Part 2: You Are Here

    Published on May 19, 2015

    A map is useless if you don’t know where you’re currently located. The questions in this blog, the second in a six-part series on “30 Questions to Find Your True North,” are designed to help you determine where you are at this moment. Once you know where you stand, the path to your True North will be much clearer. Answer each question honestly and thoughtfully. Don’t get discouraged, and remember: where you are today is not where you’ll be tomorrow. The question is, are you moving forward or crawling back? ... Read more

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    • HBS Working Knowledge: Fixing the ‘I Hate Work’ Blues

      Published on June 6, 2014

      The New York Times ran a troubling story, "Why You Hate Work," in last week's "Sunday Review." The article indicated that employees work too hard and find little meaning from their work. The anecdotes we all hear about this topic are reinforced by the Gallup Poll, which shows that only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their work. The issues raised are ones I have worked on for many years. With the drive for higher productivity in the workplace, there is little doubt that people are putting in longer hours than they did two or three decades ago. In part, this drive comes from never-ending, short-term pressures of the stock market. An even greater factor is the global nature of competition today, which pits American organizations directly against counterparts in Asia, where work days are long and onerous.

    • Part 1: The Power of the Past

      Published on May 15, 2015

      Everyone makes mistakes, and we all fail at some point. It’s tempting to try to forget these failures, pushing them to the backs of our minds. But the mistakes we make lead us to better choices, and ultimately help us find our True North. That’s why the past is the first thing I’m going to examine in this six-part series to help you determine what it is you’re looking for at this stage in your life - and the steps you need to take to get there.

    • CNBC: DuPont win over Peltz is a victory for long-term investors

      Published on May 14, 2015

      In the seminal proxy contest of the year, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman and her board prevailed over an aggressive attack by activist investor Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund, who nominated himself and three other directors. The reelection of all 12 members of the DuPont board is a significant victory for long term investors who supported Kullman's transformation of this 212 year old company, one of America's crown jewels of science and innovation.

    • The News Journal: DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman called a 'hero'

      Published on May 18, 2015

      To du Pont family member Tatiana Copeland, the DuPont Co.'s chief executive, Ellen Kullman, emerged Wednesday as "the hero of America." "She's the female John Wayne," Copeland said of Kullman after the company's annual meeting, where DuPont beat back activist investor Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management in its bid to get four seats on the company's board. "She didn't flinch."

    • The DuPont Proxy Contest Is a Battle for the Soul of American Capitalism

      Published on May 11, 2015

      The subtitle in Saturday’s New York Times op ed by Joe Nocera jumped off the page, “Why shareholder value has become a disaster for the country.” Nocera was writing about the seminal proxy fight that will be settled on Wednesday, May 13, at DuPont’s annual meeting. On one side is the DuPont board of directors, one of the most distinguished of any U.S. corporation, which recommends the reelection of its 12 members. On the other is the activist investor Trian Fund that proposes a new slate of directors, led by Trian CEO Nelson Peltz, to replace four current DuPont directors.

    • New York Times: Even at the Top, Making Plans for Life’s ‘Third Chapter’

      Published on May 4, 2015

      When Sherry Lansing, the former chairwoman of Paramount Pictures, decided to end a 40-year career in the rough and tumble of Hollywood, the question she faced was where to direct all the energy and drive that had propelled her to the top of the industry. Lounging about in the suburbs of Los Angeles at age 60 was not going to be an option. So instead, she turned her attention to medical research, cancer research in particular, a subject that had taken hold of her years earlier when her mother died of ovarian cancer at age 64.

    • DealBook: Peltz’s Attacks on DuPont Threaten America’s Research Edge

      Published on April 9, 2015

      Since its founding in 1802, DuPont has been at the center of American scientific breakthroughs in chemistry. Among its research triumphs was the black powder that supplied 40 percent of the Allied needs in World War II. In 1912, DuPont founded the first industrial science labs in the United States. Since then, the company has produced a remarkable number of innovations that have had wide-ranging and long-lasting effects on society. These include DuPont’s patented chemicals like rayon in 1924, Teflon in 1938, Kevlar in 1965 and Solamet solar cells in 2007.

