The Best Executives Put Their Family First, with SAP CEO Bill McDermott

Business Technology Executive
Bill McDermott argues that the best business leaders put their family first and should demonstrate this as a best-practice for their employees. McDermott is the CEO of SAP, a multinational corporation that makes enterprise software to manage customer relations and business operations. He is the author of Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Bill McDermott: The most important thing that you can do in this world is to think about the balanced work life. I always begin with the end in mind. What would you want them to say about you when you’re not around? I don’t think it’s that you always got in first and left last and missed everything that really mattered in life. So I’ve always tried to prioritize my marriage, my children, my family above everything else because in the end those are the things that will be here when everything else is long gone. So I truly believe the prioritization of family and business cannot be strongly stressed enough by any executive. Because the best executives are the ones that have always put family first. It also makes them much more productive in the office. I get credit at home for being a good executive in the office but the credit that I’m really interested in is am I a good dad, am I a good husband. And if I can pull that off as well as being a good brother and a good son, I’m much more productive in my work life. So this is the balance that we all have to work for each and every day but I encourage my people – don’t miss a birthday unless you absolutely have no way out. Give it everything you can to be there for the important moments.

The office will find a way to compensate for that gap. It’ll show people around you that you’re a company that stands for more than just the bottom line. You stand for something that will endure the test of time. And I truly believe in the end as we look back on this life that we’ve lived that’s a much more enduring legacy than whatever happened, he always drove the top and the bottom line. We know exactly who he was. You know, I’ll give you a couple of examples. You know when I was a hard driving young salesman in New York City, when my friend Richard Reed who was a colleague in the sales department, had a young baby girl I dropped everything on my canvassing route that day to show up at Lenox Hill Hospital with flowers for him and his wife to demonstrate my total respect for him. When we lost David Kearns from this world who was the CEO at Xerox when I was 21 that I wanted to be in the Winners Dream I was the first one other than his direct family that was at his funeral home to celebrate his life. So I think there are just certain things about how you live your life and the character and the integrity by which you live your life that will endure all the business stuff. And that’s part of being a winner and that’s part of living the dream.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton