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.” ... Read more

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    • 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.

    • Andrew Sorkin for NY Times: Do Drug Companies Make Drugs, or Money?

      Published on June 3, 2014

      “I just want to emphasize that this is an industry where it is composed of really great people, working to do good things for patients, for doctors and actually for society, and when I look at our employees, there is sort of a noble purpose to working in the pharmaceutical industry.” That was Mike Pearson, the chief executive of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, waxing poetic last week about the virtues of his company. He was doing so as he was trying to sell shareholders of Allergan, the maker of Botox, on his company’s $53 billion takeover bid.

    • Landon Donovan’s Response to Coach Klinsmann

      Published on May 28, 2014

      In a fitting riposte to being cut from the US national soccer team by Juergen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan demonstrated once again why he is the best US soccer player ever: He still has the ability to terrorize opponents by scoring goals. Sunday night he scored two goals and assisted on a third, bringing his MLS total to 158 and becoming the all-time MLS leader in goals. Last summer he broke the US national team record for both most goals and most assists.

    • Opening of Penny George Institute at New Ulm Medical Center

      Published on May 23, 2014

      Very proud of my wife Penny who continues to champion integrative medicine. Yesterday she opened the new Penny George Institute at New Ulm (MN) Medical Center, part of Allina Health.

    • Mayo Medical School Commencement Address - Challenges For The New Generation

      Published on May 19, 2014

      On Saturday I was deeply honored to receive an honorary doctorate from Mayo Medical School and to give the commencement address. My subject was “Challenges for the New Generation of Physician and Scientific Leaders” in which I challenged the graduating class of MD/PHDs, MDs and PHDs to step up to leadership roles to transform the nation’s health care system.

    • NY Times DealBook - A Case for Rejecting Pfizer’s Bid for AstraZeneca

      Published on May 8, 2014

      Is the role of leading large pharmaceutical companies to discover life-saving drugs or to make money for shareholders through financial engineering? Pfizer claims “both,” I don't believe pharmaceutical companies can create long-term shareholder value by focusing solely on chasing lower tax venues and cutting research and development spending.

    • Honored by The Franklin Institute

      Published on April 25, 2014

      Last night I was deeply honored to receive the Bower Award for Business Leadership from The Franklin Institute along with eight very distinguished scientists. This was the greatest recognition of my professional life. Looking over the list of previous winners of this award – which includes many of my roles models like Jim Burke of J&J, David Packard of H-P, Roy Vagelos of Merck, and more recently, Bill Gates and Mike Dell – I don’t feel deserving to be recognized among them, but I am deeply humbled.

    • Directors & Board Magazine: Bill George On Transitioning A Board's Makeup

      Published on April 22, 2014

      Building a great board is a most difficult task. It takes a great deal of time on the part of the board members and the CEO. But it is the key to a strong system of governance.

    • Outsmart The Activists!

      Published on April 16, 2014

      The “activist hedge fund” is a new breed of shareholder that has emerged in the 21st century, leading to increased pressure on corporate executives and boards through the strategy of taking on more debt and paying out more to shareholders. Because these activist shareholders are generally seeing positive returns and institutional investors are following their lead, it’s clear hedge fund activism is here to stay. CEOs and boards must adapt to activist interventions and use them to improve their organizations.

    • The Detroit News: Barra Not Alone as New CEO to Deal with Crisis

      Published on March 28, 2014

      While few CEOs have had to contend with major crises right out of the chute, there have been others. In addition to Akio Toyoda, crisis-management expert Bill George points to Jeff Immelt, who had the misfortune of taking over another General — General Electric Co. — just four days before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

    • HBR: Developing Mindful Leaders for the C-Suite

      Published on March 11, 2014

      Time Magazine recently put “The Mindfulness Revolution” on its cover, which could either be seen as hyping the latest business fad, or as signaling a major change in the thinking of executive leaders. I believe it’s the latter. The use of mindful practices like meditation, introspection, and journaling are taking hold at such successful enterprises as Google, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Medtronic, and Aetna, and contributing to the success of these remarkable organizations.

    • WSJ: Free Advice for Satya Nadella

      Published on February 4, 2014

      Another well-done Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Feintzeig on Microsoft CEO, February 4, 2014: So, you’re the new CEO of Microsoft: a sprawling tech company that critics say missed the mobile and social revolutions, losing crucial market share to Google and Apple. And your two predecessors, one of whom is Bill Gates, are hovering over your shoulder.

