Leading the Way

Corporate leaders demonstrate the value of service to others.

Scouting magazine takes a glimpse into the corporate lives of some of our nation’s top CEOs. These are individuals who learned the value of Scouting at an early age. They have continued to live those values and have led their companies by example.


Q&A WITH EARL GRAVES, Founder, Earl G. Graves, Ltd.

Earl G. Graves Ltd., founded in 1968 by Earl G. Graves Sr., seeks out, analyzes, and disseminates information to African-American business professionals. The company provides a forum for ideas, ambitions, and expressions relevant to the black businessperson.

Company operations are divided into three segments: Earl G. Graves Publishing Co.—magazine publishing; Black Enterprise Events — ancillary products, conferences, and upscale events; and Black Enterprise/Greenwich Street Corporate Growth Fund — private equity funding.


Family: Wife, Barbara; three sons, Earl Jr. (Butch), Johnny, and Michael

Hometown: New York, N.Y.

Education: B.A. in economics from Morgan
State University

Favorite book: Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, and any of Stephen Ambrose’s books

Favorite vehicle:
Any Daimler or Chrysler vehicle (“I think all of their products are
outstanding, not just because I’m on their board.”), Mercedes

Pastime/hobby: Gardening and home repairs

How does your company benefit by encouraging volunteerism?

We have 10 interns coming in next week. They’ll know from the beginning that we do things that are going to be important, and that includes volunteering. It might be at a food shelter, or for one of the things I’m interested in now -- veterans who are coming home and not receiving their benefits or treatment they need for the tragic wounds they have suffered, mentally and physically. I think that anything we can do to support our veterans is important.

I think volunteering is something you have to do. It’s something that was inculcated in my sons when they were young -- you have to give. Volunteering and giving back are all a part of what you have to do as a human being on this earth.

Which organizations have you volunteered to serve?

There are so many—tutoring youngsters, the national Scouting fraternity in college, being a lay leader in church. Much of my volunteer work has to do with education, espousing it and encouraging young people. I’ve helped with getting them into schools and out of schools and finding them assistance when they needed it, either financial or otherwise.

Where did your attitude toward volunteerism come from?

My parents. My mother was always trying to help someone else, whether it was baking a cake for a sale or volunteering for the PTA. When I was in Cub Scouts, she recruited other people to be den mothers because she was doing so many other things, she knew she couldn’t do that. But she thought it was important.

Who were the most influential people in your success?

My father and mother. My parents raised us all with the idea that we could become anything we wanted to be.

What were the keys to your success?

Doing things right the first time. That’s a quality we have at our company. I tell people all the time, ‘It costs a nickel more to go first class.’ The point is: If you think you can be there, then you are going to get there. If you set a certain tone, people will follow that.

The lifelong lessons I learned in Scouting, including self-sufficiency, I consider key. When I went to Army Ranger School, I was ready because being out in the woods was nothing new to me.

What is the greatest challenge of managing one of the nation’s leading publishing companies?

Finding good people. We are a minority-owned company, and 95 percent of people who work for me are a minority. Because we do a good job, people are always looking to diversify their companies. So when they want to find someone who is well-trained and disciplined and understands that if the deadline is Tuesday, it’s Tuesday not Wednesday, they come knocking at our door. Because of that, we always find ourselves with staffing as a challenge.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing America?

The immediate challenge is ending the war. But also healthcare and educating our youth. I think that in the minority communities and inner cities of our country, there are enormous challenges. I think that education is not taken as seriously as it was when I was in school. The disciplines are not there, and there are a lot of single-parent households. We live in a technologically driven society. I don’t think my grandchildren know what it is to read a newspaper. They get up in the morning and turn on a computer, and they’re into it for the day. I think future generations will only have thumbs and pinkies, the pinkies to hold the computer up and the thumbs to work it.

What do you believe is the value of Scouting?

If I were starting out now and trying to sell Scouting, I would do just what we are doing today. I would talk about its longevity. Anything that has been around 100 years, that’s a success.

Something in this organization has a staying power. I can still describe my Cub Scout uniform from 60 years ago.

