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. ... Read more

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    • 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.

    • 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.

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