By Ethan Trex
Work hard, get promoted, succeed in your new post, and eventually you'll start earning the big money. This progression seems like a firmly ingrained part of the American Dream, and it's certainly worked for a lot of people. However, these steps aren't absolutely necessary to fatten your bank account, as Washington Mutual CEO Alan Fishman learned last week. Fishman's not the only person to reap huge rewards for relatively little work. Here are few other well-compensated employees who didn't have to put in too many years of service:
1. Michael Ovitz
After co-founding Creative Artists Agency in 1975, Ovitz quickly skyrocketed through the ranks of entertainment agents until he established himself as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.
In 1995, though, he left CAA to become president of Disney. Ovitz's tenure at Disney was stormy; he clashed with CEO Michael Eisner, who didn't share Ovitz's penchant for delegation.
Ovitz also racked up a $6 million tab for various expenses ranging from renovating his office, buying Lakers tickets, and purchasing a BMW.
It quickly became obvious that Ovitz wasn't going to be a great fit at Eisner's Disney, so the board terminated his contract after just 16 months.
While Ovitz put in more work than Alan Fishman did at WaMu, he also received a lot more cash: a severance package of stock and cash that was worth around $100 million at the time.
As Disney's stock price rose, though, so did the value of the package; at one point Ovitz's take might have been as much as $140 million for those 16 months of work.