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Dear CEO—Read this…

I was reminded of an old favorite this morning—a New Yorker cartoon from the early 70s. In it, a Bella Abzug feminist type startles a prototypical busy Wall Street CEO type as he makes his way down the Manhattan sidewalk. She in her large hat, and he in his conservative dark suit and tie, aggressively shoves a paper in front of him and exclaims: “Read this. It’ll save your ass!”

So, in a world where peaceful protestors have taken up an ‘occupation’ of Wall Street, I found a timely and interesting digital document thrust in front of my nose this morning. The source? Harvard Business Review. Unlike the business gent referenced in the cartoon, I was quite pleased.

To further set the context: Earlier this summer I wrote a couple of blog posts praising IBM and Disney while lamenting the short-sightedness of many modern CEOs who ignore the current imperative for change if we’re to create innovative, competitive and economically sustainable organizations that reward the creation of real value rather than ‘maximizing shareholder value.’ Raymond V. Gilmartin, former CEO of Merck and Becton Dickinson and current adjunct professor at Harvard Business School, and the author of the piece I read this morning, agrees with the fundamental belief of my blog posts that many CEOs over the past 25 years have, “relied on a flawed set of beliefs to lead their organizations.”

Gilmartin goes on to elaborate a new set of guiding beliefs for today’s CEO with very ‘new kind’ ideas. Among them are two I found especially relevant to the ideas you’ll see posted in New Kind blog posts:

Purpose, meaning, and recognition are more powerful motivators than economic self-interest, and large external rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation. People do work for money but they work even more for meaning in their lives.


Shareholders benefit most when CEOs and boards maximize value for society and act as agents of society rather than shareholders.

If you’re a CEO out there today I hope you’ll read Gilmartin’s post. After all, yours is not the only ass in need of saving these days.

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