Quotes by Bernard L. Schwartz


on corporate culture  

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“At Loral we developed a culture that was unique for companies of our size. It was very relational. It dealt with constituencies that were larger than just my public shareholders. It included the constituencies that I felt responsible for or had some debt to: my customers, my suppliers, my competitors even, and certainly to my employees and executives…That differed from the then fairly uncommon but now totally prevalent transactional attitude, at brokerage houses, investment companies, banks, even oversight organizations like rating agencies. I think that changes the aspect of …accountability, people being responsible for their own actions, and that change I think led to the 2008 financial debacle in this country, and some of it is still in place today unfortunately.”
— Democracy Journal, Spring 2014, “An Angry Democrat Speaks”


on leadership  

“Doing the right thing isn’t just nice, it is in your self interest. The best deals I ever made were when there was more than one winner at the table. You don’t have to have a loser. You don’t have to beat the other guy into the ground in order to get what’s good for you. So the idea is that you have a human value, that you’re looking out not just for yourself but for everyone who’s at the table.”
— Interview with Channel Thirteen’s Steve Abudato’s “Lessons in Leadership” program, 2014


On Capitalism and Opportunity  

“How can I be both a progressive and a capitalist? There really is no conflict. I’m all for capitalism, but just as I would not want to live in a New York City that had no traffic lights and stop signs, I would not want to live in an America where capitalism went unregulated. I think it’s part of the federal government’s responsibility to oversee economic growth and direction; to move in and spend money when it’s necessary to provide balance or to stimulate growth; to make the winners pay their fair share of the tax burden; and to give the losers the opportunities to get back on their feet, so the system can keep going and provide opportunities for people in its imperfect but ultimately reliable way. If the ultimate goal is to guarantee equal opportunity (but not equal results) then I’m all for big government and I’m not ashamed to say it.”
— Just Say Yes, 2014


On Infrastructure  

“The real reason I push for infrastructure reform is that America desperately needs it. In an age when more than 20 million people are unemployed or
underemployed and our nation struggles with dangerously outmoded road, rail, and water systems – not to mention a seriously inadequate electric grid and aging, hard-to-secure ports – putting people to work rebuilding our nation is an obvious, efficient, and even elegant solution to two of America’s most urgent problems: unemployment and structural renewal.

Yes, federal, state, and local governments are strapped for cash. But, I’m embarrassed by the apparent denial of this obvious problem. Proper legislation could result in both private companies and the federal government hiring people to create what’s needed, fix what’s broken, and bring the country into the twenty-first century.”
— Just Say Yes, 2014


About mickey mouse  

“If you come to my office on Fifth Avenue, you will notice several statues and pictures of Mickey Mouse. I’ve always admired and felt a kinship with Mickey; we are, after all, from the same generation, born just a couple of years apart. I think he’s a superior role model. He could have been a rat, but he wasn’t. He had a sense of justice. If you were one of the bad guys in his little universe he could be very tough on you. But mostly Mickey was quite nice. He treated Minnie Mouse well, and he stood by his friends. I thought Mickey Mouse belonged to everybody; he showed that you could be honest and a winner.

One year early in my tenure at Loral, I ad-libbed a reference to my favorite cartoon character in a talk I was giving at our annual management meeting. I wanted to make the point that the company didn’t have to cheat or cut corners to succeed, and that as managers and keepers of the company flame they should be as clean as Mickey Mouse. It got a chuckle—and I guess struck a chord. After a while I started giving out the Mickey Mouse Good Guy Award to one employee who made an important contribution to Loral… and we’d bestow it with proper ceremony. Employees treasured those things. Eventually people started sending me Mickey Mouse things—hats and pens and, once, a Lalique glass figurine that must have cost at least a few hundred dollars. Those are the items I proudly display in my office today. Mickey is still my hero: the good guy who was a winner.”
— Just Say Yes, 2014