I attended a small luncheon a few days ago with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. Their guest speaker was U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, who discussed the many opportunities – and challenges – involved with America’s growing trade relationship with China. Sec. Bryson addressed questions about streamlining the process for Chinese professionals to obtain the necessary visas to work in the U.S., as well as longstanding concerns over the protection of Intellectual Property. These are important subjects and it was a stimulating discussion.

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In 1996 a man named Lod Cook called and asked to see me. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted to talk about but I knew very well who he was. Whenever a President of the United States – Democrat or Republican – visited Los Angeles, it was Lod they wanted to see first. Queen Elizabeth bestowed a knighthood on him. He was the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He had spent 40 distinguished years at ARCO, from which he retired as Chairman and CEO. He helped rebuild the L.A. Library and served on boards of every variety – corporations and non-profits alike. Lod Cook was synonymous with the terms “pillar of the community” and “civic leader.”

Lod had been a big deal but he was retired now, and it surprised me to realize that he wanted to talk about building a football stadium and bringing an NFL team to L.A. As we chatted, though, it became clear that while this man was retired from his job, he still had a fire inside, a sense of civic duty. Lod Cook’s passion and drive were as strong as a man half his age, and with such a wealth of experience and energy sitting across from me, what else could I do? I hired him. We became partners, and together we built a company that today controls nearly 30 percent of the internet traffic in the world, an industry that didn’t even exist 15 years ago.
I’m no genius. I simply made an observation and acted on it. Men and women like Lod are the unsung heroes of America’s business community: top corporate executives, professionals, investors and public officials, who through no fault of their own have lost their platforms and relevance before they were ready. When seasoned leaders are aged out of the system, we lose a tremendous resource.

People in their 60’s and 70’s have an abundance of experience – as leaders, value creators, navigators – and we need more people with this kind of experience to help us through America’s tough times. Think about it – when you’re on an airplane in the middle of a storm, who do you want flying that plane? You want the most experienced pilot. The people I’m hiring lately aren’t thinking about cash compensation and up-front money; they’re looking for opportunity. They’re looking for an alternative to the story that somebody else wrote for them. No one likes feeling irrelevant, especially when they’ve contributed so much in the past.

Now, for those who want to hang up their Mickey Mantle Number 7 jersey, God bless them. They’ve earned it. But I’ve met plenty who aren’t ready to retire their jerseys. Since the day that Lod Cook and I became a team I’ve embarked on similar journeys with other professionals whose industries had said to them, “Thank you, and good-bye.” Whether from business or public service or numerous other fields, these people have consistently brought intellect, solid judgment and unending passion to the table. With a purpose came performance.

Medical science tells us that retirees who stay active live longer, healthier lives. Allowing talented people the opportunity to stay in the game is good for them, but it’s also good for business and it’s good for our country.

more about Gary Winnick? Gary Winnick…

A Contender Elbows In

March 28, 2011

A FEW weeks ago, Craig Susser, the former manager of the legendary Hollywood restaurant Dan Tana’s, interrupted a morning of paperwork to take a call from one of its regulars, the three-time Stanley Cup champion Junior Langlois.

One might also expect Dan Tana, who is 75, to be upset that his ex-employee — in another ritual of the restaurant business — rallied investors for his new place, including the billionaire Gary Winnick and the producer Jerry Weintraub, from within Dan Tana’s ranks. Mr. Susser, 45, said he’d been led to believe he was the heir apparent to Mr. Tana, and was taken aback when Mr. Tana sold his place to a friend, Sonja Perencevic, in 2009.

(Read more via The New York Times.)

In my sixty years of observing the restaurant scene in Los Angeles, I have never before seen a new restaurant open its doors right on the heels of a favorable full-page article in the New York Times about its owner (and, incidentally, without once mentioning its food!) The story, headlined “In L.A., a Restaurant Contender Elbows In,” details how Craig Susser, the long-time manager of a legendary Italian celebrity joint in West Hollywood, Dan Tana’s, recently left there after the 75-year-old owner sold it (supposedly for $6 million!) to someone else (a Croatian countryman of his).

One of my long-time readers, billionaire Gary Winnick, emailed me that “Craig is a very talented guy, and will succeed because he understands the marketplace and, most importantly, his customers. That’s why they keep coming back.” Gary invested in the restaurant, so I don’t know if his judgment is impartial, but he is a very hip guy so I kind of trust his acumen. He also alerted me to several dishes which I tried when my ex took me there for my birthday.

(Read more via The Huffington Post.)

The Global Crossing CEO recalls his decision to endure a pounding in Congress, stick by his company, and lead it out of Chapter 11

As told to Diane Brady

In October 2001, I became CEO of Global Crossing. The company was in a lot worse shape than I thought. I brought in some consultants, and I remember being angry when one of them suggested that we were headed into bankruptcy.

He was right. In January 2002, I agreed to file. This was in the midst of Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco (TYC). The brand image was horrible. I was getting threats, and my family needed armed security. I thought to myself, “Wait a second. I just got here!”

They wanted Gary Winnick at the congressional hearings. He was the chairman, but I insisted that I go instead. It was important to put a different face on the company. I went to people I trusted and asked their advice. It was clear that I had to stick around. Otherwise, I would be forever associated with all of the negativity.

Nothing prepares you for walking into the Congress and sitting in that chair. They’re talking to you from up above. You don’t know what anonymous e-mails they’re going to read, but your lawyers have handed you the most embarrassing ones you’ve written, just in case they come up…

{Read more via BusinessWeek}

In an unprecedented commitment to environmental causes, The New York Forum, to be held on June 22 and 23 in New York City, today announced that the global business gathering will be the first of its kind to go completely paperless. All participants will receive an iPad featuring the program, background information, schedule, and any other relevant materials. The New York Forum is a global business leader meeting aimed at addressing the future of the global economy, including focusing on strategies to spur job creation and develop new business models.

Vikram Pandit, CEO, Citigroup; David Neeleman, Former CEO, JetBlue; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas; and Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines; and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher, The New York Times Company have been announced as speakers and more high-profile announcements will follow in the coming weeks.

“As some of the world’s foremost business, finance and academic leaders gather in New York City, we have recognized the need to set the standard and go completely paperless,” said Richard Attias, the founder of the New York Forum. “Traditionally, participants at such conferences are inundated with information, and all of it is on paper, in binders or books. We realize that the time has come to do away with all printed materials, and publish everything any participant needs to know on an iPad.”

The first annual New York Forum will bring together hundreds of international business leaders, entrepreneurs, sovereign fund managers, regulatory officials and academics for a series of results-oriented discussions, debates and dialogues, with a mission that is both bold and urgent: to reinvent business models, to stimulate job creation and restore faith in the international economy. The Forum’s distinguished Advisory Board includes Nobel Prize-winning economist and Director of The Center for Capitalism and Society, Edmund Phelps, Partnership for New York City CEO Kathy Wylde, Pacific Capital Founder and Chairman Gary Winnick and Scott-Heekin-Canedy, President and General Manager, The New York Times.

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Gary & Karen Winnick

March 7, 2008

Gary Winnick is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the private investment group, Pacific Capital Group, Inc. and of iCRETE, L.L.C. – a global concrete technology company.

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The Dashew International Center for Students and Scholars at UCLA will present the 2001 Jacoby International Award to financier and philanthropist Gary Winnick, founder and chairman of Global Crossing Ltd. Winnick will be honored for his outstanding commitment and contributions to enhancing international understanding and peace.
 

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