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Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Leadership

As a tribute to the great leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., here are some of his words to reflect on regarding leadership.


"People are often led to causes and often become committed to great ideas through persons who personify those ideas. They have to find the embodiment of the idea in flesh and blood in order to commit themselves to it."

"The people are looking to me for leadership - and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter."


"If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."


"I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!"


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."


"The time is always right to do what is right."

"There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must do it because his conscience tells him it is right."


"I will not be intimidated, I will not be harassed. I will not be silent, and I will be heard."


"A man all wrapped up in himself is a mighty small package."


"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop... I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land."


"The first thing we must do here tonight is to decide we are not going to become panicky. That we are going to be calm, and we are going to continue to stand up for what is right. Fear not, we've come too far to turn back... we are not afraid and we shall overcome."


"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"We are not asking, we are demanding the ballot... "

"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind."


For more information on Dr. King and his powerful leadership, read the following:

Martin Luther King, Jr., on Leadership: Inspiration and Wisdom for Challenging Times

The Right Decisions Aren't Always Easy

Andrea Jung stuck with a company she loved. Today, she's turning heads, as Avon's CEO. The firm is a success story in a brutal economic climate.

Maybe Andrea Jung's passion for her work was most visible early last year when the company known for women's cosmetics decided to spend huge bucks on a TV ad during the Super Bowl, the game known for sweaty men and Budweiser.

Her workers were skeptical, Jung said in response to a question from Stanford Graduate School of Business student Roanak Desai on Nov. 9 as part of the student-sponsored View from the Top series. "They said, 'So, Andrea, are we going to advertise skin care or lipstick?' And I said, 'Neither. We’re going to create a testimonial ad of people who've joined us since they got laid off, and they're going to tell their story.'"

Amid the global economic brutality, Avon has been a success story, offering opportunities for women who had been laid off, had seen their husbands laid off, or simply needed extra cash.

"It’s been extremely motivating. There's almost no language necessary when you have the mission and purpose," Jung said. "People really said, 'I can’t get laid off. I am running my own business. They're my own hours.'"

Jung's 10 years as CEO of Avon is the denouement of a personal success story — she is one of the world's most influential female business leaders, serving on the boards at Apple and General Electric, as well as leading Avon. It wouldn't have come about without at least four significant decisions:

— After graduating magna cum laude from Princeton, Jung decided to go into retail rather than something like law or medicine, which didn't exactly thrill her parents, both Chinese immigrants. "I think their first reaction was, 'That wasn't really what we had in mind.' But then the family values set in, which were,'‘No matter what it is you do, you'd better go and be your best.'"

— When Jung got bogged down early in her career, stuck with uninspiring work in retail, her mother told her quitting was not an option. Work through the challenge, and get it done. That's what the family does. That's what Jung did.

— In 1997, when Jung was a top candidate for the Avon CEO job, a 52-year-old man was chosen instead. She thought about going to another company. "A mentor of mine said, 'Follow your compass, not your clock,'" Jung recalled. Her compass told her that Avon was still the place that suited her best. "I loved the company — its mission, its purpose."

Jung says she wouldn't have regretted the decision even if she had never obtained the promotion, but fate soon made the circumstances moot. "It didn't work out for him, so I got the job in 21 months, and the rest is history."

— In 2005, after Avon missed earnings projections a couple of times, a colleague pointed to something AT&T had done: Cutting layers of management to streamline bureaucracy. Jung resisted, but later in the week a trusted advisor told her that she was likely to lose her own job within 120 days, despite her popularity, if she couldn't turn Avon around. The advisor said Jung would end up leading another struggling company where she wouldn’t know anyone, and then have to try to turn that company around. That was a jolt, because her first five years as a CEO had seen substantial growth. "We were booming into emerging markets. We had double-digit top-line growth," Jung said. "I had no idea what the word 'turnaround' meant — and we hit the wall."

After talking with the advisor, Jung realised that if she was going to have to be a tough, budget-cutting CEO no matter what, she might as well do it at the company she loved. So she cut layers of management at Avon, painful though it was. "I had to become a definer of my own second chapter and start it fresh."

That second chapter has seen the most people join Avon in the United States at any time since the 1970s. Jung said managing them is different than in most companies because the salespeople are independent representatives, not employees. "Motivation, inspiration, and influence are very different things than leadership requirements and mandates, and so the skill of communicating is the skill of influencing and inspiring. Mission and values and purpose have been the way that we've effectively kept that sales force going this year."

Looking outside the United States is even more crucial. Jung said that in her industry category 88% of the growth from 2008 to 2013 is projected to come from emerging markets.

One huge market is China, where Avon has more than one million workers. "We decided at Avon not to focus on the eastern seaboard cities, the large cities," she said. "We decided to penetrate the small towns and villages and have a supply chain and infrastructure strategy where the women were because we knew that the government would like the fact that we were offering opportunities for people not to have to bus themselves to work into large cities — that we could create work for them right in the towns and villages where they were."

As her career has evolved, Jung has seen through companies such as Avon and Amazon.com that finding the most effective distribution channels is crucial for retailers.

"He or she who can nail and reinvent the distribution game will win," she said. "Branding is critical — that's the cost of entry now. Distribution is the final trump."

For the complete lecture, see: