PBS Television | Travels & Traditions with Burt Wolf - Kansas City

Travels & Traditions is a series of half-hour programs airing on PBS stations around the United States in which award-winning producer Burt Wolf travels to cities around the world to explore their history, culture, gastronomy and tourist attractions.

In the two-part series focused on Kansas City, Dan hosts Burt for a tour with the icons,  landmarks, institutions and eateries that make Kansas City such a beloved gem of the Midwest.

Watch both parts of this tour below:


Travels & Traditions: Kansas City, Part 1

Burt Wolf Travels & Traditions Kansas City

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Travels & Traditions: Kansas City, Part 2

Interview, LinkedIn Series

Dan Talks #JUST100 with Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money

Democrats and Republicans agree on something: the behavior they wish to see exhibited by US corporations.

On Tuesday, non-profit JUST Capital released its rankings of America's 100 largest companies based on how "JUST" they are. JUST Capital surveyed tens of thousands of Americans about the behaviors they want to see from companies they buy from, invest in and work for. The results between Democratic and Republican respondents were remarkably consistent.

In a nutshell, Americans believe that American companies put too much emphasis on only one stakeholder: shareholders. They believe that shareholders are important stakeholders, but workers, customers, the environment and communities are even more important. JUST capital used the American people's definition of JUST and collected hard data from a variety of sources to determine how US companies are performing with respect to these criteria.

For more on the JUST 100, watch below. Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money interviewed Dan about the JUST Capital rankings.


To read the rest of Dan's thoughts on the #JUST100, clickthrough to Dan's LinkedIn post

Interview, Corporate Leadership

How Creative Destruction Transformed Telecommunications

Dan sits down with CEO Forum Magazine to discuss how the Internet and digital world were formed, as well as the direct impact this development will have on the telecommunications industry moving forward. The following was featured in the April edition of CEO Forum Magazine


Robert Reiss: Prior to becoming CEO of Sprint, you were CEO of AT&T Wireless and witnessed firsthand the formative years of digital. Can you share some inside-the-scenes historical perspective?

Dan Hesse: You mentioned AT&T. It was back in the early 80’s and our main business back then was voice telephony. That was the core business – remember “reach out and touch someone?” But during that period, we were given two new technologies to start using ourselves. One was email. This was long before the internet – an “intranet” called AT&T Mail. The second was voicemail, but not from the point of view of you call somebody, miss them, and get their answering machine.
The primary new application of voicemail was allowing the user to record a message and send it through the network. These new applications were moving us away from analog, using digital bits, both email and voicemail, to disrupt the core business. The first big “aha moment” was the ability to shift time. If I wanted to send somebody a message at midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning, I didn’t have to worry about waking them up. I could send and receive messages whenever I wanted to.
Time shifting is now a big deal in all types of media. For example, it has changed cable television. If you have a DVR or you get your programs over the internet or overthe-
top, you watch when you want to watch. You create your viewing schedule, not the schedule of the TV networks.
But what was so instructive for me very early in my career was the notion of “creative destruction.” Our primary business was real-time voice telephone calls. We were coming up with new concepts that were going to compete directly with the core business. What made these time shifting tools even more useful was mobility, where place, which had been so important in our landline world, lost relevancy. As soon as I got a car phone in the mid-80s, I learned how much more powerful voicemail could be because place was no longer important. I used voicemail to send and receive messages, while in my car (hands free, of course!). It used to be time and place were critically important. Now, time wasn’t important and with mobile phones, place wasn’t important either. The real game-changers I learned about early on were time shifting, place shifting, and the power of creative destruction.


The Growing Demand for More Just Capitalism

Dan discusses the mission of JUST Capital and why he joined their team in this reposted interview with Fidelum Partners. The following was published on Fideulm Partners Insights portal on January 1, 2017.


Dan, why did you join the Board of the JUST Capital Foundation?

“I’m a huge proponent of capitalism, I think capitalism is the best system in the world, the best that’s ever been tried, but it can be improved. Over the last couple of decades, the focus has been too much on the short-term versus the long-term, and focused only on one stakeholder, the shareholder, versus a broader set of stakeholders which include the employees, communities, customers and the planet.  I was at the Business Council meeting almost a year ago when Paul Tudor Jones and Martin Whitaker of JUST Capital were presenting their ideas to this large group of CEOs and I said to myself, “Bingo.  If American consumers had an easy way to find out which companies acted responsibly in the areas most important to them, like a ‘Consumers Reports’ for corporate behavior, I believe they’d direct their spending to those companies.”

How are JUST Capital’s efforts different from those of others advocating for socially responsible capitalism?

“JUST Capital is focused on finding out what is most important to the American public from a social justice standpoint.  For example, their research with over 43,000 Americans indicated that employee compensation and treatment are the most critical issues.  Other important issues include product safety, human rights and the environment.  They also want companies to make a profit and reward shareholders.  Based on these criteria, Just Capital utilizes dozens of independent data sources to identify the JUST 100 companies.

