Madeleine Albright

“A great task has been completed and an even larger one remains.” – Madeleine Albright

Czechoslovakian-born Madeleine Albright immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1948 as a 10-year-old. This much celebrated academician, recognized for her diplomatic insight and foreign relations acumen, served on the National Security Council as well as in the United Nations, and eventually landed a most coveted spot in the Clinton cabinet as our 64th Secretary of State. This was groundbreaking news as Albright became the first woman in the United States to serve in this capacity, being sworn in on January 23, 1997.

Ms. Albright spent much of her early adult years as both teacher and student. During her tenure as a Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of Women in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service she taught undergraduate and graduate classes in international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, and European politics while pursuing her Master’s and later, her PhD. She also used that appointment to enhance opportunities for women in international politics by designing, developing, and implementing courses for them. Ms. Albright was simultaneously achieving greatness as a world leader and teaching other women how to do so as well.

Former Secretary Albright is not only well educated in foreign affairs, but can attribute some of her success to her multi-lingual skills (fluent in French and Czech, conversational in Russian and Polish). She was, perhaps, born to a life in international politics as her father was a Czech diplomat. It has often been said that those early “kitchen table” political discussions served as the foundation for most of Albright’s agendas and ideals.

By the time then-President Clinton nominated Albright for Secretary of State, she had become accustomed to perpetually having to prove that she had earned the right to be there. From the time she and her family fled their homeland to escape pre-war Eastern Europe, to being one of just a handful of Europeans enrolled in private school in Denver, to being a declared Democrat at Republican-leaning Wellesley College, Albright was well acquainted with feeling like she was always on the outside looking in.

But her position in the Clinton administration provided the international stage where she realized her potential. Mirroring the President’s international philosophy by intoning an assertive yet diplomatic response to crises and catastrophes, former Secretary Albright guided that administration through politically charged episodes in Rwanda, Serbia, North Korea, Iraq and Kosovo.

Her newest book, Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership is written as if in confidence to the next leader of the free world. She serves up anecdotes collected after years in diplomatic service moving among the most influential players in global politics. She also levels hearty doses of criticism toward the Bush administration, but she speaks with the voice of a patriot and not that of an armchair quarterback.

It should be noted that former Secretary Albright is also a mother of three daughters, which may be why many people think of Albright as a lifelong diplomat rather than a politician. She was renowned for being able to take complex international issues and boil them down to simple concepts more easily grasped by the masses. This ability to strategically separate the wheat from the chafe was likely enhanced by her command of many languages.

Ms. Albright remains a player on the international stage, not only with the publication of her latest book, but also as principal of The Albright Group, LLC, which provides negotiation and management strategies for multinational organizations.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson can only go in one direction – and that’s forward! As a 16 year old he established a national student publication and the following year he founded a peer assistance charity called the Student Advisory Centre at the school he attended. By the time he was 20, Branson opened his first “Virgin” branded concept – a mail order record retail shop. Since then, the Virgin brand has expanded to include air travel, banking, hotels and leisure, and even larger retail concepts with over 200 companies in more than 300 countries.

While some entrepreneurs enjoy finding success in obscure, niche markets, Richard Branson likes to go toe-to-toe with the boldest brands around. His Virgin Atlantic Airlines took on British Airways and has now become Britain’s second largest long haul international carrier. His Virgin Cola invaded the US twice – once in 1997 and after a dismal debut, again in 2004. Most of us were unfamiliar with that drink in the 90’s and we are still unfamiliar today, signaling the second wave was no more popular than the first. But Richard Branson is not one to bury his head in the sand when a product launch does not go as planned. Rather, he just sets his sights and focuses his energy on a new endeavor and moves forward. “Business opportunities are like busses, there’s always another one coming” he is fond of saying.

All the Branson product or service launches are targeted toward an under-served population or confusion/complacency in the marketplace. Virgin tries to capitalize on its brand recognition as well as the branded concepts of “Value for Money, Good Quality, Brilliant Customer Service, Innovative, Competitively Challenging and Fun”. Those same concepts could be used to describe Branson, himself.

