"There is a massive shift in geo-political power taking place right now globally," said Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State and an expert in geopolitics of cybersecurity. Most people think power is going toward Asia, but Ross does not think power is moving that way. He thinks power is moving in all 196 countries from traditional hierarchies to individuals and to networks of individuals. "No longer can seven men determine the futures of billions of people," said Ross. This is good because geo-political power is distributed from the few to the many. It is bad because it makes problem solving very difficult.
The United States has had trouble adjusting to this shift. The US is still indispensable, but there is very little it can, and should, do on its own anymore.
CEO sisters Denise Morrison and Maggie Wilderotter shared personal stories and philosophies on business and rising to leadership.
Morrison is President and CEO of Campbell Soup and is regularly recognized as one of the "Most Powerful Women" on Forbes' and Fortune's lists. Maggie Wilderotter is President and CEO of Frontier Communications and was named by Fortune as one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" for four consecutive years.
Co-authors of the The New York Times bestseller Freakonomics and its sequel SuperFreakonomics, Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner shared the stage at the World Business Forum and through engaging real-world stories offered sage business advice.
Steve Levitt, winner of the distinguished John Bates Clark Medal for the most influential economist under 40, led with how decided to become an academic economist despite struggling in math (though he was in AP classes). There he was foundering in MIT graduate school when he went to his parents for advice. His father, an award winning medical researcher, told him, "If you want to succeed in a profession for which you have no talent, the only hope you have is to take on a set of subjects which are so embarrassing and degrading that no self-respecting member of the profession will have anything to do with it." Amid the attendees' laughter, there was a simple message here from the professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, involving dedication and finding one's place within a field.
Nancy Koehn, historian and Chair of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, told World Business Forum attendees that, "Historians develop an eye for the large picture, the events that determine a moment and where we are right now." Currently, she said, we are in a time of great turbulence: financial, social, economic, demographic, and even meteorologically. She called it a "punctuated equilibrium" and stated that the "search for steady, a state, a system to which we will return is over." We are now in a new world in which the unexpected is the new normal, and we had all better get used to it.
Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a highly sought-after top global expert on hiring and promotion decisions, took the stage at the 2013 World Business Forum and told the assembled attendees that the next great obstacle for business leaders was meeting the challenges of talent and capturing the opportunities ahead.
"All great leaders succeed by surrounding themselves with the best," stated Fernández-Aráoz. People who are bright, possess great self-discipline and are masters of making people decisions are some of the characteristics Fernández-Aráoz believes are necessary when setting a high bar for hiring.
World-renowned Harvard Business School professor, consultant and best-selling author Clayton Christensen knows the power and potential of what he calls "disruptive innovation."
In fact, he argued at the 2013 World Business Forum in New York City, that the lack of investment in "disruptive technologies" explains why we are not adding jobs in this economy — even though the economy has rebounded and companies are investing. It also explains why companies fail. In many ways, he attributes the lack of investment in "disruptive technologies" to the prevalent theories of measuring business success and what we teach about business in business school that are wrong in today’s marketplace.
"Change is the only constant these days, and leaders need to lead through the tumultuous change businesses, countries and families are facing," said Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida, early on in his presentation on the Radio City Music Hall stage at the 2013 World Business Forum.
"Why is the world economy not doing better? Have things gone wrong because the politicians have failed?" asked Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010, at the most recent World Business Forum in New York. America and Europe no longer have most of the world’s economic power. The emerging markets and the developing world now hold that position, causing great economic turmoil as we adjust to the transition.
The United States, followed by Europe, used to have the majority of the world's consumer spending power; now with that spending power being dispersed worldwide, companies are reorienting their strategies to Asia, Latin America, and, in time, to Africa. "This is part of the huge social transformation that is going to dominate the rest of our lives. It is the growth of a global middle class," said Brown.
Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev, one of the world's top five consumer products companies, opened his World Business Forum presentation by telling attendees that corporate culture can remain the same across geographical regions, and it's important not to dilute a winning culture as companies grow. If you have the right high-performance culture, which makes for a high-performance company, you can, and must, have a "company way" of doing things, a way that can be recognized no matter where in the world the office is located.