“Their approach is data driven and easy to use, so consumers can vote with their wallets, which I believe is vastly superior to regulation to get companies to behave better.  It’s more efficient and effective for companies that do good to be rewarded in the marketplace.  If they are, other companies will follow their lead.  So, I’m very enthusiastic about what JUST Capital is doing. ”

If you were leading a public company today, would you find the JUST 100 rankings helpful? 

“I absolutely would, there’s no question about it.  JUST 100 rankings are not only a tool for consumers, but also a great tool for companies.  It provides companies with a road map of what customers are looking for, and it gives them ways to improve.  They can see the companies that are at the top and what they have done to achieve their positions, and from that build an improvement plan.”

Have you previously had success using external rankings to improve company performance?

“At Sprint, I found the J. D. Power ratings and the American Customer Satisfaction Index very helpful because they provided goals for the company to rally around and offered independent third party verification that our customer satisfaction efforts were working.  I remember standing in front of the Care team at Sprint in 2008 and saying that within two years we’re going to win a J. D. Power award.  Many looked skeptical because we were not only last, but last by a mile.  But by 2012, Sprint had won multiple J. D. Power awards and was number one among wireless carriers in the American Customer Satisfaction index.  By focusing our efforts around a common goal based on external ratings, we went from losing customers to the Sprint brand having the highest growth rate in net new customer additions among the major wireless carriers.”

Click here for more details on JUST Capital and their JUST 100 Index of companies.

...Click for full interview.

Corporate Leadership, Interview

Why Excellent Customer Service Costs Less

Reposted coverage from Dan's career-spanning conversation with Fidelum Partners. topics focused on customer service goals for business. The following was published January 1, 2017.


When Dan Hesse joined AT&T as a 23-year-old management trainee 1977, he never imagined he was embarking on a career journey that would eventually lead Fierce Wireless to name him one of the five “Best Turnaround CEO’s of All Time“.  In addition, Entrepreneur magazine would recognize him as one of “10 Inspirational Leaders who Turned Around Their Companies“.  While his accomplishments at AT&T were substantial, including launching the Digital One Rate service plan in 1998, it was the remarkable turnaround Hesse led as CEO of Sprint that left an indelible mark on the wireless industry and business world more broadly. for full interview.

Corporate Leadership, Interview

A Company’s Stakeholders Include More Than Shareholders [Podcast] | Overland Resource Group, NPR

Steve Kraske of The Overland Resource Group and NPR spoke with Dan on topics of empowering employees and leading creatively in an interview recording July 12, 2016. Please find an excerpt from the interview below. You can listen to the entire conversation at ORG's website here. 


STEVE KRASKE: Well, Dan Hesse, welcome.

DAN HESSE: Hi, Steve. Great to be here.

STEVE : You had an interesting response recently when you were asked what book on business leadership had the most influence on you. What was it?

DAN: Forbes called me and asked me, and I had interestingly just been interviewed for another book on the books that most impacted my life, and it was Plato’s Republic.

STEVE: That’s going to surprise people.

DAN: Absolutely. And it was really my first book on leadership. I was a college undergraduate, actually a liberal arts undergraduate, and reading a philosophy book, and it was about why you should be good. And it talked about what characteristics leaders should have, because it was a discussion about why—who should be king, who should be leader, who should be ruler, between Socrates and a bunch of learned Greeks.

STEVE: You make a point on your website,, that conscience-driven, ethical leaders can make a very positive impact on the world. What are you talking about there? Because I gather you're not necessarily referring to the bottom line.

DAN: I’ve always viewed business leadership as a vocation akin to the clergy, teaching, parenting, public service, because you can affect so many lives. You affect the lives and livelihoods of your employees, your shareholders, the communities, your suppliers, your customers. So for example, a company like Sprint—millions and millions of people—by not only what you do and how you do it. So it’s not necessarily — the bottom line actually is helpful, because as the company does better, the company has more resources to do good.

STEVE: More options.

DAN: And more options. So for example, look at Sprint here in Kansas City. Almost every fundraiser event, Sprint's sponsoring it, buying tables, supporting the community and wouldn’t be able to do it if the company wasn’t successful. So it doesn’t mean — it’s not in lieu of the bottom line, but it’s — the bottom line helps to do good. Purpose-driven.

STEVE: Plato once said, going back to him, that the best leaders often don’t seek to be leaders – they don’t seek power. What do you make of that?

DAN: Well, I think it’s almost human nature. The people you trust are those who aren’t looking for power. That’s why you’re willing to give them power. You trust them to use it wisely. And Plato actually talks about the leaders that are the best leaders actually care more about their subjects than they do themselves. So I think those people — a lot of leaders, people who are natural leaders don’t seek the position of leader, and that’s, quite frankly, why we’re attracted to them.

...You can listen to the entirety of the conversation here


What CEOs And Presidential Candidates Can Learn From Ancient Greek Philosophers | Forbes

Dan was interviewed for The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People in April 2016. In the excerpt that follows, Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes learns more about Dan's selection as the most influential book on the subject of business leadership.


Robert Reiss: Dan, I know you’re a student of business leadership. What book have you found the most influential on the subject of business leadership?

