Category Archives: Blog

Two Fun Days in Bali!

I must admit, Bali was not a place I thought I would have the opportunity to visit this year. I knew it was in Indonesia, and I remember seeing the Broadway musical “South Pacific,” but that was about the extent of my familiarity with the island.

Last year I gave a lecture at a MarkPlus event in Jakarta, and Mr. Kartajaya Hermawan, the Chairman, invited me to visit Bali on my next trip to Asia. He is one of the co-authors with Professor Philip Kotler of “Marketing 3.0“, and the Museum of Marketing 3.0 is located at the Museum Puri Lukisan in Bali.

So, on my way from giving talks in Jakarta (see my prior post) to teaching this weekend in the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA program, I spent two “fun days” in Bali with my eldest daughter, Suzie, who was on her way to visit friends in Shanghai…..boy, the world is sure getting smaller!!


With my daughter, Suzie


With Fancy Brown (middle)

Fancy Brown, the head of the Marketing Museum took us to visit the Pita Maha Resort in Ubud and also to the museum. The museum has wonderful exhibits of the history of marketing and active learning stations for students and adult visitors.

In addition, we had the opportunity to visit the King of Ubud-Bali, Dr. Tjokorda Gde Putra Sukawati. We had a great discussion on the leadership challenges of working to improve the Bali economy and at the same time, maintaining the culture and history of this remarkable island.


Some “monkeying around”

If that wasn’t enough, Fancy and her colleague took us to visit the rice fields, a coffee plantation, AND the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. A truly memorable trip!!

Okay, now I’m in Hong Kong to teach my “Leading a Global Company” class at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA program. This is my third year teaching in this amazing program, which is ranked by the Financial Times as the #1 EMBA program in the world!!

With the King of Ubud-Bali, Dr. Tjokorda Gde Putra Sukawati

Two Interesting Days in Jakarta

Greetings from Jakarta! I am spending two days here before teaching in the Kellogg-HKUST executive MBA program this coming weekend in Hong Kong.

image4I had the opportunity to spend time on Sunday with Kellogg and K-HKUST alums at the Jakarta offices of Catalyst Strategy, a very innovative marketing firm founded by Farina Situmorang, a Kellogg alum. We spent several hours discussing values-based leadership and the management challenges in Asia. I must add that I received MANY questions regarding “What’s going on with your U.S. political system?” (Not an easy one to explain 😉 )

As you can see from the following pictures, the atmosphere at Catalyst Strategy is very inviting with toys, soft cushions, and a “playground” where the team members can interact. The focus on self reflection and becoming more self aware is highlighted by the drawings on the walls, including responses to the question “Why am I here?”. Since it is Chinese New Year, note the drawing of the “Year of the Rooster”. You can find additional info on Catalyst Strategy at


Wilson Pranoto, a KH alum and good friend, is a member of the Indonesian YPO (Young President’s Organization). On Monday I had the opportunity to give a four-hour seminar on values-based leadership to their leadership group and spouses. The group was highly interactive (with a lot of Q&O…questions and opinions). It was very interesting to see the similarity in issues and challenges to those in the U.S., Europe and Latin America; the need for leaders to clearly define their values, set clear direction, set clear expectations with accountability, the critical need for feedback, and being able to “lead up” when dealing with ineffective bosses.img-20170206-wa0031

I am now on my way to Bali and Hong Kong….stay tuned!

Looking for some BALANCE…from ALL of Us!!!

Okay, I will start this post with a disclaimer: This post is not meant to be an attack on President Trump — he won the election and is now the U.S. President and Commander in Chief. No matter what our political leanings, we must accept that fact. However, I do believe it is important for each of us to challenge specific actions. This blog post is really a “call” for all of us to address the myriad issues we are dealing with as a country in a much more BALANCED way…and realize that WE ARE THOSE GUYS.

In my Kellogg leadership classes and executive presentations, I advise everyone to “take the time to understand ALL sides of the issues,” and to “seek to understand before being understood.”  As my grandfather, Farrell Grehan, used to explain to me when I was in high school and complained that I didn’t understand why someone was doing something: “Harry, life is much simpler when you only understand your side of the story.”

It seems that almost every issue in the news today is addressed with extremes rather than thoughtfully trying to find a balance. Here are just a few examples (note that the answer in my opinion is usually YES!!):

Should the U.S. be focused on “America First” and making sure American citizens have the opportunities to improve their standard of living, OR
Should the U.S. play a role as a responsible global citizen in the manner we have since the end of WW2?
I think the answer is YES!!