Business leaders in every industry need to come to terms with a simple fact, said Larry Keeley, a globally recognized leader in innovation effectiveness, during a special Monitor Deloitte breakfast workshop at the World Innovation Forum in New York.
The reality, Keeley explained, is that the pace of change outside your organization is much faster than your organization's capacity to evolve, thereby making innovation a true business mandate with the potential to accelerate growth and leapfrog the competition.
Procter & Gamble welcomed back former CEO A.G. Lafley, who led the company during a period of record growth between 2000 and 2009, as its new CEO, President and Chairman following the sudden retirement of CEO Bob McDonald, who cited criticism of his leadership as a distraction for the company. That criticism came despite the fact that Lafley had reportedly groomed McDonald to succeed him.
The news cheered analysts and investors who have actually had much to cheer of late. Shares of P&G stock hit a record high in April, and with Lafley at the helm, analysts will surely be watching for signs of any shifts of strategy, research, innovating and branding that could be felt by shareholders.
Don Tapscott is a globally recognized author, speaker and advisor on the convergence of media, technology and innovation who sees a corporate revolution on the horizon. But the question is: who, exactly, will lead it? Who will overthrow and for what purposes?
Tapscott outlines his view of the future in this exclusive ExecuNet interview, taped behind the scenes of the 2012 World Business Forum in New York City, where he shared his views on the future of business, the convergence of technology and media and what leaders can do to exploit new opportunities.
As the business world continues to globalize and a projected five billion people become socially and professionally interconnected over the next 10 years, London School of Business professor Lynda Gratton sees many possibilities for the future of work.
So what are the implications — and potential — for high performing individuals and teams? And what will organizations expect of executive leaders that they aren't now providing?
As a founding partner of Insigniam, an international consulting firm dedicated to driving transformation and catalyzing breakthrough results, Nathan Rosenberg has gotten a front-row seat on the kinds of change initiatives that can lead to phenomenal growth.
Rosenberg says there are four steps any innovation-minded company must take in order to embark on the kind of change initiative that could reap significant new results, and he outlines them in this exclusive ExecuNet interview shot behind-the-scenes at the 2012 World Business Forum.
The hyper-competitive market for Manhattan real estate taught Barbara Corcoran some tough business lessons, some of which she uses today on the hit television show Shark Tank to assess the merit of investing in a wide range of startup companies.
So do you really have to have gnashing teeth or sharp elbows to compete and win in a wildly competitive or regularly disrupted industry? And are successful entrepreneurs really wired a bit differently from the rest of us?
The journey of entrepreneurialism can be as individual as a fingerprint, as was learned during the small business panel discussion led by The Wall Street Journal's Small Business Editor Vanessa O'Connell, during a private breakfast for delegates at World Business Forum. What motivates one to start a business, the challenges met along the way, and the obstacles that become opportunity are all part of every entrepreneur's unique story.
But commonality lies in their passion to keep moving forward, despite setbacks, slammed doors or lack of funding. The three start-up entrepreneurs on the WSJ panel, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, have met the gamut of experiences on their pathway to success, and shared what they learned along their individual upward trajectories.
How could it be that some of the top performers in your organization don't really know where they stand with regard to their advancement potential, their rewards for superior output nor their future with your enterprise?
That question has been raised many times by former General Electric chief Jack Welch, and it was raised yet again at the 2012 World Business Forum in New York City, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, because the message of putting people first apparently still isn't gaining traction with business leaders.
When conference keynoters the likes of Jack Welch, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and others take the stage, their remarks are usually filled with references to achieving what's possible and pushing people and organizations to the very limits of their true potential.
Particularly in times like these, the gulf between consistently achieving optimum enterprise and human performance and assessing what companies and people are truly getting from this collective focus on business objectives should be a motivating force in the lives and minds of every executive leader.
Yet, in order to truly ascertain the opportunity that exists to inspire teams and individuals to better business results, leaders must also question whether they're measuring up, staying relevant and helping to create a better environment around them.
Just as we've done for the past several years, ExecuNet will be back on-site at World Business Forum, live reporting the sharp leadership insight on-stage and backstage for our members. For two days in early October, iconic business and world leaders share their best — and next — practices that help inspire individuals and drive high-performing teams.
