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Traveling FromNew York, USA
Lawrence Cunningham, a leading authority on corporate culture and governance, is well-known for his distinctive expertise about Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. This dates to the 1996 publication of his worldwide best-selling book in collaboration with Mr. Buffett, The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, which has sold a half-million copies. Cunningham was also the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Corporate Directors.
An experienced professional lecturer based at George Washington University, Cunningham has addressed audiences ranging from corporate boards, management groups and investor societies to stock exchanges, rotary clubs, and book groups.
Cunningham draws on his wealth of writings, which include acclaimed books, such as The AIG Story (with Hank Greenberg), Quality Investing (with AKO Capital), and Berkshire Beyond Buffett, along with dozens of influential research articles and scores of essays appearing in such periodicals as The Financial Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal as well as Directors & Boards, Directorship, and Financial History.
Cunningham, a sought-after consultant for corporations and boards, has advised and served on the boards of numerous public and private companies and nonprofits. These include Constellation Software (Toronto Stock Exchange), a leading global operator of hundreds of vertical software market companies, and Ashford Hospitality Prime (New York Stock Exchange), a real estate investment trust focused on luxury hotels, as well as the Dean’s Council of Lerner College of Business of the University of Delaware and the Editorial Board of the Museum of American Finance.
Previous positions include practicing corporate law with Cravath, Swaine & Moore and serving as of counsel for Roberts, Sheridan & Kotel; Vice Dean of Boston College Law School; and Director of the Heyman Center on Corporate Governance. Cunningham has taught 5,000 students governance, deals, finance, and mergers/acquisitions in 7 U.S. universities (Boston College, Columbia, Fordham, GW, St. John’s, Vanderbilt and Yeshiva) and several abroad (Central European, Hebrew, Navarra, Oxford).
An innovator in education, Cunningham developed the graduate international program at Boston College, an Oxford program for Cardozo/Yeshiva University, and the New York program for GW Law, all being student-focused with strong student outcomes as well as both academic and economic profit centers for the host university.
Prof. Cunningham holds a bachelor’s degree in economics (with honors) from the University of Delaware and a Juris Doctor (law) degree from Cardozo Law School (magna cum laude). He was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated from Girard College High School in Philadelphia. He has lived his entire adult life in New York City, where he continues to reside with his wife and two daughters.
The Berkshire Hathaway Model
Cunningham has given numerous addresses on this broad topic, with each tailored to suit the perspective of the particular audience, such as investors, managers, boards of directors, governance advisers, and the informed general public.
Within that broad framework, the following outline of perspectives and themes can be stated:
- Internal: acquisitions & investments, autonomy, decentralization, self-reliance, trust, permanence, and passion;
- External: opportunism, thrift, friendship, and pragmatism;
- Assessment: blemishes, bruises, net gains, and takeaways.
Getting the Most Out of People
Highlighting principles of autonomy and decentralization, in contrast to commands and controls, for optimal organizational performance, drawing on lessons from Berkshire as well as other far-flung organizations.
Draws on Cunningham’s book of that title, presenting the science and art of analyzing outstanding global businesses for long-term investing success, illustrating with Unilever, L’Oreal, Hermes, Diago, and Ryanair, and stressing fundamentals such as strong management, high returns on capital, congenial industry structure, competitive advantage and innovative pattern recognition such as recurring revenue, friendly middlemen, toll roads, pricing power, forward integrators, market share gainers and corporate culture. The practice of quality investing is akin to the Buffett/Berkshire philosophy.
Attracting the Right Investors
Draws on Cunningham’s articles and current research on how Berkshire Hathaway assembled the most loyal and patient shareholder group in history and how other managers can benefit from following suit.
The cultivation strategy stresses principles such as long-term horizons, management-shareholder partnership mentality, and devices such as investor outreach and communications through annual meetings and letters, policies on dividends, splits, and stock pricing and other strategies for achieving self-selection for shareholders who are patient and loyal.
Lawrence Cunningham can address multiple aspects of this rich broad topic in a variety of formats, including highlighting the traditional Buffett-Graham principles: margin of safety, circle of competence, Mr. Market and how markets work, valuation and rationality versus emotion, patience, managerial quality, long-term thinking.
Mr. Cunningham can include a focus on particular asset classes and may include examples.
- "Brilliant delivery. Cunningham covered all of the book's topics using solely Q&A format. An engaging and impressive performance." Elliot Trexler Founder, GLOBAL RETURN Asset Management & Vice-Chair, Value Investing Committee, New York Society of Security Analysts
- "A very animated and likeable speaker, Cunningham keeps every member of the audience engaged with a well-honed presentation." Bruce Kelley CEO, EMC Insurance Co. & President, Rotary Club International (Des Moines)
- "Engaging, entertaining, and informative. Cunningham has all the rich research content of an author and law professor combined with the dynamic presentation style of a professional motivational speaker." Robert P. Miles Director, Value Investor Conference and Charlie Munger Summit