Should the U.S. focus on expanding the free-market capitalistic system and eliminate regulation, OR
Should we realize that a free-market capitalistic system has many advantages, but that it is not perfect and a certain level of regulation is necessary?
Yes! How about a little BALANCE?!

Regarding immigration policy, should we be “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the U.S.”, OR
Should we realize that we all have family histories of immigration and immigration is one of the key reasons America became a great country?
Preventing students and even individuals with green cards from suddenly not being able to enter the country strikes me as extreme…..where is the balance?

Should we be exiting global trade agreements, OR
Realize that we live in a global world in which there are tremendous benefits to American citizens from having products produced in the lowest cost regions of the world?
Yes, there is no question that globalization can adversely impact some individuals, but is the answer to reduce trade? Or find ways to retrain these individuals in other areas of the economy?
I thought this was something we all learned in our first class in Economics in high school?!

Speaking of economics, I think it would be great if we could all make sure we took the time to understand some simple economics.  Here’s an example which I find amazing.  We have been told that we are going to build a wall on the Mexican border and Mexico is going to pay for it. While I am very tempted to address the logic (or lack thereof) of building a wall, I do have an “opinion” on the announcement that Mexico pay for the wall via a 20% tariff imposed by the U.S. on goods coming in from Mexico. Think about this for a moment.  Let’s assume that a product from Mexico is currently coming into the U.S. at a price of $10. If the U.S. puts a 20% tariff on the product to pay for the wall, what do you think the Mexican manufacturer is going to do?  My guess is that he will raise the price to $12 to cover the cost of the tariff. So, who is paying for the wall? The Mexicans? Or the Americans who are now paying $12 for a product that used to cost $10?

Okay, so what should WE be doing about all of these issues and the apparent lack of balance (and maybe lack of common sense)? In an earlier blog post I stated that rather than expecting that magical group of people called “those guys” to deal with these issues, each of us needs to realize that #IAmThoseGuys!!!!

Realizing #IAmThoseGuys means that you are not watching the movie, you are in the movie. This requires each of us to actually DO something proactive. Here’s a partial list of options:

  • Calling or writing your congressmen and representatives at the state and national level
  • Educating and teaching others of the need for “BALANCE”
  • Participating in marches and rallies
  • Running for office yourself

I remain ever an optimist.  And I believe that if each of us realizes #IAmThoseGuys, our representative democracy can continue to thrive the next 240 years and more!!!  The key is to get started and get involved!!!

I always appreciate hearing from you.

Happy New Year 2017!

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year from the entire Kraemer gang! May 2017 bring you great joy and good fortune!


Time Again for a Few “Really Important Questions”

(Spoiler alert: My discussion about my three-day silent retreat has a spiritual foundation 😉 )

Wow! It is hard for me to believe that another year is almost over. The good news: I always end the year with my three most important days — my three-day Jesuit silent retreat at Demontreville, near Lake Elmo, Minnesota. As I mentioned in my blog post last year, I have been attending a retreat here for the past 30 years with my father-in-law, Tom Jansen. My brother Steve has accompanied me the last 20 years.

Students and colleagues have always asked me: “Harry, how does someone who likes to talk as much as you do stay quiet for THREE days?!?!?” The answer is that it is a huge part of what I call the FIRST principle of Values-Based Leadership……SELF REFLECTION. As I have discussed many times, everything for me starts with self reflection, the ability to become self aware and know yourself. Here is what I call the “three-part logic” as to why self reflection comes first:
1) If I am not reflective, is it possible to know myself?
2) If I don’t know myself, how can I lead myself?
3) If I cannot lead myself, how can I lead others?

