Today’s Top 10 Biggest Companies


All of the world’s 10 biggest companies as measured by market capitalization are American. While these companies have their roots in the U.S. and are the embodiment of “all-American” qualities such as innovation and industry, their reach is worldwide and their marketplace global.

The disproportionate number of American companies in the ranks of global titans now can be attributed to a confluence of favorable factors in recent years.

Here are the world’s top 10 companies (the markets caps are as of Nov. 17 and are based on Google Finance):

  1. Apple (AAPL) – Market cap $634 billion. The world’s most valuable company continues to reap billions by selling millions of iPhones, iPads and other coveted gadgets.
  2. Alphabet (GOOGL) – Market cap $505 billion. New holding company Alphabet was created in August to separate Google’s main businesses such as search and advertising from a plethora of new projects that are riskier long shots. Those include such ventures as Life Sciences (whose projects include a glucose-sensing contact lens), Calico (focused on longevity), driverless cars and secretive lab Google X, plus investing units Google Capital and Google Ventures.
  3. Microsoft (MSFT) – Market cap $428 billion. Microsoft was the world’s biggest company at the turn of the millennium and continues to be a steady presence in the ranks of the giants.
  4. Exxon Mobil (XOM) – Market cap $334 billion. Exxon Mobil was the world’s largest company in October 2007, with a market cap of $510 billion, but a 30% decline since then has pushed it down to the No. 4 spot among the mega-caps.
  5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) – Market cap $328 billion. Warren Buffett’s holding company reported record net income of $9.43 billion in the third quarter, driven by a one-time investment gain in Kraft Heinz (HNC). Berkshire Hathaway became the largest shareholder in Kraft Heinz after Buffett helped finance the merger that created it.
  6. Amazon (AMZN) – Market cap $301 billion. Amazon’s shares reached a record high this month as the stock surged 112.5% for the year, the best performance of the top 10 mega-caps. The stock has had a meteoric rise in the current bull market, having surged more than six-fold since 2009.
  7. General Electric (GE) – Market cap $308 billion. GE reached a seven-year high in November after reporting third-quarter results that beat expectations. The company is returning to its manufacturing roots and moving away from its financing activities, by selling $200 billion in assets from its GE Capital division and completing the split-off of its consumer-finance business Synchrony Financial. Although GE was among the world’s biggest companies during previous bull cycles that peaked in the years 2000 and 2007, the stock now trades at less than half of its all-time high reached in August 2000.
  8. Facebook (FB) – Market cap $293 billion. Facebook has the distinction of becoming the fastest company to reach $250 billion in market cap, having done so in about three and a half years since its initial public offering in May 2012.
  9. Wells Fargo (WFC) – Market cap $281 billion. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo became the largest U.S. mortgage lender with its 2008 acquisition of Wachovia Corp in a $15 billion stock transaction. Wells Fargo traded at a record high in July, but has since retreated 5%.
  10. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) – Market cap $280 billion. J&J, the only health-care company in the top 10, reached a record high in November 2014, but has since pulled back about 7%.  J&J is one of only three U.S. industrial issuers that have a AAA rating from credit-rating firms Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Why the Top 10 Are All American

The U.S. accounts for a disproportionate percentage of the world’s largest companies for possibly three reasons:

(a) the relative out-performance of U.S. equities in this bull market: Since March 2009, U.S. equity indexes have outperformed their global peers by a wide margin. The S&P 500 has gained 210% (from March 9, 2009 to Nov. 6, 2015), while the Dow Jones industrial average has advanced 173%. But even these impressive performances pale in comparison to the Nasdaq Composite’s 305% surge over this period, which is the biggest reason technology titans comprise half of the top 10 list.

(b) the strength of the U.S. dollar: Since the beginning of 2014, the dollar has gained against all 16 major currencies, and has advanced almost 22% versus the euro and 14% against the Japanese yen.

(c) the premium valuations accorded to U.S. mega-caps:  That means that a dollar of net income will probably fetch a higher market value for a U.S. mega-cap, compared with a European or Asian company.

