Kirkus Reviews Critics Recommend Giraffes of Technology to a Book by Harvard Professor, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Coles

We learned that our book was recommended by Kirkus Reviews to the leadership book (rooted in literature) by Harvard Professor and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Coles; scroll down to “Similar Books Suggested by Our Critics,” to see “Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Leader”!

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:…/…/lives-of-moral-leadership/

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New Foreword by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE (published in Strategic Finance Review)


By JEFF Thomson,  President and CEO at Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

“At one of our first meetings, I deliberately sat on the floor and asked the seated staff to rise—a simple yet symbolic gesture. I wanted them to understand that I wasn’t standing above them, glaring down, commanding. My leadership would be focused on supporting them to become leaders themselves, so they could advance their professional lives during a frightening period (that bump) in their careers.”

That quote from Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the Twenty-First-­Century Leader, by Hubert Glover and John Curry, is Glover describing a pivotal early experience from his time heading up a subsidiary of ­PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that had been through three CEOs in nine months. Employees were fearful of losing their jobs, trust and motivation were at a minimum, and the moment called for a nurturing and authentic ­symbol of the leadership style to follow. Opening a book review with a quote from the book might seem an unusual way to begin, but this quote succinctly expresses all that I found provocative, symbolic, relevant, and inspiring about Glover and Curry’s book.

Why did they title it Giraffes of Technology? In 21st-Century business, especially in the United States, organizations and their leaders often embrace a top-down, autocratic style in the quest to achieve short-term gains (e.g., quarterly profits for shareholders). Yet many studies in the area of servant leadership show that a nurturing, empathetic, and values-oriented approach creates greater business value in the long run. According to the authors, the giraffe is the least offensive beast in the wild. It bears no ill will toward any other animal. They view the giraffe as a metaphor for a leader with a unique lookout post—one who incents followership rather than intimidating others in the herd to behave in a certain manner.

Glover’s symbolic yet authentic leadership moment at PwC epitomizes another behavior of the giraffe. At birth, the calf is dropped from its mother’s pouch six feet to the ground, building speed that severs the umbilical cord. All of us, in our personal and professional lives, fall from the womb, from the security of our homes and loved ones, or from the safety zone that often defines our day jobs. At that meeting with his staff, Glover not only showed he would be a genuine leader who would help the team work through a difficult period, but he also demonstrated that, by picking himself up, he would pick up the rest of the team and rise above the disruption from constant leadership changes and stress.

Glover and Curry organize Giraffes of Technology using six herbivore-inspired leadership traits that CEOs and managers must embrace over the next decade to create and enable sustainable organizations that enrich society. Today’s technology triggers a business environment that requires adapting to untidy change—change that isn’t easy but is necessary. The six chapters in the book are rooted in unique themes, or meta­phors, centered on the behaviors of the giraffe in the wild: acting as a lookout post to focus on the long run vs. the short run; communicating with others as gentle giants; dealing with a violent birth; moving forward to inspire a never-stop-learning mind-set; dealing with the predator lions who seek to disrupt change; and blending into new herds to enable diversity of people and thought.

It’s an inviting, engaging read. Glover and Curry combine a touch of Back to the Future with a sense of Animal Kingdom to provide an inspiring look at the kind of leaders businesses need to succeed in the 21st Century.


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Ebscohost and Giraffes of Technology Leadership

Nice to learn that our book’s review (by Kirkus Reviews) was selected by Ebscohost for academic and professional research:

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New Herds: Blending into Diverse Communities

Giraffes move in and out of herds, forming and reforming into diverse groups without fighting, without interruption of their life-sustaining grazing on the open plains of Africa. Unlike other animals (including humans), giraffes exist without a dominant, ongoing single leader; yet when there’s a need for a leader to rise and send out warning signs, the herd accepts any member to risk the momentary role.

—Dr. Hubert Glover, 2013

By nature giraffes welcome other herbivores into the herd (including zebras, wildebeests,6 hartebeests, and birds), animals that aren’t blessed with the giraffe’s extraordinary height and vision. By constantly moving forward to feed while living in a diverse, ever-shifting, dangerous world, giraffes symbolize twenty-first-century leadership that centers on people working together on an increasingly level playing field.

