Chobani's Hamdi Ulukaya Offers Advice to CEOs in 2019 TED Talk Conference

I'm a sucker for a good TED Talk. I got my first taste of TED watching a favorite author of mine talk about creative genius. One of my favorites is a talk I still cite at least once a week about how our body language can impact our outward and inward perceptions of self. 

HAMDI ULUKAYAWhen I saw in my feed that Chobani's Hamdi Ulukaya was giving a talk, I was curious about what he had to say. We've covered Chobani quite a bit over the years and I personally find Ulukaya and his leadership style captivating.

Unfortunately, I couldn't watch the speech live so I'm writing this from second-hand wrap-ups from TED, Inc, and Fast Company, but it sounds like he offered some sobering recommendations for CEOs. His first recommendation? Find a new playbook.

In his talk, Ulukaya offered "Today’s playbook says: business exists only to maximize profit and make shareholders rich. I think that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. The truth is: business should take care of employees first.”

As someone who is an employee of a company (and not a CEO), I can certainly appreciate being thought of as an important component of my company's success. I also realize CEOs are under a lot of pressure to make a lot of people happy and serve multiple masters.

Ulukaya went on to outline four values or secrets he himself has used to turn Chobani into a successful brand not only to its consumers, but to its people.

  1. Take care of your employees. For most people, the company they work at isn't just a job. It's a big part of their life. "Take care of your employees and your employees will want to take care of your customers."
  2. Take care of your communities. Ask your local communities what they need rather than demand tax breaks. You know the saying Asking for forgiveness rather than permission? If you're leading a company, turn that around and ask what you can do for the community, not what it can do for you. 
  3. Hold yourself accountable to your consumers. Even if you work in a B2B environment, be reachable and be responsive when a consumer of your product or service wants to offer feedback. 
  4. Be responsible. Disregard the notion that you shouldn't mix politics with business. While you don't to spend company money donating to a PAC, Ulukaya does advise businesses should take some sort of stance, adding that “Business is in the best position to make a difference in today’s world, and business must take a side,” he said.

Quick Poll: What do you think about Hamdi Ulukaya's Advice?