Paul O’Neill transformed Alcoa by changing one keystone habit, safety. Credit: CNN.
Here is how Paul O’Neill introduced himself to a crowd of Wall Street investors when he became the CEO & Chairman of Alcoa in 1987:1
“Today, I want to talk to you about worker safety… I intend to make Alcoa the safest company in America. I intend to go for 0 injuries,” he told the Manhattan ballroom.
– The Power of Habit
The investors were dumbfounded because he did not talk about profitability – only safety. A year later, Alcoa’s profits hit a record high. When O’Neill retired in 2000, Alcoa’s market capitalization had increased by $27B. Someone who invested $1M in Alcoa would have earned $1M in dividends, and the value of the shares would have been $5M when O’Neill left.2
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