As the giraffes of technology predicted about the hyper-paced, messy direction of our future economy, we can’t simply return to the moon this century. Repetition won’t work. We must move forward together, determined to understand the global economy, a complex yet promising setting in which the advent of technology causes geographical and socioeconomic barriers to collapse and creates a more democratic existence as well as the ability to connect to information and others.

Information is powerful.

A sharp business model is moving this idea further, the “mesh economy” or sharing-based business that focuses on collaboration. Technology not only helps people connect but also fosters trust between strangers. That’s key in a model that focuses on swapping, lending, borrowing, and even sharing skills. Using a strategy known as “collective consumption” (once the norm in rural areas, where farmers shared barns and special vehicles), Zipcar is a significantly growing mesh business, making a fundamental shift so that people have access to cars that are sprinkled around neighborhoods in dense cities or other populated areas such as universities. By sharing, people in these communities now have access to cars they once had to buy, maintain, and pay insurance for—even though they rarely used cars since they had access to work and shopping through subways and walking. Zipcar ( gives them a better option to bypass traditional rental companies when they need a car near their home to drive to a specific location a few times each month without planning or spending a great deal of time going to a rental agency such as Avis or Hertz.

People are more empowered than in the past, and leaders must understand this shift, accept it, and learn how to evolve. In London they’ve taken the mesh business further through Good Gym (, with the goal to take an energy surplus to where it’s needed. For example, an active jogger can take a three-mile run (which she would do anyway three times each week) with an envelope stuffed with vital information that an elderly man in her neighborhood needs that afternoon. The younger runner uses her exercise time to help an elderly person in her community, a unique connection creating a new herd.

Hundreds of sharing businesses are arriving, moving away from traditional brick-and-mortars into collective businesses of people that act through trust.

  • Airbub: books a room in a private home with the owners (or without) all over the world’s continents. (
  • Kickstarter: helps people raise money for projects in the arts, including film, art, music, and publishing. (
  • Kiva: loans twenty-five dollars or more to a farmer or someone in any field in the developing world who needs to create a business; the loans get repaid, without interest. (

In an article in The Atlantic, Sara Horowitz describes these new businesses as a “Quiet Revolution,” and “a return to basics, with a focus on community, health, ecology, happiness, and balance. At its root is the idea of mutualism—people coming together, pooling resources, and meeting their own needs.” Even though government and big business are not leading this movement, all leaders should be aware of this growing new herd of humans with shared needs who work well together.

Today, however, most businesses are firm (not customer) centric. Leadership must act to increase benefits for the customer as the web swiftly moves forward. Research has predicted that, in the next fifty years, we’ll be dealing with many more people—not simply a pretty unit of measurement cherished in yesterday’s businesses. Companies must embrace customers as being the new CEO, or one day they’ll be tossed away like rotting fruit.

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Giraffes of Technology Leadership Book Enters the Library of Congress

cropped-Front-Cover.3989596.jpgWe recently learned that our leadership book has been selected by libraries throughout the U.S. (thank you!), including the Library of Congress, San Francisco Public Library, Saint Louis University – Main Campus, Indianapolis Public Library, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, and many more:


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Leadership Lessons from High Up by Lisa Litzinger from Drexel University

Years ago, while serving as a CEO for a PwC subsidiary in Atlanta, Hubert Glover began to notice that giraffes were everywhere. In paintings. The subject of sculptures. He attributed their prevalence to Atlanta’s thriving African-American community – a reflection of the majestic creatures’ status as a symbol of Africa.

An analogy occurred to him: In the natural world, giraffes have physical traits, habits and social behaviors that are comparable to those of leaders he’d admired in business, government, even sports. Years later, his concept now fully developed, he decided to share these observations in a new book, co-authored with John Curry, titled Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the 21st Century Leader. Here are some of the key traits of giraffes that Glover says today’s leaders should emulate:LookoutPost

Think Ahead Giraffes serve as lookout posts — their height provides a natural visionary capability, and they also embrace a responsibility to look out beyond their herd for others and find new opportunities. Apple did this with music when it created iTunes, which solved the consumer demand for flexibility (as well as the legal battles) and enabled the music industry to remain relevant.

