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An Executive Collection
The luminaries in Keith Herrmann's unconventional autograph collection have never pitched a baseball in the World Series, or won an Oscar or a Grammy. But they have attained the highest rank in
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their professions. They're Fortune 500 CEOs.
   "It strikes me that when you're a CEO of a Fortune 500 firm, you've reached the pinnacle," explains Herrmann, C'82, director of new business analysis for Exide Electronics in Raleigh, N.C. "From that point of view, it's similar to winning the gold at the Olympics or performing Hamlet on Broadway." Herrmann, who has amassed some 200 signatures so far, wrote to the CEOs of America's 500 largest corporations last summer, asking for an autographed photo or business card. The executives' responses have been as varied as the businesses they run: Fred Smith, the swiftest to reply, had his autograph delivered by one of his company's FedEx trucks. Proving that modesty is compatible with success, Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, wrote, "I hope my addition will not lessen your collection's value." William Wrigley wouldn't part with his autograph, but did forward six packs of Doublemint gum. And Carl Lindner, CEO of American Financial Group, sent cards printed with favorite quotes about business and life.
   Herrmann wrote about his experience for Autograph Times, and other news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, picked up the story. He hopes the media coverage "might shake loose some additional autographs" by proving that he's serious about his quest.

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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 4/13/98