CEO Wisdom: Former Burger King Boss Barry Gibbons

Work isn’t easy.Of course it never has been, but these days it seems harder than ever.

Unreasonable bosses. Rude customers. A minimum wage that hasn’t been raised in 15 years.

And it’s often fast food workers that seem to get the worst of it.

Get your copy of Barry Gibbons’s book

But here’s a conversation I had some 25 years ago with a former CEO of Burger King – see if you agree with what Barry Gibbons told me about being a good business leader.

The book he wrote that we talked about was called If You Want to Make God Really Laugh, Show Him Your Business Plan.

So here now, from 1999. Barry Gibbons.

Since leaving Burger King Barry Gibbons has been a popular and in-demand speaker on business success.

Martha Stewart

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Well many of us went to barbecues, reunions, or other big holiday events for the 4th of July.

And if you hosted such an event, you probably realized how much planning and effort goes into it.
Maybe you could have used a little professional advice…

There may literally be no one in America who is better known for her expertise in entertaining than Martha Stewart.

For more than 40 years, Stuart has been dispensing advice on cooking and decorating and entertaining guests. Best-selling books, a magazine, and a television show have helped push her to the forefront.

I’ve interviewed her several times, including this conversation we had in 1994 when she published a book called Martha Stewart’s Menus For Entertaining.

So here now, from 1994, Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart will be 82 next month . She lives in New York.

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Andrew Grove

Photo by World Economic Forum

It was a young immigrant from Europe who came to the United States nearly 70 years ago who helped create and promote technology that would literally transform the world.

His name was Andrew Grove. A Hungarian by birth, he fled the Hungarian revolution in 1956 to come to the US.

In 1968, he joined the newly formed company called Intel, and eventually became its third CEO. His leadership propelled Intel to the forefront of the fledgling industry.

And in 1997 Andy Grove was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for his influence in advancing the power and potential of the microchip.

In 2001, Grove wrote his autobiography, a book he called Swimming Across. And that’s when I have the chance to talk with him for a few minutes .

So here now, from 2001, Andy Grove.

Andrew Grove died in 2016 at age 79.

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John Sculley
Gil Amelio

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Lillian Vernon

Today we’d probably call it a “side hustle.”

Photo by Annie Watt

But that term had not yet been invented in 1951, when Lillian Vernon started a small mail order business from her kitchen table.

At that time she sold personalized purses and belts,targeting young women like her with ads in Seventeen magazine.

Born in Germany, she and her family fled to America in 1933, and she became an American citizen a few years later. As a 24-year-old housewife she started her business like so many do today, to bring in a few extra bucks.

And the business began to grow, eventually becoming one of the nations first and foremost direct mail retailers. You’ve probably gotten a Lillian Vernon catalog in the mail at some point over the years.

I met her in 1996 when Vernon wote a book called An Eye for Winners. So here now, from 1996, LillianVernon.

Lillian Vernon died in 2015. She was 88.

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Debbi Fields
Ruth Handler

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Gil Amelio

Given Apple’s dominance in the high-tech world, it’s hard to imagine that it was once a company that had cash flow problems, poor quality products, a bloated workforce, and a total lack of strategy.

But that’s essentially the kind of company that Gill Amelio said he took over as CEO in early 1996.

By his own telling, Amelio cut costs, slashed staff, and tried to put the company back on a strategic course.

But less than a year and a half later, in summer of 1997, Apple was still struggling and Amelio was forced out.

The following spring he wrote a book about his 500 days at Apple, called On the Firing Line. And that’s when I met him.

So here now, from 1998, Gil Amleio.

Gil Amelio is 79 now. He’s been a venture capitalist for the last 24 years.

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Tami Longaberger

For a generation, a handcrafted Longaberger basket is something of a home decor showpiece.

Dave Longaberger founded the company in 1973, and by 1975 had hired his daughter Tammy to work there. When Dave died in 1999, Tami took over as president and CEO.

In 2001, a book that Dave Longaberger had written was finally published, and Tammy went on tour to promote it. That’s when I met her.

