Peter Georgescu arrived in this country as a penniless Romanian refugee and rose to prominence as the CEO of Young & Rubicam.
It’s an American Dream success story that could not play out in today’s economic environment – one that is plagued with disappearing jobs, flat wages, and a shrinking middle class. In this talk, based on Peter’s book, CAPITALISTS ARISE!: End Economic Inequality, Grow the Middle Class, Heal the Nation, Georgescu makes the case that our current economic malaise and social breakdown can be attributed to the short-term thinking spawned by shareholder primacy.
So, how did we get here? Peter explains how:
• American business quickly and aggressively adapted to globalization by succumbing to the pressure to move jobs offshore.
• The business community passionately embraced technology to eliminate even more domestic jobs.
• Most importantly, corporations moved to keep wages – outside of management – almost flat for close to forty years.
Decisions and choices apparently made without a single care about how these decisions would affect our society. Combined, these corporate choices have diminished the buying power of the American public and lead to the decimation of our middle class.
The business industry has the most to gain from a healthy America, and the most to lose by social unrest and punitive taxation. According to Georgescu, they can become a crucial part of the solution.
We live in a challenging time. Many of us struggle, emotionally, ethically, and spiritually. We seem to be trending toward less compassion and consideration, failing to overcome that basic instinct that often leads to evil in human behavior—self-preservation at all costs. Yet within each of us a new future is stirring. We can become better people and build a better world by opting for good over evil —one choice at a time.
Through decades of reflection on human behavior, as well as philosophical and spiritual exploration, Peter arrived at a new perspective on the crucial significance of our habitual choices. Every decision we make alters our biological nature, for better or worse, a concept confirmed by new science. The Constant Choice reveals a path for changing who we are and the future of humanity. Our potential is extraordinary. But it’s up to each of us to become activists for good.
Peter Andrew Georgescu, Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam, was born on the eve of the Second World War in Bucharest, Romania. His Romanian parents were educated in England and France. Peter’s father was the Managing Director of Exxon’s operation in Romania. While on a business trip to New York in 1947, the Iron Curtain fell and Peter’s parents could not return to Romania. Overnight they became the enemy of the Communist regime (his father would have been killed if he’d returned to Romania).
Peter and his brother were left in Romania with his grandparents and would remain apart from his mother and father for eight years. His grandfather was seized and imprisoned as a political threat, and then murdered in captivity. Shortly after his grandfather was taken away, Peter, only nine years old, was arrested along with his brother and grandmother and sent to a work camp. In 1953 his father was approached by Romanian Communist diplomats in New York and asked to spy for them in exchange for keeping his children alive. Georgescu’s parents refused and went to the press, causing an international scandal. With the intervention of Congressman Frances Bolton and President Eisenhower, the boys were reunited with their parents in April of 1954.
Peter’s American journey started with a gifted admission to Exeter Academy in the fall of 1954—which generously overlooked his inability to speak English and having had no formal schooling since second grade. He then went on to graduate from Princeton University, cum laude, and earned an MBA degree from Stanford Business School. In 1963 he entered Young & Rubicam as a trainee in their research department. Thirty-seven years later he retired as Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam with Y&R at the pinnacle of the advertising and related communications industry.
Under Mr. Georgescu’s leadership, Young & Rubicam successfully transformed from a private to a publicly-held company. During his tenure, Young & Rubicam built the most extensive database on global branding and, from its findings, developed a proprietary model for diagnosing and managing brands. Within the marketing community, he is known as a leading proponent of creating unified communications programs, agency accountability for measuring the impact of communications programs, and structuring value-based agency compensation.
In recognition for his contributions to the marketing and advertising industry, Peter was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame and received several Honorary Doctorate of Humanity degrees and other recognitions from a number of colleges and universities.
Peter has served on eight public company boards and continues as a Vice Chairman of New York Presbyterian Hospital and several other non-for-profit organizations.
Mr. Georgescu has authored three books, The Source of Success, The Constant Choice and Capitalists, Arise!