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Alan M. Webber

Alan M. Webber

Alan Webber, a founding editor of Fast Company magazine, is an award-winning editor, author, and columnist. His most recent book is Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Yourself.

Archive: Alan M. Webber

This is about guns, not rhetoric

Anyone who thinks that "vitriolic political rhetoric" is what killed and wounded the people in Arizona is in desperate need of a crash course in ballistics. It wasn't words; it was a Glock...

By Alan M. Webber | January 11, 2011; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (6)

The Spin Meister at work

Overheard: 'Wind and sun -- they're cute, but they can't keep the American economy running. Now, don't tell me you're a socialist?'

By Alan M. Webber | May 6, 2010; 01:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

Is this the face of capitalism?

You could think about Goldman Sachs the way most of the world thinks of the United States of America.

By Alan M. Webber | April 27, 2010; 06:17 AM ET | Comments (11)

One nuclear bomb can ruin a whole presidency

You can do a lot of little things right and be an adequate leader, but if you fail to do the one big thing, and you are a total failure as a leader.

By Alan M. Webber | April 12, 2010; 03:53 PM ET | Comments (1)

The power of coming clean

When it comes to leadership "do as I say, not as I do" is hardly a compelling directive.

By Alan M. Webber | March 30, 2010; 06:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

The needy leader

Long ago, strong male leaders exerted sexual prowess. Now we have the inverse: Needy men seeking public attention via electoral politics and then illicit sex.

By Alan M. Webber | March 11, 2010; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

Things that go boom

'Hurt Locker's' box-office failures had little to do with politics, and everything to do with most Americans not wanting to go to the movies to watch things that go boom.

By Alan M. Webber | March 9, 2010; 05:41 AM ET | Comments (3)

The $400 haircut

Pay less attention to the vice and more attention to the disparity between who leaders pretends to be and what they actually do in real life.

By Alan M. Webber | March 2, 2010; 05:15 AM ET | Comments (69)

Become a more interesting person

The only way for her to engage skeptics is, coincidentally, to do what she needs to do any way to be a better leader: listen and learn.

By Alan M. Webber | February 9, 2010; 06:05 AM ET | Comments (2)

His economic task

The right-wingers hate him for being a socialist, and the liberals are angry because he's not.

By Alan M. Webber | January 19, 2010; 05:54 AM ET | Comments (1)

Save us from shallowness

Leadership in America seems increasingly to consist not of making bold decisions but of explaining away relatively harmless mistakes.

By Alan M. Webber | January 11, 2010; 02:12 PM ET | Comments (5)

Annals of narcissism

Joe Lieberman's role in health-care legislation reinforces the impression that political narcissism has replaced serious engagement with public policy and the public's business.

By Alan M. Webber | December 22, 2009; 06:09 AM ET | Comments (11)

Suckers for a uniform

With the exception of Dwight Eisenhower, it's hard to think of a recent military leader whose military service has translated into political (or even business) leadership.

By Alan M. Webber | November 2, 2009; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (14)

Hero insanity

If Americans weren't so burned out by all the bad behavior by politicians and celebrities, we'd reserve the word "hero" and "leader" for circumstances that actually merit their application.

By Alan M. Webber | October 19, 2009; 09:06 PM ET | Comments (30)

A Disturbing Silence

My Nobel Prize for Leadership would recognize not achievement broadly defined, or abstract qualities of leadership, but clear and undeniable moral authority.

By Alan M. Webber | October 12, 2009; 10:35 PM ET | Comments (2)

Twelve-Step for Wall Street

If the leaders of the U.S. business community were your friends or relatives, you'd stage an intervention after their long series of drunken orgies stretching over the past 30 years.

By Alan M. Webber | September 15, 2009; 06:40 AM ET | Comments (7)

Taking One for the Team

In politics, there is only one person who is not expendable: in this case, the president. If a member of staff becomes a distraction, it is a time-honored tradition in politics for that person to take one for the team.

By Alan M. Webber | September 9, 2009; 05:20 AM ET | Comments (8)

The Secret of Smart Staffers

The unspoken key to Senator Kennedy's leadership is this: He was never afraid to hire people on his staff who were smarter than he was.

By Alan M. Webber | August 27, 2009; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (5)

'What's the Point?'

Until and unless the leaders in the Obama Administration answer the question, 'What's the point?' the American people will not understand why sacrifices are being made on the ground and military leaders will be unable to mount an effective military campaign.

