Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

What CEOs and Presidential Candidates can learn from Ancient Greek Philosophers

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published April, 7, 2016. 


Forbes interviewed me about my unexpected recommendation for leadership reading, which was also featured in a new book, The Books that Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and other Remarkable People. My choice was one I read in college (which I still refer to, full of highlighted passages and marginalia), The Republic, by Plato. 

The Republic contains great lessons about business and political leadership.  It’s a very early study on the subject (around 400 BC) about who should lead, and Plato and Socrates also observe that the same qualities that make a person just, and a strong leader, make the organization or state function well.  Women are as capable of ruling or leading as men if they are given the same educational opportunities. To lead a life in pursuit of “the good” (knowledge and truth) is worthwhile in and of itself (vs. to receive rewards on Earth or in an after-life), as only the good and just person can be happy. 

An organization should choose its “best” person (the most virtuous, just and knowledgeable) to be leader. Our founding fathers created our country on some of Plato’s principles, and they practically “drafted” George Washington to be our first President because they viewed him as the “best” person. The idea of open party conventions where the most virtuous, or best, is drafted is an interesting idea whose time may have come again. 

In this post: What CEOs And Presidential Candidates Can Learn From Ancient Greek Philosophers | Forbes, April 2016

Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

Some Minuses, but More Plusses Emerge from our “Always On” Digital Lives

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published March 7, 2016. 


I had the pleasure of sitting down with NPR’s Steve Kraske for 30 minutes to discuss a number of topics I’ve been exploring over the past eighteen months, including how the mobile internet is transforming lifestyles and industries (we discussed advertising and banking as examples). Interview audio available here

The mobile internet improves our economy and the GDP’s of countries around the world, and it’s democratizing education, but this “always on” world also brings with it new concerns in areas such as written and spoken language and threats to our “fast-twitch-wired” teens like cyber-bullying, texting, and cell phone addiction (FOMO).  Early mobile music devices required file compression and unfortunately, lower fidelity, but “missionaries” like Neil Young are bringing high fidelity to mobile music using new technology.

The “internet of things” will usher in the next wireless growth phase, and it will bring many new capabilities and advantages to our lives, especially as we age.  Smart appliances, sensors, mobile medical monitors, robotic personal assistants, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, social media, speech-to-text, and text-to-speech will extend independent life and make our senior years more enjoyable. 

But, all of the data about us being collected creates new privacy and security concerns.  Apple’s position vs. the FBI is timely in that we need to have an open and comprehensive national discussion and establish new laws to deal with the utility vs privacy and security trade-offs emerging as a result of technological advances.

Overall, it’s an exciting time, and in spite of the new issues and problems that come with our new digitally-connected lives, I believe we’re better off, especially if we’re vigilant about and openly discuss the changes our new digital lifestyles entail.  

LinkedIn Series, Corporate Leadership

Is Apple’s Stand on Phone Security Patriotic?

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published February 23, 2016. 


As criminal and terrorist technical methods evolve, the tradeoffs between what it takes to keep us safe versus protecting our civil liberties and privacy bears vigilance. As my concluding quote in Friday’s Wall Street Journal article suggests, patriotic people who love our country and who have the values we hold dear are on both sides of this debate.  

As a former telecom CEO, I’ve been faced with this dilemma.  A CEO has to balance the interests of customers, shareholders, the public at large and the communities served, while upholding the law (which is not always crystal clear).  It’s important that US law be specific and evolve as technologies and criminal tactics do. If we’re to find a“Goldilocks solution” (getting it “just right”), it requires more trust and dialogue between privacy advocates and law enforcement than exists today.

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, LinkedIn Series

Pope Francis and Conscience-Driven Capitalism

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published September 24, 2015. 


Pope Francis, in his papal exhortation almost two years ago, denounces capitalism as a “new tyranny” and blames many of the world’s ills, from the plight of the poor to the deteriorating state of the Earth’s environment, on the system and its culture of power and greed.

I’m Roman Catholic and an enthusiastic supporter of Pope Francis. But in a recent interview with Forbes titled A Catholic CEO Urges The Pope To Embrace Capitalism As A Force For Good, I give reasons why Pope Francis should encourage Catholics, and others sharing the Pope’s values, to become capitalists, rather than discourage them from pursuing careers in business. 

In my view, capitalism, or financial freedom, creates a virtuous cycle with freedom of information, political freedom and religious freedom. It’s therefore important that business be taught in Catholic universities to infuse companies with more values-driven leaders.

In all of history, this Pope might have an unprecedented power of the pulpit to encourage consumers to vote with their wallets and to spend their money with ethical, responsible companies. As I point out in the interview, Pope Francis could be instrumental in ushering in a new age of “conscience-driven capitalism.”