    • WSJ: How Microsoft’s Global Search Ended at Home

      Published on February 4, 2014

      Great Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Feintzeig, February 4, 2014: With the announcement of Satya Nadella as its new chief executive, Microsoft’s global search for a new leader ended in its own backyard.

    • Target’s Leaders Follow The Playbook For Handling Crisis Well

      Published on January 12, 2014

      Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel and his leadership team are experiencing every company’s worst nightmare... Yet, in response, Steinhafel and his team seem to be doing everything right

    • Your #1 2014 New Year’s Resolution? Resolve to Live More Mindfully

      Published on December 29, 2013

      I recommend eight excellent books to help you increase your ability to live mindfully and flourish in 2014

    • Is Obama Backing Away From Obamacare?

      Published on December 21, 2013

      In early 2014 the President will be faced with a stark choice, as the shortfall of healthy Americans signing up through healthcare.gov becomes reality, and the consequences of adverse selection cause insurers to reprice their 2015 plans. He can cling to the original liberal provisions of Obamacare and face massive political fallout. Or he can take a more gradual approach to universal health care

    • McKinsey Interview on Rethinking Capitalism

      Published on December 10, 2013

      Here is my video from the McKinsey website on the need for long-term investing in order to create superior value for their customers and why boards of directors must be prepared to stand up to activist investors urging short-term actions.

    • World Cup Draw: A More Professional Way

      Published on December 8, 2013

      FIFA, soccer's governing body, loves controversy, chance and corruption. But the World Cup groupings this year have provoked a reasonable outrage. Here are my recommendations on how to change the system.

    • The Greatest Leader Of Our Lifetime

      Published on December 6, 2013

      Late this evening Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. He was the greatest leader of our lifetime. His Long Walk to Freedom included 27 years in prison on Robben Island, hard labor, and cruel treatment for a political crime he did not commit.

    • Bill George Awarded Prestigious Bower Award From The Franklin Institute

      Published on November 6, 2013

      The Franklin Institute awarded Bill George its 2014 Bower Award for Business Leadership. The Awards program, founded in 1824, is among the oldest and most prestigious honors bestowed in the United States.

    • Six Ways to Save Obamacare

      Published on November 6, 2013

      Only President Obama can save Obamacare. Obamacare is not going to be repealed – not now and not in the future. However, there is real risk it could collapse under its own weight. If that happens, the President's credibility will collapse as well. Whether or not you support this President, this could seriously harm the health of our citizens and America’s fiscal stability.

    • Obamacare Overpromised and Underdelivered

      Published on October 30, 2013

      As the disastrous rollout of Obamacare’s federal insurance exchange continues, politicians are palpitating over what went wrong. On Tuesday Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), expressed regret for the difficulty people have receiving insurance. In typical fashion for the Obama administration, she blamed the contractors and high portal traffic. While President Obama has publicly apologized, no one has yet explained what really went wrong.

    • A Solution to Our "Manufactured" Crisis

      Published on October 14, 2013

      Unlike our counterparts in Southern Europe, the United States is blessed to have a fairly steady economy these days. While economic growth is not as robust as it has been in years past, it is at least solid and jobs are steadily returning in the private sector. Financial markets reflect the solid outlook for leading U.S. industries like information technology, health care, energy, automobiles, and basic manufacturing industries.

    • John Noseworthy: Overcoming Fragmentation in Health Care

      Published on October 14, 2013

      Here is an exceptional article, written by Mayo CEO John Noseworthy, addressing fragmentation in health care & solving it through information sharing. Mayo is taking the lead nationally as a role model of how to solve these problems.

    • Video - Almanac: Mayo Clinic Expansion

      Published on September 27, 2013

      From DMC, August 13, 2013. Former Medtronic CEO and business ethics leader Bill George called Destination Medical Center "the most important thing for Minnesota's future" in an interview with TPT's Almanac last week.

    • "We Are All Called to Be Servant Leaders" Address

      Published on September 23, 2013

      Last Saturday I had the privilege of delivering the address at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on the occasion of its 125th Anniversary in the presence of Bishop Prior. Penny and I and sons belonged to St. Martin’s from 1983-1995, and it was a great pleasure to return with so many old friends in attendance. My topic was: “We Are All Called to Be Servant Leaders.” Your feedback is welcome.

    • Sky Magazine: The Enlightened Leader

      Published on September 11, 2013

      Thirty-seven years ago Bill George first convened what might be called a feedback and support lunch club for aspiring executives. Ever since, George and his half-dozen compatriots have met almost every Wednesday to discuss their lives and businesses. He now calls this his True North Group.

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