Shimon Peres on Leadership

Shimon Peres on LeadershipLast month I was in Israel to celebrate the 25th anniversary of BBR Saatchi & Saatchi at the Peres Center for Peace. BBR has been on a tear in recent years, including a recent rebranding campaign for Kosovo entitled The Young Europeans. They’re also behind one of the most ambitious projects to come out of a creative organization: The Impossible Brief.

We launched the Impossible Brief this summer at the Cannes Lions Festival. The goal is to get creative thinkers around the world to contribute innovative ideas for how to bring about peace between Israel and Palestine. The project is based on the belief that creativity can be a powerful force for positive social change. And if any cause needs a jolt of creative thinking, it’s the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict.

Beyond a doubt the most memorable episode of the visit was my meeting with the President of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres. We discussed the future of the Jewish State, Israel’s image in the world, and the phenomenal innovation in the Israeli economy.

The highlight of the exchange was when we traded leadership philosophies. President Peres is a founding father of Israel, having held leadership positions in the Israeli military and government for nearly 60 years. Lucky for me, he obliged with his wisdom on leadership.

As soon as I got into the car after the meeting I took out my pen, here’s what I wrote:

  1. Leaders must not be afraid of being alone.
  2. They must have the courage to be afraid.
  3. A leader must decide. He should not agree or disagree. He says “yes” or “no.”
  4. A leader must pioneer, not rule.
  5. A leader is not on the top of his people but ahead of them in front.
  6. Leadership is extremely hard work.
  7. When you have a chosen a destiny . . . never give up.
  8. Leadership is based on a moral call.
  9. What is right today is different tomorrow.
  10. It’s not enough to be up to date; you have to be up tomorrow.
  11. To lead is to listen, to pay attention to every detail, to decide.
  12. Everything that once was controversial ultimately becomes popular.

These are the lessons of a lifetime of service. Tattoo the list to the backs of your eyelids.

Overall, the trip was a revelation. BBR Saatchi & Saatchi has reached No.2 in the Agency of the Year rankings in Israel, and throughout the agency and across the country I found energy and inspiration wherever I went. The nation is constantly in the grip of crisis and yet it continues to flourish, not least due to the moral leadership of President Peres. I’m looking forward to a trip back there soon.

Image Credit (Shimon Peres, Kevin Roberts handshake): Yossi Zamir

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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to To see this blog at its original source, please go to

Kevin Roberts




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