The 10 Minute Mentor

Activist Shareholders and the CEO: Disruption in the Boardroom

March 13, 2017

The 10 Minute Mentor Podcast
Our ongoing series on leadership in the age of disruption.

Episode 4: Activist Shareholders and the CEO: Disruption in the Boardroom

Guest: Dave Goebel, former President & CEO, Applebee’s International
Host: David Reimer, CEO, Merryck & Co Americas



As the former CEO of Applebee’s International, Dave Goebel remarks on his experience and lessons learned in dealing with an activist shareholder, whom ultimately landed representation on the board, amidst disruption in the casual-dining restaurant. 

How can a leader detect future disruption from shareholders? Are there patterns of disruption across industries that attract activists of which CEOs should recognize? How do CEOs delineate between noise in the system and significant disruption from an activist?

Can a CEO recognize a shareholder’s perspective from his/her position? Once you have an activist, how does a CEO work through the decision on what course of action to take in dealing with this disruption?

Dave’s conversation with host, David Reimer provides insights for a CEO as he/she navigates the disruption of dealing with an activist shareholder. While it is key for leaders to remain optimistic and open-minded to the positions and views of shareholders, it is also important to prevent yourself from becoming an easy target.

Key Takeaways:

5:48— I think I bring a much more proactive attitude to looking at the environment, benchmarking in the industry, listening to trends and reading the best of the best there is in terms of where any of those spaces are headed and what the headwinds and challenges may be. And then constantly asking the board and the leadership team to come forward with that exact question. "If we were our own activist, what might we be paying more attention to with a greater sense of urgency?"

7:33— Once you’ve got an activist there are some fundamental behaviors that can’t be ignored and when they’re around be a good listener, be respectful, don’t be afraid to share a little tough love to be sure your point of view is heard well.

10.44 — It’s often very, very helpful at times just to stand above the fray and try to stand in the shoes of the activist shareholder and ask the questions that an activist shareholder may be asking and be proactive, stay out in front of the curve. Activists are attracted to easy targets. Be thoughtful, be proactive, and try not to put yourself in the position of being an easy target.

Click here to download the full transcript.

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