October 10, 2006 5:07 PM PDT

Colin Powell urges corporate philanthropy

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SAN FRANCISCO--Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, called on corporate America on Tuesday to dig deep and set up sustainable philanthropy programs.

Powell made his call to action during a keynote speech at Salesforce.com's user and developer conference here. Marc Benioff, CEO of the hosted software company, noted in his introduction to the speech that Powell was an early inspiration for Salesforce's own philanthropy program.

"(Companies) need to give on a sustainable basis, not just a one-time drop," said Powell, a four-star general with a long military career and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "They need to give time, talent and treasure."

Powell not only outlined the benefits that companies could reap by contributing back to their communities and the potential labor pool, but also noted that philanthropy creates a work environment that employees value.

Colin Powell

He urged businesses to take a leadership role in philanthropy and outlined the qualities of a good executive head.

"Good leaders inspire, not motivate," he said. "The best leaders can inspire (workers), so they can do things through self-motivation." Leadership involves developing a vision and conveying that purpose throughout the company, down to the last person in an organization, Powell said.

Giving employees with the right training to develop needed skills and providing them with the appropriate tools for the task also ranked high on Powell's list of what leaders need to provide their work force.

"You need to make sure the followers have the skills and tools needed to get the job done," Powell noted. "Leadership is about creating bonds of trust."

When Powell arrived at the White House as Secretary of State in 2001, he was surprised to find his agency working with dated Wang computers. During his four-year stint as the State Department's head, Powell said he introduced up-to-date computers that were linked to the Internet.

BlackBerry pagers were also added to the mix and, to Powell's chagrin, were used occasionally by employees as "chick magnets," he said: They would try to impress women by saying they were receiving a message from him.

The former high-ranking official, who retired last year as Secretary of State, also discussed his transition to life as an average guy.

"I don't go through life looking through the rear-view mirror, but there is only one thing I miss--my plane," he joked.

Powell, drawing laughter from the audience, put on a wistful expression as he recalled his use of a 727 airplane, with the long red carpet, accompanying band and honor guard standing by. Now Powell is left with taking shuttle flights and undergoing the same security checks as any individual at the airport.

"I'm getting back to getting normal again," Powell said.

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2 comments

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Seeing is believing
For a man who supplied total fictional documentation to the world media way back in '02 and again in '03 , a most interesting comment indeed!

But then again, there were a numerous other glaring lapses, in another century, and another asian country where millions died in that US military folly, but I digress here!

As one would say seeing is believing, but he has amply demonstrated in this century, how easily facts, figures and pictures can be distorted and misrepresented, bent/manipulated to support the popular cause of the instant, and the mass media controlled in a manner that another propaganda minister of last century european country, would be proud to admire his handiwork!

Credibility is so easily destroyed when truth outs!

For those that fail to learn the mistakes of past history, are but doomed to repeat them!, is a more apt saying here!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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Pick The Pockets Being Picked
It is great for a company to be philanthropic and for its leaders to provide an inspiring vision.

On the other hand, be aware of who's pockets are being picked. If the company is contributing out of profits, the pockets of the stockholders are being picked. They tend to rebel against that. They aren't inspired by anything but pickings accruing to their own pockets.

If the office geishas are running programs to solicit the employees for contributions, the employees pockets are being picked. They grumble but they may be inspired by their leaders to give.

If the company execs are taking large bonuses for performance built off of overtime contributed freely by employees while also doling out 2% raises AND the geishas are soliciting, it rises a bit above lifting the wallets of the employees.

And all that inspires is attrition.

Powell finally resigned when he had had enough of robber managers. It is a fine example by an inspirational leader. It cuts both ways.
Posted by Len Bullard (454 comments )
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