What 10 Super-Successful People Would Change About The World

Richard bransonPaul Kane/GettyRichard Branson would end the war on drugs.

The world is a beautiful place — but it’s not perfect. Not even close.

So, if you had the opportunity to fix just one thing — big or small — what would it be?

That’s exactly what LinkedIn asked its network of top minds across all fields to write about for its most recent Influencers editorial package, titled “Let’s Fix It.

Over 60 thought leaders shared original posts in which they identified a vexing problem and proposed a workable solution.

“Their scope ranged from global initiatives like reversing climate change to closer-to-home annoyances like seemingly endless meetings,” writes LinkedIn editor Amy Chen. “But whether they chose to sketch out moon shots or just get that pebble out of our shoes, the common thread in their fixes was inventiveness — and viability.”

Richard Branson would end the war on drugs.

Branson says the war on drugs has been 'a spectacular failure -- a waste of public resources and a boon to crime cartels,' and that it hasn't reduced drug use or addressed addiction around the world.

'After more than $US1 trillion (has been) spent, and tens of thousands of lives lost in law enforcement, the global drug market remains a multi-billion dollar industry firmly controlled by organised crime,' he explains. 'Demand for all types of drugs is going as strong as ever, serviced by highly efficient supply chains that have so far adapted to every conceivable strategy to fight this war.'

Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy himself, says he believes treating drugs as a health issue rather than a criminal problem 'could have a profound positive effect on society.' And he also believes current drug laws 'need a whole range of fixes.'

But, he says, there is one issue where 'relatively simple changes in the law could literally mean the difference between a life behind bars and a fresh start for thousands, while saving millions in taxpayer funds: I'm talking about sentencing reform.'

Click here to read Branson's full post.

Neil Blumenthal would end gender inequality.

If this Warby Parker executive could fix any issue facing the world, he'd focus on ending gender inequality.

'Empowering women is key to achieving sustainable development and tackling many of the problems that we face today, from poverty reduction to education reform,' he writes.

Even in developed countries, such as the US and Japan, women still make lower salaries and have access to fewer prestigious jobs when compared to men. Women earn a mere 10% of the world's income, according to Blumenthal, meaning that a significant percentage of the world's capable workers go underutilized.

'The imperative to empower women is one that every person of every age and gender has a stake in,' he explains. 'The faster we unleash our full human potential, the faster we'll be able to make progress on other big issues.'

Click here to read Blumenthal's full post.

Laszlo Bock would fix the unemployment problem.

Google's HR boss says part of the reason so many people are out of work, while simultaneously so many jobs are unfilled, is that the job-matching process is 'fragile and error-prone.'

He believes neither recruiters nor job hunters really know what the other needs or wants, and that 'unemployment is an information asymmetry problem.'

Most people think recruiters 'are great at assessing candidates. We're not. We are biased, ask bad interview questions, rarely go back and check if our predictions were correct, and so on,' he says. 'Much unemployment could be eliminated by doing a better job of matching people and jobs.'

He says mapping the reality of what you, the job seeker, have to offer against the reality of what an organisation needs -- and who will thrive in that specific context -- is a hard problem to resolve. 'But it is solvable,' he writes.

Click here to read Bock's full post.

Denise Morrison would bring more diversity to the C-suite.

'I'm a woman and a CEO, which at present is a rare occurrence in Fortune 500 companies,' writes Morrison, president and chief executive of the Campbell Soup Company. 'If I had a magic wand (and they're also hard to find), one of the first things I'd fix would be increasing diversity in the C-suite.'

Morrison says that while some women like herself have managed to shatter the glass ceiling, 'glaring diversity and gender gaps in business remain.'

Women today make up slightly more than half of the US population, but only account for 5% of the CEOs in the Fortune 500.

But, she notes, women aren't the only people missing in the C-suite. 'Minorities are (also) vastly underrepresented in the Fortune 500.'

She says the path to diversity begins with supporting, mentoring, and sponsoring diverse women and men to become leaders and entrepreneurs. 'Diversity is not only the right thing to do -- it's smart business -- so let's embrace diversity and lead change within our companies, within the business community and within our society… starting at the top.'

Click here to read Morrison's full post.

Jeff Denneen would kill the weekly office meeting.

Meetings are often a waste of time, Denneen explains.

He writes about a leading technology company that surveyed 30,000 employees worldwide after it saw its profitability and productivity declining, to determine how to improve organizational effectiveness. They found that only 54% of the time their employees spent in meetings was considered time well spent.