Richard Branson dives into philanthropy with the same zeal he employs in business. The Virgin Healthcare Foundation oversees fundraising for global poverty, and education for causes such as AIDS. Virgin Unite is a web site dedicated to facilitating charitable giving of any sort, from any sort. Options include donations of time, cash, things, or effort. This coordinated assistance channel was the brainchild of Branson, Virgin staff, vendors, customers, and various social organizations around the world. But more than the typical donations of cash and goods, Branson and Virgin Unite seek to support 3rd world nations by making sound investments in local economies, thereby providing the local populace with a viable means of sustaining an improved quality of life. The same entrepreneurial spirit that inspires Virgin business interests also spurs their philanthropic endeavors.

Richard Branson has achieved a level of fame and fortune that only a handful of people on the planet have enjoyed. But what sets him apart from this fraternity of successful capitalists and philanthropists is his insatiable quest for adventure. Whether by sea or by air, Branson has made transatlantic crossings in record time, first in 1986 in his boat “Virgin Atlantic Challenger II”, and again one year later via a hot-air balloon clocked at 130 mph. But his greatest triumph to date is his 1991 pan-Pacific crossing from Japan to Arctic Canada in a balloon recording the fastest-ever speeds for that kind of craft (245 mph). Says Branson about his ballooning, “The balloons only have one life and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world.”

Making a difference is one of the core values at Virgin Enterprises. It is safe to say Richard Branson has accomplished that in his professional life, in his personal life, and in his charitable works.

Steve Ballmer

Practicing the dynamic vision for Microsoft for more than 20 years

What kind of leader does it take to be CEO of the preeminent software manufacturer in the world? Maybe the leader and the leading software have a few things in common. It has been said that Microsoft software and operating systems are cutting edge, revolutionary, radical, and forward thinking. Those same things, and more, could be said about Steven A. Ballmer. Without question, personal computers and their far-reaching abilities changed the world forever. Ballmer, over the past 20 years, has been instrumental in the development and distribution of this life- altering technology.

Ballmer is perhaps as famous for his tech savvy leadership as he is for his zany stage entrances to open conferences and speaking engagements. One of his enduring qualities is his ability to convey his infectious passion for all things Microsoft to anyone who will listen. His enthusiasm inspires devoted adherents to the Microsoft corporate philosophy.

A product of the auto industry, Ballmer grew up near Detroit where his father worked as a manager for Ford Motor Company. His undergrad years at Harvard included managing the football team, as well as working on the Harvard Crimson newspaper, while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics. It was at Harvard that Ballmer met lifelong friend, Bill Gates.

Over the past 20 years, Ballmer has been in charge of operations, operating systems development, and sales and support. In 1998 he was promoted to President giving him day-to-day management responsibilities. He became CEO in January 2000, making him accountable for fulfilling the Microsoft quest of empowering people and business to realize their dreams. It was his ability to visualize what the future would look like and how Microsoft products and service would blaze the trail that made him the most likely and logical choice for CEO. He is tasked with delivering on the company’s mission of enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.

Together with Gates and the company’s other business and technical leaders, Ballmer is focused on continuing Microsoft’s innovation and leadership across the company’s seven businesses. Ballmer recently said we think it’s important for you to understand and appreciate that successful businesses succeed based upon the quality and performance of their people . To that end, he is championing product development that will encourage collaborative efforts that span nations, cultures, economies, and everyday people.

While Microsoft is noteworthy for leading the world into the 21st century, Ballmer understands that products and services require end users. When we think about innovations that we bring to market for our business customers, we think our innovations have to facilitate the empowerment of people and people-ready businesses in exactly this way. These kinds of successful companies, I would call people ready businesses, businesses that really believe and act fundamentally with deep conviction that people are their number one asset. The heart and soul of business that is people ready is also a business that employing IT, information technology innovation, as tools to really help empower their number one asset, their people. 