Howard Schultz, the former kid from Canarsie, is now mostly known as the king of coffee, but last year, he set his sights beyond Starbucks with social initiatives for cutting the debt, creating jobs and healthcare accessibility.
In just four years, Schultz took Starbucks out of a downward spiral and revitalized the brand, re-centering the focus on the core mission. In 2007, Schultz felt the Starbucks experience and the "theater" of the coffee shop were being diluted. The company was feeling the gravity from the impending financial crash, cutting 6,700 jobs and closing 800 stores worldwide.
Bill Clinton is uniquely qualified to offer perspective and potential solutions for bolstering the American economic system. His eight years in the White House have been followed by global volunteer work in places like Haiti, while his wife, Hillary Clinton, attends to her duties as Secretary of State.
"I'd like to give you framework for which I view the world, including the current economic crisis, not so you can agree with me but so you can form your own framework," the former president offered at the 2011 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported,. "We're experiencing the political equivalent of chaos theory in physics. It's inherently confusing and in need of clarity."
Business author, consultant, and speaker Patrick Lencioni has seen a lot of organizational dysfunction at play over the years. So it may come as no surprise that Lencioni advocates for disrupting corporate bureaucracy by determining what's essential to achieve and then building structure around those business objectives.
Lencioni says organizational politics often emanate from the senior leadership team, or may otherwise be condoned by that team because no one is willing to confront it. "Are we creating the kind of organizations where politics doesn't work?" Lencioni asks as something of a litmus test on bureaucracy and the politics that inevitably populate.
"Nothing is more important for our career success than making great people decisions," said Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, author of Great People Decisions at the 2011 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported. When he surveyed which of the thousands of business leaders in the audience were formally trained in this selection process, very few raised their hands.
I wish that I were effectively able to convey to you what a roomful of Ben Zander energy feels like. I wish I could have you hear him lead thousands of executives to sing happy birthday to a complete stranger or Ode to Joy in German. I wish you could see 350 hungry business leaders let their lunches grow cold as they sat transfixed and hanging onto his words.
Recently, I visited a naturopathic doctor with a friend who received an acupuncture treatment. Despite a phobia to needles, I was curious to try it and challenged myself to overcome the fear. Before I could brace myself for the imagined pain, the doctor stuck one of the needles in the top of my head.
It didn't hurt, just felt a little tingly. When I asked why she chose the top of my head, she said that's a place for happiness.
Author and Harvard lecturer, Tal Ben-Shahar defines happiness as the convergence of meaning and pleasure, and it's a destination business executives and the organizations can reach if they're willing to consider what makes their existence unhappy.
In an exclusive interview with ExecuNet, former Medtronic Chairman and CEO Bill George shares his perspectives on the intersection between authentic leadership, which he has championed, and Servant Leadership.
Recalling how the Servant Leadership model was created by AT&T executive Robert Greenleaf, George reminds today's business leaders that in order to get the most of themselves, they must first commit to serve others.
I took this picture at Grounds for Sculpture over the summer, which is an incredible place that I'd encourage you to visit if you are nearby. It resonated with me because, I'll admit, I'm such a gadget geek that I sometimes have my head down, pushing buttons and missing what is happening right in front of me.
My rationale is that I am capturing the moment in a picture or on Facebook or I'm looking up information that I need right now! But I have to be more conscious that it's really the experience that's meant to be savored, not the documentation.
In an exclusive interview for ExecuNet members, former Medtronic Chairman and CEO Bill George shares his perspective on getting the right management talent in the right roles, the impact of internal politics and empowering enterprise potential.
George, now a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, believes today's global business leaders have to learn how to position people to perform up to their true potential and to their key strengths.
In an exclusive interview for ExecuNet members at the 2011 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, workforce management expert Tammy Erickson assesses how the economy has shaped the organizational experiences of multiple generations of employees and what it means for business productivity and performance.
The smartest companies, says Erickson, have been focused on workforce engagement in a challenging business environment because they understand how employees have been stretched — and stressed — and why they must remain engaged to preserve vital customer relationships and market share.
David Armano is on the front lines of what he sees as the "third revolution." The first, the executive vice president of global Innovation and integration at Edelman Digital said, was broadcast; the second: broadband. We're now engaged in the third revolution, which is social, whereby the main distinction is computers being replaced by people.