Dan Hesse: Interesting you should ask. I was recently interviewed for The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People. I didn’t choose a book about business or a business leader (I noticed that Tommy Hilfiger chose Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson), but chose the first book I can remember reading which shaped my views on leadership, The Republic, by Plato, which I read as a college undergraduate.

Plato’s observations were impactful in many ways. The Republic is largely Plato’s account of discussions between Socrates and other learned Greeks. Up to this point in my life, my rationale to be good or kind were based on our family’s religious beliefs, a means to an end (going to Heaven vs. Hell).

The men who Socrates was talking to also viewed being just or good as a means to an end, arguing that the only reason just people act so is out of fear of being caught or punished, that they would be better off materially if they could be unjust and get away with it. Or, people act justly because of the benefits to honor or reputation.

Socrates uses logic (the famous “Socratic Method”) to explain why justice, and the search for truth and “the Good” are worthwhile for their own sake, not for gains on earth or in an afterlife. He explains how only the just person can be truly happy.

...Click for full interview.


What CEOs Can Learn From The Royals | Forbes

Dan spoke with Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes on the keys to the Royal's success in the 2015. The elements of leadership ultimately guided the club to the World Series championship. Published November 2015. 


Most Mets fans, and America as a whole, were initially stunned as the Royals displayed unprecedented grit, focus and character – exemplified by becoming the first world series team ever to actually come back to win three of the games when behind after the 8th inning. What I discovered about this remarkable Royals team is that everything was actually part of a 10-year plan to transform the sport – built on the concept of a new baseball post steroid model.

Robert Reiss: The Royals had something very special going on. What makes this Royals team unique?

Dan Hesse: The Royals, the ones you see and the ones you don’t see, are a true team in every sense of the word. It’s said there’s no “I” in team. This team is a special combination on the field, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To compare the Royals with other businesses, I think of owner David Glass as the non-executive Chair, GM Dayton Moore as the CEO, Manager Ned Yost as the COO, the players as the front-line employees, and the rest of the Royals organization as the behind-the-scenes staff support.

The off-the-field support and culture played as important a role as the talent on the field. What struck me was the way that seemingly, in every interview, the players began by talking about the team’s leadership — Dayton Moore, David Glass and Ned Yost, then mentioned their teammates.

The respect the players have for the leadership, the front office and the coaching staff is palpable. When the leadership is asked about the team’s success, they talk about the players, then about others throughout the organization. Humility pervades. Every element of the organization had a contributing role in the collective success of the Royals, and perhaps uniquely, every part of the organization appreciated and valued the contributions that those in different roles played in the team’s success.

...Click for full interview.


'The Mobile Internet Changes Everything' | Forbes

In this excerpt, Dan talks to the Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes about the ubiquitous impact of the mobile internet. Published July 2015.  


Robert Reiss: How important is understanding the evolving internet to CEO’s and their boards?

Dan Hesse: Mobile communications is arguably the most important technological development in the history of the planet.  Cell phone users grew from zero to six billion in 25 years, the most rapidly-adopted technology ever.  But the emerging “internet of things,” where wireless chips will be put into almost every object produced — vehicles, home appliances, clothing, health monitors, wearables and even into the human body, may be even more transformative.  Cisco estimates 50 billion such connected devices will be in use by 2020.

The ubiquitous internet (sometimes referred to as the wireless or the mobile internet) changes everything!  This mobile, always-on internet is transforming economies, education, language, health care, music, safety, privacy and the quality of life for the elderly and those with disabilities. CEOs and boards should understand these implications on the marketplace in which their companies operate.  Imagine a world where a company, its products and its customers are connected 24/7.  The customer relationship, the value proposition and the business model of every company and industry will likely be transformed.  The winners and losers will likely be determined by who innovates most effectively to address this always-connected world.

...Click to read full article.

Notre Dame, Interview

A Tribute to Father Hesburgh | The Observer

This letter originally appeared in The Observer, a student newspaper serving the students of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's. Dan focused the letter on lessons of Life, Love, and Marriage imparted by Father Ted Hesburgh of Notre Dame. Published September 2015.  


It is with a heavy heart, that during the week my wife Diane and I are celebrating our silver wedding anniversary, we learn of the passing of a great man who played a part in our union and helped us stay together these 25 years.

On Feb. 23, 1990, we walked into Fr. Hesburgh’s office atop the Hesburgh Library to have our “Dutch Uncle Talk” (as Fr. Ted called it) with the man who was to marry us the following day.  Fr. Hesburgh was holding press interviews when we arrived, as El Salvador’s former President, Napoleon Duarte, a Notre Dame graduate and Fr. Ted's close friend, had passed away earlier that day.  When finished, Fr. Ted came into a room we waited in and told us he was going to fly to El Salvador to perform the funeral after he married us at the Log Chapel.

He then gave us advice about keeping a marriage together.  His most memorable story was about the need for open communication.  He told the story of a couple he knew well.  The wife had suffered for decades with her husband’s foul-smelling breath.  She never told her husband to brush his teeth or use mouthwash in fear of offending him or hurting his feelings.  He urged us not to keep things inside, to communicate openly.  Father Ted (we know you can hear us), thank you for some great advice.

...Click for full letter.