At the time, the Longaberger company was at its peak, with thousands of employees making all kinds of home decor products,

They even built a company headquarters building in Ohio that looks like a giant Longaberger Basket.

So here now, from 2001, Tami Longaberger.

Some time after our interview in 2001, the Longaberger Company’s fortunes began to slide. Tami stepped down as CEO in 2015, and Longaberger ceased operations in 2018. The company’s brand was revived a year later by another comp[any.

As for the distinctive basket shape headquarters building, Longaberger moved out of it in 2016, and it was sold to developers in They’ve tried to turn it into a luxury hotel, but at present those plans are still on hold.

Tami Longaberger is 60 now, and works with a venture capital firm based in Washington, DC.

Anita Roddick

In 1976 a British business woman started a small business to sell skin and hair care products.

But she also wanted it to reflect her ethics and values, including human rights, animal rights, and the environment.

Anita Roddick called her business The Body Shop.

Today The Body Shop has over 3,000 stores in 65 countries. But it is still loyal to Anita Roddick’s ethics and values.

In 2001 Roddick wrote a book called Business As Unusual, a look back at the sometimes-turbulent ‘90s for The Body Shop.

So here now from 2001, Anita Roddick.

Anita Roddick died in 2007. She was 64.

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Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea
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John Sculley

Photo: Judae1

Doing a 13-year career at PepsiCo, including six years as its president, John Scully prove to be something of a marketing genius.

If you’ve ever seen The Pepsi Challenge, well .. that was John Sculley’s idea.

Then he made the switch from selling flavored sugar carbonated water to selling personal computers.

In 1983 Scully became CEO of Apple. And soon, behind his marketing skills, Apple had rival i b m on the run.

In 1987, in the middle of his 10-year run at Apple, Scully wrote a book about his transition from Pepsi. And that’s when I met him.

Two things to note about this interview. No, three things.

First, John Sculley apparently had had the services of a consultant who told him to be sure and mention his book in every answer. So you’ll hear lots of references to the title of his book, Odyssey.

The second thing you need to know is that I learned a very important lesson in this interview. And that is, always check your microphone. It turns out that mine was basically turned off for the entire interview, and I didn’t realize it. That’s why it sounds a little strange.

But the third thing, the most intriguing thing, this is 1987. Very few people had personal computers, yet Scully is talking about things that today seem commonplace. It’s like we went back to the future.

So here now, from 1987, John Sculloey.

John Sculley is 82 now. He remains active in high-tech startups, as well as disruptive marketing strategies.

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Steve Wozniak

Al Neuharth

Photo: John Mathew Smith

Do you have to be kind of an SOB to be a success?

What kind of connotation does that term even have anymore?

Those were two of the key questions that Al Neuharth tried to address in his bestselling memoir “Confessions Of An S.O.B.”

Al Neuharth was the founder of USA Today, as well as The Freedom Forum, and the Newseum. So apparently being an SOB helped him.

So here now, from 1990, Al Neuharth:

Al Neuharth died in 2013, at the age of 89.

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Howard Schultz

Photo: Gage Skidmore

When three guys from San Francisco started Starbucks 50 years ago, in 1971, they probably had little idea of what the future would bring for their little coffee bean business.

By 1986 there were still only six Starbucks locations. But in 1987, they sold the company to Howard Schultz. And under his leadershipp, Starbucks grew to 46 stores by 1989, and in1992 the company went public,

Howard Schultz was CEO of Starbucks from 1986 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2017.

In 1997, Schultz wrote a book called “Pour Your Heart Into It,” and that’s when I met him.

Now, a couple of times in this interview, you will hear us refer to “the tragedy in Georgetown.” Just weeks before this interview, there was a vicious crime at a Starbucks in the Georgetown section of Washington DC, in which 3 store employees were murdered.

So here now, from 1997, Howard Schultz…

Today Starbucks has over 32-thousand stories in over 80 countries.

Howard Schultz will be 68 in July. He and his family live in Seattle.