The Bottom Line

The five biggest technology companies in the world are American. So are the world’s biggest bank, diversified conglomerate, energy company, health care product manufacturer and industrial firm. History shows that such dominance in the ranks of global titans does not last forever.


Read more: Why All of the World’s Top 10 Companies Are American



10 Habits of Successful People

While attending the International Leadership Association Conference in Barcelona this year; one question kept coming up for me. What makes a person successful? Aside from the random element of luck, much of what makes some people successful involves the cultivating of certain habits. Learning what these habits are and how to employ them in your own life could be a worthwhile exercise.

Upon returning home, I surveyed the research and reflected on my observations at the conference. To that end, here are 10 of the most often cited habits of successful people.

1. Organization

One of the most frequently mentioned habits of those who are successful in life is organization. Organization includes planning as well as setting priorities and goals.

Joel Brown, founder of, calls for a prioritized “To-Do List” every evening before going to bed to prepare for the next day.

According to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Sunday is an important day for organization and a time to “get ready for the rest of the week.”

2. Relaxation

It’s interesting to note that relaxing – by meditating or simply avoiding distractions – is another one of the most-often mentioned habits of successful people.

Of course, relaxation comes more easily to those who are organized, so perhaps for some it is more of a natural byproduct than a conscious decision.

It may also be that the act of “taking a breath” is the successful person’s way of preparing for the effort yet to come. In fact, one of the first steps toward achieving a meditative or relaxed state is to concentrate on your own breathing for three to five minutes.

3. Taking Action

Third on the list of habits of successful people is the inevitable “action” habit. It is important to organize, to plan and to set priorities, but without action, a plan is nothing more than potential.

Successful people act – quickly and often. In addition, although it may sound counter intuitive, according to James Clear, they act (start, anyway) before they feel ready.

According to James Clear, while others come up with reasons not to act, successful people take that all-important first step – even if it seems outlandish.

4. Personal Care

Personal care with regard to diet, exercise and hygiene comes next on the list of habits of those who are successful.

For some, personal care involves a complex regimen and a highly disciplined lifestyle. For others, not so much. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, (see Is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Economically Feasible?) put it succinctly when asked what daily habit has had the largest positive impact on his life. In a tweet, Musk said simply, “Showering.”

5. Positive Attitude

According to many successful people, having a positive attitude is not just a result of being successful – it’s one of the root causes of success.

Joel Brown refers to gratitude and positive self-talk as priorities in the lives of the ultra successful. Moreover, Brown says, it’s not enough to express gratitude and a positive attitude. You must also remind yourself why you are grateful in order to achieve a deeper effect.


6. Networking

Successful people know the value of exchanging ideas with others through networking. They also know the value of collaboration and teamwork – all of which are likely when you network.

According to author Thomas Corley, successful people know the importance of surrounding themselves with other successful people. Corley says 79% of wealthy (successful) people spend at least five hours a month networking. By contrast, only 16% of poor (unsuccessful) people network on a consistent basis. For more, see 10 Tips for Strategic Networking.

7. Frugality

Frugal is not the same as stingy. Frugality is a habit of being thrifty, with money and resources. It is also a habit of being economical. Learning to be economical comes through avoiding waste, which automatically results in efficiency.

Corley notes that wealthy, successful people avoid overspending. Instead they comparison-shop and negotiate. The result, according to Corley, is financial success through the simple act of saving more money than they spend.

8. Rising Early

The more time one can devote to being successful, the more likely success will result. Successful people are accustomed to rising early, and that habit appears repeatedly among those who do well in life.

While the “Early Riser’s Club” has a huge membership among successful people, a few notable members include Sir Richard Branson (see How did Richard Branson make his fortune?) of Virgin Group, Disney CEO Robert Iger and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

9. Sharing

Whether through donating to charity or the sharing of ideas, successful people have a habit of giving. They know the value of sharing and most believe their success should result in something more than the accumulation of wealth for themselves.

Some of the most well-known successful philanthropists include Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg.

