Tips & Other Notes

Nation's top CEO's give a teenager some advice:

(Excerpt taken from an article on

Doug Barry wrote dozens of executives and, to his surprise, they wrote him back.

When seeking a role model, it makes sense to aim high. Fourteen-year-old Douglas Barry did just that, writing letters to the leaders of some of the world's most powerful corporations to ask how he could someday attain such a lofty position. The plentiful responses he received —many of them warm, personal, and funny — were remarkable not only for their content, but also for the fact that these high-level individuals spent some of their highly compensated time responding to a child's query.

The advice, personal counsel, and universal words of wisdom offered here by today's titans of industry has already inspired me immensely.

I hope it inspires you, too.

Seven attributes

Despite their authors' varied backgrounds and expertise, a pattern emerged in the letters, it was quickly evident that a good leader needs seven attributes to succeed:

Respect: "I believe in treating people with respect. My style is to speak to people, be available to them and willing to answer their questions. This also means being straightforward and honest with them."
—Sanford I. Weill, Chairman and Co-CEO, Citigroup,Inc.

Passion: "Passionate people get things done. Passion for doing what you're called to do resonates in every fiber of a true leader. Passionate people energize other people and build enthusiasm. And as you surely know, enthusiasm is contagious."
—Leonard Roberts, Chairman and CEO, RadioShack Corp.

Vision: "One of the key qualities that any CEO (or successful person) needs—a willingness to stretch yourself and go after goals that others think are too visionary, too hard, or too ambitious to accomplish."
—Richard A. McGinn, Chairman and CEO, Lucent Technologies.

Humanity: "Actions need to go beyond the letter of the law to a spirit of trust and integrity, and a willingness to lead on issues where the needs are greatest. This also includes a commitment to give back to make the world a better place—both as a corporation and by providing opportunities for employees to give their time and talents to help others."
—Betsy Holden, President and CEO, Kraft Foods North America.

Curiosity: "I am curious and interested in just about everything. So, I am always learning and working at the margin of my ignorance."
—Harvey Golub, CEO, American Express.

Integrity: "It is critically important to be determined to do the right thing—to commit to conducting yourself with the highest standards of ethics and integrity. It will inspire people's confidence and trust in you. And people, as a result, will help you in ways that you would never expect, and maybe never even know about."
—Raymond V. Gilmartin, Chairman, President and CEO, Merck & Co.

Pragmatism: "An important mark of a good leader[is] to know you don't know it all and never will."
—Anne M. Mulcahy, CEO, Xerox Corp.

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