Demonstrate Resilience Giraffes have a violent birth as they fall more than 6 feet to the ground. Their mothers do not touch them until they demonstrate the ability and initiative to stand up. Failure is an opportunity to learn what your organization’s capabilities are. Leaders must drive organizations to adapt to change, learn from failure and continuously strive to innovate.moving forward

Stay on Your Toes Giraffes rarely sleep and are constantly feeding. Leaders must display an insatiable thirst for knowledge and guide the organization to remain diligent in understanding its external customers and its internal customers (employees), especially in light of the rate of change in products and services and the empowerment of the consumer due to social media.

Constantly Assess Danger Giraffes often face threats, such as lions. Leaders must view lions of change as an opportunity to validate new ideas, leverage the rigor of the challenge and develop the story to persuade opponents to embrace new ideas and concepts.lion kill

Expand Your Horizons Giraffes move from one feeding ground to another. Leaders must guide the organization to find new markets and strategic partners, and facilitate constant innovation and positive response to change. John Deere has survived more than 150 years with fewer than 10 CEOs, despite a very competitive market and volatile economic cycles, by actively seeking feedback and looking for new ideas to benefit customers.

Nurture Your Herd Finally, giraffes are viewed as gentle, caring giants. Leaders must guide their organizations to care about their customers and community. Netflix made a mistake when it decided to split into two companies: one for DVDs and another for online streaming. When negative feedback emerged, it listened to customers and admitted its error. Now, Netflix’ growth is exponential, unlike Blockbuster, which seemingly ignored innovations in video technology and changes in consumer demand.DiversityofNewHerds

Hubert Glover, PhD, is an associate clinical professor of accounting at Drexel LeBow. His book is available for sale through several retailers, including Amazon.


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The Lions of Change Destroy Creative Settings

Under direct threat of attack, a giraffe generally beats a hasty retreat, although a female shepherding a small baby will stand her ground. Giraffes never employ their knobby horns against predators, but they can deliver a crushing blow with the hind foot, chop-kick with the forefoot like a horse, or strike with the whole stiff foreleg.

—J. Bristol Foster, biologist, 1977

When the giraffe spots an area where it can guide the herd to foliage and protection, the herd calmly moves forward, although occasionally a lion appears, blocking the path to the feeding ground.

The giraffe must make a life-or-death decision.

It often walks away or gives warnings but rarely launches that crushing blow, though the threat of the giraffe’s lethal kick is known to the lion. In some specific way, giraffes always deal with lions so they can move forward to graze, the herbivore’s daily goal.5

Standing up to lions is as tricky in the professional world as it is in the wild. We’re stopped and yanked off the path of moving forward. We’re thrust backward into the primitive mode of “survive or die.” In work settings few of us stand up to the lion with as much ease and focus as giraffes do in nature. But to make use of the encounter, we must commit to the goal of feeding (learning). If that’s our genuine focus, we’ll have more skills at negotiating these conflicts when the next lion blocks our path to growth.

Indra Nooyi is a giraffe-inspired leader who had to face lions blocking her path—the lions of change. After she became the CEO of PepsiCo, Nooyi launched “Performance with Purpose,” a new business model that “focuses on delivering sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and the planet,” as reported in Chrystal Houston’s 2010 article “Duty of Care.”

Nooyi initiated significant change away from the unhealthy twentieth-century model to a smarter twenty-first-century pathway by suggesting the removal all of the company’s sugary drinks from schools around the world by 2012; the reduction of salt in the company’s biggest brands by 25 percent by 2015; and the reduction of saturated fat by 15 percent in its snacks by 2020. She shifted from “fun for you” products (chips and sugared soft drinks) to “better for you” products (popcorn, baked chips, and zero-calorie drinks) and “good for you” products (granola bars and fruit juices).