Steven A. Ballmer has the dynamic vision to recognize how technology is meant to facilitate opportunities, and how to bring that technology to the marketplace.

John D Rockefeller, Jr.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was the Rockefeller who changed things dramatically for the Rockefeller name and the family. The family’s name though prestigious, was often a name associated with ruthless business practices and more commonly, greed.

The only son of John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil, “Junior” was the man who would carry on the Rockefeller name. Born on January 29, 1874, John Junior was the youngest of four children. He was raised under strict values and disciplined to believe that one should always ask of himself “is it right, is it duty?” The Rockefellers choose to teach their young children to live serious lives almost from birth and Junior was the Rockefeller who would need to show much promise as he would be expected to take over the family reins as the only boy in the family.

Responsibility was placed on young John D. Rockefeller’s shoulders at such a young age that many outsiders were not surprised when Junior suffered the first of many breakdowns at the tender age of thirteen. This first breakdown made John Junior extremely dependant upon both his mother and his father. And this dependence continued until he went away to college.

In 1893, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. found himself surrounded in a new environment at Brown University and ultimately met the lady of his dreams. Abby Aldrich, the daughter of a US Senator, was not at all impressed with Rockefeller money. Instead she was impressed with John. In 1901, over one thousand guests were invited to the wedding of the century when John and Abby married. The couple had six children and John became a most extreme father. His children kept accounting ledgers of their allowance and he made them realize where every dime they earned in allowances were spent.

At the age of 26, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. walked into the offices of Standard Oil with the good intentions of spending his life there working for the company that had indeed built the Rockefellers unprecedented wealth. At the age of 36, he walked out on the Standard Oil Trust and chose instead to dedicate his life to philanthropy.

Even after Junior had decided to leave the world of business to someone else, issues still arose that threatened to forever tarnish the family name. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. always came out of bad situations with his name in tact, resolve in place and feeling like he very much made a positive difference.

To begin to cover all of the philanthropic endeavors of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. would most certainly begin with a note that it is estimated that Junior gave away over 537 million dollars during his lifetime to charities. His contributions were directly responsible for creating the General Board of Education in the South and his contributions to many educational focuses have exceeded tens of millions of dollars.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. became the Rockefeller that his grandmother Eliza Davison Rockefeller would have been so very proud of because he was everything the family stood for yet had such a difficult time of showing. He wasn’t ruthless, but giving. He never manipulated a monopoly but instead walked away from it and he gave more than anyone could have ever imagined. Junior was the Rockefeller to be remembered because he forever changed the Rockefeller’s public image.

Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill could easily be coined one of the greatest American authors of all time because of the way his book, Think and Grow Rich impacted the lives of all who picked up the book to read and follow the advice from within the pages of Hill’s great formula for success.

Napoleon Hill was born in the rural, but beautiful area of Wise County, Virginia. When he was ten years old, Napoleon Hill’s mother died and he was raised by his father and stepmother. While many people attribute lifelong achievements to their parents and grandparents, Hill’s successes would be due in part to the fact that Andrew Carnegie took a keen interest in Napoleon Hill as a writer.

Andrew Carnegie suggested and requested that Napoleon Hill interview wealthy and more importantly, very successful men and women and learn their secrets to success. Carnegie, though supportive of Hill’s work, never offered to pay him for his documentation realizing perhaps, the author would undoubtedly be able to stand on his own two feet because of his splendid writing talent.

For the sole purpose to find out the secrets behind the men and women who were certainly successful and to begin documenting what he learned in order to develop a book which would later become Think and Grow Rich, Hill began his interviews and research. He spoke with some of the most famous and influential people of all time including Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, George Eastman, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and many others. His research was a twenty year undertaking and produced a guide to success which was initially titled The Law of Success.

Aside from being a well respected writer, Napoleon Hill was an editor and publisher as well as an advisor. He often gave his insights on many subjects to Carnegie but he also formally advised President Franklin Roosevelt.

