Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

Leaders Who've Deeply Influenced Us

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

Deeply Influenced by...

For over 20 years, we’ve been on a mission to create corporate cultures where impassioned people wake up every day and come to work fully engaged, knowing they’re going to be part of something special—places where people have the freedom to make a difference and change the world. These are some of the leaders who have inspired us and shaped our views along the way.

Herb Kelleher, Chairman Emeritus, Southwest Airlines

When we first walked into Herb’s office 25 years ago he treated us like old friends—now we are. Herb disrupted an entire industry with a radically different business model. He is without a doubt, one of the greatest leaders ever to set foot on the stage of American business.

Ratan Tata, Chairman, India’s $70b Tata Group

We got to know Ratan during our research for Nanovation. We’ve met very few people who think as big as Ratan thinks. He is the visionary behind the Nano. Ratan has taken a century-old, highly decentralized, highly diversified business conglomerate and turned it into an innovative global powerhouse.

Colleen Barrett, retired President, Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s irreverent, fun-loving, people-first culture is as famous as the company’s track record for profitability. Colleen is the reason why. She has created something that no other airline has been able to replicate—a culture where impassioned people show up every day, do extraordinary things and get unprecedented results.

Ravi Kant, vice-Chairman, Tata Motors

We met Ravi after doing a leadership program for Tata Motors’ executives. Ravi is the architect behind Tata’s Jaguar-Land Rover acquisition and one of the chief catalysts that drove the Nano project. He has created a culture of innovation where very young people are given the opportunity to change the world.

Jim Goodnight, Chairman, SAS Institute

Fortune Magazine named SAS a world leader in intelligence-software and the #1 best company to work for in America. Imagine working a 35-hour work week, seeing a doctor, hitting the gym, picking up a child from daycare, getting a haircut and getting free advice on life / work balance without leaving campus. The incredible perks and country-club-like culture that Goodnight has created scream, YOU CAN’T DO THAT! Goodnight does it and more and as a result SAS has the best employee and customer loyalty scores around.

General Bill Cooney, deputy CEO, USAA

He truly is one of the great leaders of our time. Bill championed many of the innovation initiatives at the $70b financial services giant. He is responsible for expanding USAA’s capacity to change and helped build its reputation as a world-class customer service leader.

Nandan Nilekani, co-Founder, Infosys

He is one of the smartest guys we’ve met. Nandan was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. Nandan’s insight into how technology is leveling the global playing field inspired Tom Friedman to write, The World Is Flat.

Robert Redford, Founder, Sundance and the Sundance Institute

Bob’s passion for the environment is woven into the very DNA of the Sundance culture. You can see and feel it everywhere you go at this one-of-a-kind, rustic, yet elegant resort. Bob is fast becoming a leader in the movement to integrate business and sustainability.

Mary Sammons, Chairman and CEO, Rite Aid Corporation

Mary is widely recognized for the pivotal role she played in engineering the turnaround at Rite Aid. She transformed the company’s culture by giving employees a voice and enlisting their ideas for the necessary changes. Fortune named her to its list of the most powerful women in American business.

Saeed Dashti, Chairman, Kuwait Gulf Link (KGL)

KGL is into everything from cargo transport, port management and stevedoring to car rental, real estate and shipping. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, all of KGL’s assets were either confiscated or destroyed. Saeed was faced with the challenging task of rebuilding. Today, KGL is a $1b conglomerate and amazingly, Saeed is leading the movement to stabilize Iraq through funding small and medium-sized businesses.

Shogo Saito, Chairman & CEO, Business Consultants, Japan

BCon is a $100 million professional services firm in Japan specializing in organizational and human resource development. Saito san has consistently been ahead of his time in bringing innovative training and development programs to companies in Japan. In over 10 years of working with Mr. Saito, he leads by example, exudes confident humility and personifies the term “flawless execution.”

Dave Arnette, Director of Field Applications, Intel

We collaborated with Dave on a program for Intel’s global sales team of over 2500. Dave is one of the few people throughout history who has stood on the summit of Mt. Everest. His reflections into what leaders can learn from the Everest experience are nothing short of astonishing.

Jeff Simmons, President, Elanco Animal Health

Jeff took the principles in BOOM! and used them to create one of the premier breeding grounds for entrepreneurs in the world—Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly. Under Jeff’s gutsy leadership, Elanco has experienced phenomenal growth. If you are in the explosively growing field of biotechnology looking to place a new product idea, Elanco should be your first stop.

Roy Spence, Jr., Chairman & CEO, GSD&M Idea City

Roy is one of the most visionary, passionate and creative leaders in the world. We got to know Roy shortly after meeting Herb Kelleher—GSD&M has been Southwest’s ad agency for over 30 years. Roy and his band of creative crazies stretch creative branding boundaries at Idea City every day. They have helped grow some of the world’s most successful brands—Walmart, BMW, Doubletree, John Deere, Hallmark, Clinton Global Initiative and PGA Tour.

Hugh Gouldthorpe, Jr., Sr. Vice President, Owens & Minor

We have collaborated on many programs with “Goldie.” Owens&Minor, the nation’s largest supplier of branded medical and surgical supplies, has a vibrant corporate culture and leads the industry in game-changing innovation. Gil Minor, Chairman, will tell you that Goldie has been one of the primary drivers behind the company’s incredible growth.

Jay Welker, President, Wealth Management, Wells Fargo

When Wells went looking for a leader to head its Wealth Management Group following its merger with Wachovia, Jay got the nod. That’s because Jay has built a talented force of trust advisors who have a knack for becoming strategic partners with their very discerning clients.