From Bison Burgers to Saving the Planet

Trailing in the bottom of the 7th inning—with Ted Turner

Entering Atlanta’s mega-airport yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m., I noticed a large poster image of Ted Turner gesturing with one hand and saying, “We’re this close to ending polio.” Then, while waiting for my flight back to Boston, I decided that it was time to write another blog post about Ted—and what better time than while spending a few hours in the place where I met him in person—the old Atlanta airport back in 1978.

Thirty-four years ago, he and I were walking down a lonely corridor to an Eastern Airlines flight when he jovially started talking to me. I was impressed that a man of his fame would be so warm and engaging to a total stranger. But this was no ordinary man. To refresh your memory, here’s what the polio poster had to say about him:

Known for his environmental activism and generous philanthropy, Turner created the United Nations Foundation in 1998 with his historic $1 billion gift in support of the United Nations. Since its creation, the United Nations Foundation has been a proud partner of Rotary International and an active participant in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

As stated above, Ted is well-known for environmental activism and philanthropy—exactly what we need to help fix our out-of-control global feeding model. He is also well-known as the former owner of the Atlanta Braves, the founder of  CNN, the creator of Ted’s Montana Grill and the skipper of the winning boat (Courageous) in the America’s Cup in 1977.

In the following 3-minute video, Ted talks about global warming and nuclear weapons with Charlie Rose in 2008. He said we’ve simply got to take care of business with both issues, and we can’t afford to have “dumb leadership.” He’s absolutely right—we must have strong leadership with vision and passion. Once Ted fully understands what our Western diet-style is contributing to many of our most serious problems, I am confident that he will “step up to the plate in the 7th inning” as he says in the video and that he is capable of providing that leadership, vision and passion that we need.

Once he learns the “big picture” truth about the global impact of what we’re eating, his current restaurant business will not deter him from doing the right thing.

Some of my friends (who know Ted) think that, because of his Montana Grill business, he would not be able to get behind a movement that was focused on the elimination of animal foods in our diet. I disagree.

Ted Turner has consistently demonstrated his passion for many years—when it comes to “causes” aimed at saving people and saving the planet. Once he “gets it” regarding the enormity of the problems driven by our diet-style, he will do what he needs to do.

Ted has always loved getting behind projects about which he is passionate. Imagine his passion for promoting whole foods, plant-based nutrition for the world once he realizes the staggering implications of a global shift to plant-based eating for humans. For example, the implications for:

  • Global Warming. The raising of livestock is the #1 driver of global warming. (See the 2006 U.N. Report, Livestock’s Long Shadow.
  • World Hunger. With plant-based foods, we can feed more than ten times as many people on the same amount of land.
  • Health Care. With plant-based foods, we can eliminate up to 80% of the cost of health care in the Western world—saving billions of lives in the process.
  • Pure and abundant Water. On a per calorie basis, producing meat and dairy foods requires more than ten times as much water as plant-based—AND is one of the leading polluters of our water supply.

Once Ted fully understands all of the above—and more; I am confident that he will agree with my final statement in the Introduction to our book:

Despite the incredible complexity of our current dilemma, the solution is refreshingly simple. All we have to do is educate ourselves, start making better choices about what we eat, and then share all that we have learned with everyone we care about. I am convinced that there has never been anything more important in the history of the world.

“Chase perfection. Settle for excellence along the way.” —Vince Lombardi, “What It Takes to Be #1”

Global warming and the energy solution with Charlie Rose

In this 3-minute video, Ted starts out talking briefly about the credit crisis, but shifts quickly into a passionate discussion of how we can solve the global warming with renewable sources of energy—and make money at the same time. Asked if we will get it done, Ted says that we must—for the children of the world. Vision, passion and leadership…

On Tuesday night, I dined with two friends who know Ted well and they shared a few factoids that are not well-known. One in particular resonated with me. They told me about how his vast network of employees feel about him.

We dined at the Ansley Golf Club last night, in the neighborhood of Atlanta where I founded my executive search firm, The Ansley Consulting Group.

It can be summed up thusly: total admiration, complete respect, and fierce loyalty. And I have no doubt that all those people would follow him if he turned most of his attention toward solving the many global issues mentioned above.

The Bottom Line. Ted is right, we’re in the bottom of the 7th inning, trailing by one run and it’s time to get serious about winning. And he’s right about the dumb leadership that will not get the job done. I started blogging about Ted’s leadership and passion back in August. Here are three more posts that feature him prominently:

“One Term President” — just might be the answer (posted 8-21-11)

LEADERSHIP. Grassroots revolution or one-term president? (posted 8-22-11)

“Thinking different” and changing the world…(posted 10-28-11) Did you know that Ted Turner was one of the people featured in Steve Jobs’ “Crazy Ones” commercial with the famous line:

“People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world—are the ones who do.”

One more thing—take just two minutes and hear what Mr. Turner has to say about honor and integrity.


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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, Board of Directors…

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to From Bison Burgers to Saving the Planet

  1. Chris H. says:

    Jim, I had a meeting with Ted last year and I would have to say good luck with Ted switching to a plant based diet or even him strongly promoting it. His priorities are the ones he deems the big three: Ridding the world of Nuclear Weapons, changing over the energy system renewable energy, and stabilizing the overpopulation issue. He loves his Bison, says they are healthy to eat, and the best thing for the Bison population is for people to eat Bison! He knows that most of the plant food we eat are covered in pesticides, yet his restaurants offers no organic options. He also knows he could use his restaurant to get his messages out, but he doesn’t. He wants to see his restaurants succeed at almost all cost it would seem. He also knows his restaurants would fail if he offered all organic food at the higher prices that would be necessary for profitability. He wants to make more money so he can focus on his top three. He is in the last inning of his life. He told me himself, he is tired and winding down, with all of his resources committed to his personal objectives. I love the man, but he is fixed in his opinion of what is top priority and he makes strong points.

    • jmorrishicks says:


      Thank you for your comments about Ted. Unfortunately, you’re probably right. But, if he were to get inspired on this topic, you and I both know that he could bring a lot to the party.

      I have met Ted once but don’t know him—but have a few close friends who know him real well. One is related to his daughter Laura. If Ted is not the leader we need, then it will be someone else. The change is inevitable in the long run, and the sooner we get started, the more manageable and civil the process will be. Best, Jim

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