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  • 04.17.17

Why Four Leading CEOs Should Run For Prez—And Why They Shouldn’t

From Mark Cuban to Oprah, Bob Iger to Howard Schultz: A look at some of the business leaders who could be considering a 2020 White House run.

Why Four Leading CEOs Should Run For Prez—And Why They Shouldn’t
[Photo: Flickr user Bob]

With a bunch of big-name CEOs rumored to be thinking about running for president in the next election, we took a deeper look at the pros and cons of some of the possible aspirants.

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[Illustrations: Ery Burns]

Mark Cuban

Why it might make sense: The Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star has developed a reputation for blunt political commentary (he recently critiqued Trump’s management skills) and customer-first leadership. Cuban has been offering thoughts on serious subjects such as health care and infrastructure spending on his personal blog.

Why it might not: Cuban has said he’s “not the ceremonial type”—a problem given that the gig involves so much patience with pomp. He might also have trouble convincing the Democratic party’s more-liberal voters: At various points during the last election, he was outspokenly in favor of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

[Illustrations: Ery Burns]

Oprah Winfrey

Why it might make sense: Everybody loves Oprah! The liberal-leaning former talk-show host has very strong favorability numbers, according to (nonpolitical) research. Her experience turning around her OWN network—which initially struggled when she launched it—suggests that she can lead when things get tough.

Why it might not: Winfrey knows better than just about anyone how to go about building a strong personal brand, but her broad appeal is largely based on her positive, inspirational message. How will people react if she decides to run and is forced into months of hardball political combat over controversial issues?

[Illustrations: Ery Burns]

Bob Iger

Why it might make sense: As the CEO of Disney (which also owns ABC and ESPN), Iger knows what it’s like to be at the helm of a sprawling, closely watched enterprise with global influence. He is also an expert strategist who can take credit for Disney’s acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm.

Why it might not: Last year, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders criticized Disney for sending work overseas and underpaying theme-park employees—while Iger’s salary neared $45 million. If he runs as a Democrat and Sanders voters aren’t excited, it could be a tough climb to the nomination.

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[Illustrations: Ery Burns]

Howard Schultz

Why it might make sense: The executive chairman and former longtime CEO of Starbucks is reportedly mulling a move from lattes to legislation. Having grown Starbucks into an industry giant, worked to address various social issues, and championed worker rights, the coffee executive could have broad appeal to Democratic voters.

Why it might not: Schultz’s progressive values have occasionally resulted in tone-deaf moments, such as the well-intended but badly executed (and widely mocked) “Race Together” initiative, which pushed baristas to have awkward conversations with customers. And will voters see his fast-food skills as transferable to the White House?

About the author

P. Claire Dodson is an editorial assistant at Fast Company. Follow her on Twitter: @Claire_ifying.

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