HBS's 100th Anniversary: Panel Interview with Charlie Rose


Posted on October 22, 2008 by Blake Leath

As you may know by now, I'm a big Charlie Rose fiend.  I seldom miss an episode and I rarely delete one without watching it first... only when he gets locked-in on a topic for multiple days (which he is prone to do) do I "pass."  Last night, 10/21/08, he had a stellar show from Harvard Business School's 100th Anniversary Celebration.  Jeff Immelt and others served as panel members whom he interviewed.  The topic: "Leadership in the 21st Century." 


Here are some highlights:

1. Borrow, Buy, Burn.  "As a country, the US must stop borrowing from the Chinese to purchase oil from the Arabs to burn into the air." 

2. Four Pillars for Any Global Company: "Education, Healthcare, Energy, and Financial Services."

3. The Scariest Formula During These Economically-Troubled Times = Illiquidity x High Unemployment x High Debt.  "This formula handicaps us."

4. Regarding Innovation & Entrepreneurship in America: We're rocking; and this is our future.  We cannot compete internationally in terms of labor rates, but Americans are ingenious, and assuming that Energy Independence and Renewable Energies will be "the moonshot of our generation," we can export them -- and best practices -- providing jobs, economic security, and improved living conditions around the world.

5. Three Key Areas of Current Entrepreneurship: (1)Digital/Internet Engineers -- Bits & Bytes, (2)Biotech Engineers -- Bugs & Drugs, (3)Greentech Engineers -- Biofuels & Batteries

6. Three Key Market Segments for Today and the Future: Jeff Immelt described "thinking of brick as passe.  And thinking in terms of 'developing countries' as passe."  Instead, he shared how GE thinks of markets.  "We see three segments.  (1)Natural Resources Rich (Brazil, Australia, Russia, Middle East, Africa), (2)People-Driven Regions (China, India, Southeast Asia) where a local presence must be created to compete, and (3)Technology/Education Rich Regions (Western Europe, Japan).

7. Regarding Obama & McCain: "Our head is with McCain, but our heart is with Obama."  An interesting sentiment, spoken by one of India's most powerful businessmen.

8. And finally, let me share the 14 'key leadership traits' that were identified by the distinguished and diverse leadership panel, all of whom are HBS graduates:

  1. Take risks, make mistakes (otherwise you're not trying)
  2. Exude confidence (not fear, worry, anxiety, hopelessness)
  3. Be a fast learner (it's not what you know, but how quickly you can learn/adapt)
  4. Decisiveness (without perfect knowledge)
  5. Accountability (stand up for what you believe)
  6. Transparency (people want your truth, but also your intention)
  7. Unity (create opportunities for people to be part of something bigger than themselves or your current organization; think longer term)
  8. Live an examined life
  9. Give
  10. Renew yourself ("I go to bed feeling like a failure, and awake saying, 'Hello, Handsome!'"  - Jeff Immelt) 
  11. Ideas are easy, execution is everything (and teams do it)
  12. Think on your feet, communicate effectively
  13. Character (it's binary -- you either have it or you don't; and people can smell it)
  14. Know your environment (we are approaching 300 countries... there is much to know)

More next time...