When CVS went tobacco free they were chided by Wall Street and the media. How they could be so stupid as to give up a multi-billion dollar revenue line? But CVS knew something that Wall Street apparently didn’t – America had already given up tobacco usage! In November 1998 the four largest United States tobacco companies (Philip Morris Inc., R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard) settled in a landmark case. The settlement included a payment by the companies of $365.5 billion!
Ever since then America has been getting clean. That was 16 years before CVS went tobacco free. I guess it takes a long time to read the writing on the wall. Walgreen didn’t get it. K-mart didn’t get it. CVS got it. And their reward? Being mentioned by the President of the United States in his State of the Union – you don’t get better publicity than that. And that was only the beginning.
Then, of course, there was that little matter on finances. Bloomberg Business posted a year ago, ” CVS Health Corp., the largest provider of prescription drugs in the U.S., posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates as demand for medicine outweighed the drop in revenue from a decision to stop selling tobacco products…Sales rose 13 percent to $37.1 billion, the Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts had projected $36 billion…”
That’s what happens when you correctly forecast a major trend: you get credit, massive positive press and revenue to boot!
Last week I went to XPrize Foundation headquarters in Los Angeles to give a presentation on Grand Challenges and network on behalf of my CEO clients. (You will find my presentation here.)
There I met the team that has consistently pushed the boundary on what is possible in sectors from space to childhood education, from lunar rovers to adult literacy. Talk about an inspiring and energizing group!
We discussed strategy when it comes to inventing the future. They have a rigorous approach to defining impact, funding prizes, and supporting the teams that compete. They stay ahead of civilization, identifying the areas where, with added force and concentrated attention we can boldly go where no one has gone before, setting the bar of achievement to a new irreversible height.
Where is your boundary? Is there something you know you can do but have been putting off? This may be the week to make it happen once and for all!
– William Shakespeare