McDonald’s COO Gives Three Keys to Career Success

Don Thompson tells how to get ahead in corporate America

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When Don Thompson, President and COO of McDonald’s USA, received his achievement award from the Executive Leadership Council last night, the pre-eminent organization of the nation’s most powerful black executives, he asserted that the reason he got his post wasn’t “because I’m African American. I am the best person for the job.” He wasn’t being cocky. The 2007 BLACK ENTERPRISE Corporate Executive of the Year was sending young black professionals and corporate America a powerful message: “You’re prepared, you’re capable, and you’re ready to lead.”

In an exclusive interview with, Thompson discussed–among a range of issues–the value of diverse talent. He should know: 5o% of the McDonald’s management team is comprised of women and minorities. For young professionals, he shared the “sweet spots” to explore and “land mines” to avoid as they navigate today’s corporate environment.

  • What about an all white website? Or the United Caucasian College Fund exclusively for underprivileged white kids. Would that be racist? Do we, in the year 2010 still need to be setting ourselves apart from every other race on earth to gain the upper hand? I think not. In this hyper sensitive politically correct world we live in, I firmly believe as a struggling black machinist that Dr. Martin Luther King would vomit. I mean, where does it stop? When will we simply teach our children that with a college degree and hard work, we as blacks no longer need any special treatment, websites, or otherwise. If Chinese people did it, encroached upon what we as blacks have “all sewn up” or “cornered” the special peoples arena, would we see them as special? Or would they be “muscling in on our “Special Status” we so enjoy. We are not special, we are black. Racism will never end until we end it. Yes us, the entire black population. It seems that we are the only ones left that “see color”.