In 1937, Hill’s polished and most notorious manuscript Think and Grow Rich went into print and has remained in print throughout the years with over thirty million copies sold and with that number still growing.

Most notably, some of Napoleon Hill’s quotes are still used in training seminars and goal-oriented training manuals as well as throughout other courses of study both in and out of the universities across the world. “A goal is a dream with a deadline” is one of Napoleon Hill’s famous quotes that many writers still use fondly.

Other Napoleon Hill quotes include: “Your big opportunity may be right where you are now,” and “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” The inspirational quotes of Napoleon Hill show that he was certainly a protégé of Andrew Carnegie but also show that he was able to clearly motivate individuals to lead extraordinary lives even when those people might otherwise consider themselves ordinary if it wasn’t for the writings of Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich will always be responsible for motivating numerous successes among average individuals thanks to the work of Napoleon Hill.

Andrew Carnegie

It’s often been a comparison that many historians have touched on in the past when the subject of Andrew Carnegie is the focus. Was he a ruthless business man or was his generosity unmatched by any before him and few after him? He was both. Andrew Carnegie was a man of very humble beginnings. He loathed charity but yet became known for his many charitable contributions. Carnegie and his family were unimpressed by wealth yet during Andrew’s lifetime he became the wealthiest man alive. And along the way Andrew Carnegie, far away from his birthplace in Scotland, became an American leader in business and in life.

Andrew Carnegie was a man who stood up for the working people. He knew what it was like to watch his father lose his job and all but solicit for a job or food. He watched his mother with eager determination borrow the money the family needed to leave Scotland to begin their lives in America and he loathed the fact that his mother and father were at the mercy of financial restraints. Yet, as a family, the Carnegies had never embraced the idea of wealth. In fact, they despised the idea of it.

When historians look at Andrew Carnegie, many believe that he was a man who fought battles within himself all of his life because of the burning ideas of wealth and poverty he had that stemmed from his parents and grandparents. Some historians believed he acted as a man who never knew quite what he wanted. While on one hand he would fight diligently for the working class of individuals, on the other hand he would demolish their safety nets which were their unions. The name Carnegie will always bring to mind generosity, yet the people who worked for Andrew Carnegie worked extremely hard for meager wages. As a Carnegie employee, individuals knew they were always at risk for a cut in salary while Carnegie himself, continued on the road to wealth and prosperity.

Still, Andrew Carnegie was very much a leader who worked his way up from the cotton factory where his father worked to the office of Thomas A. Scott of Pennsylvania Railroad. Sometime after the Civil War, Carnegie left the railroad and went to work at Keystone Bridge Company for a short number of years before the introduction to the steel refining process which was already making Henry Bessemer into a wealthy man. Carnegie threw himself into the steel business and the rest, of course, is history.

One of Carnegie’s favorite quotes was “the man who dies rich dies disgraced.” As the richest man in the world, many laughed at his sentiments. However, Andrew Carnegie systematically gave away over 350 million dollars prior to his death. Because Andrew Carnegie was an advocate for lifelong learning, his fortune was responsible for building over 2500 public libraries and donations to higher learning were dominant as well.

Andrew Carnegie contributed more money to education than any before him but he could’ve been so much more to himself if he had let go of many harbored and unhealthy thoughts toward his wealth and money. His mother and father’s beliefs helped him achieve greatness but hindered him from truly enjoying the wealth and prosperity that he most certainly earned.

Paul Zane Pilzer

Paul Zane Pilzer is a name that many independent contractors will recognize because he is the Dale Carnegie of this day and age. Meaning, that just like Dale Carnegie, Pilzer has been a leader many direct marketers look to for advice and support over the past few years. Pilzer is known throughout the world as an economist who has the unsurpassed ability to look into the future and predict business milestones with authoritative and accurate predictions. Seven best sellers are just part of the appeal to Paul Zane Pilzer as an author; the other part is the fact that he is the poster boy for likeability.