I think that what we do in Scouting is define objectives. We provide challenges. We set a course for what is right and wrong. Scouting offers a set of principles to everyone: the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Our society is moving much faster today, and Scouting has to evolve with that. I think the principles of Scouting are something that can be driven home in the inner cities and can make a difference in all communities across the country.

As we go through the next 100 years, there’s a place for Scouting—even in this complex society.

What advice would you give to young men and women in high school and/or college?

Always do your best. When people see that you really do your best, whether that is being tested in honesty, in terms of a task you’ve been given to do, in terms of responsibility of some kind . . . just do your best. It’s not too early to start teaching that at the Cub Scout age. It was the right thing 60 years ago for me, and it’s the right thing now.



Q&A WITH REX TILLERSON, Chairman and CEO, ExxonMobil

Rex W. Tillerson is chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest nongovernment owned petroleum and petrochemical company. Employing more than 80,000 people, it operates in
most countries in the world.


Family: Wife, Renda; four boys, of which
the youngest, Tyler, is an Eagle Scout

Hometown: Wichita Falls, Texas (now living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area)

Education: B.S. in civil engineering from
The University of Texas at Austin

Favorite book: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Favorite vehicle: The great American Quarter Horse

Pastime/hobby: Hunting, fishing, golf, ranching, cutting horses

How does your company benefit by encouraging volunteerism?

Our employees have good jobs that help provide security for their families. Giving something back to their communities gives them an uplifting feeling, and the teamwork involved is reflected back in the workplace. Add to that the fact that, in our business, people move around a lot. Volunteering is a way to quickly become part of your new community, make connections, and start to feel at home. That doesn’t just benefit the individual. It benefits the company, too.

Which organizations have you served as a volunteer?

Mainly the Boy Scouts, where I was first involved as a Cub Scout, then a Scout, then as a unit leader. More recently, I’ve been helping local councils and now I am on the national board. Through my career at ExxonMobil, I’ve been actively involved in United Way campaigns. Today, I’m on the Engineering Advisory Board of The University of Texas, and I’m fortunate to be involved with some other great organizations such as the United Negro College Fund and the Ford Theatre Society’s Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign.

Where did your attitude toward volunteerism come from?

It’s always been a part of my life. My family played a big role. Both of my parents are in their 80's and still actively volunteering. The Boy Scouts, of course, had an influence on me because I learned about service in the community. When I was growing up, I was regularly involved in local activities such as food collections, food kitchens, and other initiatives. My church also gave me a lot of volunteering opportunities, and that’s carried over into my working life. I’ve never been far from a way of life that supports volunteering.

Tell us about ExxonMobil’s corporate view on volunteerism.

In addition to the contributions we make as a company, we encourage and support our employees to give their time and money to the communities where they live and work. Last year, more than 7,000 U.S. employees, retirees, and their families donated more than 600,000 volunteer hours to about 4,500 charitable organizations. I’m proud of the way people at ExxonMobil step up to the plate in this way.

As a youth, did you expect that some day you would rise to the top of your profession?

No. Even as an adult, I never set it as an objective. I’ve always believed that you just do the best job you possibly can at whatever you’re given to do, and the rest of the future will take care of itself. That was the way I was raised, and that’s the way it worked out.

Who were the most influential people in your success?

I attribute a lot of it to my parents, for the example they set when I was a child. But many other adults have been influential, too. My involvement in the Boy Scouts gave me a specific set of values and early opportunities to lead peers and younger people. And when I left my family, there were a lot of people at the college of engineering who I learned from. They, too, gave me opportunities for leadership. In the workforce, many colleagues and associates have been effective mentors. I’ve learned that if you pay attention, there are a lot of people who want to help you be successful. If you’re open to that help and that kind of culture, it will really help you.

What were the keys to your success?

It starts with honesty and integrity. When you join an organization or a company, you have an obligation and make a commitment to do the best you can. You need to follow through. I’ve done my best to live by that. I’ve learned leadership capabilities over the years, but it’s also been important to learn followership. The best leaders know how to follow and serve as a positive member of a team. Another thing is being willing to listen. Nobody can possibly know everything there is to know. Being open to what others have to say is a critical aspect of good leadership.