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

Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

Great Customer Service Costs Less

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published September 10, 2015. 


There’s a widely-held belief that it’s expensive to provide customers with superior service. In my experience, the opposite is true. In fact, Sprint spent $2 billion less per year for customer care when it reached the top of its industry’s overall customer satisfaction rankings than it did when it was at the bottom of the rankings.

Companies owe it to their customers and employees to provide great customer service.  A strong service culture can create a virtuous circle between employees and customers, engaging everyone in the firm in customer service improvement, not only the people on the front lines.

In this brief article entitled Great Customer Service Costs Less running in the current CEO Forum magazine, I discuss the six-point plan that took Sprint from “worst-to-first.”  According to the prestigious American Customer Satisfaction Index, when Sprint reached the #1 spot, Sprint was the only company that they had seen go from last place to first place in its industry, and Sprint was the most improved U.S. company in overall customer satisfaction across all 43 industries studied from 2008-2014.

The six steps Sprint relentlessly followed were to:

  1. Align Compensation and Rewards: Sprint aligned the compensation of every employee in the company around the same metrics, which included customer turnover (churn) and the number of calls to customer care.  
  2. Place the customer experience first on the agenda: The agenda of every Operations Team meeting began with churn and the number of calls to customer care.
  3. Perform root cause analysis: Sprint collected and analyzed data from customer calls to identify the root causes of customer dissatisfaction.
  4. Hold the right organizations and people accountable: The customer care organization is usually not the cause of customer dissatisfaction, but often, inappropriately, they’re held accountable for customer experiences they don’t control.
  5. Assign strong project leaders: If you don’t assign strong people to lead the projects, the organization won’t think customer service is important.
  6. Simplify the business: It is not simple to simplify, but customers crave, and they’ll pay a premium, for simplicity.  Complexity creates more reasons for customers to call care, and complexity makes it more difficult for care reps to solve problems.

If you’re so inclined, please clickthrough to read more on these six steps and key factors in providing great customer service. I invite you to share your ideas on this important subject with me.

Great Customer Service Costs Less CEO Forum, Volume IV, Issue 2, 2015

Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

Creative Accounting – The Digital Economy’s Impact on Artists

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published August 23, 2015.


Today’s New York Times magazine includes a thoughtful article, The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t by Steven Johnson. The article examines how the digital economy (I like the term “Gig Business” Johnson used) is changing the way creative people make their livings, whether it be in recording music, writing books or making movies.

This analysis is part of an important, ongoing conversation about the digital economy and its impact on artists and musicians. The business practices of this new economy affect many elements in our lives. I focused on the changes to music in this year’s New York Global Leaders Dialogue keynote and during the National Music Publishers Association 2014 meeting keynote with CTIA CEO Meredith Baker and NMPA CEO David Israelite.

Johnson’s New York Times piece reviews the plusses and the minuses created by the new digital economy with respect to artists, concluding that the impact, overall, is neither good or bad, it simply represents significant change.  The analysis is at a macro-level, though.  Free music isn't free.  There are individuals, and elements of the music industry, like song writers and music publishers, for example, that may be harmed in my view.

Johnson uses revenue data and employment statistics to challenge some widely-held views.  I would expect those with another point of view could use data to reach a different conclusion.  For those of you interested in how the digital economy is impacting the lives and livelihoods of artists, this article is a very worthwhile read.  The arts are so important to our way of life, it's a subject we should care about.

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t

Steven Johnson - New York Times Magazine – August 23, 2015

LinkedIn Series, Corporate Leadership

The Complexities of our Digitally Connected World

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published August 16, 2015. 


Today’s New York Times front page story on AT&T highlights one of the many dilemmas raised in a speech I delivered in March titled “Is a Digitally Connected World a Better Place?” The speech was one of two keynotes from the New York Global Leaders Forum annual gala; the second delivered by NSA Chief Admiral Mike Rogers in which he discussed cyber security.

In my address, I posed a question to the audience:

“Which CEO is more patriotic, the one who provides all of the information the government requests to help catch a criminal or prevent a terrorist attack, or the CEO whose company creates tools that make it difficult for law enforcement or the government to acquire a customer’s information, believing protecting civil liberties is a higher calling?”

It’s a very tough question.

The talk explores the plusses and minuses from our digitally connected world in areas such as education, the news, the environment, economies, health care, music, safety, aging, privacy and national security. Creating a “Goldilocks Solution” (getting it “just right”) will require open, thoughtful debate, dialogue, and compromise, which the American political system could use more of in many areas.

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