Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change by Marc Benioff (Book Review)

As a fellow alumni of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Young Global Leaders (YGL) community alongside Marc Benioff, I have had the privilege of witnessing his journey and evolving philosophy first-hand. The release of Marc’s book, “Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change,” has been a cause for excitement and anticipation in my circles. After a close reading, I am delighted to share my thoughts on this enlightening narrative that delves deep into the intersection of business, technology, and societal impact.

Marc’s personal journey, from his early days as a trailblazing entrepreneur to his current role as the CEO of Salesforce, is fascinating. The narrative, rich with insightful anecdotes, experiences, and lessons learned, mirrors the adventurous spirit of Marc that I’ve come to know through our shared WEF experiences. His accounts of resilience in the face of adversity – the $10 million investment blunder, the aftermath of the dot-com crash – are a testament to his tenacity and commitment to learning from failures.

The book opens with a crucial insight that sets the tone for the rest of the narrative. Marc posits that every company possesses a culture, and if this culture is not intentionally defined, it will inevitably define the company itself. This reflects Marc’s philosophy of mindful leadership and deliberate cultivation of values within an organization. It is a philosophy I’ve seen him embody throughout our time in the YGL alumni community.

Marc’s book stands as a living chronicle of Salesforce’s evolution. His retelling of key strategic decisions, such as the acquisitions of Demandware and Tableau, gives us a rare look into the thought process behind these moves, offering entrepreneurs valuable insights into strategic expansion while staying true to the company’s core.

The book’s heart is Marc’s steadfast focus on values and vision. I was particularly moved by his portrayal of Salesforce’s core values – equality, trust, customer success, and innovation. These principles resonate with my own belief in the importance of ethical leadership. Marc’s discussion on the “1-1-1 model,” committing resources to communities, underlines his conviction that businesses should play an active role in societal upliftment.

One of the most notable aspects of Marc’s leadership, which I have personally witnessed in the WEF community, is his commitment to using business as a “platform for change.” He has leveraged Salesforce’s platform to advocate for causes such as data privacy, artificial intelligence, LGBTQ rights, pay equity, environmental preservation, and inclusive capitalism. His vision is especially evident in his contributions to the World Economic Forum. Marc’s work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Council has been instrumental in establishing guidelines for AI governance. His steadfast belief in a values-led approach in this area aligns with the Forum’s mission of improving the state of the world, and has inspired many of his colleagues, including myself.

Marc’s book, “Trailblazer,” offers a comprehensive narrative of vision, values, and the transformative power of technology. It stands as an enlightening guide and a source of inspiration, painting a vivid picture of what can be achieved when companies place equal emphasis on business success and societal impact. “Trailblazer” goes beyond the conventional business literature to showcase the potential of business as a platform for change. In an era marked by swift technological advancements and societal shifts, Marc’s book provides a roadmap for leaders navigating this dynamic landscape, and demonstrates that success and social responsibility can indeed go hand in hand.

My admiration for Marc as a visionary leader and social advocate has only increased after reading “Trailblazer.” His narrative exemplifies the best of what we, as business leaders, can aspire to – a melding of commercial success with positive societal impact. Marc’s book is not just an account of Salesforce’s journey; it is a beacon for the leaders of tomorrow.

With Marc in San Francisco in October 2018
With Marc in NYC in December 2018
With Marc in Davos, Switzerland in January 2019
With Marc in NYC in April 2019
With Marc in NYC in June 2019
With Marc in NYC in December 2019
With Marc in NYC in June 2022
With Marc in NYC in December 2022
Marc and I are early investors in AI pioneers Richard Socher and Bryan McCann‘s startup


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