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What CEO’s Can Learn From Paul Newman (Wall Street Journal)

Paul Newman

John C. Whitehead, former deputy secretary of State and former co-chair of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Peter L. Malkin, chairman of Wien & Malkin LLP collaborated on an editorial titled What CEO’s Can Learn From Paul Newman (free content) for the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 2, 2008). Here’s an excerpt

What many may not know is that he donated 100% of post-tax profits and royalties from the Newman’s Own company to charities world-wide — more than $250 million to date. He was also passionate about the Hole in the Wall Camps he helped found for children with life-threatening illnesses, and he was deeply involved with a variety of other innovative nonprofit organizations including his most recent undertaking, the Safe Water Network.

Newman’s Own has been an inspiration for individuals and business leaders alike and helped launch a movement for greater corporate philanthropy. Paul always considered himself an outsider in the corporate sector. His vision was to see companies change the way they conducted business and learn from the Newman’s Own model of giving back. He was reticent around CEOs, but he quietly aimed to revolutionize corporate America.

Paul Newman, through his company and personal activities, helped defined best practices in corporate social responsibility.

Paul’s passion for philanthropy was rooted in the strong belief that we had a great obligation as individuals and companies to give back some of the benefits that we were granted as free and prosperous citizens of the United States. He believed that corporations are granted a license to operate by their communities, and therefore have the responsibility to be good citizens in return.

If you are not familiar with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, please watch this video.

Whitehead and Malkin close with:

In 2000, Paul addressed a group of students at a U.C. Berkeley conference on philanthropy and articulated his motivation behind giving by saying “it seems so human to hold your hand out to people less fortunate than you are.” This quote embodies the generous spirit of a man committed to not only giving back, but to inspiring the world to see the value of social responsibility.

In today’s economy Paul’s ideals are even more salient. Business leaders should learn from his example and maintain or increase their corporate giving programs in these tough times.

We need more leaders like Paul Newman.

You can read the essay in it’s entirety here.

Whitehead and Malkin are both honorary chairs and directors of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

About the author

Peter A. Mello, Founder/Editor Founder of Weekly Leader and Sea-Fever Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and strategic communications consultancy. Previously, CEO of an international nonprofit organization and COO of a national insurance/risk management services firm. Peter has been leading people and managing organizations for over 30 years, writes a leadership column for MarineNews magazine and blogs about maritime culture at Sea-Fever. Follow him on Twitter.

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