What is the greatest challenge in leading one of the world’s largest companies?

There are many challenges, but a big one is communication. Internally, we have to communicate our values and mission to a diverse, international workforce so that they understand what our objectives are and why we do things the way we do. We have to explain that it’s not just about the results; it’s also about how we achieve those results. Externally, we have to communicate to the public and policymakers the complexities of the energy business in ways that help them better understand some of the issues involved and why things are how they are.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing America?

America faces many challenges, but I’ll highlight two. First, we must continue to develop strong, principles-based leaders of the future. They must be able to make the tough decisions that may not be popular but that they believe are necessary for the long-term good. That’s becoming increasingly difficult in our society. Second, a real threat to our nation’s future competitiveness and leadership in innovation is the lack of students pursuing math and science. That’s why ExxonMobil is so actively involved in supporting those subjects, including through the National Math and Science Initiative that we helped launch with a $125 million commitment last year.

How do you believe the BSA contributes to organizations like ExxonMobil?

The Boy Scouts is a feeder organization for tomorrow’s leaders, whether they become presidents of the United States, CEOs of a major corporation, or simply good citizens. Scouting nurtures strong values in young people, including honesty and integrity, and allows them to test those values in real-life situations. People who have good leadership and citizenship skills are vital for all companies, not just ExxonMobil.

What advice would you give to young men and women in high school and/or college?

Never compromise on honesty or integrity. There is no path to personal success through any other means. You will sometimes encounter situations where you’ll be tempted to take a shortcut and compromise integrity for short-term gain. But I can assure you those gains will be short-lived. Once you compromise your personal integrity, restoring it is a difficult thing to do.


Q&A WITH RANDALL STEPHENSON, Chairman, CEO, and President, AT&T

Randall Stephenson is chairman, chief executive officer, and president of AT&T Inc., serving in that role since June 2007. AT&T is an industry leader in communications. It is the nation’s premier wireless carrier, serving 71.4 million customers worldwide, and also offers WiFi service in more than 71,000 hot spots across the globe.


Family: Married to wife, Lenise, for
26 years; two daughters

Hometown: Oklahoma City

Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma, Master of Accountancy from the University of Oklahoma

Favorite book: The Brothers Karamazov

Favorite vehicle: Lexus

Pastime/hobby: Golf and skiing—“I’m bad at both.”

How does your company benefit by encouraging volunteerism?

Business, by nature, is about competition and winning. That pursuit to win often drives an inward focus: grow my business, pursue my career, and provide for my family. Volunteerism encourages just the opposite. The focus is on somebody else’s needs. This is healthy for employees and society. It’s also healthy for businesses to encourage their employees to focus on helping others. That is what customer service is all about. The company with employees who are good at serving others is a customer-focused company, which is a winning company.

Which organizations have you been involved in as a volunteer?

Boy Scouts of America, United Way, San Antonio Metropolitan Missions.

Where did your attitude of volunteerism come from?

Volunteerism means service, serving others. I’ve always been taught by my family and my church that the greatest virtue is serving others. As a CEO, I serve my shareholders, my employees, and my customers. That mindset doesn’t stop at the door of my office. It carries into my home and my family. It carries into my community. Service should be a way of life.

Tell us about AT&T’s corporate view on volunteerism.

Volunteerism is part of our corporate DNA. It’s a responsibility we take seriously because it helps build better communities. Nearly 350,000 AT&T employees and retirees serve their communities as AT&T Pioneers, the nation's largest company-sponsored volunteer organization.

Our philanthropy is heavily focused on education. We recently launched AT&T Aspire, a $100 million program to help keep kids in school and prepare them for the workforce. Like Scouting, we’re helping prepare young people to contribute to society after they graduate.

One component of AT&T Aspire is the company’s job shadowing initiative, which involves committing 400,000 employee volunteer hours to reach 100,000 students over the next five years. The program pairs AT&T employees with students in grades 9-12 so they can experience the world of work and see firsthand the kinds of skills necessary to be successful. About 80 percent of students participating in job shadowing say it increases their desire to stay in school.

