BLG Leadership Insights Features Proactive Leaders

10 Most Powerful Women in Business

1)      Marissa Mayer– President and CEO of Yahoo Inc.

At age 37, Mayer is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, and also the first to take such a position while expecting. Prior to Yahoo, Mayer was a distinguished employee at Google where she was the first female engineer and 20th employee hired in 1999. A self-proclaimed geek, Mayer specializes in artificial intelligence. During her 13-year run at Google, she oversaw the launch and development of many of Google’s iconic products, and is credited for the clean look of

2)      Indra Nooyi– CEO of PepsiCo Inc.

Currently leading a global enterprise with annual revenue of $39 billion, Nooyi was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu on the coast of southern India. After procuring undergraduate and master’s degrees in India, she went against her parent’s wishes and moved to the U.S. to study management at Yale University. Since joining PepsiCo in 1994, Nooyi partook in critical decisions, such as the company’s moves to shed Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in 1997. She also helped orchestrate the company’s $3 billion acquisition of Tropicana in 1998 and $14 billion takeover of Quaker Oats. After net profit more than doubled, she became the company’s 5th CEO in 2007.

3)      Irene Rosenfeld– CEO of Kraft Foods

Rosenfeld has been involved in the food and beverage industry for about 30 years and spent most of her professional life at Kraft. Prior to Kraft, Rosenfeld had nearly a decade-long stint at Cornell University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology, an MS in Business Administration, and a PhD in marketing and statistics. When Rosenfeld presented research to General Foods showing that Kool-Aid commercials should be marketed directly to kids, the pitch won her a job working full-time at the brand, a rare offer for a researcher. She also served as CEO of Frito-Lay for two years before she was appointed CEO of Kraft Foods.

4)      Jill Abramson-Executive Editor of The New York Times

Serving in the highest ranking position in the Times’ newsroom, Abramson is forging a path for women of all ages while overseeing The New York Times report in all its various forms. She is the first woman to hold this position in the newspaper’s 160 year history. Prior to being named executive editor, she was the Times’ managing director, a post from which she helped supervise the coverage of two wars, four national elections, hurricanes, and oil spills. Before joining the Times, she covered money and politics for The Wall Street Journal.

5)      Sheryl Sandberg– COO Facebook Inc.

After attending Harvard Business School, Sandberg worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company and served as chief of staff for the United States Department of the Treasury. She served as Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations at Google Inc. until 2008. In 2007, co-founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg met Sandberg and found her a perfect fit for the role of COO. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook since 2008. In June 2012, she was also elected to the board of directors by the existing board members, becoming the first woman to serve on its board.

6)      Amy Pascal– Co-Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures

Along with her Co-Chairman Michael Lynton, Pascal oversees all lines of business for the studio, including Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. Under Pascal’s leadership, Sony Pictures has had 79 movies open to #1 at the domestic box office, more than any other studio. The company has sustained success with movies such as the Men in Black and Spider-Man series and TV shows such as the Dr. Oz Show and Days of our Lives. Pascal was honored with the Crystal Award in 2001 by Women in Film for helping to expand the role of women in the entertainment industry.

7)      Anne Sweeney– Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks & President of Disney/ABC Television Group Frequently named the “Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment” by The Hollywood Reporter, Sweeney propelled the company into the digital era. It was the first group in the industry to leverage iTunes, introduce an ad-supported full episode player online, and deliver an application for the iPad. Sweeney’s leadership enables the group to combine high-quality content with cutting-edge distribution platforms, and deliver compelling news and entertainment to millions globally. Sweeney has been inducted into Cable Center’s Hall of Fame, Broadcasting & Cable’s Hall of Fame, and the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement.

8)      Ursula Burns– CEO of Xerox Corporation

As the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company, Burns was raised by a single immigrant mother in a low-income and crime-ridden New York City housing project. A wizard with numbers, Burns worked her way through school and defied teachers who encouraged a traditional career in nursing or teaching. After completing graduate school at Columbia University, Burns first worked for Xerox as a summer intern. Throughout her 20s she worked at Xerox in various roles in product development while slowly rising through the ranks. She was named CEO of the $17 billion industry in July 2009.

9)      Meg Whitman President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Always confident and bright, Whitman graduated high school in only three years, attended Princeton University, and received her MBA from Harvard. She served as an executive at high-profile companies such as DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble, and Hasbro. She also served as the Vice President of Strategic Planning at The Walt Disney Company. From 1998-2008, she served as President and CEO of eBay, during which she oversaw expansion from 30 employees and $4 million in annual revenue to more than 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue. In 2009, Whitman lost a political race to be the next governor of California, but was tapped shortly after to be CEO of computer-giant Hewlett-Packard.

