While he was CEO of Colgate-Palmolive—and at 23 years, that was a very long time—Reuben Mark was known for keeping Colgate a relatively private company. He was also known for his management capabilities and the company’s success: Under his tenure, Colgate outperformed the S&P 500 by a mile. Now that he’s retired—Ian Cook took over the top spot in July—he seems to be a little more available. Wharton’s web site has a recap of a speech he gave recently at the business school. A couple of interesting tidbits:
—At one point, Colgate management tried to get all 35,000 employees to wear ID tags with their first names in big type to make it easier for top executives to connect with employees. Can you imagine always wearing a name tag at work?
—Mark told students that business leaders should think of their company’s performance in terms of a bell curve. The left side is poor performance; the right, excellent. Managers’ jobs are to move the whole bell curve to the right: “It’s not romantic or revolutionary or headline-getting, but over time, that’s what generates success.”
—And perhaps most surprising: He likes retirement. “I was probably in the job too long,” he said.
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