Wells Fargo boss: 'I never set out to be the CEO'

Bio: Wells Fargo's top boss recalls growing up on the farm, dinner with Warren Buffett

Associated Press

John Stumpf, 59, the CEO of Wells Fargo, is the son of a farmer, second-oldest in a family of 11 kids. He paid for state college by playing bass guitar in a band.

"I never set out to be the CEO of this company," Stumpf, who started in banking as a repo agent, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Life just happened."

Here's more on his background:

— GROWING UP STUMPF: Stumpf was raised on a farm in rural Minnesota, in a house where everyone had to play a musical instrument before he or she was allowed to play sports.

Stumpf played trumpet in high school band and then paid for college by playing bass guitar in a rock band called The Mason-Dixon Line.

"We played stuff in the North and we played stuff in the South," he says.

— SIBLING RIVALRY: Of 11 kids, he's the only one who went into banking. The others are in carpentry, baking, farming, academia and other fields.

"I've got siblings on every rung of the economic ladder, involved in all kinds of phases of life and situations," he says. "I don't need to take a survey about how people feel about the economy. I just need to go to a family reunion."

Growing up in a packed house, he slept in a bed between two of his brothers. "In fact, I never got to sleep alone until I got married," he likes to joke.

— GO HUSKIES: Stumpf earned a finance degree from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. Harvard, he says, is a terrific school, "but if that were the only place to create CEOs, we would be missing a lot of them."

— DINNER WITH THE ORACLE: Stumpf recalls a dinner a few years ago at which Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, who is also Wells Fargo's biggest shareholder, dumped salt on his T-bone steak with a shaker in each hand. Stumpf interjected.

Stumpf recalls: "I said, 'Warren, what does your doctor say about all that sodium?' He made some comment about his colonoscopy. (Buffett, now 82, had part of his colon removed in 2000.) And he said, 'I went into the hospital with a colon, and I came out with a semi-colon.'"

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