Dan Schulman of PayPal on Guns, Cash and Getting Punched

Here is David Gelles’ profile of Dan Schulman for The New York Times. To read the complete article and check out other resources, please click here.

Credit: Mike Cohen for The New York Times

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A New Jersey native whose mother took him to civil rights marches says companies and chief executives “have a moral obligation to try to be a force for good.” Dan Schulman worked for AT&T, Priceline, Virgin Mobile USA, Sprint and American Express before joining PayPal as its chief executive in 2014.

Dan Schulman, the chief executive of PayPal, knows how to fight.

He climbed to a senior executive role at AT&T before he was 40, jumped ship to work at Priceline when the travel website was still a start-up, then took Virgin Mobile USA from an idea to a business with five million subscribers.

After stops at Sprint and American Express, Mr. Schulman joined PayPal in 2014, overseeing its split from eBay the next year. Since then, PayPal’s stock has more than doubled, quieting doubters who wondered if the online payments company would be a sustainable business over the long term.

He is also a regular practitioner of Krav Maga, the martial art system practiced by the Israeli military, and has the scars to prove it

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in New Jersey, first Newark and then New Brunswick. We lived in a fully integrated neighborhood. My mom was an activist. She pushed me in a baby carriage at a Martin Luther King Jr. rally. She marched in the civil rights marches, not just in the North but in the South as well. It takes courage to go and do that.

You started working for AT&T right out of school and wound up staying there for 18 years. What did you learn during that time?

Early on in my career I had a family tragedy where my sister died, and I was leading a team at the time. That was a devastating time for me and my family. I had to take time off. I came back several months later and the team had just gelled together to say, “We’re going to cover for Dan. We’re going to do everything.” And when I was presenting to the AT&T board about the accomplishments of this team, I couldn’t take any credit because I deserved no credit.

This idea of the power of giving credit to others — as opposed to your own individual accomplishment — has shaped my entire career. Most people don’t really think about that. They mostly think, “Look at me.” But really if you say, “Look at what others are accomplishing,” it’s so much more powerful in terms of your ability to attract the best people, to get things done.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

David Gelles writes the Corner Office column and other features for The New York Times’s Sunday Business section, and works with the Well team to expand The Times‘s coverage of meditation.

To learn more about him and his work, please click here.


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