A Mind of Their Own

Based on the acclaimed book, “The Outsiders”, by William Thorndike, Jr., this short, powerful film introduces you to eight remarkable, individualistic CEOs whose results were extraordinary.


You may not know all their names, but you’ll recognize their companies: Teledyne, General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, and TCI.


From the book’s dust jacket: “Humble, unassuming, and often frugal, these “outsiders” shunned Wall Street and the press, and shied away from the hottest new management trends. Instead, they shared specific traits that that put them and the companies they led on winning trajectories.” In “A Mind of Their Own”, you’ll come to understand these exceptional traits, methods and mindsets—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality.

The 2019 Singleton CEO Prize  Inaugural Honoree William P. Stiritz, Chairman of Post Holdings

The 2019 Singleton CEO Prize Inaugural Honoree William P. Stiritz, Chairman of Post Holdings

Awarded September 25, 2019
The New York Stock Exchange

The purpose of the Singleton CEO Prize is to honor a living CEO whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision, focus, and commitment, thereby producing exceptional returns for shareholders over many years. It’s a record of performance which represents the epitome of achievement in the application of ideas and skills. 


It is with great respect and privilege we presented the first ever CEO Prize to Mr. William Stiritz, in recognition of his outstanding achievement in business leadership.

William (Bill) P. Stiritz served for more than 35 years in executive positions with Ralston Purina, including as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer from 1981–1997. He served as Chairman of Energizer and Ralcorp and CEO Agribrands and Post Holdings (current Chairman). He has also served on numerous company boards.


Over a 40-year period, Mr. Stiritz produced a 20 percent return for shareholders. It’s an extraordinary record.


Stiritz and his wife, Susan, have created two distinguished professorships at Washington University in St. Louis, where Susan is an Associate Professor of Practice at the Brown School.

The Foundation commissioned a work of art that reflects the industry in which the recipient spent the bulk of his or her business career. This year’s prize was created specifically for Mr. Stiritz by renowned glass artist Jean- Pierre Canlis. The vision of wheat fields swaying in the wind symbolizes Mr. Stiritz’s important work in agribusiness and related consumer products. It provides a timeless reminder of his contributions to the field.

“Bill Stiritz is a terrific example of the success that comes from running companies in the Singleton way. He did it at not just one corporate entity, but he did it in a succession of them.”
— Bob Peck

The CEO Prize for Excellence in Business Leadership also celebrates a non-profit—selected by the winner—whose mission aligns with the values represented by the Singleton Foundation: financial literacy and entrepreneurship. This year, the Singleton Foundation is proud to support the non-profit, Paraquad, with a gift of $250,000. Located in St. Louis, MO, Paraquad has a mission to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity. The organization was selected by Mr. and Mrs. Stiritz because of their work to promote economic freedom and financial empowerment for St. Louis’s disabled community.

The prize selection is determined by a select committee of prominent CEOs and investors. It is led by Will Thorndike, whose 2013 book,The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, helped inspire the prize.


Distinguished members of the jury for the inaugural CEO Prize. From left to right: 


Steve Blass, Chief Investment Officer, Ashe Capital; Rob Small, Managing Director, Stockbridge Investors/Berkshire Partners; Will Thorndike, Founder, Housatonic Partners, Author, The Outsiders; Mitch Rales, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Cofounder of Danaher Corporation, Chairman and Cofounder of Colfax Corporation; Cofounder and Director, Fortive; Cary SingletonWill SingletonMark Leonard, President and Chairman, Constellation Software, Inc.; Bob Peck, Managing Director, FPR Partners; Todd Combs, Investment Officer, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., CEO, Geico.

About The Singleton CEO Prize for Excellence in Business Leadership

Presented by the Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship in recognition of extraordinary lifetime achievement by a Chief Executive Officer, the award is inspired by the remarkable work of Henry Singleton, engineer and founder of Teledyne, Inc.

This is the first prize of its kind to look exclusively at the record. It’s not based on amorphous ideas about leadership, charisma, and other subjective attributes. Instead, evaluation is based purely on actual, quantifiable performance. It’s about the data, and it is designed to reward an exceptional managerial record over a very long period of time.

The Singleton CEO Prize will be awarded each year to a living CEO whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision, focus, and commitment, and who has merged those qualities to produce remarkable, measurable returns for shareholders and other important stakeholders.

The Singleton Foundation’s mission is to promote economic freedom and financial empowerment for everyone through digital outreach and innovative programs that make financial competence fun, engaging, and accessible to all.


Our work is designed to inspire, entertain, and transform money talk from boring and taboo to something compelling and socially relevant. We intend to break down the barriers of talking about finances, create a national conversation and inspire a movement that sparks real change.

The Singleton CEO Prize Jury


Steve Blass: Chief Investment Officer, Ashe Capital

Todd Combs: Investment Officer, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., CEO, Geico

Kelly Granat: Portfolio Manager, Lone Pine Capital

Bob Peck: Managing Director, FPR Partners

Rob Small: Managing Director, Stockbridge Investors/Berkshire Partners

Will Thorndike: Founder, Housatonic Partners, Author, The Outsiders

Our Inspiration

The Outsiders

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success has resonated powerfully among CEOs and investors. Acclaimed by critics and called by Warren Buffett “an outstanding book,” The Outsiders has been described by Forbes Magazine as one of the most important business books In America.

The CEOs profiled are:

Tom Murphy of Capital Cities, Henry Singleton of Teledyne, Bill Anders of General Dynamics, John Malone of TCI, Katharine Graham of The Washington Post Co., Bill Stiritz of Post Holdings, Dick Smith of General Cinema, and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway.

Henry Earl Singleton

Henry Earl Singleton (November 27, 1916–August 31, 1999) was an American electrical engineer, business executive, and rancher/land owner. Singleton made significant contributions to aircraft inertial guidance and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He cofounded Teledyne, Inc., as a small semiconductor maker in 1960, and proceeded to build the company into one of America’s top three most profitable multibillion-dollar conglomerates. Henry Singleton was its chief executive officer for three decades. Late in life, Singleton became one of largest holders of ranchland in the United States.


Singleton was the kind of guy who liked to play chess without looking at the board, keeping the position of the pieces in his head. He read voraciously and could recite lengthy pieces from Shakespeare and other poets.


Educated as a scientist, he held an almost arrogant scorn for conventional business practices, as his concept of the corporation as a living art form suggests.


It is to Henry Singleton, our inspiration, we dedicate this award.

Buffett On Singleton

Warren Buffett once said: “Henry Singleton of Teledyne has the best operating and capital deployment record in American business.” According to Buffett, “…if one took the top 100 business school graduates and made a composite of their triumphs, their record would not be as good as that of Singleton, who incidentally was trained as a scientist, not an MBA.”

“My only plan is to keep coming to work every day. I like to steer the boat each day rather than plan ahead way into the future. I know a lot of people have very strong and definite plans that they’ve worked out on all kinds of things, but we’re subject to a tremendous number of outside influences and the vast majority of them cannot be predicted. So my idea is to stay flexible.” — Henry Earl Singleton