By Alan M. Webber | August 24, 2009; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (53)

The Message Is Missing

This president, with his enormous rhetorical gifts, has not found his voice on this central issue. It is that lack of message and lack of voice that has prevented him from marshaling his supporters and carrying the day.

By Alan M. Webber | July 29, 2009; 04:13 PM ET | Comments (157)

The Teachable Moment that Wasn't

Nobody knows how to interpret what's happening in this next chapter of the uncharted economic drama we're now witnessing -- except our Teacher-In-Chief, who seems otherwise occupied.

By Alan M. Webber | July 21, 2009; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (13)

We Can't Handle the Truth

For the most part the American public simply doesn't want to hear or believe anything that creates cognitive dissonance with our time-honored views of ourselves.

By Alan M. Webber | July 14, 2009; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (7)

Palin Wouldn't Make it in Business

Maverick? Everyone in politics, it seems, marches to his or her own drummer at this point in our history.

By Alan M. Webber | July 7, 2009; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (1)

Nothing to Learn Here, Move Along

If you are not Steve Jobs, and you attempt to act like you think Steve Jobs acts, you will not get Steve Jobs' results.

By Alan M. Webber | June 23, 2009; 09:29 AM ET | Comments (0)

Set Broad Goals

On a day to day basis, it makes no sense for the federal government to "operate" General Motors. Instead, the administration should set broad goals, establish ambitious energy and environmental objectives and oversee important management decisions.

By Alan M. Webber | June 2, 2009; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Firing the Leader

When a leader stays too long, it's usually the fault of the oversight committee--people who are too timid or too intimidated to do what they probably know is right.

By Alan M. Webber | May 26, 2009; 02:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Unwelcome Ghost

Dick Cheney's conduct should be a reminder to leaders who've stepped down from office, whether in the public or private sector, that they owe their successor the decency of support, and if not support, then silence.

By Alan M. Webber | May 12, 2009; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (14)

Costly Status Quo

The lesson we keep learning, as individuals, companies, industries, and perhaps a country, is that change isn't the real risk. Not changing is the real risk.

By Alan M. Webber | May 6, 2009; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (0)

Shooting the Panicked Cow

Cowboys used to shoot the cow that was leading the stampede. We can't do that, but here is some practical advice for leaders confronting scary situations like swine flu or major corporate change.

By Alan M. Webber | April 29, 2009; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Three Tasks for CEO Obama

Let's assume you're the new head of a company, and the previous boss told the union (or the European Union) their help was not needed. What should you do? You have three jobs to get done.

By Alan M. Webber | April 9, 2009; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Our Own Boogie Man

Rather than believe a handful of bad guys "did us in," we should spend more time examining our own attitudes toward wealth, work, and the old-fashioned virtues of earning what you buy rather than just putting it all on a plastic charge card.

By Alan M. Webber | March 10, 2009; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Magic Time

There is no formula for getting the job done: It's as much about personalities as it is about principles, as much about close-to-the-ground politics as it is about high-minded policy prescriptions.

By Alan M. Webber | March 2, 2009; 03:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

"Slumdog" Street Lessons

"Slumdog" is the story of a true survivor who draws on his experiences and lessons learned from the streets to overcome obstacles and rescue the love of his life.

By Alan M. Webber | February 18, 2009; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

America's Deep Disconnect

In the last 20 years, financial capitalism and social purpose have become deeply divided. To add insult to injury, the media doesn't know how to talk about this wrenching disconnect, fearing sounding like a left-leaning ideologue.

By Alan M. Webber | February 2, 2009; 01:28 PM ET | Comments (3)

Memo to Self

Now that inauguration is over, President Obama gets down to the work of being President. His most immediate thoughts, articulated by Alan Webber.

By Alan M. Webber | January 21, 2009; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

Reality Therapy

The man does have weaknesses. The fact that he does a good job overcoming, disguising, and controlling them is one of the reasons he'll be putting his hand on the Bible on January 20th.

By Alan M. Webber | January 13, 2009; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (2)

What Did I See In Him?

When I interviewed him in 2000, he impressed me. Looking back, I see now I didn't ask the right questions.

By Alan M. Webber | January 7, 2009; 02:57 PM ET | Comments (4)

No one

Let's face it: 2008 was a year of utter leader-less-ness. Who in the private sector or public sector saw the economy unraveling and rallied the nation? No one.

By Alan M. Webber | December 31, 2008; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Four Chances for Redemption

The auto executives needed alliances to make the case that their interests are more than self-interests -- and the climate was just right for that.

By Alan M. Webber | December 8, 2008; 09:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

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