Education: West Point; Harvard Business School; Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
First job: U.S. Army Ranger and lieutenant in Vietnam. My first job out of graduate school was a White House fellow in the Ford administration, which was a one-year appointment. I had done some investment banking as summer work while I was in business school, and I liked it. When I left the White House, I had to decide whether to pursue a career in investments or go into a corporation. I concluded that I’d rather be part of building something than completing transactions.
Whom do you admire in business, past or present, and why?
Walt Disney. He started with nothing but imagination and he created an institution built on making people feel good and providing a product people really want to buy.
What was your toughest business challenge?
The two businesses I’ve headed were both NYSE companies, and I’ve been a CEO for more than 26 years. They have both been small companies in the context of NYSE, but they have always been small companies with big-company complexity. This has been my biggest challenge: How do you sustain profit growth in mature markets when you have a complex business with limited resources?
What has been your greatest lesson learned?
Someone once asked me, ‘How do you deal with the pressure of quarterly earnings?’ I’ve had a quarter-century of quarterly earnings in my career as a CEO. I said, ‘Well, you know, I’ve seen the end of the world, and it’s not quarterly earnings.’ The experiences you have in combat follow you for a long time. I learned to count on those closest to the action and to listen more than you talk. And you can never not lead. You can’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Today I’ll be a leader, and this evening, I won’t.’