The Second Half

For “The Second Half,” Mitch Barns draws from his learning and experience from his career’s first half, living and working in a variety of business leadership roles in the USA, Europe, and Asia. For 5 years, Mitch was the CEO of Nielsen, a global data and analytics company operating in 100+ countries with over $6 billion in annual revenues. He currently serves as an advisor, board member, and contributor to a variety of businesses and organizations. A native of Cincinnati and a graduate of Miami University in Ohio, he and his wife now live in the Greater New York City area.


The day before I had flown from Brussels, connecting through Newark, on to Cincinnati for a meeting the next day. My morning was free, so I went to get a haircut. The TV was on and suddenly there was breaking news. It broke our hearts and changed our lives. It was September 11. In theContinue reading “Resilience”

3 Things I Learned as CEO

Recently, I was interviewed by Business Day, a leading publication in Nigeria, when I was in Lagos to speak at the West Africa Business Leaders Summit. The full article (no paywall) can be found here. An excerpt is below. They asked me the following question: “As a former CEO of a multinational organisation with operationsContinue reading “3 Things I Learned as CEO”

Leadership Paradoxes: Clear, Consistent, Steadfast AND Open, Ready to Change

Recently, Business Day, a leading publication in Nigeria, interviewed me when I was in Lagos to speak at the West Africa Business Leaders Summit. The full article (no paywall) can be found here. An excerpt is below. Business Day: “What one piece of advice would you offer individuals in critical leadership positions of businesses inContinue reading “Leadership Paradoxes: Clear, Consistent, Steadfast AND Open, Ready to Change”


When a large group of business leaders shows up on a Friday evening (without drinks being served), highly engaged and ready to invest in their growth as leaders, it’s inspiring. That’s exactly what happened recently in Romania’s city of Cluj-Napoca. It is a city to invest in, with its large and growing IT sector, excellentContinue reading “Romania”

Despite, not Because

Our circumstances often make progress and success difficult. If we fall short, the temptation is to point to our circumstances as reasons why (“We fell short because…”). But good leadership is about “despite”, not “because”.   The reality is that bad things happen. Even if the bad things are unknown when we begin the effort, weContinue reading “Despite, not Because”

The Value of Diversity to an Organization’s Results

Diversity is crucial to an organization’s growth, strength, and ability to innovate. There are other very good arguments for diversity (social justice, for instance), too, but let’s focus for the moment just on business outcomes. Diverse teams and organizations outperform teams with less diversity.  During my time as the CEO of Nielsen, we set outContinue reading “The Value of Diversity to an Organization’s Results”


More than 500 years ago, in the year 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote this in the classic book called The Prince: “And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction ofContinue reading “Innovation”

Keys to Career Success

Several years ago, I spoke at the Wharton Asia Business Conference, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. One of the other speakers was Donald Tang, who was, among many other things, the former Chairman & CEO of Bear Stearns Asia. After each speaker’s talk, there was a Q&A session. At the endContinue reading “Keys to Career Success”

What Governs?

Every well-run business or team requires governance.  Governance comes in two main forms:  formal controls and social norms.  If a business is well-governed, then some combination of these two will provide the governance required.  Let’s take a look at each. Formal controls:  These are the rules, policies, and procedures established to ensure control and order. TheseContinue reading “What Governs?”

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