PepsiCo’s healthier approach led Nooyi to face numerous lions, also known as skeptics. Many attacked her by questioning her sincerity—was this simply another PepsiCo PR tactic recycled through a “healthy” brand? Nooyi, however, stood up to the lions of change through maintaining a clear goal, warning the company not to take the dead-end route, as the tobacco industry had.

Firms are now being held legally responsible for their products creating health problems and penalized accordingly. Nooyi imagined the company moving beyond the familiar idea of “just beating Coke.” Unlike the tobacco industry, which produces cigarettes that are linked to cancer, Nooyi is leading PepsiCo and the soft-drink and snack industry to find solutions for obesity and related health problems that her company’s products are being linked to in the United States. She doesn’t want PepsiCo to mirror the tobacco industry, which fought change, lost, then moved overseas where it doesn’t have to grow its tobacco in some particular way and continue to ruin the health of others.

Nooyi was firm with the lions of change, arguing that PepsiCo’s focus must be on people’s health throughout the next century. She hired experts for PepsiCo’s research and development teams to guide the company to offer healthier products that earn $10 billion today, which will grow in the next decade to reach $30 billion of PepsiCo’s assets.

Nooyi stood up to the lions of change with a belief that argued that we can’t run away to foreign countries in the twenty-first century because that’s not the kind of change that leads to long-term growth. “Performance with Purpose” isn’t a surface deal for her. Nooyi is honest and accountable and has a global background that provides an awareness and understanding of others. She embraces a variety of input, which is key to standing firm when the ubiquitous lions block the path to company innovation.

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Moving Forward–Creating Space for Imagination in Work Settings

To fuel their immense bodies, giraffes consume seventy-five pounds of vegetation each day. In a neat closing of the ecological circle, their browsing stimulates new growth and thus helps propagate the very plants they consume.

—Lynn Sherr, journalist, 1997


I’m amazed that the giraffe sleeps only about thirty minutes each day with rest periods broken into six five-minute naps. The alert animal constantly grazes to discover new areas to feed because if the herd stands for too long and becomes static, it risks being attacked by its main predator—the lion.4

Like the giraffe, companies and employees must move forward, resting less than in past decades. Doing so can be difficult, especially when a new technology disrupts the serene landscape we’re comfortable grazing in. I’ve learned to appreciate the act of dreaming, a useful tool when you’re dealing with significant change and a sturdy technique to keep moving forward.

Dreaming unleashes a person’s uniqueness, which is vital to company learning. If businesses today don’t shape a climate for personal dreaming, they’ll end up stuck in the twentieth century’s traditional planning, becoming myopic and functional but not responsive to change by implementing the strongest ideas to move forward.

MIT’s Peter Senge warns that you can’t just run off to the annual planning meeting and articulate personal dreams through a forty-eight-hour weekend on a luxurious mountaintop retreat. Twenty-first-century leaders must encourage imagination as a daily ritual, making it as important as a solitary morning walk. Meetings create a veneer dream because they’re coordinated and structured, with a facilitator guiding attendees through the process while notes are taken, and then everyone goes back to work. In what should be a fading model, original thinking is never fully integrated.

There’s hope, however, that more companies and organizations will shift from last century’s style of acting “busy” to a new environment of calmly moving forward to feed like the giraffe—to appreciate that the quiet dreamer should be encouraged to come up and wrestle with personal ideas before presenting them within a team, where creative feedback will help shape the individual’s dream into a broader vision that one day can be tested in the real-time business world.

Today’s technology is bringing freedom to our shrinking planet. Thomas Friedman highlighted the trend in his book The World Is Flat. It’s always been a universal truth, from the hammer to the Gutenburg press, yet today it’s affecting more humans than ever. In 1969 poet William Stafford wrote about the importance of this frequently used abstraction that we use casually and rarely define through a unique angle. Stafford, however, defines the vague umbrella term of “freedom” as something that could benefit all.


Freedom is not following a river.

Freedom is following a river,

though, if you want to.

It is deciding now by what happens now.

It is knowing that luck makes a difference.

No leader is free; no follower is free—

the rest of us can often be free.

Most of the world are living by

creeds too odd, chancy, and habit-forming

to be worth arguing about by reason.

