Ogilvy’s leader saw a simple, powerful truth others didn’t

November 16, 2011

The world was simpler when Shelly Lazarus went to work for ad agency Ogilvy & Mather in 1971. Decades later, as CEO and chairwoman of the behemoth Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide that employs over 15,000 people in 125 countries, Lazarus continued to keep in mind one simple advertising truth. Even when others told her it did not apply to China.

And you laughed at the Segway!

November 8, 2011
Dean Kamen, inventor of the portable insulin pump, the wheelchair that climbs stairs and the Segway electric scooter, has three operating principles that have propelled him into leadership in his field:

Revitalizing from the ground up

November 2, 2011

Joe Englert, a developer of nightspots in Washington, D.C., became bored with what the city had to offer in the 1980s, so he leased an old pub and created a weekend joint called The Random Club … that started the drive to revitalize a run-down corridor of the city. Englert’s experience goes to show that leaders must be willing to explore unusual opportunities.

11 ways to be the biggest loser

October 20, 2011

Donald Keough, former president of Coca-Cola, has 10 commandments to follow if you want to be a “highly successful loser”: 1. Play it safe. It doesn’t take long for things to grind to a halt if you simply reduce risk to zero. 2. Don’t budge. Inflexibility is one of the fastest ways to lose both customers and employees. That’s what happened at Coke for years as company leaders came to think of the drink and the green bottle as a single unit.

Let the music play

October 13, 2011
Pandora, the free Internet radio that plays music specifically suited to your taste, continues to grow like a weed, with practically every metric skyrocketing. Pandora founder Tim Westergren says, “When you’re a small company, what you lack in scale you have to make up for by being a step ahead of the competition. Innovation is an absolute cornerstone of our company.”

SPANX: Beyond the practical

September 28, 2011

By almost any standard, Sara Blakely was living an ordinary life. Blakely had never taken a business course and was clueless on patent law. But doggedly, without quitting her day job, she did the research and took time off to get her invention manufactured and sold. She named it SPANX …

Nestlé’s no-drama leader

September 22, 2011

Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke is a quiet guy, the engineer father of two engineer sons who describes his family as “boring.” He loves working behind the scenes. Most of his career has been spent simplifying processes, building teams and slowly scaling the ranks in Latin American obscurity. For Nestlé, this was perfect.

Pivotal moments can make the leader

August 26, 2011

At 6 feet 5 inches, 46-year-old CEO Marc Benioff is a bear of a man at the helm of, a $20 billion company, which is leading a market he created from scratch. Behind his chutzpa is a cadre of leaders who have inspired Benioff during pivotal mo­­ments of his life.

Collaborate like Edison

August 25, 2011
Author Sarah Miller Caldicott, great-grandniece of the inventor, is working on a second book about Thomas Edison’s collaboration methods. Edison believed in collaboration not only as a way of accelerating the innovation process, but to expand the solution set, Caldicott says. He liked to create diverse groups of people from diverse disciplines.

CEO’s prescription for sickly hospital

June 30, 2011
When Wright L. Lassiter III came on board as CEO of the Alameda County Medical Center, and its flagship, Highland Hospital, it was losing millions of dollars each year. What followed was a turnaround so successful it now serves as a model worth emulating.