As Keep Inspiring Me points out, however, lack of wealth does not need to be a factor when it comes to sharing. Volunteering in your community or at a local school does not cost anything but could provide help where it is needed most (see Retirement Tips: Choose The Best Charity Annuity).

10. Reading

It’s important to note that successful people read. While they also read for pleasure, most use their reading habit as a means to gain knowledge or insight.

For anyone who needs inspiration about the value and importance of reading, look no further than the example of billionaire author, J.K. Rowling, who says she read “anything” as a child, and who advises, “Read as much as you possibly can. Nothing will help you as much as reading.”

The Bottom Line

Most people have habits – some are positive, some are not. Successful people tend to have more of the kinds of habits that contribute to their success.

The good news, for those who wish to be successful, is that cultivating positive habits takes no more effort than developing bad ones.

Some of the best habits of successful people involve only conscious effort – i.e., getting up early every day. Others, such as becoming organized, may take a little more skill and practice but ultimately result in the most desired outcome of all – success.




Holiday Rush: Why your package may not make it to you as planned


With the rush of the holidays and our busy schedules, many of us order gifts online instead of going to a store. I would also venture to say that most of us expect them to be delivered as specified on the confirmed delivery date! During the holidays however, things may not go as expected. After a recent experience at UPS, where my package is somewhere in the Los Angeles facility, I decided it was critical to highlight the impact temporary employees can have on an organization’s effectiveness.  I have presented two possible explanations as to why your package may not make it to you in time for the holidays.

Lack of Organizational Commitment

Temporary workers do not have the same sense of commitment as permanent employees, and rightly so. Although managers cannot control the external economy, they can do several things to motivate employees to want to stay with the company – that is, to enhance effective commitment. Here are three methods from the leadership literature to develop organizational commitment:

  1. Enrich jobs: People tend to be highly committed to their organizations if once trained they are given autonomy in their job tasks and recognized for making important contributions (Greenberg, 2005). Both temporary and permanent employees should be about to feel like they have the autonomy to handle tasks. Lastly, recognition is important especially for temporary employees because it helps to integrate them in the culture of the organization, even if it is only for seasonal employment.
  2. Align the interests of the company with those of the employees: Employees, including temporary ones, are more likely to show higher commitment to their organization when they see that improving the company benefits their own situations as well (Greenberg, 2005).
  3. Recruit and select new employees whose values closely match those of the organization: Recruiting new employees is important not only because it allows the organizations to accommodate seasonal demands; it also provides an opportunity to find people whose values match those of the organization (Greenberg, 2005).

Inadequate Employee Training

To be effective, temporary employees must have the right blend of skills needed to for their team to be successful and this can be accomplished through the systematic acquisition and improvement of the skills and abilities needed to improve their job performance – that is, training (Greenberg, 2005). It was brought to my attention while at UPS that some of the temporary employees were still trying to get the hang of their job, which indicates that they may not have received enough orientation training.

  1. Participation: People not only learn more quickly but also retain skills longer when they have actively participated in the learning process. This applies to the learning of both motor tasks as well as cognitive skills.
  2. Repetition: If you know the old adage “practice make perfect,” you are already aware of the benefits of repetition on learning. Scientists have not only established the benefits of repetition on learning but also have shown that they effects are even greater when practice is spread out over time rather than lumped together. After all, when practice periods are too long learning can suffer from fatigue, whereas learning a little bit at a time allows the material to sink in most effectively.
  3. Transfer of training: As you might imagine, for training to be most effective what is learned during training must be applied to the job. In general, the more closely a training program matches the demands of a job, the more effective the training will be.
  4. Feedback: It is extremely difficult for learning to occur in the absence of feedback. Feedback allows employees to correct problems and improve performance with guidance (Greenberg, 2005; Ilgen & Moore, 1987)


Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Ilgen, D.R. & Moore, C.F. (1987). Types and choices of performance feedback. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 401-406.