10)  Virginia Rometty– President and CEO of IBM

Always fascinated by electronics and graduating from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Rometty spent the bulk of her professional career working her way up the IBM ladder. In 2002, Rometty emerged on the executive radar when she advised IBM’s Board of Directors to purchase the big business consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting for $3.5 billion. Since becoming the first woman to serve as CEO of IBM, Rometty has spearheaded IBM’s growth strategy by getting the company into the cloud computing and analytics businesses.

BLG Leadership Insights

10 Must-Read Social Media & Leadership Stories From June 14-18

1. Fine pointers that every business needs to learn in order to ‘humanize‘ their web presence.

2. 5 good reasons you don’t need to panic when mistakes happen.

3. 10 hiring mistakes you should look out for.

4. Legacy and leadership questions at Pixar.

5. Leaders have to be careful of their…knees. Odd, but captivating comparison.

6. 11 useful pointers that can help you optimize your time at the office.

7.  The key to corporate survival is having the skill to fall asleep on airplanes–a well-written, personal, story.

8. What doctor’s don’t learn in medical school. Very interesting lessons and ideas that can be applicable to leaders.

9. Scott Adams on how to pick winning companies. Trust your feelings of disgust.

10. Top 10 CEOs….in prison.

Art work entitled Forces of Nature 5, by Yael Dresdner.

BLG Leadership Insights

The Business Of Cat Pictures

Americans spend an amazing 32.7 hours a week on the internet. You can only throw away so much of the day checking Facebook or actually doing work, but there are a few spare hours that need to be filled. That’s where websites like step in.

Jenna Worthham of the New York Times writes about how this silly time waster has blossomed into an empire that includes 40 employees and 50 other popular websites.

If you don’t know what is you need to go take a look. It’s funny, cute, and totally nonsensical. The site is dedicated to cat pictures with grammatically incorrect captions. The site, aside from teaching us that people love the absurd, illustrates how internet success can come in all shapes and sizes.

Ben Huh bought the previously unknown website for $10,000 three years ago and has used all of his business and proactive leadership skills to turn a seedling, wacky, idea into a mini-web-empire.

Conventional wisdom tells us that we are supposed to come up with an idea, product, or even a way of life that people desire and actually need in order to succeed in business. If you can build a better mousetrap, you will do well. Thanks to the internet we can see the outline of a new paradigm more clearly: create stuff that no one really needs, but everyone decides they can’t live without.

Ideas don’t have to fit a box in order to work. They need people who can get involved and get things done.

BLG Leadership Insights

The Worth of Things

A lot of times things like baseball cards and stamps become worth a great deal of money, not because of their intrinsic value but because of accidental scarcity. Consider Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps baseball card that is estimated to be worth around $30,000 today.

There is a good chance that you’ve heard of Mickey Mantle even if you are a baseball novice. He was more than just an athlete; he was and still is a defining part of American culture. The reason this flimsy 2-3/4” x 3-5/8” piece of colored cardboard fetches 5 figures has less to do with his home run power and matinee idol looks and it has more to do with luck.

In 1952 The Topps Company (which, to this day, still makes sports cards) released a set of 407 baseball cards in installments over the course of the baseball season. Mantle’s card was in the last lot of cards released and by the time it came out late in the season, people were more focused on football and other fall sports. The higher-ups at Topps found themselves with tons of merchandise and no one to buy it. So what did they do with all the cards no one wanted? They dumped them into the Atlantic Ocean, thus accidentally creating an instant rarity.

Here’s the only problem with this story and those like it: collector’s items can rarely be consciously created, most of the time they have to emerge organically. Lots of companies try to sell us their junk by saying like “Only 100 made!” or “Available for a Limited Time Only!” but most of the time these “rare” items end up in dollar store discount bins and in neglected eBay auctions

It happened in the baseball card industry. Once greed set in, collecting cards went from a hobby to a business. Everyone was trying to find, or for that matter create, the next 1952 Mantle. By the late 1980’s the card companies realized that they could make a mint from what had previously been a children’s toy and flooded the market with pre-packaged, limited-run, “collectibles.” As more companies jumped into the business (Fleer, Donruss, Upper Deck, etc.) merchandise began to clog shelves. By the late 1990s the whole business went bust and many of us were left with closets filled with worthless memorabilia.

The moral to this story is two fold. First, things gain worth for more than just the obvious reasons. Mickey Mantle is an American legend and Hall of Fame baseball player, but his most expensive card got that way because of a twist of fate. Second, you can’t always create “worth” and if you actively try to it will often have the opposite effect. Things (and people) gain worth through an organic process that combines quality, need, patience, and, more often than not, a little bit of dumb luck.

Picture Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum