Organize for Success® Turns 10
Today, let's discuss my top 10 favorite business leaders:
10. Mary T. Barra - Having been General Motors' CEO since January 15, 2014, Ms. Barra is remaking the company's culture in order to keep pace in the race to reinvent transportation. I'm continually impressed with how well Ms. Barra stays ahead of all the changes happening in society while empowering employees, valuing customers' wants as much as their needs and pushing for profitability. As Ms. Barra says, "If we win the hearts and minds of employees, we're going to have better business success."
9. Jeff Bezos - As the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Amazon, the world's largest online shopping retailer, as well as founder of Blue Origin aerospace and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, Mr. Bezos is an excellent example of how "we can't rest on our laurels" and frequently shares insights from the ongoing evolution of his businesses as well as himself. Currently the third richest person in the world, Mr. Bezos believes "A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person; you earn reputation by trying to do hard things well," showing that our work is never done developing.
8. Warren Buffett - Widely considered one of the most successful investors in the world, Mr. Buffett is a business magnate, investor and philanthropist who regularly displays humility as the public asks for what lessons he's learned across his many successes. Mr. Buffett is Chairman and CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway, where he leads the company and its team members to continually evolve while upholding ethics to be admired." As he's stated, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it; if you think about that, you'll do things differently."
7. Ashley Christensen - My sophomore year in high school, Ms. Christensen served as our student body president, filling her role as a strong leader from the very beginning; however, this Kernersville native has come a long way in the years since graduating from East Forsyth High School. Beyond being the chef + proprietor for six different restaurants, Ms. Christensen fosters community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of Raleigh's downtown neighborhood. Exhibiting keen work-life integration skills, Ms. Christensen is active with a number of local and regional charities while excelling at providing such amazing food and beverages that she's regularly highlighted nationally and was awarded the very prestigious James Beard award for "Best Chef: Southeast" in 2014.
7. Melinda Gates - According to Town & Country Magazine, Kappa Alpha Theta has the most celebrity alums, and we are proud to count Ms. Gates among our ranks from the Beta Rho chapter at Duke University. As co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Gates honorably fills the philanthropist role by empowering the next generation with access to quality healthcare and a great education. In September 2016, Ms. Gates announced her desire to begin working on the unbelievably important issue of the lack of women in technology by saying, "We're graduating fewer women technologists; that is not good for society, and we have to change it." I find Ms. Gates inspiring, saying we must "get comfortably being uncomfortable" to achieve our greatest success.
6. Arianna Huffington - In 2016, Ms. Huffington stepped down from her role as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, an American journalism company that she founded, choosing to devote her time to Thrive Global, which focuses on health and wellness information. Ms. Huffington's message that we need to sleep better in order to achieve greater success resonates with me and has prompted me to focus more on getting better nights' sleep, although I'm still a work in progress. As Ms. Huffington reassures and empowers us all, "Fearlessness is like a muscle. The more I exercise it the more natural it becomes not to let my fears run me."
5. Gayle King - More than simply Oprah Winfrey's best friend, Ms. King is an inspiration for "keeping it real", whether co-anchoring CBS This Morning, serving as editor-at-large for O Magazine or emceeing special events. As Ms. King explains, "There's always going to be somebody who people perceive can do the job that you're doing, and you can't get hung up on that; I have always decided I'm just going to do the best me, do the best job that I can do, so that, at the end of the day, I don't have any regrets about my performance." I can relate to Ms. King describing herself as inquisitive, asking questions to understand better and learn more.
3. Coach Gregg Popovich - Like any company, a successful sports team needs strong leadership, and I believe Coach Popovich is the absolute best NBA basketball coach, exemplified by his multiple NBA Coach of the Year awards and championships. Each year, the San Antonio Spurs players trust Coach Popovich completely, looking to him for winning game plans and depending on him to see what each player's greatest attributes can be for the overall team's greatest success. Coach Popovich trains his teams to pass the ball more on each possession than any of their opponents, building trust between teammates, encouraging communication and requiring each player to dedicate himself 100% to the specific role that Coach Popovich assigns each individual on the team.
2. Kip Tindell - For each of the last 17 years in Mr. Tindell's 38-year tenure as The Container Store's CEO, he led the company to Fortune's Best Place to Work list, fostering a progressive corporate culture where everyone associated with the business can thrive together. As The Container Store's founder, Mr. Tindell brought to life this amazing concept of a store to fulfill folks' needs for an eclectic mix of bins, boxes, racks, shelves and tools, all exceptional quality that more easily enables the organizing process.
1. Cindy Whitehead - Although you may recall Ms. Whitehead as the Former CEO of Sprout Pharma who created Addyi (the women's libido-enhancing drug often referred to as "the female Viagra") before selling the company for an incredible $1 billion, her newest venture of The Pink Ceiling is an exciting combination of VC fund, incubator and consulting firm, which is based right here in Raleigh, NC, and recently added a membership service based out of North Hills and known as the Pinkubator. With first-hand experience of how misunderstandings can become truths, Ms. Whitehead proactively works to the betterment of each client, regularly exhibiting her genuine care for each client's greatest success, and she's truly dedicated to her team's partnership with each client.
Bonus - Former President Barack Obama - Over his 8 years as the United States of America's 44th president, he led our country to many powerful lessons on leadership while representing us honorably throughout the world. Former President Obama encouraged Americans to be optimistic while not forgetting the long view, lived his viewpoint that nothing is accomplished alone as he built and utilized a strong team, empowered us to stay with the times while being forward-thinking and advised us to get neither overwhelmed nor comfortable with making big decisions.
Who are your favorite leaders? What is it about those folks you admire, are impressed by or want to emulate?