Interview with John Pepper – Former Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of P&G

Throughout my career at Procter & Gamble, I have had the great fortune to meet and learn from some of the world’s greatest business leaders and brand builders. Their passion for serving the consumer by providing benefits that touch lives and improve life was the North Star that I could always trust to help me make the right decision on the brands I managed. I knew if I could explain how the consumer would win, then I would never be making a wrong decision. I knew it as certain as I knew the sun would rise every morning.

One of the most inspirational leaders I had the privilege to work for was John Pepper. John is the quintessential servant leader, and one of the most brilliant brand builders I have ever met. For perspective, to a P&Ger, building a strong brand is how you serve the world’s consumers. I also believe sustaining a strong Brand America is how we serve our nation’s citizens and how the United States will continue to inspire the world.

I reached out to John Pepper for his thoughts on America as a brand. As the former Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of P&G (one of the world’s leading brand building companies), I knew John would have unique insights. I found John’s answers personally inspirational and I want to thank him for taking the time to share his thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about John and his career, I recommend reading his book – What Really Matters: Service, Leadership, People and Values.

  1. Question: How would you articulate Brand America’s promise?

    Providing an environment that allows its very diverse population to achieve all they are capable of. An environment underpinned by the rule of law and constitutional rights, usually if not always observed; by respect for the value of diversity, by an entrepreneurial innovative environment, one which respects the right of every person to grow to the fullness of his or her capability and commitment to excel.

  2. Question: What are the challenges that Brand America must address to consistently be seen as "walking the talk"?
    • Providing education and child care that allows every child to grow up to be all they are capable of.
    • To develop an attitude of respect for every individual, not being separated or polarized by differences but taking advantage of them.
  3. Question: What are the traits of Brand America that people around the world are likely to find appealing?
    • The spirit of entrepreneurism and innovation.
    • The ability for diverse people to get along and take advantage of their differences, even as they do it imperfectly.
    • The opportunity for individuals of lesser means to advance the quality of their life if they are determined and imaginative.
    • The respect and commitment to the rule of law and constitutional rights.
  4. Question: What is the importance of Brand America?

    If it is to have an importance, it will be as we live the commitment to justice and equality for all and the commitment to make the world a better place tomorrow.

  5. Question: Who benefits from a strengthened Brand America?


  6. Question: Do you believe Brand America has a relevant, competitive and authentic promise?

    It is certainly relevant. Its authenticity is diminished by the extent to which we fail to live up to it. If achieved at a high level, it is very competitive, though I would say its purpose is not to be competitive so much as to fulfill the potential that any group of people living in a nation would ideally pursue.

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