Former Apple and PepsiCo CEO John Sculley Visits Fairfield University

John Sculley, former CEO of Apple Inc. and PepsiCo Inc., visited Fairfield University Wednesday to speak about the changing American economy and his impressive marketing career. Speaking to a full audience at the Quick Center, Sculley also advised the audience on what it takes to be successful in the business world.

Sculley was the definition of success as he described his own career at the beginning of his presentation.  He described a career that took him from PepsiCo, where he created the first 2 liter plastic soda bottle a full 2 years before Coca-Cola, to becoming the CEO of Apple. Sculley was also behind the successful “Take the Pepsi Challenge” ad campaign, which challenged consumers to blindly taste samples of Pepsi and Coke and pick which tasted the best. Sculley said the campaign played a significant role in spreading the popularity of the beverage.

Following his time at PepsiCo, Sculley worked closely with Steve Jobs as Apple CEO in the ad campaign for the first Macintosh computers. The ad they created was the famous Super Bowl ad of 1984, which was inspired by George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Sculley said that the ad was so different from any other ad that it ran once during the Super Bowl, yet it replayed continuously during regular programming thereafter, resulting in an estimated $45 million in free advertising for the product.

After discussing his own success, Sculley gave students 5 steps to becoming successful leaders in their own careers.

Curiosity is important, he said, as it can lead to finding new and better ways of doing something. And then, aspiring leaders must become passionate about changing the world.

“When I went to Silicon Valley in 1982, the idea of changing the world had never even crossed my mind,” he said. However, he explained that innovators in Silicon Valley “were talking passionately” about doing just that. “And they had the courage to make mistakes,” he said.

(From left to right) Senior and Marketing Club President Jerome Bivona, Former Apple and PepsiCo CEO John Sculley, and Senior and Vice President of the Marketing Club Christopher Merone after Sculley's presentation.

(From left to right) Senior and Marketing Club President Jerome Bivona, Former Apple and PepsiCo CEO John Sculley, and Senior and Vice President of the Marketing Club Christopher Merone after Sculley’s presentation.

Next, Sculley explained that it is essential to never give up, even after the worst of failures. Learning how to recover from the failures is one of the hardest things to do, he said.

He also told the audience that to be an effective leader, “Somebody has to be the decider. Somebody has to make the decisions,” no matter how difficult the decision is.

The last step to becoming a successful leader is to recruit exceptional people who share the same vision. Sculley said that in order to find exceptional workers, it is essential to “inspire people who are talented to be on your team,” he said.

Jerome Bivona (’14), the Fairfield University Marketing Club president and organizer of the event, said he thought Wednesday’s lecture was very successful.

“We had a great turnout,” of close to 700 people, he said. Bivona said Sculley’s advice on achieving success in the business world was very inspirational, “He was very invigorating, and he gave a lot of insight into the industry.”

Christopher Merone (’14), the Vice President of the Marketing Club and co-organizer of the event, echoed those feelings.

“He gave a lot of great advice to kids and adults who are trying to start their own businesses, as well as do well in the corporate world,” Merone said.

Sculley concluded his remarks by encouraging the audience to have faith in the future of the economy and the worldwide marketplace.“Feel good about the future,” he said. “You can play a big role, and some of you may even change the world.”

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