June 25, 2016

What I Wouldn’t Want to Have Failed to Say

1.     Source of every great success – visionary leadership, strategy, execution, teamwork, helping people grow, values, learning unbounded commitment to excellence and winning.

Three Cs which describe people I admire:  “competence, character (integrity, courage), caring.”

The role of leadership we should play in any is situational, geared to answer the question:  How do I best serve mission?

2.     Never forget why you do what you do:  the purpose of the place.  Mission moments.  Economic efficiency is not a substitute for the inspiration of purpose. 

3.     Importance of Trust and Relationships – “If it weren’t for them.”  
Our greatest legacy is our impact on others.
“Everyone Counts.”

4.     It all comes down to People and Values.  Always try to do the right thing.  Live up to your own personal expectations as well as you can.  You’ll never do it perfectly.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t take your demands too lightly.  What I Ask of Those Who Work for Me:  “Tell me what you think.  Act on what you believe to be true.”

5.     Life will be a mix of ups and downs, victories and setbacks.  Never feel sorry for one’s self.  Never give up.  The power of self-fulfilling expectations—for better or worse.

6.     Don’t confuse the means with the end.  Beware of management by bumper sticker. 

7.     My 3 North Stars:  Service, Leadership, Growth.

8.     Role of faith in my life.  Get outside myself.

9.     Family:  Source of energy, confidence.  Has to come first.



I  just encountered this statistic documenting the stunning and dangerous shift in opinion in the book "Fractured Republic" by Levin. 

"When a team from the University of Michigan studying national elections asked Americans in 1964 how much of the time they thought the federal government could be trusted to do the right thing, 76 percent said either “just about always” or “most of the time.”  (When Gallup asked exactly the same question in 2010, those two options garnered a combined 19 percent of the responses.)"

The utter and frustrating inability of Congress to come together to take rational and necessary steps on responsible gun regulations and immigration reform are just two of the recent issues that explain this. 

We must do better, a lot better, and soon. This is government by paralysis and venom.


This is a serious mistake, for the UK and for the world. As imperfect as it is, the EU brought nations together which had fought wars once or twice a century almost ad infinitum into commercial and social relations. People will now wake up to the reality of what has happened and I hope the the UK and EU will look at laying the foundation for another vote on the referendum before the ties are severed. 

We should not accept this as a fait accompli. It was a 52-48 decision with many in the "52%" apparently not really understanding the pros and cons. ONE BATTLE LOST IS NOT THE WAR. BRITAIN HAS LEARNED THAT.
Google search history suggests many Britons had little idea what they were voting for


June 24, 2016

This 4 1/2 minute video presents a succinct and clear expression of one of my most fundamental beliefs in what it takes to win--personally and for the organization.


June 20, 2016


Overcoming Implicit Bias

 06/20/2016 12:11 am ET
John Pepper is the retired Chairman & CEO of The Procter & Gamble Company. He serves as the Honorary Co-Chair of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and, until 2012, served as the Chairman of the Board of The Walt Disney Company.
Robert: John, you’re someone for whom I have a lot of respect, so I was anxious to get your opinions for this short blog series on race and race perception. There is a great deal of turmoil in the news these days. As a longtime leader in Corporate America, I imagine you’ve done your share of crisis management. I have a couple “What would you do” type questions, but I want to ask them in the context of Implicit Bias. Implicit bias refers to: the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Implicit bias is also the theme of a new exhibit you’re now opening at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Implicit Bias Exhibit
Why is it important for the Freedom Center to focus on implicit bias at this point in time?
John: Understanding the reality that we all have implicit biases, and always will, and taking actions to address these implicit biases, lies at the very heart of the Freedom Center’s purpose. That purpose embraces the importance of each of us recognizing one another’s individual dignity and the value of our working together and not being separated by stereotypical views of one another.

For me, the history of the Underground Railroad brings to life the willingness of people, different in race and class, and not knowing one another, to risk their lives, to come together to help one another achieve freedom.

Today, in this country, we continue to see the plague of implicit bias in our commercial, social and political worlds. We see ethnicities being stereotyped. We draw impressions of others based on their gender, body size, skin color, sexual orientation and dialect.

“Implicit Bias” allows us to understand these biases that we hold. They don’t reveal us as “bad people.” They reveal us as human. We need to look through them to understand the “other” person as worthy of our respect. I always counsel myself: “try to see the other person in myself and myself in the other person.”
Robert: Most of us reject bias on a conscious level. But how can media reports and the divisive words of prominent entertainment or political figures affect our views subconsciously?
John: They can give us a warped, stereotypical view of other people and the roles they play. Say, every time we see a doctor, we see a man; maybe we have trouble envisaging women playing that role. What if we see a scene of violence in a depressed neighborhood and someone makes the comment, “there they go again, those poor African-Americans.” You hear this kind of thing day in and day out. And it can affect your view. Generalized perceptions grow out of repeated individual reports. We fail to examine each situation and look at each person individually.
Robert: What can we do either personally or as a nation to fight negative bias, stereotyping, bigotry or, what is termed as, racism?
John: First and foremost, we can become aware of our own implicit biases. Take the “implicit association test.” You will find it free on the web. Just click here. If you are like the majority of people, you will find you are biased. That doesn’t make you a bad person, but, if you are like me, it will sensitize you to the need to look beyond what might be a generalized impression of other people to understand the individual, as an individual, to look at this man or woman as a person who, just like you, is pursuing the opportunities and challenges of life, with a background you may not understand, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