I included in a recent Kellogg Insight piece some of the key questions I ask myself on a daily basis, and here are the key questions I ask myself on the retreat every year:


This year our retreat leader was Father J.J. O’Leary from Marquette University. He is an amazingly insightful person who challenged us during the retreat to really focus on what matters. Here are a few examples from the many pages of notes I took during his talks (get ready for some SELF REFLECTION!!!!!!!!! 😉 )

  • One needs to be silent to truly listen to what God has to say to you
  • Reflect on how much I love my spouse and children…it is a small way of understanding how much God loves us
  • We see best when we lose something…be aware and thankful for what you have, not what you don’t have (your health is a good example)
  • What do I put First in my life? If it is money or power, that becomes my “god”…be careful what you put first in your life
  • “Control the data”…control your thoughts or they will control you (example of pornography)
  • Weakness makes us more compassionate to others
  • Prepare for death by dying every day to our pride
  • The only thing we leave this life with is what we leave behind. How do you want to be remembered?
  • Don’t react to the bad behavior of others, but rather, act in a way consistent with your values
  • What spirit do I bring to my home? Is it love or impatience?
  • The greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother
  • Do I think I am better than others, or do I truly respect every person with whom I come in contact?
  • One of the hardest things in life is to forgive yourself
  • Sometimes the worst things that happen to us are the best things for us
  • We have to fail in order for God to pick us up
  • Check my heart and spirit…am I filled with CONSOLATION or DESOLATION?
    • Consolation is self reflective, knowing yourself, peaceful, prayerful, grateful, the more I know my heart, the more at peace I will be
    • Desolation is filled with worry, fear, anxiety, stress and pressure
  • Mother Theresa: “The greatest disease is a lack of love.”

As always, I enjoy your feedback, comments and questions.

Have a wonderful holiday season!!

I Am “Those Guys”


In the aftermath of an extremely divisive presidential campaign and post-election protests across the U.S., many people are wondering how our country can move forward amid such political polarity. There are grave concerns that neither side understands the other, and that some of the fallout may be felt the most by minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Regardless of how they voted, many people acknowledge that deep political and social rifts exist today and demand attention. But instead of expecting these problems to be solved by politicians, social activists, or business leaders—the people with power and influence we often describe as “those guys”—we must consider what impact each of us can have as individuals.

To heal from the grassroots up, to amplify the force of good in our country and the world, each of us must realize that “I am ‘those guys.’”

Those Guys to the Rescue

As I wrote in a recent Fortune article, early in my career I observed the common assumption and widespread expectation that “those guys” (a gender-neutral term referring to the bosses and others in charge) would solve the problems. Those of us working in cubicles and on the front lines couldn’t possibly change things or have an impact—or so the thinking went.

That assumption was wrong! As I saw then, and as I tell my students today, each of us has the ability to be one of “those guys.” We can exert a positive influence, starting with our own behavior, the example we set, and our interactions with others.

To counter the divisiveness and anger in our country today, each of us can start a chain reaction for good by recognizing our own power and influence as “those guys.” It starts with embracing the four principles of values-based leadership to guide the way we act, interact, and treat others.

Values-Based Leadership in Action

The first and foundational principle of values-based leadership is self-reflection, identifying what you stand for, what your values are, and what you believe in. By engaging in self-reflection, you take stock (ideally, every day) of how well you keep your commitment to yourself and others, how you treat people, and whether you act in accordance with your values.

The second principle is balance and perspective, which emphasizes the importance of understanding diverse viewpoints and opinions. In a country of more than 350 million people, there are multiple opinions and viewpoints. Some we agree with; some we do not. Sadly, in the wake of the election, racist comments have been made publicly and in social media. But that does not imply that the 62 million people who voted for Trump hold these views. Some people supported Trump because they feel marginalized and left out of the economic opportunities enjoyed by others.

Regardless of how people voted—whether the outcome of the election was what they expected or not—it’s imperative that we strive to understand each other. Balance and perspective foster empathy and encourage meaningful discussions that lead to overcoming differences.

The third principle of true self-confidence enables people to own their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. For those who are moved to become part of a force for good by volunteering or engaging in other positive actions, true self-confidence can empower them to channel their abilities and interests.

Finally, genuine humility reminds us of the importance of showing respect to everyone—regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how alike/different they are from us. Genuine humility encourages us to make an extra effort to welcome others, particularly those who are fearful or vulnerable.

The Power of the Grassroots

By putting the four principles of values-based leadership into action, we move from powerlessness to being empowered. No matter how anxious or fearful we feel for ourselves or for others, we refuse to stay in victimhood or engage in the blame game. Nor will we sink into negativity or divisive action.

We find our voices and speak out as “best citizens” committed to making a difference. In our communities and neighborhoods, in our churches, synagogues, and mosques, in civic organizations and on college campuses, we take a stand for our values. By word and by example, we demonstrate that certain behaviors are not going to be tolerated.