If you are oppressed, wake up about

four in the morning; most places

you can usually be free some of the time

if you wake up before other people.

Being able to make a decision is the essence of “freedom.” Stafford suggests that if you literally “wake up about four in the morning…before other people,” you’ll have some room to be free.

Does freedom require “enough space” so that we can be ourselves, so that we can dream and be original, creative, optimistic, and productive?

Does “wake up” also mean we wake up our attitudes, so we’re not simply following a river selected by the traditional CEO or manager but rather choosing to follow a certain river?

Last century most leaders made independent decisions, but were they actually limited and constrained by a business model designed to ensure the loyalty of followers and the success of the leaders’ policies?

We must break the industrial-age model in which “No leader is free; no follower is free” because both the leader and follower follow that powerfully flowing, one-direction river, rather than choose to follow a river if they want to.

To encourage individuals to dream and continually move forward, leaders must create genuine environments in which people don’t have to “wake up about four in the morning” to be independent, self-reliant, and make decisions. They need daily work settings that encourage them to be unswayed by the attitudes, expectations, or edicts of others. We need enough space so that each day leads us to imagine controversial, quirky, and unique ideas like those at Google, Amazon, and Apple—innovations that are changing not only business but also the planet.

Stafford may be stating that to be truly free we must not become prisoners of trends, groupthink, ideology, or tradition. Instead leaders today must encourage employees to question, to trust their ideas, and to continue to grow if they are truly free, which requires twenty-first-century choice, not twentieth-century following.


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The Giraffe’s Violent Birth—The Fall and Rise in Our Messy 21st-Century Business and Professional Settings

After fifteen months in the womb, calves are born headfirst and drop six feet to the ground from the standing mom. Boom! Welcome to Earth.…It is usually up on its 3own spindly legs within an hour, a vital defense against a hungry enemy.

—Lynn Sherr, Journalist, 1997

Giraffes are vulnerable at birth. The event is a rude awakening, a survival test, and a rough-and-tumble introduction onto the plains of Africa. The calf drops from its mother’s pouch, building speed that severs the umbilical cord. As the calf flails on the ground, a powerful image hovers above, providing a moment of calm when the newborn has a decision to make: Do I lie still or rise to join my mother standing before me?

Technology, however, not only sparks rises but also triggers falls.

In 1912 Lillian Gish showcased her first-rate acting talent in silent films. But soon a shift in technology radically changed her profession. Gish responded (nearly one hundred years ago) in a way we must embrace today. She accepted change even though it would cause stress and eliminate the silent acting field in which she was recognized as a major star through films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Orphans of the Storm (1921).

Most of Gish’s fellow actors bluntly rejected the transition from silent film to sound, but she had a conviction to learn new skills in a field that was experiencing a West Coast earthquake. She transferred her talents to the stage in the play Hamlet (1936) and talkies such as Duel in the Sun (1946), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

The result of rising after a career fall was that Gish not only kept her job but also contributed to her field for more than half of century. In 1971 she earned a special Academy Award for “superlative artistry and for distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures.” Gish was that rare person who not only accepted but also embraced change, living to the age of ninety-nine and dying in her sleep of natural causes.

Change ain’t easy—most of us spend much of our lives fighting these shifts that arrive like tides on the beach. Perhaps a giraffe-inspired approach is best, one in which we accept falls as Lillian Gish did by knowing they often stimulate growth if we elect to stand and join a new herd while continuing to learn from an industry collapse, a wise response in our new century of shifts that occur through technology.

Studies reveal that failure is increasingly common today due to the speed of change triggered by twenty-first-century technology. The average time a company spends in the S&P 500 Index has dropped from seventy-five years in 1937 to approximately fifteen years today. Yet failure also can be a form of creativity. If a company goes bankrupt in Silicon Valley, it is often a sign of courage. Thomas Edison engaged in nine thousand experiments before producing the successful new technology called the light bulb, which we still use today. Today many companies have failure parties or an annual prize for the best failed idea. During reviews at P&G, employees discuss successes and failures as though they’re equal.

The irony is that success can be as difficult as failure to rise from and move forward after. Falls and rises are more intertwined than most people understand.