    • Harvard Life Hack: 5 Steps to Authentic Leadership with Bill George

      Published on April 6, 2015

      Bill George is the uncle you wish you had. With his quick smile, bright blue eyes, and perpetually-tanned skin, he is cooler than any professor should be. This week the Franklin Fellows had dinner with Bill. And, as we quickly realized, he’s much more than a pretty face. Within moments of meeting, he’d asked for each of our name, shook each member’s hand, and began inquiring about our life’s stories.

    • Speaking Out Against Discrimination

      Published on April 3, 2015

      Laws being passed this past week by Indiana and Arkansas to make discrimination legal on basis of religious freedom have stirred up a hornet’s nest of protests across the country, causing the Republican governors of these two states to ask that the legislation be modified. While LGBT obviously oppose these laws, many of the most criticism has come from CEOs of the nation’s leading companies. Last Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook led off the debate when he penned a powerful op-ed decrying Indiana’s religious freedom law. His decision to speak out was not without risk. Apple products exist in 76 countries where homosexuality is illegal.

    • 30 Questions to Help You Discover Your True North

      Published on April 3, 2015

      If you follow my blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook page, you’ll notice a constant theme: Discover Your True North. Both leaders and corporations have to develop a True North that follows their unique principles. If you try to ‘fake it until you make it,’ you won’t just be unsuccessful; you’ll also be miserable. How can you discover your True North so you can take steps to get where you want to go in life? You have to know what your values are and what’s important to you. To that end, I’ve come up with this list of 30 questions to help you find your True North. Don’t answer them all at once. Take a day to carefully think each one through. Remember, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

    • Inc: Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed

      Published on April 3, 2015

      While IQ has historically been thought of as the determining factor in the performance of leaders, new research from Dan Goleman and others demonstrates conclusively that for people with IQ above 120, EQ is the more important factor in predicting leadership effectiveness. This article shows that people with high EQ on average earn $29,000 more per year. The good news is that your EQ can be developed and improved, whereas IQ is relatively constant over your lifetime. By Discovering Your True North, you can begin to improve your EQ. Try it!

    • Jeff Sonnenfeld for WSJ: Activist Shareholders, Sluggish Performance

      Published on April 2, 2015

      Here’s an important article from my former colleague Jeff Sonnenfeld, who demonstrates that returns from activist funds are less than 50% of the S&P 500, and result in dismantling some formerly great companies. DuPont, in particular, does not deserve the kind of activist proxy attack Nelson Peltz is waging. It is a great company that is well run by CEO Ellen Kullman.

    • Zach Clayton: Building Business the Right Way

      Published on April 1, 2015

      From ZacharyClayton.com, posted March 31, 2015. Someone recently asked me if it was a disadvantage that Three Ships didn’t have venture capitalists. I laughed and thought about something Jim Goodnight, Founder of SAS, once told me. “I didn’t know what venture capital was when I started SAS,” he said and then paused dramatically. With a big grin, he then pronounced: “I’m sure glad I didn’t.”

    • World Economic Forum: How to find strength in admitting your weaknesses

      Published on March 27, 2015

      The willingness to admit your weaknesses and your vulnerabilities is actually very powerful. You can gain strength by admitting your faults to yourself and your peers. When you admit it, you make it a part of what we share as information about ourselves. It makes it okay for me to bring it up, which is crucial for working through conflict. You can even joke about it to ease tension. “You’re doing that thing again.”

    • ABC News - The Secret Weapon of CEOs, Basketball Pros to Get in the Zone

      Published on February 19, 2015

      Basketball legend Michael Jordan’s weapon of choice early in his career was his slam dunk, but he also had a secret weapon in his arsenal: meditation. George Mumford was Jordan’s meditation coach, and he said practicing mindfulness helped Jordan and his other clients, including Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, get in the zone.

    • Huffington Post: How To Be A More Mindful Leader

      Published on January 23, 2015

      Professor Bill George of Harvard Business School spoke with HuffPost Live at Davos on Wednesday about mindfulness.

    • TRUST Magazine: Trust As The Essence Of Leadership

      Published on January 22, 2015

      I am honored to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Trust Across America. Authenticity and trust go hand in hand. My full article on Trust as the Essence of Leadership can be viewed here and full text below.