Armano told a small invited audience during an intimate "unplugged" setting at the 2011 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, that February 12, 2006 was a pivotal day for him. He published a blog and began connecting.
There are few places left to escape the growing mountain of obstacles that prevent great ideas from being created, and even more roadblocks impeding their execution. Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen, said creative people have to find "windows of non-stimulation" to focus on thinking, research and implications on strategy.
In an intimate "unplugged" setting among a smaller invited audience at the 2011 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, Belsky said "The more creative we are, the more unlikely we are to take ideas to completion," that we're suffering from "idea to idea syndrome."
Shortly after joining ExecuNet as Senior Editor, I somehow scored a press pass for World Business Forum, an event that brought Jack Welch, Rudy Giuliani, then-CEO of Yahoo! Terry Semel, Tom Peters, Richard Branson, Colin Powell and Andrea Jung to the stage at Radio City Music Hall.
I settled in to the velvet seat for two days of reflected star power and mind-blowing leadership insight — most of it a much higher level than I had ever heard before. In those pre-iPad days, I returned to the office with a full legal pad of handwritten notes and reported thousands of words back to ExecuNet members about this stunning event.
Did you hear the story of how seven million American children vanished overnight and the IRS employee who was behind it all?
At the 2010 HSM World Business Forum in NYC, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, Steve Levitt, author of Freakonomics and a professor in the University of Chicago's economics department, asked the delegates this question. He went on to tell the story of one IRS employee's idea to require taxpayers to report the Social Security numbers of children they claimed as dependents on their tax forms that not only outed a lot of tax cheats, but also added $20 billion into the United States Treasury.
"He didn’t get a raise. Didn't get a promotion. Didn't get a parade," Levitt said. "He had a great idea…but he got no rewards, either social or financial."
Can someone who pushed teams to great achievements through a demanding leadership style reform and get the same high-quality results? Filmmaker James Cameron confessed to delegates at the 2010 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, he had to adapt his leadership style from dictatorial to one that was more respectful and empowering. "I don't think I was always a good leader where I worked with people to get the best out of them," said the creator of Avatar, adding that these skills weren't innate for him, and he had to be open to learning so he wouldn't seem phony.
Now, when conflict arises, Cameron's inclination is to solve the problem, rather than make a recriminating moment out of it, he told Bloomberg anchor Betty Liu during an onstage interview. "I turn it back on myself. Did I hire the right person? Yes. Then maybe I didn't communicate it well or they didn't understand." This new leadership style lent Avatar a sense of fun, authorship and ownership in an environment where people felt like they had permission to make mistakes but were now less likely to do so.
"The key to creating winning strategies in social media is first to give up control," Charlene Li, leading analyst of social technologies told delegates at the 2010 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, "You need to give up control but still be in command."
First, leaders must realize that social media is a lot more than just Facebook, said Li, also author of the bestselling books, Groundswell and Open Leadership. Then, she advised, you need to make sure you have a direction that everyone understands and will follow. "The only way to get people to follow you is if you lead them."
There were tremendous learning opportunities at the 2010 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, but, warned Joseph Grenny, the delegates were likely to confront resistance at the office when they attempted to implement new ideas and strategies.
"The challenge begins when you return to the office and have to encounter human beings," said the business strategist and bestselling author, "human beings who are often unwilling to change."
Resistance to change is such a frequently encountered problem that Grenny said he found author David Sedaris' comment telling: "I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out."
The 45th Vice President of the United States began speaking at the 2010 World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported, with a positive remark about the economy, but then he quickly put it in perspective with an anecdote from the late Grand Ole Opry comedienne Minnie Pearl of a farmer who was involved in a car accident. When the farmer went to court to sue for damages, the lawyer asked him whether it was true he said he "felt fine" right after the accident.
The farmer began to tell a long, involved story of the events of the car accident, culminating with the other vehicle hitting him and his cow. When the police arrived on the scene, they saw the injured cow and mercifully shot him. "So when the police asked the farmer how he felt, he said, 'I feel fine.' Many of us are feeling like that, said Gore."
