Chairman of the Board The Dow Chemical Company – Midland, Michigan
In 1967, after receiving his PhD in medicinal chemistry from the University of Washington, William Stavropoulos began his career with Dow Chemical in Indianapolis in pharmaceutical research. He served in a variety of research and business positions, and in 1987, after moving through a series of positions, became the group vice president for Dow U.S.A. Plastics and Hydrocarbons. In 1990, he was named president of Dow U.S.A. and was elected a vice president of The Dow Chemical Company. He was then elected a senior vice president of Dow in May 1991, and became chief operating officer in 1993. He was named chief executive officer 1995-2000 and 2002-2004, and has been a member of the Dow Board of Directors since July 1990. He is a director of BellSouth Corporation, Chemical Financial Corporation, Maersk Inc., and NCR. He is a trustee to the Fidelity Group of Funds. Stavropoulos also serves on the board of American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Through the years, Stavropoulos has received numerous honors including: one of the Best CEOs in America in the category of Chemicals/Commodity by the Institutional Investor Magazine, the 2003 Society of Plastic Engineers Annual Business Management Award, Société de Chimie Industrielle’s 2001 Palladium Medal Award, 2001 Chemical Industry Medal Award from Society of Chemical Industry, The Man of the Year Award from the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce in 2000, and the CEO of the Year Kavaler Award in 1999, an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Northwood University in 1998, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1998; The Man of the Year Award from the Hellenic American Bankers Association in 1997, and The Man of the Year Award from the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association in 1995. Bill and his wife Linda split their time between homes in Midland, Michigan, and Naples, Florida. They have two children, Bill and Angela, and love spending time with their six grandchildren.
Philosophy of Life
I believe that true happiness and success comes from a life full of emotional rewards that are connected to the love of family, human relationships, the respect of your community, the joy of service and a sense of accomplishment because of work well done.
Achieving such happiness requires a profound commitment to (1) a set of values and beliefs (2) to your family, (3) to your vocation or calling, and (4) to your community.
There are eleven life principles I believe will make the road to success easier to travel. Here they are:
You Matter. Do not underestimate yourself. You are the one who should define yourself, your abilities, and what you can accomplish. This is not the job of others. Do not let other people define you, limit you, and set the boundaries on what you are capable of doing. That is your job.
Build a brand and protect it. A person’s brand consists of the qualities for which they are known. We build our brand by what we do and say, how we say it, and how we perform. Endeavor to build a positive brand and keep it. Also remember, keep a sense of humor and do not take yourself too seriously.
Decisions have consequences. Wise decisions are made when you keep your priorities and beliefs front and center and when you consider both the long- and short-term consequences of your actions. Remember that you are accountable for the decisions you make, and you should be prepared to live with them. Do not make decisions based on immediate desires – what seems attractive at a given moment.
Humility is a virtue. Be humble enough to ask for help. Do not boost yourself through self-advertising. Your actions will do the talking for you, but be sure your accomplishments are perceived. Do not hide them under a basket. Never forget who you are. If you wind up on the top of the world, you are still you, and the way you are supposed to act does not change. Remember, too, that you are not better than anyone, and no one is better than you.
Nurture curiosity. Curiosity generates knowledge, and it makes you interesting because when you are curious, you learn. And because you are interested in and curious about things, you are interesting.
Have grit. Grit is worth thirty IQ points. Grit is working day in and day out for your future and sticking to it for a very long time despite obstacles and setbacks. It is getting up every time you get knocked down. Having watched my parents and many others, I have learned that failure is never a permanent condition unless you decide it is.
Show up. It has been said that 80 percent of success is showing up. Many times, that means going to an event or taking a meeting that on the surface appears to have dubious value. Let me add that if showing up is 80 percent of success, following up is the other 20 percent.
Take risks. Do this at two levels. At one level, get out of your comfort zone: Try new things, stretch yourself, and embrace change – have confidence that your ability and judgement will enable you to succeed when confronted with new challenges. On another level, be courageous: Stand up for what you believe is true and right though there are material and other inducements to act differently.
Be grateful. Have learned from my wife the great pleasure and happiness that comes from being grateful for what you have: for your family and friendships and for the life you have together. There is little to gain from dwelling upon what is missing in your life.
Love and cherish your family. Understand and respect each other, love each other, and take care of each other. When you start your own families, make the love you feel for them a central part of your life, and never turn away from it. Never be too busy to share yourself with the people you love.
Be honest. Tell the truth and be truthful with yourself. Face reality. However hard or complicated that reality might be, it is nothing compared with the difficulty you will face if you try to avoid facing it.
In the end, your experiences will truly be the greatest teacher, so I realize that my many observations may
not resonate strong with you. Learn from your mistakes; better yet, learn from the mistakes of others -so observe and learn.
All the Best,
CEO, Founder Great Lakes Loons