As a youth, did you expect that someday you would rise to the top in your profession the way you have?

Hardly. In fact, I got into this business the old-fashioned way—my brother helped me get a job as a part-time employee at night, loading 18-inch reels of magnetic tape onto computers for the billing systems department. My only goal was to work hard and contribute any way I could.

Who was the most influencial person in your success?

Probably the most influential person in my life has been my wife. I’ve known her since I was 15. She is the model of honesty, integrity, organization, hard work, and service. When I grow up, I want to be like her.

What do you consider the key to your success?

For every job I’ve ever had, my attitude has been to take it apart, look under the hood and analyze it, then put it back together again with the objective of making it better than I found it. I know that sounds pretty simple, but it works. It will make you a better, more valuable employee. And make your company stronger as well.

What do you see as the greatest challenge of leading one of the world’s largest companies?

The greatest challenge is growth. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s true for everything in life. So, how do you routinely, consistently grow the business, provide more jobs, and offer greater opportunity for your employees?

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing America?

One of the most significant challenges facing America today is the fact that nearly one-third of U.S. high school students drop out before crossing the finish line of graduation. That’s why we launched the Aspire program I spoke of earlier.

As a nation, we all have a role to play in encouraging kids to stay in school, strengthen their academic success, and prepare them for the workforce. I think Scouting helps do this.

To what extent do you believe organizations like the Boy Scouts of America contribute to organizations like AT&T?

The Boy Scouts of America is committed to building the character and integrity of America’s youth and preparing young Americans to become exceptional adults. We believe that helping America’s youth get a quality education and get real-world work experience now will put them on the path to success and ultimately make the world a better place in the future. In that respect, we share the same vision.

What advice would you give to young men and women in high school and/or college?

Stay in school and do your absolute best. Education equals opportunity. Don’t sell yourself short. Dream big and never give up. We live in a great country that provides every person the opportunity to be successful in their own way and make lasting contributions to their communities.



Adult role models in Scouting provide an ideal learning experience for all youth. Every adult volunteer has something valuable to offer. On a typical weekend camp-out, a Scout might work with an adult volunteer who teaches the Fishing merit badge and with a Scout mom who teaches orienteering. The Scout might go on a five-mile hike with another adult leader and at the end of the day learn how to clean and cook fresh fish from his dad.

Working Directly With the Scouts on an Ongoing Basis

  • Leader (Cubmaster, den leader, Scoutmaster, Venturing Advisor)
  • Assistant leader
  • Board of review coordinator/member
  • Court of honor coordinator/member

Working Directly With the Scouts in Specific Events and Activities

  • Event coordinator/event committee member
  • Pinewood derby coordinator/committee member
  • Service project coordinator/committee member
  • Camping trip participant
  • Banquet coordinator/committee member
  • Day camp coordinator/participant
  • Summer camp coordinator/participant/promoter
  • Merit badge counselor

Support: Administrative Role

  • Advancement committee chair/member
  • Communications committee chair/committee member (Webmaster, public relations, newsletter)
  • Secretary: recordkeeping, activity permits, meeting minutes, annual rechartering activities
  • Treasurer/assistant treasurer
  • Youth Protection coordinator
  • Life-to-Eagle coordinator
  • Merit badge coordinator

Support: Other

  • Chartered organization representative
  • Friends of Scouting coordinator (fund-raising)
  • Unit committee chair/member
  • Unit youth recruiter
  • Product sales committee coordinator/member
  • Promoter of district/council events to parents
  • Religious award coordinator/member
  • Trainer
  • District/council committee member
  • Transportation coordinator
  • Historian
  • Quartermaster (supplies)

Volunteering by the Numbers

More than one million adult volunteers contribute their time and skills to the development of youth through the Boy Scouts of America.

Ninety-six percent of Scout volunteers would strongly encourage family, friends, and co-workers to volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America.

Volunteers believe their time invested with the Boy Scouts of America helps them to be:
90%—A better citizen
88%—A better parent
73%—A better manager
66%—A better employee
69%—More patient and tolerant of others
65%—More open to new ideas
53%—More open to new opinions

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September 2008 Table of Contents