John Sculley | Former CEO of Apple Computers, Pepsi, High-Tech Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist

John Sculley

Former CEO of Apple Computers, Pepsi, High-Tech Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist

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John Sculley

John Sculley has been a highly recognized business Innovator for the past 30 years.

He is best known for spotting future market and product opportunities and transforming companies to seize the advantage. These include: launching first successful plastic beverage packaging; Pepsi Challenge; launching FritoLay international; launching the first Macintosh; launching the first desktop publishing system; launching "What's your number" adjustable mattresses; and launching the online discount travel service HotWire.

Today his companies include the designing of the 3rd screen for the home video device; a multi-billion dollar unlimited minutes prepaid phone company; a global interoperable online identity authentication network for global banks; and an off-balance sheet financing service for growth equity buy-outs.

John Sculley
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Current: DARPA BiT Keynote

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DARPA BiT Keynote
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Web Summit Conversation With David Carr
Time 23:48

John Sculley
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Business Leadership

How I think about business leadership...

Some executives have built very successful careers by focusing on consistent, year-in year-out, operational improvements. I particularly admire those legendary leaders with exceptional people skills who have created great executive teams and best-in-class human capital across their companies. While expansion strategies traditionally had been the prevue of the large public companies; in this decade, we’ve seen several private equity firms become masters-of-this-universe by combining balance sheet leverage with transformational business models; then parachuting in experienced teams of highly motivated executives with the mission to compress the time to distinctive shareholder returns through deliberate and decisive actions crafted by the some of the smartest business consultants. Each of these examples embrace admirable themes, but my life’s quest has been centered around a very singular mission to use innovation and system design to create superior end-customer experience and disruptive, game changing, business models. My mission has been shaped by curiosity, innovation, and transformational leadership.

Why are Americans so good at innovation and entrepreneurial exploits?

We are brought up to believe that anything is possible and there are no barriers to one’s opportunities to succeed at whatever one sets one’s mind to do. Individual freedom to push the boundaries beyond the safe path; a classless society that is comfortable with empowering individuals to try new things; and a culture where making mistakes is part of one’s necessary learning experience and won’t be an indelible penalty on one’s career - these are the core elements of our business value system.

Contrast these first principles with other very desirable, but different societies.

Not everyone expects an equal opportunity to succeed in business nor is business success held in the same high esteem as a life priority that it is held in the United States. For example, Europeans draw a careful delineation between their business and personal life. Many find it distasteful to mix the two and are especially curious with American executives’ comfort zone of intruding cell phone calls and an always-on Blackberry into one’s family lifestyle?

Asians are exceptionally hard working and many are much better educated than Americans. However, Asian cultures are tuned to collective success rather than individual exceptionalism. Consequently, while there are numerous examples of extraordinary organizational accomplishments, Asian business success is more often centered on adapting innovation; continual evolutionary improvements; developing cheaper, faster, better work processes; and a caution against individual innovation or individual risk taking.

In Global Economy 2.0, these traditional mores are changing fast. Foreigners who have worked in the USA are returning home with lessons learned and they are transplanting the first principles of American entrepreneurialism into their faster growing emerging markets. Throughout my long career I’ve worn many hats. I’ve been a middle manager, an industrial designer, an R&D executive, a marketing executive, a business leader, a public company CEO, a best selling author, an entrepreneur, a venture capitalist, a senior advisor to public corporations, a board member, worked closely with first-tier investment funds, and today spend much of my time traveling Global Economy 2.0 as a mentor to some very successful serial entrepreneurs.

Let me share 10 transformational observations...

I always learned more from my mistakes than my successes
Being a successful functional executive or even an accomplished COO, doesn’t necessarily prepare one to be a CEO
The hardest part of a CEO’s job is not deciding what to do; its figuring out what not to do
Transformation is a team sport
Defining the right questions is harder than finding right answers
The most successful transformational leaders I have known were more motivated by making a difference than by making a lot of money
Don’t underestimate how important curiosity, hard work and good luck have been for the most successful transformational leaders
Timing in life can mean everything
Transformational leaders are highly skilled at transferring their own belief system to those around them
Its amazing how much you can accomplish if you don’t worry about who gets the credit ( Ronald Reagan )

Power Shifts
Getting Used to the New Normal

Audiences learn about the power shifts that are transforming business and why we are only at the beginning. When you look around at today's business world, what new ground rules do you see? How is the power in the marketplace shifting, and what do these shifts mean to your business? Just as importantly, how can you not simply respond, but take advantage of them?

Why Big Ideas Happen in Small Companies

Virtualization of project teams and a shift to innovation through collaboration are changing the ground rules for how companies, big and small, are learning to adapt to a world where business transformation has become the norm. Few executives have the global reach of experience in so many major industries as John Sculley, who explores these themes drawing from his own experience as a public company CEO, as a marketing innovator, high technology visionary, global financial services leader, and successful private equity investor.

Customers-in-Control vs. Producers-in-Control

Enabling customers to not just expect, but demand the best products, best services, customized, at the lowest price and ASAP.

John Sculley
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John Sculley
Featured Articles & Resources

Former Apple CEO, John Sculley on 'Steve Jobs' movie portrayal

  Former Apple CEO and President/CEO of Pepsi John Sculley has long been a trailblazer in the business and corporate world. In addition to John’s achievements as a marketing...
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