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‘Passionate’ Corporate CEO’s Mild Cursing Habit Scares Analysts

David F-kin Farr Photo: BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters/Corbis

Behind closed doors, corporate bigwigs curse a lot. Most executives, though, are shackled by timidity when it comes to cursing in front of analysts, reporters, and other people who have a material impact on their publicly traded company’s reputation and financial success.

Not David Farr. Farr, the CEO of Emerson Electric Co. — which makes a bunch of boring industrial stuff you’ve never heard of — compensates for the relative banality of his product line by cursing like a sailor. According to The Wall Street Journal, Farr has developed a reputation as a bit of a potty mouth, mostly by telling analysts things like “I’ve been training real hard the last couple of years to kick your ass.”

Farr’s full tirade, according to the Journal, came at a time when analysts were implying that Emerson Electric was a one-trick pony that could only succeed in China. He didn’t like that and had this to say (curses restored by us from their WSJ-friendly abridgements):

We are not a one-trick pony,” Mr. Farr snapped at the Feb. 11 meeting. “If I see that in writing, one more god damn time, I’m going to tear them apart.”

Mr. Farr … added: “We do well in China, god damn it, and I’m not embarrassed by it, but we’re not a god damn one-trick pony.”

Then came an abortive attempt to make nice: “I apologize for swearing. You guys piss me off when you write that … 

(Note to Farr: When you’re apologizing for swearing and you want to show you’re genuinely sorry, maaaaaybe don’t let another swear fly three words later.)

Farr’s erratic behavior has apparently made it into some analyst’s notes, one of whom wrote that Farr’s “questionable outbursts at analyst events and conference calls do not inspire confidence.” Wimps!

‘Passionate’ Corporate CEO’s Mild Cursing Habit