'Too many people get together for meetings without really knowing why, simply because it was on their weekly schedules,' the Bain partner explains.

What's less obvious to people, he says, 'is the ripple effect those unproductive meetings have on an organisation, especially when top executives meet.'

To stop meetings from getting the best of you and your employees, he suggests managing them 'as closely as you manage every investment.'

Click here to read Denneen's full post.

Peter Guber would ditch the traditional career ladder.

Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, believes that expecting workers to follow a traditional career path from entry-level to corner office is no longer effective for employees and businesses alike. 'The traditional career ladder does not offer the diversity of career opportunities to employees to grow outside their single focus and thus provide additional benefit to the corporation,' he says.

Instead, Guber suggests viewing career growth as an inverted pyramid, not a ladder. Everyone at the bottom still strives to reach the top, but there are more opportunities for success and innovation once they get there. 'Both the employee and company benefit from an ever-expanding opportunity horizon and competitive advantage despite the vicissitudes of the general economy or how the business landscape zigs or zags,' he says.

Click here to read Guber's full post.

Elliot Weissbluth would encourage people to build stronger business relationships.

If Hightower's CEO were to fix one issue plaguing the world, he'd start by developing stronger, more meaningful business relationships. 'Too often, we gloss over the importance of depth, sincerity, and trust in our business relationships simply because we're too busy,' he says.

Weissbluth believes that building a successful business begins and ends with personal relationships. 'Successful leaders spend time building rapport, empathy, and, most of all, trust among team members,' he explains. While technology can streamline several aspects of business, it can't replace genuine human contact, so going the extra mile to create personal connections goes a long way.

He illustrates this assertion with an example everyone can relate to: 'When something goes wrong with your cable provider or there's an error on your credit card statement, do you call the 1-800 number and then mash '0' until you've escaped the automated menu and connected with a live, human voice?' he asks. 'It's our nature to seek out human interaction even during superficial exchanges.'

Click here to read Weissbluth's full post.

Maynard Webb would change how we think about careers.

The job landscape has changed -- moving up the corporate ladder and staying at the same company for life just isn't a common reality anymore, and Webb believes both companies and workers need to shift their outlook. 'We are now in the Age of Entrepreneurship, where the only one in charge of your career is you,' the Yahoo! chairman explains. 'This should not be intimidating, but liberating for both employees and employers.'

Rather than concentrating on moving up within one specific company, employees should focus on generating outcomes, building their networks, maintaining positive attitudes, and staying honest about their own successes and failures, Webb says.

On the other side of the industry, employers should offer job flexibility, serve as mentors, and celebrate their employees. 'Employees have more options than ever,' he says. 'You must believe it's a luxury to have them today and work hard to keep them tomorrow.'

Click here to read Webb's full post.

Peter Arvai thinks leaders should be more vulnerable.

Arvai, CEO and cofounder of Prezi, believes one of the most important leadership qualities is often overlooked: vulnerability. 'Being vulnerable changes the conversation from one where team members feel they have to prove themselves to one where they are free to think big and take risks,' he says.

Before tackling any of the major issues facing the world today, it's important for leaders to open up their teams to creativity and innovation by making it OK to take risks. 'When people are worried that others will judge them for their ideas or flaws, they shut down,' Arvai warns. 'We can create a safe space for free thinking by being completely open.'

To do this, leaders shouldn't be afraid to share their own mistakes and build a culture of candor. Arvai encourages open discussions about failure at Prezi, which acknowledges when teams underperform, but solve problems in a creative way. 'By recognising such work even when it leads to failure, we encourage our teams to take risks, which often leads to some of our best ideas,' he says.

Click here to read Arvai's full post.

Jon Whitmore would give every child a quality education from the start.

A good education can set the course for a child's entire life. In fact, Whitmore, the CEO of ACT, reports that 'the level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school.'

So if Whitmore could change one thing, he'd ensure that all students receive a quality education from the start. He compares children to trees, noting that once they have taken root it's nearly impossible to change their trajectory. 'To help a student thrive, we need to start earlier, planting the seed in fertile soil, protecting it from predation and firestorms, providing it with the sunlight, clean water, and the occasional winds that will cause it to sway, bend, and grow ever-stronger,' he says.

Click here to read Whitmore's full post.

Now check out what these people wish they knew when they were young:

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