By far the best way to come to understand people who are different than we are is to come to know them personally, especially by working toward a common goal. There are so many activities in my life—in business and in the community—in which we have been able to achieve success only because of the diversity of the people around the table, men and women with experiences, perspectives and insights far different than mine. It is in working toward common goals that I have come to develop respect for people who are different than I am and be able to look past (as least better than I otherwise would) the generalized stereotypical perceptions that I might attach to race, ethnicity, gender, and thinking style.
Robert: It sounds like taking the time to understand other people might go a long way toward solving many of our “misunderstandings” in the world and in the U.S. today.
John, I know you’re a history buff. Did implicit bias contribute to the institution of slavery in America? How so?
John: When it comes to slavery, of course, we had explicit bias, not just implicit. The belief that African-Americans, men and women with dark or brown skin, were inferior, biologically, ran deep. There were even readings from the Bible which were cited as evidence to justify the subservient role of Black people.

Implicit bias has sadly carried on long past the formal abolition of slavery. It exists today. It is that which we must overcome.
Robert: You and your colleagues at the Freedom Center are certainly contributing to overcoming bias -  implicit or otherwise. I’m excited about my next trip to Cincinnati so I can visit your new exhibit. Thank you!
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June 7, 2016


Although a half-century ago, I can still remember, as if it were yesterday, the course and the teacher who launched me on my lifetime love of history.  The course:  the History of the Development of the West; we called it “Cowboys and Indians”.  The teacher: Howard Roberts Lamar; he later served as President of Yale.  Professor Lamar introduced me to the heroes and the dynamic story of westward expansion, the Indian tribes and Indian wars, and the diplomatic dealings with the British and the French.  He introduced me to the complexities and the continuities of history.  He showed us the intertwining relationships of long-term movements and of new ideas; of geographical realities, and personal leadership and sheer chance in determining particular outcomes.
I have been a lover of history ever since.   Why?  
There is the sheer drama of it all:  the understanding of how the lives of famous people came to be and how events like World War I or the evolution of the modern Russian state developed as they did.

There are the sobering and often inspirational lessons history teaches, particularly through the lives of individuals, the choices they made, the values they embodied, the risks they took, the challenges they overcame, and those they didn’t, all of this making it clear that progress is possible but not inevitable.  That there are some causes and effects that can be influenced by man, and some that can’t.  That life is not straightforward nor foreordained, but nor is it beyond our control.

My love of history has influenced my life in many ways.  It has instructed me in how I’ve tried to lead Procter & Gamble, which I was a part of for 40 years.  For example, it has influenced me as I have contemplated how long and how much to invest to create entirely new businesses and establish strong organizations in a country like Russia.  I have done this recognizing that major victories are never easily won.  I’ve seen that courage and persistence count for everything as I’ve learned about the lives of Lincoln, Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and many others.

My awareness of China’s history, for example, led me to appreciate the remarkable culture and history of this country.  Because of that awareness, I was able to relate to the government leaders in China with a knowledge and a respect otherwise not possible.  
My love of history has been a driving force in my commitment to help create the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  The Freedom Center reveals the stories of heroes who fought for their own freedom and others who helped them along the way.  While anchored in the history of the Underground Railroad, it brings the story to contemporary times, with the purpose of inspiring and challenging us to take steps for freedom in our own lives today.

My commitment to this institution was inspired by people who I had read about who fought for their freedom; people like Harriet Tubman and Frederic Douglass; and others, like Thomas Garrett, who in the courtroom where he was being fined for having helped a slave escape said, “Let this fine serve as a license for me to help every other slave that comes to me.”  These are all examples of the courage, cooperation and persistence we seek in our own lives.  

My reading of history and my writing about it have led me to recognize the importance of meticulous research and the pursuit of truth, even as I recognize what is seen  as “truth” in one generation may not be seen the same way in the next.  This recognition has permeated how I’ve tried to approach business and every other aspect of my life.  There is no substitute for deep knowledge nor for the recognition that continued learning must be a way of life. 
Paraphrasing a former Yale president and classmate of mine, Bart Giamatti, I love history because I have come to see that without a knowledge of the past – its realities and its causative relationships – we cannot hope to construct an action agenda able to lead us to a better future.

As I write this, I think of some of the recent books that I’ve read, the values they reinforce and the lessons they teach, and their relevance to our everyday life.  I think of Walter Russell Mead’s “God and Gold,” with its perceptive exposition of how the co-existence of rapid changes and unchanging traditions have benefited the development of the Anglo-American world.  I think of the memoirs of Vaclav Havel, relating his brave resistance to communist rule in Czechoslovakia, his unexpected ascendency to the Presidency, the challenges he encountered in that office, and the honesty of his examination of his strengths and frailties.  I think of Bart Giamatti’s treatise on the value of a liberal arts education in his book “A Free and Ordered Space”.  I think of Professor Saidiya Hartman’s poetic recollection of her trip to her home country of Ghana to trace the roots of the Middle Passage and the institution of slavery.  Her reflections on that trip cast a shining light on the pursuit of freedom today.  

In the end, I guess I love history because of the joy the acquisition of knowledge brings and because of what it teaches.  There is joy in understanding the drama of lives and events unfolding; in seeing the connectedness of things; in the role of individual choice and the contingency of events; in the interface between long-term trends and human intervention and chance as well.  There is the learning that comes from both understanding the worst that man has done (e.g., slavery, genocide), hoping it will steel us to not repeat it, and appreciating the best that man has done (e.g., the pursuit of freedom, courage in the face of insuperable odds), with the hope it will provide knowledge and inspiration to help us create a better future for ourselves and for those whose lives we touch.