    • NY Times DealBook - Amid the Chattering of the Global Elite, a Silent Interlude

      Published on January 22, 2015

      For 10 minutes at the World Economic Forum here on Wednesday afternoon, a conference room jammed with more than 100 high-powered delegates was entirely silent. The rare interlude of equanimity came during a panel called Leading Mindfully, a discussion of how meditation was impacting the workplace.

    • Value Walk - More Voices Call For Ouster Of CEO Costolo

      Published on December 30, 2014

      On Friday, George said on CNBC that the company needs a new team at the top and therefore Costolo should resign. George made Costolo’s comparison with the other biggies like Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of social networking giant Facebook Inc and with Larry Page CEO of Google Inc. Harvard professor said that Costolo is not at par with these names, and hence should step down allowing a better person to acquire the position. However, he did expressed his liking for the micro-blogging site, and said that he visits the site five times a day on a regular basis.

    • Tech Insider: Twitter Inc Is Almost Against Advertising: Bill George

      Published on December 30, 2014

      There seems to be no end to calls for resign of Twitter Inc CEO Dick Costolo. Investors, experts and shareholders are demanding Costolo to resign as he was unable to run the company successfully. In a recent development, Bill George, a senior Harvard Professor has said that Twitter Inc’s CEO could not run the company in the right way. He thinks that the Costolo has not the right repo, PR and fame like a CEO should have, CNBC reported.

    • CNBC Video - Does CEO Leadership Matter? Yes!

      Published on December 8, 2014

      Full clip of this morning's CNBC Squawk Box discussion, "Does CEO Leadership Matter?" ... My answer? A resounding YES! Look forward to your feedback.

    • New York Times DealBook - When Activist Investors Aim at Strong Companies

      Published on November 21, 2014

      Activist investors have the “hot hand” these days. Their calls to break up companies have attracted growing attention, and their hedge funds continue to add new capital. Bill Ackman, for example, netted more than $2 billion on his investment in Allergan. He pressured its board to sell to Valeant, but profited even though the company was ultimately was sold to Actavis. Carl Icahn challenged Apple’s cash hoard, while Mr. Ackman dislodged Robert McDonald as chief executive of Procter & Gamble. Chief executives are concerned that their company may be next.

    • Bloomberg Video - Actavis to Buy Allergan

      Published on November 17, 2014

      Actavis acquires Allergan for $66 billion, and Valeant is out. This is a great deal for both ACT & AGN as it offers high growth & high R&D spend. Here are my thoughts on the acquisition on Bloomberg Market Makers

    • Bloomberg Video - Activists Going After America's Best

      Published on November 17, 2014

      Why are activists going after America's best companies instead of trying to help the worst? Here are my thoughts on Bloomberg Market Makers ...

    • InsiderMonkey: Google Inc.'s Diversification Will Be Key to Future Success: Bill George

      Published on November 5, 2014

      Google Inc. has been on a diversification drive in the recent past as focus shifts from the core search business that it has come to be known of, over the years. Former Medtronic CEO, Bill George, during an interview on CNBC, argued that the company is doing the right thing moving into other areas of operations despite increased concerns.

    • Remarks by Bill George: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Warren Bennis

      Published on October 1, 2014

      Yesterday I had the privilege to participate as a speaker at “Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Warren Bennis” at University of Southern California,” along with a number of speakers. It was a moving and upbeat memorial service, done with great grace and elegance, just as Warren lived his life. Warren was a great leadership scholar who have justifiably earned the title of “The Father of Leadership.” Over 600 friends, mentees and admirers joined his wife, Grace Gabe, and members of his family in celebrating this great man.

    • New York Times DealBook: Jack Ma on Alibaba, Entrepreneurs and the Role of Handstands

      Published on September 23, 2014

      I spoke with Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, at a private luncheon on Friday, just an hour after his company had gone public. Mr. Ma is unlike any Chinese leader I have ever met. He is emerging as the face of the new China: a free enterprise entrepreneur working within the confines of a rigid government. Alibaba’s stock had just started trading on Friday, and it immediately jumped in value. It ended the day up 38 percent, at $93.89, giving the company a market value of $231 billion. The company set the record for the largest initial public offering in history.

    • TwinCities: Guthrie event will honor female leaders

      Published on September 16, 2014

      The George Family Foundation and the Guthrie Theater will honor female leaders tonight at a Celebrating Twin Cities Women Leaders event. The event will recognize 84 local women who have made a difference in the Twin Cities through business, government, education, social service, media and the arts.

