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The Heart of Business: Integrating Prosperity and Values for Real Changeby Liz Mohn
Synopses & Reviews
1: My Roots
The limousine is purring along the highway. I am sitting in the back of the car, watching the dense green of the trees fly past. It is a spring day to make the heart leap for joy--bright sunlight, a deep-blue sky contrasting with the egg-yolk yellow of fields of buttercups. Lost in thought, I contemplate the beauty of nature. I'm on my way to meet a self-help group from the German Stroke Aid Foundation. This part of the country is very familiar to me. Down below flows the Ems, the river that has been a part of my life since my earliest childhood. There's a place here that I am particularly fond of, where willow branches hang low down to the water. Would you stop for a moment, please? I ask my driver, Thomas Barnhsfer. He nods understandingly--he knows how much I like this spot. We've stopped here for a few moments so many times before.
I go down to the river and see my face reflected in the water. The memory of days long past comes into my mind. I see a small blonde girl who takes a running start here before grabbing hold of a willow branch to swing herself across to the opposite bank. She's having great fun. She swings back and forth again and again. Sometimes she's in luck and reaches the other bank; often she isn't, and falls in the water. When that happens the little girl just splutters, shakes herself, and tries again.
I was that little girl. I couldn't swim yet, but that was how I learned. I taught myself to swim at the age of four. Later, my mother told me that this was when she first guessed what a strong will I had and how fearless I was.
This place is my link with my roots. I need the memory of it from time to time, and it does me good. It gives me new strength to go on with my work. The path that's taken me from that determined child to the woman I now am has been a long one. Thoughtfully, I go back to the car. The patients in the self-help group are expecting me.
Everything all right, Frau Mohn? asks Thomas, opening the car door. I nod. He's been my driver for many years, and we know each other well. We don't need to say much to understand each other. As we drive on, I think of the lost world of my childhood.
When I was born death and devastation reigned. Millions were dying on the battlefields of Europe--but my life was beginning. As human beings we are part of the eternal cycle of birth and death. I was a wartime child, and like many others born at that time my chances of a happy, successful life were slim. All that mattered was survival. The women who had babies then, who cared for them, protected them, and made sacrifices to bring them up, are still my heroines. My mother told me that I was born during an air-raid warning. That was the day before the war with Russia began, and it was as if a pall of fear lay over Germany. Fear was my mother's strongest emotion at my birth--fear for her life, for her child's start in life, in the face of an unknown future. That fear was obviously transferred to me. Later I heard and read a great deal about the way that unborn babies can sense their mothers' emotions, moods, and fears during pregnancy. It must have been like that with us: I was a very fretful baby who cried a great deal at night, and I had bad dreams. My mother had to pick me up every night, comfort me, and change my diaper or my clothes. Perhaps this was the deeper reason for the special link t
Calls for a new, more human-oriented definition of success in the continually evolving world of business, culture, and society, presenting a new paradigm of business and personal accomplishment that integrates material rewards with friendship and social consciousness. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
In The Heart of Business Liz Mohn describes her experiences as a woman and an entrepreneur at Bertelsmann, Europes largest media corporation, in a powerful call to action for organizations of every size and purpose to adapt to the evolving criteria of success in the twenty-first century. With the new millennium being shaped by the forces of internationalization and globalization, Mohn asks an important question: Will humane values take their rightful and necessary place as a vital factor in the equations that measure achievement and prosperity in the world we will hand over to our children and grandchildren?
Making a plea for a new paradigm of business and personal achievement that combines material rewards with those of friendship and social consciousness, Mohn writes passionately and eloquently about her beliefs as a woman, a philanthropist, and a corporate leader. At their heart is a deep concern about frightening trends in our society: the loss of direction, the increase in both selfishness and loneliness, the lack of concern for children and the elderly. In response, says Mohn, we must commit ourselves to such principles as the preservation of traditional cultures amid the pressures of globalization, the ethical education of children, and love rooted in recognition of our common humanity. The distance Liz Mohn has traveled in her own life mirrors the distance that all of society—from individuals and families to large corporations—must travel to remain forces for positive change in our new world. In The Heart of Business Liz Mohn offers an equal measure of hope and an energizing spirit of renewal.
About the Author
Liz Mohn is chairman of the board of the Bertelsmann Asset Management Group (Bertelsmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH), deputy chairman of the Bertelsmann Foundation, and a member of the supervisory board of Bertelsmann AG. She is in charge of corporate culture at Bertelsmann and the first woman to be a member of the Club of Rome, a global think tank based in Hamburg, Germany. In 1993 she founded the German Stroke Aid Foundation. She is also a recipient of the medal of honor of Germanys Order of Merit and the service medal of the German Medical Society for her work on behalf of stroke victims.
Table of Contents
My roots — A woman's life — My first career steps — New voices — The role of women and the value of the family — Social events and my role as social hostess — My role models — Meetings and international contacts — Medical projects — The German Stroke Aid Foundation — New assignments : the culture of the company — A turning-point.
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