Because most companies use success as emotional stimulation rather than as a learning technique—a twenty-first-century mistake. Success often breeds a cozy environment where the ego concludes, I know it all. Success usually doesn’t trigger reflection, and what’s most dangerous is that success, like failure, can lead to a static, nonlearning environment for organizations and employees.

Apple is a recent example of how smart companies link failure and success. Like failure, success must bring authentic reflection and change, not simply repetition, because in the twenty-first century, that’s not enough to stay current. When a company strongly reflects on success, falls often are reduced and guide the company to opportunities for extended growth.

In the 1990s Apple failed with the Newton tablet, yet the company learned from the Newton fall and continued to focus on the long-term goal of creating a portable tablet. In the short term, though, Apple took a smaller risk by creating the iPhone in 2007, which was—and continues to be—wildly successful.

Apple continued to learn from both the Newton failure and the iPhone success, treating them as equal, relevant, and vital research to gather information for the company to reflect upon before taking a smarter risk—creating the iPad, another substantial victory that continues today. The result of treating both success and failure, much as a doctor treats disease, helped Apple jump up to number one, overtaking Google as the world’s most valuable brand; in August 2012 Forbes cited Apple as being the most valuable company in history.

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Gentle Giants—21st-Century Business Communication

There exists no less offensive a beast than the giraffe. It lives peaceably with its kind for the most part and bears not the slightest degree of ill-will toward other kinds of 2animals—both of which, as character recommendations, are more than can be said about the majority of people!

—Ken Stott, Jr., former San Diego Zoo curator, 1953


We need a fresh leadership model, a twenty-first-century style that contradicts the top-down management approach that hasn’t changed much in the past seventy-five years. Leaders must strive to have a positive impact on communities because we’re increasingly connected through technology. More than ever in this country’s brief 238-year history, business requires leaders who behave like giraffes do in the wild—not simply as alert lookout posts but also as nurturing herbivores, gentle giants who forage peacefully within herds with no distinct alpha male.

The failure of the Machiavellian leadership style is that employees are viewed as puppets to be manipulated. There’s little sensitivity to employee needs except for the monetary and the egotistic, which are used as negative tools for motivation, a fundamental weakness of the style since it does not bond employees to the organization or to one another. It creates a “What’s in it for me?” mentality, and when a crisis occurs, employees bail to save themselves instead of holding on to help save the company.

Business leaders need to engage various groups of people by removing their dated industrial style to fit our times. This shift requires a genuine commitment to employees and customers by taking a respectful approach that offers encouraging words and creates a calm, productive setting that embraces a teaching philosophy. Twenty-first century leadership is an option, a selection, an intrinsic value.

It won’t work if it’s veneer.

In the article “Can P&G Make Money in Places Where People Earn $2 a Day?” Jennifer Reingold reports that on the corporate side Procter and Gamble (P&G) has invested money in research and development to learn more about the world’s poor, a developing market that is increasing from 6 percent to 8 percent annually, whereas the developed world market is rising more slowly—from 1 percent to 2 percent in 2011. CEO and Chairman Robert McDonald said that P&G’s long-term goal consists of “touching and improving more lives, in more parts of the world, more completely” in a sincere effort to increase “purpose-inspired growth.”

The company had to spend more research and development money to continue to learn about the world’s poor, the underserved, and customers who earn two dollars each day. P&G researchers helped reduce stereotypes after they spent time in homes in countries such as Brazil, China, and India. They discovered that the poor don’t want simple products but aspire for access to products such as those created for the middle class and the rich. Since they spend hours outside, they need low-cost skin-care products and shampoo rather than the harsh soap they’ve used for decades. They too wish to look beautiful at that future job interview.

P&G is taking an anthropological research method instead of the historical we-build-it-and-they-will-come marketing approach. Today P&G gets a third of its sales from developing regions, up from 20 percent in 2000. CEO Robert McDonald wants to raise that percentage to 50 percent by 2020. This revenue wouldn’t have shown up on the company’s spreadsheets if P&G’s leaders hadn’t invested time and money to learn more about the needs of the world’s poor.


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