    • StarTribune: Bill George: Strong female leadership sets Twin Cities apart

      Published on September 15, 2014

      What makes the Twin Cities so vibrant and progressive? First, great institutions in business, education, health care, government, the arts and social services. Second, extraordinary leaders who built these organizations. While we have had exceptional male leaders, what makes the Twin Cities stand out are the many women who have built these organizations as CEOs, board chairs and presidents. In no other major city have women leaders had as great an impact.

    • Taking On The Ice Bucket Challenge

      Published on August 22, 2014

      I am pleased to take on the Ice Bucket Challenge from HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak, and good friend Miles Sovell. We are also giving $1,000 to the ALS Research Association to help discover cures for this dreaded disease that took the life of my cousin Tessa.

    • HBR: The Conversation We Should Be Having About Corporate Taxes

      Published on August 22, 2014

      The corporate inversion, when a U.S. company takes on the legal identity of foreign subsidiary, usually in order to reduce its taxes, has become about as controversial as corporate finance topics get. President Obama has called such transactions “unpatriotic.” Others have defended them as a way for American companies to stay competitive in the face of a uniquely intrusive tax code. Harvard Business School’s Mihir Desai and Bill George both fall mostly in the second camp, but with some surprising twists that came out when I spoke with them recently. 

    • The Remarkable Legacy of Warren Bennis

      Published on August 4, 2014

      With the passing of Warren Bennis this past Thursday, a giant oak has fallen with an impact felt throughout the world. Small in physical stature, Warren was a giant in his intellect, his heart, and his spirit. Like the oak, Warren had deep roots that carried his wisdom and nourished blossoms that made the world more beautiful and humane.

    • Wharton Interview: Authentic Leadership and Letting Your Strengths ‘Bloom’

      Published on July 25, 2014

      During the Franklin Institute awards day, I had the opportunity to discuss leadership with Wharton's Michael Useem, one of the world's great leadership thinkers. My emphasis was on "being who you are: letting the authentic leader within you blossom, rather than trying to emulate other leaders."

    • A Postcard From Berlin

      Published on July 21, 2014

      Returning to Berlin for the first time in several years, it is remarkable to see this great city progress as the cultural center of Germany. Penny and I had the privilege of staying at the magnificent Adlon Hotel as our hotel room looked out on Brandenburg Gate, the former dividing line between East and West Berlin. I still have vivid memories of standing under the gate on October 3, 1990 – the day of German reunification – when Maestro Leonard Bernstein conducted the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with its glorious “Ode to Joy.”

    • 5 Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn from German Soccer

      Published on July 15, 2014

      On Sunday, Germany became the champion of the soccer world, winning the World Cup for the 4th time, defeating a rugged Argentina team with Lionel Messi as its star. Germany’s surge through the tournament – undefeated in seven games with only a tie with Ghana marring its record – wasn’t a fluke, nor was it lucky. It was the result of 14-year rebuilding program that began in 2000 when soccer was at a low point in Germany’s vaunted history.

    • Vail Valley Scenery: Walking Mountains ‘Reach for the Peak’ honors Bill and Penny George

      Published on July 15, 2014

      “The mountains are calling and I must go,” wrote naturalist and writer John Muir. And the mountains called and the people came, despite showers and reverberating thunder, to celebrate Walking Mountains Science Center at the Reach for the Peak award dinner held on Thursday at the school’s campus in Avon. “Nature Nurtures” was the theme, and several stations were set up with experiential learning for the guests on meditation, local plants as aromatherapy and healing plants.

    • Bill & Penny George Receive Reach for the Peak Award

      Published on July 13, 2014

      On Thursday, July 10, Penny and I were honored to receive the Reach for the Peak Award from Walking Mountains Science School in Vail. Here’s the video they produced for us.

    • The Boston Globe: More US firms chase mergers that yield overseas address

      Published on July 14, 2014

      Good article from The Boston Globe on the renewed interest in "tax inversions," and my thoughts on why acquisitions must never be just about driving deals ... When Flemming Ornskov was named chief executive of Shire PLC last year, he moved his office from the drug maker’s Dublin headquarters to its Lexington campus so he could scout for biotechs to buy here. Now Shire itself is a takeover target. It rebuffed a $46 billion bid from pharmaceutical giant AbbVie Inc. of Chicago late last month, but the suitor hasn’t given up. It’s not only after Shire’s drug portfolio, but also the company’s address in Ireland, where corporate taxes are lower.

