Here’s the Secret of Being a Highly-Paid CEO: Have a Friend Set Your Salary

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What’s the secret to being a highly-paid CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Sales growth? Earnings growth? Impressive return to shareholders? Visionary leadership?

According to a new study from Institutional Shareholder Services the real key is simpler: set your own pay. Or better yet, have a friend set it. According to ISS, in companies that have an insider as chairman of the board, CEOs earned a little over $15 million during the past three years. But in companies with an independent outsider as chairman, CEOs made only $11 million.

Did anything else matter? Revenue did: bigger companies pay their CEOs more. But that was it. Shareholder return was insignificant, as were several other variables. Bottom line: if you want a big payday, run a big company and make sure an insider is setting your pay.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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