"Looking Back-Looking Forward: Reflections and Recollections"--Personal Essays

March 19, 2018

I recently published a series of essays and reflections on personal experiences, beliefs and readings which, in one way or another, have significantly influenced my life.
They include essays on my time with the Walt Disney Company and at Yale University; my battle with cancer; the role of religion in my life; and what I describe as a “Personal Model for Living.” 
A few of these essays capture blogs which I’ve posted on this site over the past several years. 
I’ve tried to capture my view of our responsibility to ourselves and to each other, particularly the young.  I include direct extracts from and reflections on the writings of my favorite authors, as well as our relations with other countries, particularly Russia, with which I have had a long relationship.
While the content is diverse and eclectic, I hope readers will find threaded throughout a commitment to service, to respecting and helping others and to the values of integrity, tolerance, justice, courage and simply never giving up.

The essay collection is available on Amazon and other book-sellers.


Liberal Democracy Cannot Be Taken for Granted.

February 13, 2018

Subject: NYTimes: As West Fears the Rise of Autocrats, Hungary Shows What’s Possible
What’s happening in Poland and Hungary Is a chilling reminder that  liberal democracy cannot be cavalierly taken for granted. If it is not seen to be delivering for the majority and articulated by a strong grounded leader it can be turned back by a messianic leader like Orban in Hungary preying on deeply embedded nationalistic grievances.

Imagine at how saddened the leaders who led Hungary and Poland out of the Communist era a quarter-century ago must be today. We must not allow that to happen in our own country. Our balance-of-power structures and our spirit of democracy are far stronger than in those countries but it is still not to be taken for granted. 

Times When We Just Need to Listen--from My Minister, Paula Jackson

"There are times when it is better not to speak, when we need just to listen. Sometimes we are called to behold the mystery of another person ́s beauty, or of their grief, or their anger or their suffering, and just be there. We learn from beholding and listening, or we comfort by being there, if that ́s what is asked of us and we have nothing else to give. If something is required of us, we will know when the time comes. But we have to stop talking long enough to hear." 


January 24, 2018

My Children’s Reflections of “Leadership Lessons” 
I  Shared With Them
Several years ago,  I wrote the following request to my four children:

“I am going to be talking to a group of P&G new hires and interns next week.  One of the questions they have asked me to address is ‘What are the top 3 leadership lessons that you’ve shared with your own children?’

Would you be willing to share what you have experienced, assuming you have experienced this at all in these terms?  To the extent you can, it would make it a much better answer.


Love, Dad”
Here is what they wrote me.  I am very happy to re-read this today   They give me more credit than I’m due…but still!!

1.     From my oldest son, John:  “Approach every job (position) as though it is the job you will have for the rest of your career.  Have an unwavering belief in people and their potential (even when risking disappointment/failure).  Never drink more than 2 beers in one night.  No whining, crying, or fussing.”
2.     From my middle son, David:  “Work hard.  Do what you think is right.  The third lesson seemed to be a rotation of many different things.”
3.     From my youngest son, Doug:  “No one senior or junior to you ever worked harder or cared more about what they were doing.  Truly listening and caring about what others are working on.  No matter what the situation, always relying on core values to drive decisions.  No shortcuts.”
4.     From my daughter, Susan:  “I am going against my natural instinct and am replying instantly to this email, rather than asking for more time.  Here are some thoughts that come to mind.
Keep your integrity—do what’s right (you used to try out scenarios—what if you find a competitor’s briefcase in the taxi, what should you do, and you’d go through the options).  Be good to people and entrust them with responsibility—help them develop their leadership skills.  Be passionate about what you do (or do something for which you are passionate)—by having your heart in it, it makes it easier to truly inspire others.  (An extra one)—Be ready to work as long as it takes to get the job done, but also make time to take care of yourself (exercise, eat well, nurture your mind/intellect), your family, and your community (because we depend on these things for our own strength).”


Making a Positive Difference in Other People's Lives

January 23, 2018

This is George Eliot’s final word on Dorothea, the heroine of her novel: "Middlemarch". 

 “Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth.  But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive:  for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

I find this to be one of the most beautiful passages in literature. For me,  it encapsulates what a meaningful life is about:  connecting and contributing to something beyond ones self, day after day,  in whatever humble form that may take.

January 17, 2018

The Role of the Corporation:  To Perform and Serve At The Very Highest Level In The Following Five Areas 

I wrote this in 1991. I would not change a word today

  There are a number of inseparable requirements.  By inseparable, I mean that no one of them will be possible in the long-term without the others.  They include the following elements:

1.     Providing superior performance and value to consumers through our brands.  That is the fundamental reason why we exist.  Furthermore, providing superior performance and value is the sine qua non of having leadership and growing businesses which, in turn, are the basis for delivering leading profit levels and growth and attracting superior people.
2.     Providing superior financial results.  This requires superior levels of profits and return on equity, as well as better growth versus best of competition.  This is essential to provide the basis for continued growth; to attract and retain the strongest people; and to reward shareholders, an important number of whom are our own employees.  Furthermore, superior financial performance and growth, over time, is the ultimate test whether we are indeed performing at the highest level in terms of consumer satisfaction and operational effectiveness and efficiency.
3.     Providing a superior environment for top quality people.  This is a requirement in its own right and a necessity in order to attract strong people without whom the first two objectives would be unreachable.
4.     Conducting the business in line with the right values.  I define these values as:
o   Striving always to be the best in whatever we do.  Leadership.
o   Operating with integrity and with honesty in all relationships; and doing what is right by the spirit and letter of the law.
o   Respect for people – working to develop their individual strengths; dedication to helping each person develop to his/her strongest.
o   Innovation; constant quest for improvement; doing better tomorrow than what we are today.
5.      Providing service to the communities in which we live.  This recognizes the opportunity and responsibility we have as individuals and as a corporate body to be a force for good in creating improvements in our communities that are essential for the world, including the world in which we do business.  We need to determine where we can add maximum value in the context of recognizing our primary responsibilities for the health of our business, without which our ability to contribute to the community would not exist.

Key Cultural Values:

1.     Being our best.  Leadership.  In whatever we are doing.  In market share.  In financial returns.
2.     Superior service to the consumerthrough our brands.  Fundamental underpinning.
3.     Innovation and improvements as ways of life.  Continued improvement.
4.     Respect for other people.  From this flows many things;
·      Respect for diversity.
·      Focus on developing other people.
·      Focus on recruiting and retention.
·      Deep commitment for people having a fulfilling career, as right in itself and vital to have a place that the best people will want to work in.
5.     Doing the right thing for the long term.
6.     Integrity.  Fairness.
7.     Acting in good faith.  Being straightforward and open and honest.


January 13, 2018

I am re-posting this blog from 16 months ago. 

How could I not after hearing Trump's assault on African nations and Haiti?  


SEPTEMBER 17, 2016

"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never fully gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency?"
Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, June 9, 1954
These were the words which went through my mind yesterday as I heard Donald Trump acknowledge that President Obama was born in the United States after years of fueling the Birther movement with no apology or explanation. Not only that he went on to blame Hillary Clinton for starting the rumor and claimed that he had ended it. Such outrageous disregard for the truth is mind-boggling. 
But that wasn't all. On the same day he recklessly incites a crowd saying that Hillary Clinton wants to get rid of all guns (of course a lie) and goes on to ask bombastically -- why doesn't she take away all the guns from her security guards and we'll see what happens to her. 
Mr. Trump: have you no sense of decency? No regard for the truth?


Any corporate executive saying what Trump has said would be fired.