Paul Zane Pilzer completed college in three years and received his MBA in just a short fifteen months. Pilzer’s successes in his very flamboyant career include becoming a Citibank officer at the age of 22 , beginning a very long 20 year career at age 24 as a professor at New York University, becoming a millionaire before age 26 and a multi-millionaire prior to turning 30 years old.

The leadership of Paul Zane Pilzer has been quite evident as he has served two presidential administrations as an economic advisor. Paul Zane Pilzer has been one of the most accurate economists to ever live and his predictions are humbling. The books that Pilzer chooses to put his name on have been books explaining everything from the theology of economics to technology. His work as an author is mind-boggling.

Paul Zane Pilzer is quoted frequently by companies who are actively promoting health and wellness. For example, Fruta Vida International, a company which promotes health and wellness through the consumption of a juice combination of acai berry and yerba mate tea, explains their success to their new members with constant reminders from Paul Zane Pilzer’s Wellness Revolution.

Fruta Vida International is not the only network marketing company or direct sales oriented company to uphold the words of Pilzer. The Wellness Revolution and The Next Millionaires both written by Paul Zane Pilzer, explain why the wellness revolution is becoming the new place to invest and how the economy is going to allow one million new millionaires per year to emerge between 2006-2016. Pilzer is even going one step further in stating how average people can be one of these millionaires. Pilzer predicts that the wellness industry is going to exceed the healthcare industry and goes on to state in The Next Trillion how that is going to happen and why the next trillion is going to be made in the wellness industry.

A family man, much of the appeal Paul Zane Pilzer owns is the fact that he is loyal to his wife and four children and enjoys a very simple lifestyle of snowboarding and other family-oriented activities while enjoying the simple things in life living in Utah.

Even as Paul Zane Pilzer sits at home matching wits in a game of chess with a family member, he is touching the lives of many individuals through his books and audio-tapes. Pilzer continues to show the world why his leadership is needed and why many people rely on his advice. He has become a source of very reliable information when the subject at hand is or involves money or economics.

Leadership in 2009

Are you glad 2008 is over? Ready to move on…
I am sure that Rick Wagner, GM CEO, Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary, Angelo Mozilo, Former Countrywide CEO – just to name a few well known folks representing leadership in the workplace – are ready to move on!

2008 was definitely a year full of examples of misguided leadership. You can read more about the 21 Dumbest Moments in Business if you are really interested in learning from what not to do. These few individuals, mostly the Auto Execs and our US Senators, have led to some lively conversations with my family and with friends. Many of my business associates and good friends (including my son who coops for GM) are directly feeling the impact of the credit crunch and the automotive companies’ ills.

I always ask my clients and team members to reflect on the previous year – take a moment to reflect on both the breakdowns and the breakthroughs. What did you learn? What would you do differently? What did you accomplish that you are most proud of? I encourage you to take a moment and jot down a few reflections.

This time of year always represents a time for a fresh perspective. I take the time to look at the big picture… how am I doing on progress to my five year goals? Do I need to do some tweaking? Do I want to add any new or totally eliminate a goal that no longer has any meaning? This is the one thing I love about my goal setting – their mine and I can do anything I want with them. Having goals in place settles me, gives me a feeling of knowing where I am going … and yet I know I can change them. My crystal ball isn’t always clear and so I can chuckle at myself when I look at a goal and say “Geez, what planet was I on when I set that one!”

Are you looking forward to 2009?
I am. And being a loyal stockholder, employee, supplier and buyer of General Motors vehicles (GM was my first employer after college, my grandfather worked for GM Truck and Bus and my son now works there), I pray that GM and the US automotive leaders step up to the kind of leadership that is required for what needs to be done in 2009. My thoughts and prayers go to all of those who are being affected by our economic dynamics. It is my hope that Rick Wagner, Henry Paulson, Barack OBama and their teams are looking forward to 2009 and are up for the challenges that demand great leadership.

Happy New Year!

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