your opinion, is the key to success?

BOB: Think big, and be prepared to defend your ideas. Take Papricus, the guy who invented paper money. The first few times he tried it, he got knocked around pretty good. Went up to people, said, "Give me your gold coins and I'll give you this greasy little piece of parchment with a picture of my aunt Sophie on it." People laughed. Some hit him with clubs. But after a while it caught on. Now look. All people want is paper. You can't give away the coins.

BING: What ever happened to him?

BOB: I think he's still around. Last I heard, he was at Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), selling arcane investment instruments that seemingly have no value. I hear they're getting hotter by the day.

BING: Well, take care of yourself, Bob.

BOB: Don't mention it. Want a nectarine? To top of page

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