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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Angel Cabrera
Academic President

The givers: Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett

Question: Considering all spheres of endeavor, who would you nominate as Leader of the Year in 2010? Why?

Bill and Melinda Gates made history in 2006 when they pledged $30 billion of their personal fortune to their foundation and decided to dedicate themselves full time to their philanthropic work. Warren Buffett followed suit and added another $30 billion to the effort, resulting in one of the largest philanthropic endeavors in human history. The Gates foundation has already shaped philanthropy and non-governmental social innovation, not only because of its size but because of its innovative approaches.

In 2010, Buffett and the Gateses doubled the ante with the Giving Pledge, a movement that encourages the wealthiest American families to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to charities and philanthropic causes of their choosing. In less than a year, more than 50 billionaires have joined their cause. The Giving Pledge is shaping social expectations around wealth and is suggesting an enlightened form of capitalism that redefines personal success to include not only the accumulation of wealth but also its intelligent application to building a better society.

The impact left by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates will be noticed for generations to come. They deserve more than anyone to be considered 2010 leaders of the year.

Click here to return to all panel responses

By Angel Cabrera

 |  December 22, 2010; 3:54 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Corporate leadership , Leadership and Compensation , Nonprofit Leadership , Self-Sacrifice Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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We have seen men who preached charity. We have seen men who made great wealth. But how many men have we seen this century who have created wealth - not inherited it - in their lifetimes and given it away in their lifetimes transcending boundaries of countries, race and color? For that Gates is definitely the leader of the century. To change the way mankind lives in more ways than one. He is a true example of American dream and it's greatness. I wish every nation can produce atleast one like him in every generation.

Posted by: Kleen1 | December 29, 2010 12:37 PM
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WWJD? I know it's a trite expression, but seriously: It takes approximately a $200-$300 donation to directly save a life in Africa - via investing in infrastructure, AIDS prevention, education to plant successful crops, etc.

Is there a more noble human cause than saving the lives of starving, war-torn citizens? Maybe students in the US would like better laptops, but people - KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE.

Posted by: tasinsc | December 29, 2010 10:13 AM
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Bill Gates has forgotten that old saying "Charity Starts at Home". While it's all well and good that he wants to help Africa (and there are many people there who would benefit), he pursues actions here in the US that hurt unemployed Americans.

I'm talking about how he has displaced American IT workers with H-1B visa holders. While American IT workers go without jobs, Gates goes to congress and demands even more H-1Bs! He, in a snit, even opened a Microsoft campus in British Columbia because congress wouldn't increase the number of H-1Bs. Gates figured that the Canadians would import foreign workers more readily than the US. I wonder how unemployed Canadian IT workers feel about all this?

Gates could hire more unemployed American IT workers---even train them if their skills need updating. He could do all this and still be filthy rich.

Truth is---the man disgusts me.

Posted by: two4three2 | December 28, 2010 3:38 AM
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Bill and Melinda as leader(s) of the year? No.

Perhaps they would qualify as philanthropist of the year for the amount they have donated to needy causes, but that hardly qualifies them for leader of the year.

Mark Zuckerberg won Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" for similar actions but again, that is not leadership; generosity or philanthropy, yes. Leadership? No.

The creator of this piece needs a fifth grade lesson on main idea or topic identification.

Leader of the year? Obama gets my vote for getting anything at all done in Washington where the game of the century has been for too long - GRIDLOCK.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 26, 2010 8:04 AM
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But it is not exactly a selfless form of philanthropy if you have to collect public merits for it, is it?

Posted by: j_s_nightingale | December 26, 2010 7:40 AM
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Bill Gates amassed his fortune by unethical business practices that drove his competitors out of business, and is responsible for Microsoft finding ways to not pay any Federal taxes for many years. His actions then should not be bought off by money now.

Posted by: nonot | December 26, 2010 12:13 AM
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You jest. giving money does NOT demonstrate leadership. At one time Microsoft was an innovative company, but now it is a tired old company like General Motors. I have no love for Apple, but Steve Jobs -based on performance- clearly surpasses Bill Gates.

Posted by: SteveR1 | December 24, 2010 10:36 PM
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The LARGEST philanthropic effort in history is the income tax contributions of the wealthy in this country, EVERY year; that easily dwarfs the few billions given by Buffet and Gates (whom aren't subject to the death tax). 86% of all income taxes are paid by the top 25% of income earners, up from 84% in 2000. 97% of all taxes are paid by the top 50% of income earners (IRS.Gov). The TRILLIONS given away in the last 50 years in the so-called war on poverty has been involuntarily removed from the US economy by the govt, and confiscated from hard working Americans, only to perpetuate those in poverty. Ben Franklin said that the poor (not those whom cannot care for themselves)should be uncomfortable in their poverty, that they may find their way out. Liberalism creates weakness and dependency, breaks up families and ensures those in poverty remain there. EVERY American should pay taxes, no matter how low income, for it is a privilege to live under FREEDOM in the best country the world has ever seeon. If Freedom ends here, there is no place else to go, when freedom dies here, the world will never see it again. Go TEA Party!

Posted by: Right1 | December 24, 2010 1:14 PM
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An open letter to Warren Buffet:

As the major stockholder of Wells Fargo Bank, you are in a position to give back to those un/underemployed homeowners who may be facing foreclosure. Many of us with high interest rates on our Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will not successfully pass through the bureaucratic maze of the Home Loan Modification Program. By the time we complete the trial period, our unemployment benefits will run out and we will no longer be eligible. Many others who are not working or are underemployed cannot refinance theirs homes at the current low rate.

You were recently quoted as saying that the wealthy should pay more taxes, but now with the passage of the recent tax cut bill, you won't have to. Here's another way to give back: just lower the mortgage rate for those hit hardest by the economic downturn who are struggling to stay in their homes. All I want for Christmas is a low mortgage rate.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Posted by: nilsarey | December 24, 2010 11:48 AM
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Finally the monopolist has turned his attention to the USA and away from Africa--Africa needs aid but so does the USA. Haven driven up the price of PCs for every one, stifled innovation, and ruined all his competitors consider these ill-gotten gains a type of reparation. I understand that he has given so much money to college scholarships that he paid for 20.000 kids to go to school. That's good. And now Bill Gates has given money to public education. That's good too. Keep going Bill. We need the money and you need to atone for the brutal way you ran your business. Remember that behind every great fortune is a great crime.

Posted by: werowe1 | December 24, 2010 4:09 AM
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