To move forward, we cannot wait for “those guys” in Washington or elsewhere to do what needs to be done. You, me, us – we are ALL “those guys,” and we will make a difference.


I always appreciate receiving your views and opinions. Here’s wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

Don’t Count on Washington to Unite a Divided America

Leadership does not always start at the top.

In the aftermath of the most divisive political campaign in recent history, the U.S. finds itself once again in a challenging, but historically familiar place: bridging significant political and philosophical differences.

No matter how we voted, or whether we live in “red” or “blue” states, Americans cannot leave it up to Washington to find common ground. From the grassroots up, each of us must play a role in uniting our nation, in which politics exposed and exploited fears, ranging from loss of economic security to global terrorism.

Anti President-elect Donald Trump protesters chant outside the White House in Washington, DC, November 10, 2016. Protesters burned a giant orange-haired head of Donald Trump in effigy, lit fires in the streets and blocked traffic as rage over the billionaire's election victory spilled onto the streets of major US cities. / AFP / JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Anti President-elect Donald Trump protesters chant outside the White House in Washington, DC, November 10, 2016.
Protesters burned a giant orange-haired head of Donald Trump in effigy, lit fires in the streets and blocked traffic as rage over the billionaire’s election victory spilled onto the streets of major US cities. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

We must come together by exhibiting values-based leadership principles: self-reflection, to know yourself and what you stand for, and a balanced perspective, to understand multiple opinions and viewpoints, particularly those that are different. These principles are critical for promoting understanding, increasing tolerance, and building consensus.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, which the majority of pollsters predicted that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win, leaders from both parties sounded the right tone. President-elect Donald Trump called for unity and binding “the wounds of division.” Clinton said in her concession speech that she offered to work with Trump “on behalf of our country,” and said she hoped “he will be a successful president for all Americans.” President Barack Obama, who criticized Trump during the campaign as he threw his support behind Clinton, said in post-election remarks that “we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”

Words from the top, even when eloquent and inspiring, are only rhetoric without action at the grassroots level. As the former CEO of a $12 billion health care company, I have seen the importance of empowering people at all levels to become values-based leaders, no matter what their titles or scope of responsibilities.

From the earliest days in my career when I worked in a cubicle, I recognized that my colleagues and I could not sit back and expect “those guys” (a gender-neutral term for the bosses) to do what needed to be done. All of us had a stake in affecting the change we wanted to see. This attitude applies even more in politics, where stalemate and standoff are far more common than bipartisan action. We cannot sit back and wait for “those guys” to accomplish the difficult work of uniting a nation divided and pressing for meaningful change, such as in social justice and equality.

I believe the U.S. has history on its side when it comes to rallying popular support amid political division. At the very beginning of our collective history as a nation, enthusiasm for the revolution waned among colonists who preferred to stay home in the “chimney corner,” as George Washington termed in. It took the promise of economic mobility (land and money in return for enlistment) to mobilize the grassroots. When their personal goals were aligned with the overarching cause, people bought in.

While the cynics might say that is just another case of people caring more about self-interest than shared interest, I offer another perspective. To create meaningful change, people must see that they stand to gain something—hope, the promise of a better life, the ability to make a difference in the lives of others. What was true in 1776 is equally true today, when there is a sobering economic divide between haves and have-nots.

Americans have a tradition of rallying to support causes that involved personal sacrifice and overcoming political division. From 1939 to 1941, interventionism and isolationism divided Americans, many of whom opposed entering another world war after the devastating losses of the “Great War.” Yet, after Pearl Harbor, most Americans willingly sacrificed to support the war effort. Families sent loved ones off in uniform, many of whom did not return.
Perhaps the most significant example of personal sacrifice is the Civil Rights Movement, in which African-American leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. committed their lives and even sacrificed them to the cause of equality. The movement also served as a model for promoting advancement of other groups, promoting America’s societal ideals of diversity and inclusion.

These episodes in American history, each a turning point, were only possible because of grassroots support. And so it is at this moment when people feel fragmented and divided politically, economically, and socially. No matter how we voted, we owe it to ourselves and each other to listen to diverse viewpoints, even those we find conflicting. We don’t have to agree, but we should strive to understand even before we are understood. It is the only way to find common ground at the grassroots level.


This post originally appeared in Fortune here.

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