Globalization: Leadership in our global world


In celebration of Leadership Archways’ six month anniversary and new level of international readership I felt it necessary to address the topic of leadership in our global society. Below is a graphic that I would like to share, it displays the current readership by country, reaching over 30 countries in the past six months. It is with this in mind, that I have been reflecting on the importance of globalization and it’s impact on how we lead in today’s society. In this post I address two questions: How is effective leadership measured in other cultures and what are universally effective and un-effective leadership traits?

Globalization of leadership picture

How is effective leadership measured in other cultures?

As firms reach across borders and world continues to evolve into a global society; a global-leadership capacity is surfacing more and more often as a binding constraint. According to one survey of senior executives, 76 % believe their organizations need to develop global-leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent think they are currently doing so very effectively (McKinsey, 2014). And some 30 % of US companies admit that they have failed to exploit fully their international business opportunities because of insufficient internationally competent personnel (McKinsey, 2014).

Most of the prevailing ideas in business and academia about global leadership reflect efforts by leadership experts to adapt the insights of their field to the global arena (McKinsey, 2014). With these statistics in mind, leadership literature has come up with some dimensions on which to measure culture (Hofstede, 1980; Inglehart; 1997).

  • Assertiveness: The degree to which individuals are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in their relationships with
  • Collectivistic I (Institutational): The degree to which organizational and societal institutional practices encourage and reward collective
    distribution of resources and collective action.
  • Collectivistic II (In-group): The degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in their organizations or families.
  • Future orientation: The extent to which individuals engage in future-oriented behaviors such as delaying gratification, planning, and
    investing in the future.
  • Gender egalitarian: The degree to which a collective minimizes gender inequality.
  • Humane orientation: The degree to which a collective encourages and rewards individuals for being fair, altruistic, generous, caring, and
    kind to others.
  • Performance orientation: The degree to which a collective encourages and rewards group members for performance improvement and
  • Power distance: The degree to which members of a collective expect power to be distributed equally.
  • Uncertainty avoidance: The extent to which a society, organization, or group relies on social norms, rules, and procedures to alleviate
    unpredictability of future events.

From these dimensions, how a country generally functions can be determined. I have given two examples of profiles below. If you would like further information please contact me. I plan to do a more extensive post on this topic in the near future.

Desired leadership strategy in an Anglo-American region: United States and Canada (Bligh, 2009).

  • Charismatic/value-based leadership (high)
  • Participative leadership (high)
  • Humane-oriented leadership (high)
  • Team-oriented leadership (mod)
  • Autonomous leadership (mod)
  • Self-protected leadership (low)

Desired leadership philosophy in the region of Confucian Asia:  East Asian cultural sphere are China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam. Mongolia, Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Central Asia are sometimes included because of certain ratio of Chinese immigrants (Bligh, 2009).

  • Self-protected leadership (high)
  • Team-oriented leadership (high)
  • Humane-oriented leadership (mod)
  • Charismatic/value-based leadership (mod)
  • Autonomous leadership (mod)
  • Participative leadership (low)


Please be aware that these are norms and they do not exemplify everyone’s desired leadership values. It is important to be aware of our stereotyping.

What are universally effective and ineffective leadership traits?

Although opposite parts of the world have been identified to thrive under different types of leadership, there are some traits that are universally desirable. Looking at the leadership literature I would like to list 10 universally accepted leadership traits (Bligh, 2009).

  1. Honest
  2. Team builder
  3. Confidence builder
  4. Resilient
  5. Emotional Intelligence
  6. Develops followers
  7. Foresight
  8. Intelligence
  9. Just
  10. Decisive

Looking at the leadership literature I would like to also list 5 universally ineffective leadership traits (Bligh, 2009).

  1. Irritable
  2. Ruthless
  3. Dictatorial
  4. Non-cooperative
  5. Egocentric


Bligh, M. (2009). Lecture notes from Leadership, Spring 2009. For more information please contact

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture and organizations. International Studies of Management & Organization, 15-41.


Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and postmodernization: Cultural, economic, and political change in 43 societies (Vol. 19). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

McKinsey. (2014). Developing global leaders. Retrieved 10/06/2014