Today’s Monday Morning Mojo features the comings and goings of great, inspiring leaders, and a glimmer of hope.
Last Sunday, I had the delight to dine with my boss of nearly a decade, Marcia Silverman, the omnipresent CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations during our heyday as a global firm. Marcia’s secret power as CEO was a fantastic understanding of people and where they fit in teams, while being incredibly unassuming. I was very lucky to work under her tutelage, and the great community of Ogilvy veterans who remain close today are a testament to her leadership. Here’s a picture of Marcia in Los Angeles along with her husband, Steve.
At the same time, Chris Graves, often featured in the Monday Morning Mojo, announced his retirement from Ogilvy. Chris was my boss in Asia, and then as global CEO, succeeding Marcia, for more than a decade. Chris is, hands-down, one of the smartest people I have ever worked with. His practice in behavioral science is leading the public relations industry, and if you want to understand why people behave the way they do, he is the sage. If you know Chris, he is not the retiring type, so stay tuned to hear what his new firm, the Resonance Code, is up to.
Legends Who Have Passed
The world also saw the passing of some great leaders these past two weeks.
The former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, passed away on November 19th, at the tender age of 96. I watched the funeral service and was reminded what a fantastic public servant she was. Most memorable for me was her insistence to sit in congressional testimonies when her husband was president so she could understand his world. She was visionary in taking up the cause of mental health well before it became popular, and her commitment to this, and making the world a better, kinder place was most notable at her funeral. She had a remarkable life.
Charlie Munger followed Rosalynn Carter in death on November 28 at the age of 99. Munger was my son Samuel’s personal hero, Warren Buffet’s lifelong partner, and the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Samuel has read all the transcripts of his talks. Among the many things Charlie Munger was famous for was his investing excellence, his intelligence, and his brutal honesty. He was famous for his clarity, and for his many quips, among them:
“The big money is not in the buying or selling, but in the waiting.”
“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you wake up.”
“A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments.”
An article about Charlie Munger’s life follows.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, passed away on December 1st. As the below article describes, during a crucial period in American law — when abortion, affirmative action, sex discrimination and voting rights were on the docket — she was the most powerful woman in the country.
In her retirement, I had the great honor to meet and dine with her, thanks to the invitation of my good friend, Jaime FlorCruz, and I remember how smart and poised she was.
Henry Kissinger, a much more controversial figure than those listed above, also passed away on November 29th at the age of 100. Kissinger was Secretary of State and National Security Advisor in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and he had great influence, arguably both good and bad, when he served. I once attended a talk by Kissinger in China, and he was speaking on the topic of nation states and why they behave the way they do. He explained that countries, as a first priority, operate in their own self-interest, and no one should be surprised by that. It was an obvious statement, but Kissinger helped explain this to a Chinese audience helping to explain why the US-China divide exists.
An article describing why people respected and reviled him is attached.
Back To Living Legends
When I contemplated writing about living legends who have influenced my life, I thought about a talk Shelly Lazarus, former global CEO of Ogilvy, gave in 2002 to Deloitte Consulting, called Everyday Leadership. I have shared this speech with my staff many times, because it focused on how leading companies grow by empowering all employees. Shelly was a fantastic leader and I learned so much from her throughout my career.
In sharing some of her wisdom, here is a video of her at Columbia Business School speaking on the topic of being grateful and finding passion in what you do for a living.
The Real GOAT Leader
The real GOAT (Greatest of All Time) leader in my world, however, is my wife, Lisa, who I celebrated 29 years of marriage with this past weekend. Thank you, Lisa, for all you do for me and our family. A picture of below of our celebratory dinner.
A Glimmer of Optimism
Amid all the troubling news from the Middle East, Asia, Ukraine, and the challenges and divide of the US government, I listened to a podcast this weekend of a very smart author, Morgan Housel, who wrote the book, The Psychology of Money. He was talking about predicting the future and mentioned the same forces were at play today that were in the great depression, the 1920s, 2008 and more. His advice was to focus on “what doesn’t change.” A short clip on this is attached.
He also talked about pressures in society today, and when they get so great, historically they force innovation and change that defines a new, sometimes better path. I kind of think we are getting to an inflection point in the world where change is inevitable, and I am just hopeful for the best in this instance.
Happy Birthday Jackie Kronick
Finally, a shout out to my daughter, Jacquelin, who celebrated 27 years this weekend. Jackie is a very kind and caring soul, she has strong leadership qualities of her own, and is a person who also gives me great confidence the future can be better than the past.
Have a great week everyone and thanks for being part of this community.