As I watched (along with many of you) the joy on the faces of each of the Chilean miners and their families during yesterday's rescue, I couldn't help but think of another survivor who has been a powerful presence in my heart and mind since I was honored to meet him just six days ago.
What single characteristic drives a survivor to persevere and then prosper post-crisis? One word ties Nando Parrado to these miners we celebrate today: Commitment. In both cases, the commitment to live.
Shortly before his talk on the stage of Radio City Music Hall near the end of the World Business Forum, I met Fernando (Nando) Parrado, one of the 16 survivors of the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 in the Andes in 1972. His cordial smile and calm demeanor come from an experience so tragic that we can't imagine it any more than we can really imagine what it has been like for the 33 miners trapped underground since August 5th.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the September job numbers and though the total non-farm employment (-95K) disappointed many, unemployment remained steady as a percentage (9.6 %) and there was private sector employment growth (+64K) with some revisions upward for prior months.
The environment remains "wait and see" until the election or beyond in many respects as companies stay on the side lines with plenty of cash and strong balance sheets and income statements to make a move. It remains all about business confidence.
The reconciliation of old school values and cutting-edge technology was consummated on stage at Radio City Music Hall during the two days of the World Business Forum this week. Some 30 business and policy leaders, nostalgic for times when trust, transparency and a handshake were the hallmarks of a deal, acknowledged the power of 21st century tools that connect one to millions in a moment and can shatter reputations at the press of a "send" button. Add into the mix a renewed emphasis on organizational culture and customer-centricity, and today's CEO has hands too full to barely pick up a BlackBerry.
I head up the personal marketing services group of ExecuNet, so I'm no expert on global energy policy. But I pay taxes (like most Americans), consume more energy than I should (like most Americans), and care about the planet (hopefully, like most Americans). I also hate inefficiency, which is central to any conversation about energy and how we use it here in America.
So in attending the World Business Forum, and being asked to report for the organizers of the event on the comments of one speaker, Marvin Odum, the president of Shell Oil North America, I had the unique opportunity to get some firsthand insight about how one of the big four oil and gas companies is dealing with what is unquestionably a complex issue.
I have always had a personal interest in the topic of energy, especially oil — how it is being legislated, produced and consumed. Mostly because I am often struck by how much of it we use, how important it is to our way of life, and how time, money, and lives have been spent trying to ensure we have access to as much of it as we want.
"Those who achieve success are not bound by their own story; if you want to predict the future, you create it," said Dow Jones & Company CEO Les Hinton during his introduction of Jim Collins at the World Business Forum, where ExecuNet exclusively reported for attendees. Business is what's ahead, not behind, yet Collins' research in Good to Great, Built to Last and How the Mighty Fall: and Why Some Companies Never Give In looks back to determine the characteristics that give companies staying power.
"The answer could not be circumstance. It is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline," said Collins. "We became fascinated with how great enterprises stumble and how the mighty fall. We wanted to understand how this happens, and it was scary how far they fell."
Adrian Gostick remembers asking his father, who engineered small component parts for large aircraft engines, what motivated him to work for Rolls Royce for more than 20 years. "Every day," his father replied, "I felt praised and listened to."
For the younger Gostick, co-author of The Carrot Principal, and also co-author, with his business partner, Chester Elton, of The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization, those words were both personally illuminating and professionally reinvigorating.
Companies improve when they acknowledge that coaching their team members to be great decision-makers 5 to 9 (pm) is as important as teaching them to be great decision-makers 9 to 5.
Speaking during a private event to a select audience of World Business Forum attendees, Daniel Harkavy, executive coach and CEO of Building Champions, asserts it takes more than just a focus on the tactics of the business to create a culture of intentional decision-making. You have to acknowledge that if people can be successful 24/7 — at work, at home, in their relationships — they will be more committed to the company and more important, to you. "People don't leave companies, they leave us; People don't join companies, they join us. And they need to know you are focused on their success."
Many of the world's top business leaders, from a variety of industries, gathered in New York City to share their views on business and the challenges today's leaders will face in the coming years. Attendees learned how visionaries from a wide range of management disciplines define the process and commitments required to realize the potential for raising organizational performance in a time of lingering economic uncertainty and a changing global economy. These are can't miss insights for any business executive!