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Using Your Power For Good With Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Haley Paskalides  |  June 14, 2023

Have you ever wondered what it means to use your money (and power) for good? IBM’s first female CEO talks leadership, resilience and power.

We are all more thoughtful than ever about where we spend our hard-earned money. Nowadays, when we think about working for or becoming a customer of a company, we want to know that they care about the issues we care about. We want to see that our money is supporting a good cause; that we’re using our spending power for good. 

82% of consumers prefer that a brand’s values match their own, and they’re not afraid to change their shopping habits if that isn’t the case. The majority also expect company CEOs to weigh in on conversations about the economy, wage inequality, climate change, and discrimination. And in recent years, some companies have risen to the occasion — we saw dozens of businesses commit time and money to racial justice in 2020, and more recently, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard even gave up ownership of his company to trust so that all profits could be used to fight climate change.  

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But ethics and business haven’t always had a great relationship, and there’s still a healthy amount of pessimism about whether companies can meet these expectations. 53% of people have a negative view of big business — up 14% from 2012 — and half of people don’t think businesses are doing enough to fight climate change and economic inequality, according to research from Gallup and Edelman.

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All of this leads us to the question: What does it really mean for businesses to be “good” — not just as a PR tactic, but as a part of their mission? And what does it look like for all of us — as consumers, workers, and leaders — to use our agency for good?

Ginni Rometty is an expert in creating meaningful change, which she did for decades as the first female CEO of IBM. Today, she serves as the co-chair of OneTen, a coalition of companies committed to upskilling, hiring, and promoting one million Black Americans by 2030 into family-sustaining jobs and careers. She’s also the author of “Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World,” and she joins us to unpack the leadership lessons she’s learned from her career. 

We dig into the word “power,” and why so many of us get an icky feeling when we think about it. Ginni argues that power is not only good, but necessary for creating any kind of positive change. She tells us how we can embrace power in different aspects of our lives and use it to make our workplaces and communities better. She also shares her five principles of creating good power, how they helped her navigate tough situations like merging two companies, and how you can apply them to your own life. 

One of her principles is learning to build resilience — a skill that’s especially important for women. “Growth and comfort can never coexist,” Ginni says. Listen in to hear her tips for how we can lean into feeling uncomfortable and learn to love taking risks. Her number one piece of advice for women? Don’t count yourself out of an opportunity before you even try.

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In Mailbag, we hear from a listener who asks for advice on how to save for early retirement with a pension. Another listener weighs the pros and cons of having her college-age son invest in a 403(b). In our money tip of the week, we discuss the first step to take when thinking about estate planning.

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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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