    • Recommendations for Medtronic Shareholders

      Published on July 7, 2014

      Sunday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune contained a thoughtful article by Jennifer Bjorhus articulating concerns over capital gains taxes that Medtronic shareholders must pay when Medtronic completes its acquisition of Covidien. As a long time holder of Medtronic stock, here’s what I am planning to do and what I would suggest for other Medtronic individual shareholders.

    • Thanks to Jürgen Klinsmann, U.S. Soccer is America’s Team

      Published on July 3, 2014

      Credit German-born Jürgen Klinsmann for turning U.S. Soccer into America’s Team. While the Australians have their national rugby team and the Brazilians, Spanish and Germans have their national soccer teams, Americans have only had professional sports teams representing their cities. No wonder Europeans are so passionate about their national teams while Americans focus on the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Boston Celtics and Chicago Blackhawks.

    • StarTribune: Bill George: Tax inversion deals should make sense beyond just taxes

      Published on June 30, 2014

      With Medtronic’s $43 billion acquisition of Covidien, Pfizer’s failed $119 billion bid for AstraZeneca, and AbbVie’s pending $46 billion proposal for Shire, conflicting opinions abound about the merits and drawbacks of tax inversions. Some consider them unpatriotic. Others believe companies are bound by fiduciary responsibility to consider them.

    • StarTribune: Counterpoint: Medtronic's move will benefit all

      Published on June 24, 2014

      The headline in the Opinion Exchange section June 22 trumpeted: “It’s shareholders over stakeholders for Medtronic.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Commentator Stephen B. Young fails to comprehend that Medtronic’s acquisition of Covidien is being done precisely to benefit all of its stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders and communities. Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak justifies the Covidien acquisition because it extends Medtronic’s mission to 5 million more patients annually.

    • Medtronic Deal Benefits All Its Stakeholders

      Published on June 22, 2014

      Medtronic's acquisition of Covidien benefits all of its stakeholders: its customers, employees, shareholders, communities and society as a whole. For Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak, the Covidien acquisition expands the Medtronic Mission of contributing “to human welfare by the application of biomedical engineering to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life” to more patients. When Bakken penned the Mission in 1960, he intentionally covered all aspects of human health.

    • A Perspective on Medtronic's Acquisition of Covidien

      Published on June 15, 2014

      I just learned that my former company Medtronic has announced it will acquire Covidien for $43 billion - more than ten times the size of the company's largest deal to date. At first glance this looks like "a marriage made in Heaven." This combination enables Medtronic to extend its mission of using biomedical engineering to serve patients suffering from chronic disease, now totaling an estimated 15 million new patients per year.

    • NY Times DealBook: Former Medtronic C.E.O. Defends Inversion Deal

      Published on June 16, 2014

      From The New York Times DealBook, June 16, 2014. Bill George, a former chief executive of the medical device maker Medtronic, came out last month against Pfizer’s proposed inversion, a deal to acquire an overseas competitor and reincorporate abroad, lowering tax rates and freeing up overseas cash. “Is the role of leading large pharmaceutical companies to discover lifesaving drugs or to make money for shareholders through financial engineering?” Mr. George wrote on DealBook. “Does anyone believe pharmaceutical companies can create long term shareholder value by chasing lower tax venues and cutting research and development spending?”

    • HBS Working Knowledge: Fixing the ‘I Hate Work’ Blues

      Published on June 6, 2014

      The New York Times ran a troubling story, "Why You Hate Work," in last week's "Sunday Review." The article indicated that employees work too hard and find little meaning from their work. The anecdotes we all hear about this topic are reinforced by the Gallup Poll, which shows that only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their work. The issues raised are ones I have worked on for many years. With the drive for higher productivity in the workplace, there is little doubt that people are putting in longer hours than they did two or three decades ago. In part, this drive comes from never-ending, short-term pressures of the stock market. An even greater factor is the global nature of competition today, which pits American organizations directly against counterparts in Asia, where work days are long and onerous.

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