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.

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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.

....click for full interview.

Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

Consistency is the Key to Quality Improvement in the Digital Age

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published May 12, 2016. 


The digital world, with its real-time customer feedback, the ability for consumers to share their positive and negative experiences with others, and customers with many competitive choices at their fingertips via their cellphones, even while shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store, make quality and customer satisfaction more important than ever.

But improvement in quality and customer satisfaction can only be accomplished with consistency of priority and strategy as opposed to a constantly-changing agenda and “program of the month.” Chaos is the enemy of improvement.

To learn more about consistency’s transformative role in business and learn why quality costs less, please see this round table discussion in Forbes (Quality Shifts From Measurement To Driver Of Innovation).

LinkedIn Series, Corporate Leadership

The Kansas City Royals: A Model Team for the Post-Steroid Era?

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published November 6, 2015. 


The Royals roster is a beautiful mosaic.  They’re a team with no superstars, but no weaknesses, on offense or on defense.  In Forbes magazine, I share my view that their incredible turnaround, from baseball’s worst team to its best team, might have more to do with common goals, a strong culture, and life-balance and support off-the-field than their talent. 

In this post: What CEOs Can Learn From The Royals - Kansas City CEO Dan Hesse Explains | Forbes, November 2015

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, DanHesse.com, 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

LinkedIn Series, Corporate Leadership

Lessons from the Hall – Others are Key to Your Happiness and Success

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published August 11, 2015. 


The family spent an enjoyable and inspirational weekend together in Canton, OH to see the eight new members of the class of 2015 enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  We were especially glad to see Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown inducted (Go Irish!), and also to see Chiefs great Will Shields enter the Hall.

The acceptance speeches were excellent. Sydney Seau’s introduction for her father was moving. What struck me was the consistency of the themes from the speeches. Each player emphasized experiences off the field and the importance of the “complete person”, rather than on the football player.

It was evident that passion, love of the game, and hard work by the player are half the recipe for success. The other half is the love and support of others -- family, friends and mentors.  By pursuing a sport they love, aided by the guidance and help of others, they’ve achieved happiness and fulfillment.  

These speeches and the experience in Canton echo a quote from Albert Schweitzer, which I included in a recent interview with Forbes (linked below).

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”

The conversation with Forbes’ Robert Reiss closed with my advice for millennials as they position themselves for success. You can read more of the interview here: According To Dan Hesse, 'The Mobile Internet Changes Everything"– Forbes, July 2015

Quality Shifts From Measurement To Driver Of Innovation, Say Top CEOs | Forbes

Forbes spoke with three leading business leaders, including Dan Hesse about success and how they view quality. Published June 2016. 


Reiss: What is a key to your organization’s success?

Dan Hesse: There are two big levers that can lead to success. When I came to Sprint, the company was struggling primarily because service quality had deteriorated, so customers were leaving. Service quality and customer satisfaction go hand-in-hand. We pulled two major levers to turn things around, compensation and agenda. First we linked everyone’s pay to the number of customer calls to care; second, customer service was the first thing on the agenda of every senior team meeting. We were able to reduce our annual care expenditure by 55%, saving over $2 billion in cost per year, while Sprint went from last place in The American Customer Satisfaction Index to first place in our industry, and Sprint was the most improved U.S. company across all 43 industries they study.

...Click for full article.


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.

Corporate Leadership

Best Turnaround CEOs of All Time - Dan Hesse | Fierce Wireless

The following excerpt was included in a review of "turnaround CEOs". Dan Hesse was listed alongside Steve Jobs. Published October 2011. 


Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse arrived at the company in late 2007 as it was in freefall, reeling from the tenure of Gary Forsee. One of the first and most prescient things Hesse did was simplify Sprint's rate plans by offering the company's "Simply Everything" plan in early 2008. Since then, simplicity has become one of the key brand values and identifiers for Sprint, which right now stands alone as the only Tier 1 wireless carrier still offering unlimited smartphone data plans to new customers.

Turning the company around proved extremely difficult, and Sprint lost 5.1 million subscribers in 2008, as wireless revenue fell by $3.1 billion, or 32 percent, as compared to 2007. Still, the company was making improvements, most notably in customer service, which had been one of Sprint's key weak points under Forsee.

In early 2009 Sprint's Boost Mobile brand shook up the industry and sparked a price war with its $50 monthly unlimited plan on Sprint's iDEN network. After acquiring Virgin Mobile USA in late 2009, the company re-tooled its prepaid offerings and launched a multi-brand strategy in May 2010 aimed at segmenting the market. Hesse effectively doubled-down (or quadrupled, if you want to think of it that way) on prepaid with the re-launch of Virgin Mobile as well as the launch of Assurance Wireless for low-income customers and Common Cents Mobile pay-per-minute brands. Prepaid remains one of Sprint's strongest growth engines. Sprint also launched its attractive "Any Mobile, Anytime" service, offering unlimited calling to any mobile number, regardless of carrier.

Slowly but surely, Sprint's subscriber losses began to slow down, starting in the fourth quarter of 2009 and continuing in first quarter of 2010. By the second quarter, Sprint had returned to positive subscriber growth for the first time in three years, largely on the strength of its prepaid offerings, though postpaid subscriber losses were decreasing. Sprint added the most net wireless subscribers in a quarter since 2006 in the third quarter of 2010, but still lost postpaid customers. The turnaround continued in the fourth quarter and Sprint added 1.1 million total net subscribers, including net postpaid additions of 58,000 subscribers--the carrier's first net postpaid additions since the second quarter of 2007. 

Around this time Sprint selected Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Samsung for its network modernization project, called Network Vision, the latest evolution of Sprint's network (the company inked a $5 billion deal with  Ericsson in 2009 to outsource the management of its network). Network Vision is centered around multi-mode base stations that Sprint will use to deploy multiple radio technologies, and the plan will allow Sprint to shut down the iDEN network starting in 2013.

In 2011, continued postpaid subscriber losses have leavened overall subscriber gains, but Hesse's biggest coup was finally getting Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone for the Now Network. The company's Network Vision plans, which will allow Sprint to deploy LTE by mid-2012, and move away from 4G dependence on WiMAX provider Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), still need to be ironed out.

...Click for the full recap.


Building a Sustainable Brand | Leaders Magazine

The following interview with Dan Hesse appeared in LEADERS Magazine online in March 2015. 


How do you define the role of a CEO today?

One of the reasons one takes on the role of running a big public company is that it provides the opportunity to have a positive impact on so many different stakeholders. It’s not only about doing things right but, more importantly, doing the right things.

You have an opportunity to positively impact your employees, customers, shareholders, and suppliers – the companies that serve you – which is quite important. In addition, you can do much to affect the community.

Will you discuss the interactions between your many constituencies?

If you focus on customers and do a good job at that, it makes employees happier as well and prouder to be part of your firm. As the business does better, you then provide more business for your suppliers. If your company is doing well, it helps the communities you serve as well as your shareholders.

If you do the right things, all of these constituencies will benefit.

...Click for full interview.