Inspirational Business Leaders from 2013

Larry PageThis guest post was brought to you by Blake Pappas, who completed his undergraduate degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. Blake has also recently worked in higher education and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business.

Gordon B. Hinckley, the well-known religious leader and author once said, “Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.”  Here we examine three big hitting business leaders of today who themselves constantly strive to ‘do even better,’ while also inspiring others.

1. The Innovator

Larry Page, CEO of Google sets the bar high when it comes to leadership.  With a limitless belief that anything is possible and an innovative approach to company management to match, it is hardly surprising that Larry Page’s Google tops successive polls of places where people most want to work.

Thanks to the global success of Google, he now has the freedom and resources to pursue his passion for innovating.  Given carte blanche to explore the possible and seemingly impossible, Page has directed Google’s new projects (or ‘moon-shots’ as Google call them) in a wide variety of directions – building self-driving cars, solving mortality and achieving teleportation are among the more left-field initiatives ‘under development.’

Some may doubt the credibility of these types of projects, but none should underestimate Page’s own capabilities. He is, after all, responsible for creating the Google search engine and turning Android into the most popular computer operating system worldwide – and he’s only 40.

The Page philosophy is infectious and it seems to work-“We should be building great things that don’t exist.”

2. The Woman Who Wouldn’t Give Up

Kim Winser, a one woman London based fashion powerhouse, is an inspirational leader at the top of her game.  But things could have been so different if Kim hadn’t tackled gender barriers put in the way of her career development.

As a senior manager at iconic British brand Marks and Spencer, Kim found herself facing rejection from a Board position on three separate occasions, just because she was a woman.  Getting to the top meant having to address the issue directly with the company’s deputy chairman – but her grit and determination paid off.  After serving on the board of Marks and Spencer Kim moved on to bigger and better things – first heading up knitwear giant Pringle, and then luxury fashion brand Aquascutum.

Winser’s success continues today with the recent launch of her own fashion label, Winser London. Operating for only eight months so far, the brand has grown at four times the expected rate.

Her advice is simple – be yourself and don’t find your confidence in trying to be like others.

3. The Man Who Should Never Retire

Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz has so far made only one major mistake in his corporate life – he tried to retire.  In 2000, Schultz stepped away from his role as CEO and took up the position of Chairman, and watched the Starbucks success story unravel. Various factors contributed to the decline including a (too) rapid store expansion program, the wider economic downturn and a rather unwise foray into food.

In 2008, Schultz stepped back into the CEO shoes and took the helm. He closed hundreds of underperforming stores and refocused the core business. The winning combination of Schultz and coffee were back in charge.  With operating results hitting all-time highs, it’s clear that Schultz is the only man for the job. Now aged 60, Schultz rebuts suggestions of another retirement and seems to thrive on making his café culture the biggest and best.

The lesson from Schultz is that if you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re doing it well, don’t stop. As he himself says, “There really is no finish line, metaphorically. And if there was a finish line, then there wouldn’t be much to do.” Never stop learning new things and trying to improve. Take the steps necessary to stretch your boundaries, whether that’s taking on new projects in your personal life or pursuing an organizational management degree to increase your role within your current organization.

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