Secrets are Hard to Keep
Ty Wilson was justified to keep his smokeless cigarette top-secret. My former boss, Bob Thompson, said that Ty could not trust the board to keep a secret. Their relationship with him was not the greatest, but that was no excuse for corporate leaks at the highest level.
An unbelievable conversation validated Thompson’s opinion. After RJR bought Nabisco, I met a Nabisco salesman in Winston-Salem. He told me, “I was stocking shelves down at Food Fair when a man in bib overalls walked up to me and said, ‘ R.J. Reynolds is going to buy Nabisco.’ A week later it happened.”
It didn’t seem plausible that someone in a supermarket in Winston-Salem would either know or share that information. I told my boss about the conversation. John Dowdle shook his head and said that the man in overalls was almost certainly a good friend of one of our board members. A board member was indiscreet to tell his friend, who then talked with the Nabisco salesman. Is it any wonder Ty Wilson distrusted his board with confidential information?