Ted Turner, champion debater

December 11, 2009

As a high school junior, future media magnate Ted Turner led the debate team to its first state championship in 30 years, and he did it by finding a unique angle … Thrown completely off guard, opponents crumbled. Turner’s team won.

Entrepreneurial leadership: Turning hair care & tequila into gold

December 11, 2009

The most important thing about John Paul DeJoria is his resemblance to the hero in a Grimm fairy tale: “The Boy Who Knew No Fear.” With a net worth today estimated at $2.5 billion, the founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and Patrón ultra-premium tequila started out selling encyclopedias door-to-door …

Tweets from the elites

December 11, 2009

Because Twitter has become the world’s water cooler, we’re hanging out and seeing what leeters (leaders who tweet) are saying. For example, AOL founder Steve Case: “Technology is changing your customer, and your customer will change your company.” Here are more tweets from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Fortune’s Stanley Bing and Michael Jordan:

WD-40: a simple strategy

November 17, 2009

John S. Barry staked his entire claim on WD-40 and the motto of keeping it simple. When he took over his father-in-law’s small company—$1 million in annual sales—he made it smaller, chopping the product line to one and renaming the company after that product: WD-40. Then … no changes—for 25 years. While his strategy seems simple, it’s actually pretty savvy:

Kraft CEO transformed a behemoth

October 9, 2009

Though big can be beautiful, the Kraft Foods behemoth was too weighed down by its centralized structure to be nimble or responsive. So in 2007, Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld initiated a rewiring of the organization to put more power in the hands of business units. She managed to get the entire executive team — even those that did not fully support the idea — to own the team’s decision. How did she get such solid alignment?

Jim Collins on power vs. leadership

May 11, 2009

Asked to look back over 30 years in the context of our tumultuous times, Jim Collins, author of the best-sellers Good to Great and Built to Last, offers these thoughts about where we find ourselves and how to proceed.

Change management lessons from Ford’s Alan Mulally

May 11, 2009

Ford’s chief executive, Alan Mulally, was mocked in 2006 for gathering more than 400 bankers into a ballroom and asking them to mortgage the company’s assets to pay for an overhaul of the carmaker. The cash, he said, would give Ford “a cushion to protect for a recession or other unexpected event.” Here are some take-away lessons from this forward-thinking leader:

Cisco: Making the change with Web 2.0

January 9, 2009

It pays to give more than lip service to the Web 2.0 trend, with its emphasis on trust and openness. Just look at Cisco Systems. All decisions at Cisco used to be made by the top 10 people in the company, says CEO John Chambers. Today, he is spreading the company’s leadership and decision-making far wider than before.

Joseph Wilson: Xerox’s true grit

December 12, 2008

Joseph C. Wilson, the man behind the first Xerox copier, created an industry from scratch because he was willing to ignore market studies and act on faith. He could imagine people wanting “complicated”—though they said they wanted “simple.” He also possessed these five “quiet leadership” traits that led to his ground-breaking success …

Tips from the father of ‘spin’

October 1, 2007
Edward Bernays, father of public relations, swung his trade from propaganda to publicity in the early 20th century. It didn’t matter what he hawked.