If I could pick just one leader, it would be Ted Turner.

And I explained why in a letter to his daughter on Tuesday.

As an executive recruiter since 1999, I have been operating in what I like to call The Leadership Business. The first step of any assignment is studying and understanding the executive role that’s needed, then determining the type of leadership required, followed by identifying “candidates” who exhibit that kind of leadership and finally—recruiting the best possible candidate for the role at hand.

When it comes to saving our ecosystem and our civilization, there is no better candidate on the planet than Ted Turner. And once he fully understands the magnitude of what’s at stake, he will know what to do. And I would cherish the opportunity to help him do it.

Maybe he would put me in charge of recruiting many more great leaders for his team.

What would happen if Ted Turner caught my vision?

What would happen if Ted Turner caught my vision?

Here’s my letter:

June 17, 2014

Dear Laura,

As you may know, I have begun focusing on the sustainability of our civilization. Central to all of my writing is the emphasis on the importance of having at least “one powerful leader with the resources of a few caring billionaires.” With that combination, I believe that almost anything can happen.

As Ted stated in the video of his talk with the Stanford MBA students, “We’ve got to start living in harmony with nature.” In my work, I have summarized the four “things” we must do in order to bring us back to “harmony” before it’s too late:

  1. Get overpopulation under control (one of Ted’s big topics)
  2. End the era of maximizing consumption in a finite world (Stephen Emmott)
  3. Switch our energy model to renewables (Bill McKibben)
  4. Change the way we eat. (Robert Goodland, Richard Oppenlander & J. Morris Hicks)
Jacques Cousteau and Ted Turner

Jacques Cousteau and Ted Turner

Without a doubt, we need to do all four. The bad news is that the first three will each take many decades, if not centuries to accomplish—and we don’t have that much time. Captain Cousteau told your father that many years ago, after concluding that humanity was doomed.

Ted disagreed and so do I—but for different reasons.

The good news is that changing the way we eat can happen very quickly. Any person who chooses to replace many (or all) of his/her meat, dairy, egg and fish (MDEF) calories with plant-based alternatives can make that change overnight. And if enough people make that change soon enough, we can buy us enough time to work on the other three. How so?

On average, MDEF calories require over ten times as much land, water and energy as do plant-based calories. The positive impact of a rapid shift in the direction of plant-based is staggering: reducing soil erosion and deforestation, slashing the #1 user of water, cutting out up to 30% of the world’s consumption of fossil fuels and greatly reducing the #1 cause of global warming. 

All we need is one powerful leader and a few caring billionaires. Like everything else, it all starts with leadership. Here is my short list of the five most influential leaders in the world—all of whom could make a huge difference if they “caught the vision.” In no particular order, here are my top 5:

  1. Pope Francis (there are 1.2 billion Catholics)
  2. Reverend Joel Osteen of Houston (the face of Christianity with a HUGE audience)
  3. Bill Gates (world’s wealthiest human and largest philanthropist)
  4. Barack Obama (president of the world’s most powerful country)
  5. Ted Turner (known around the world for his courage, integrity & generosity)
Did anyone say "Courageous?"

Did anyone say “Courageous?”

If I could choose just one leader from the above list, it would be Ted. I have concluded that your father has the best overall combination of the following attributes:

  • Courage
  • Integrity (driven to do “what’s right,” despite the consequences)
  • Influence
  • Recognition
  • Audacity (means extraordinary boldnesscourage or chutzpah. Wikipedia)

As of today, none of these five leaders have a complete “big picture” understanding of the dilemma in which we find ourselves. Some have more than others, but none understand the complete magnitude of what’s at stake. 

But, Ted, more than any of the other leaders, has that total “it” factor that will be needed to lead a HUGE campaign of influencing billions of people to change what they’re eating. And I believe that when he fully understands the complete magnitude of what’s at stake, that he will know the right thing to do. 

Ted even has a chain of restaurants that he could transform quickly -- Save the buffaloes -- Eat More Plants!

Ted even has a chain of restaurants that he could transform quickly — Save the buffaloes — Eat More Plants!

But what about his Montana Grill, you might ask? Like I said, once he understands the complete magnitude of what our food choices are doing to our ecosystem, he will know what to do with his Montana Grill. And knowing Ted, he will figure out a way to turn it into a positive and what a powerful PR event it will be when he does. I can just hear Charlie Rose talking about what the amazing Ted Turner has done to the menu at his Montana Grill.

I think it’s time for us to meet again. You name the date. Almost anytime in Atlanta or New York will work for me. Oh, by the way, as Winton Churchill advised, “I will never give up.”

Finally, please take two minutes to watch this latest trailer of Cowspiracy (provided below). Then watch it with you dad. I know some of the people behind the scenes and can arrange for Ted to meet them if he would like.

In the full length movie, Michael Pollan is asked why the big environmental groups  of the world are ignoring the #1 cause of most of our environmental problems? He responds, 

Well they probably focus-grouped it and concluded that it was a political loser to be identified as anti-meat and that, being membership organizations, it would hurt their fundraising. 

I can just imagine what Ted would say to all the CEOs of Sierra Club, Greenpeace, etc.—as they hide the brutal truth from the innocent public while paying themselves handsome salaries, drawn from public donations aimed at protecting our planet. I for one, would stand and cheer the man of great integrity—as he called them all out on international television.

After doing that, Ted may then schedule a one-on-one with each of the other four people on my list. Then he might want to meet with people like Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook, who I wrote about yesterday. Ted could make a HUGE difference in a very short period of time.

