CEOs have been battered quite a bit recently, for reasons big and small. Mainly because business continues to reach record profits while the rest of the country remains mired in the Great Recession. For the first time this year at Davos, the masters of the universe felt the sting of resentment from many still bitter over the bailout/bonus hypocrisy.
But times are changing. Many of today's business leaders are slowly and thoughtfully creating companies that are ethical, externally focused and extremely successful. Rejecting the conventional wisdom of the zero sum game, these CEOs envision business as a force for positive change.
Here are ten insightful quotes from this new breed of Chief Executives:
- "Every single American needs to have access to health insurance—full-stop." Howard Shultz, CEO Starbucks
- "There are never enough women here." Indra Nooyi, CEO Pepsi, regarding Davos.
- "I don't think just trying to maximize profits is a very good long-term strategy for a business. It doesn't inspire the people who work for you." John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods
- "We want to increase the availability of inexpensive smart phones in the poorest parts of the world. Can you imagine how this will change their awareness both locally and globally?" Eric Schmidt, CEO Google
- "The investment business is about being confident enough to know that you're right and everyone else is wrong. Yet you have to be humble enough to recognize when you've made a mistake. I think I had the confidence part pretty solid. But the humbleness part I had to learn.'' Bill Ackman, Pershing Square Capital
- "For me, my role is about unleashing what people already have inside them that is maybe suppressed in most work environments." Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos
- "Everything can be taken from you in a second, but the human spirit is strong. War can teach you so much about evil, and so much about good." Zainab Salbi, CEO Women for Women International
- "I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it's not a waste of time." Martha Stewart, CEO Martha Stewart Enterprises
- "I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot." Bill Gates
- "It's never paid to bet against America. We come through things, but it's not always a smooth ride." Warren Buffett
These sentiments ring true because they indicate that a spark of change has been ignited within the culture of business leadership.