Be well, Jim — J. Morris Hicks

writer. speaker. activist. board member T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies


I write a great deal about leadership. What does “leadership” mean to you? What’s the difference between leaders and managers? This list may help you understand why the world needs genuine leaders like Ted Turner instead of career politicians like Al Gore.

  1. Managers concentrate on strategy — Leaders nurture culture
  2. Managers wield authority — Leaders apply influence
  3. Managers consider dangers — Leaders seek opportunity
  4. Managers seek markets — Leaders serve people
  5. Managers control people  – Leaders empower people
  6. Managers employ consistency — Leaders elicit creativity
  7. Managers see complexity — Leaders see simplicity
  8. Managers refine — Leaders revolutionize
  9. Managers are skeptical — Leaders are optimistic
  10. Managers perform duties — Leaders pursue dreams

The following five books and one DVD can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.

Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth

  1. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (our book)
  2. A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD 
  3. An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
  4. What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
  5. A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
  6. Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unawareby Richard Oppenlander.

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes 2 or 3 minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

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

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen. Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

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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5 Responses to If I could pick just one leader, it would be Ted Turner.

  1. Joanne Irwin says:

    How wonderful it would be if people would embrace a forgiving stance! Though many disagreed with Jane Fonda’s actions back in the 60’s, she made some cogent points. We all now know that Viet Nam was a huge mistake as was the Iraq War debacle. Jane Fonda is now making a positive difference in the world. No one is perfect – Ted, Bill, Jim, myself, you – but within each of us is a remnant of the Divine which can emerge at any time. We are all called to be co-Creators with the Divine, and right now, more than at any time in history, we need to start saving and recreating our planet for future generations. After reading about Ted Turner, I, too, believe that he’s someone who, with awakening, would take the bull by the horns and run with it. And that’s what’s needed.

    Jim, never stop knocking on doors. Never stop educating, speaking, writing. Hold on to that dream that you believe and conceive, and it will happen. Each of us who believes so passionately about WFPB lifestyle and its affects both on the individual and our planet, will be right there behind you – to support, cheer, and spread the word. It’s a time for hope. To sit back and say nothing will change is manifesting a doomsday scenario. That’s not what we need right now. We need faith, hope, and a lot of action.

  2. Sal Liggieri says:


    I still don’t understand this fix you have on some world leader saving the world. First off how many people know who Ted Turner is. Secondly, why would anyone listen to him. He obviously is not Vegan nor WFPB so why would he buy into your “Save the World” program?

    Who amongst the “Holy” men have spoken out against the brutality and murder of the animals they eat. NY Cardinal Dolan is obese, all the priests in my local parish are obese and they all eat the flesh. So where is the compassion that these men of the cloth supposedly have? Why, I would even bet that Clinton is no longer a Vegan as if he ever was. Why would anyone listen to him?

    Jim, we have talked about influence. In my limited way I have influenced no one in my family, and I’m talking about some very sick people. At family dinners they compliment me how well I look for my age (88) while they gorge themselves on the bounty of the SAD.

    If you can’t influence family, how can you get your next door obese neighbor(s) to change. All I ever hear is that it’s so difficult.

    So difficult.

    You and I will both soon be gone. and the beat will go on. The animals will still scream their agony and the broccoli will still be a side dish.

    No, my friend, I don’t ever see change coming. Eight, nine, ten billion people . . . we are deluding ourselves to think change can happen. Even if there is a God, even he/she could not influence change.

    Sal Liggieri

    • J. Morris Hicks says:

      Sal, Unlike you, I have probably already influenced thousands of people to eat more plants. I hear from them everyday–from all over the world. But people like me can’t make that much of a difference soon enough to get us back on the right track. That will take powerful leadership.

      Like him or not, Ted Turner is a powerful leader with courage, integrity and audacity. He just doesn’t yet fully understand what’s at stake here. I read his latest biography and have been studying him for the past few years. One he “gets it” regarding a topic, there’e no stopping him. My job is to do all that I can to help him “get it.”

      I met with his daughter, Laura Turner Seydel, when I was in Atlanta for the birth of my newest granddaughter in February. I gave her a copy of my book and Stephen Emmott’s book. She has since ordered copies of TEN BILLION for her closest friends and family. She has since told some of them that Jim Hicks is “making a difference.”

      Sal, my friend, I will continue to do what I am doing. Twofold: I try to spread the truth the best that I can AND I leverage my unique set of business skills to try and recruit and inspire that powerful, globally recognized leader who is so essential to bringing about enough change—soon enough to avert the disasters that Emmott covers in his book.

      What if all of that doesn’t work? Well, at least my grandchildren will be able to say,

      “GranBuddy knew what was happening way back in 2014, but couldn’t get enough powerful people to listen. They were all too concerned about money, while GranBuddy was concerned about us. He did the best he could.”

  3. With respect, two things about Mr. Turner…no, three. He was a great sailor, no question. But he called all Catholics “bozos”…not very nice. Then he married and divorced Jane Fonda, who has earned a place in history as one who supported an enemy of her country and betrayed US troops in captivity. Turner’s “God” may well be the environment and mother earth. Not all would agree with your assessment of him as the ultimate “leader”. Juan O’C

    • J. Morris Hicks says:

      Thanks Juan, glad to see you following my blog. You are right; Ted has flaws. He is a human. All humans have flaws. Bill Clinton comes to mind, yet he’s gone on to do some great good for the world. Ted could do the same; in fact, he might be the solo leader we need to lead the initiatives necessary to prevent the collapse of our civilization. What could be more important than that. Best, Jim ( See you at the Cannon Ball?)

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