Mike Milken
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Mike Milken
Key Topics:
  • Philanthropy
  • Education
  • Medical Research
  • Financial Innovation
  • International Business
  • Bio Info:

    Named one of the "75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century" by Esquire magazine, Mike Milken has long been a leader in finance, medical research and education. In each, he has been uniquely successful in creating value - whether measured in job creation, saved lives (Fortune magazine called him "The Man Who Changed Medicine") or inspired students. Between 1969 and 1989, he financed more than 3,200 companies creating millions of jobs and helping revolutionize capital markets. The Washington Post said he "helped create the conditions for America's explosion of wealth and creativity," a process Business Week said "shook America's defeatist Establishment out of its gloom." The NY Times said "Mr. Milken helped create a new generation of companies and an entirely new way to finance nascent ideas that have fueled the global economy." His philanthropy began in the 1970s and paralleled his business career. In 1982, he co-founded the Milken Family Foundation, whose support of innovations in education and medical research are legendary. Separately, Mike heads the Milken Institute, a leading economic think tank.
    He and his wife of more than four decades, Lori, have three children and four grandchildren.
    In a dynamic and remarkably uplifting multimedia presentation, Milken weaves together the "three great democratizations" of the 21st century: access to capital, to knowledge, and to health.

    Philanthropist and financier Mike Milken believes that expanding access to financial capital, education and the breakthroughs produced by medical research worldwide is the best way for nations, cities, companies and citizens to more fully reach their potential.

    Milken is best known for having revolutionized modern capital markets, making them more efficient, dynamic and democratic by innovating a wide range of financing techniques previously unavailable to most companies. This financed much of the early growth of cable television, homebuilding, cellular phones and other industries. But his philanthropic career, beginning in the 1970s, has paralleled his business accomplishments. These are not separate endeavors - Milken has always believed that the process of creating value is the same, whether that value is measured on a company's balance sheet, on a student's report card, or on a patient's clean bill of health. In all cases, the process involves empowering people in ways that expand human capital.

    In a 2004 speech, Sir Harold Evans, author of the book, They Made America, said "Michael Milken is a formidable innovator and we'll all be in his debt for a long time." Writing in The New York Times, author Charles Morris said that Milken "helped blow away a corporate old-boy network that had proved unable to cope with competitive challenges from Asia and Europe." Without this, says Morris, "it is hard to imagine how America could have become the lean, mean, competitive machine that dominated the industrial world of the 1990s." A Washington Post column said Milken "helped create the conditions for America's explosion of wealth and creativity" in the late 20th century, a process that Business Week said, "shook America's defeatist establishment out of its gloom." The London Sunday Times said, "The restructuring job started by Mike Milken has been completed by the globalisation of many markets."

    Starting in 1969, when he joined the firm that would become Drexel Burnham Lambert, Milken helped finance thousands of companies. By 1976, the financial theories he developed in the 1960s had been proven in the world's markets and now are considered mainstream. The Economist said his financial innovations "are credited with fueling much of America's rampant economic growth by enabling companies with bright ideas to get the money they need to develop them." His use of equity-based securities, bonds, and hybrids to build the right capital structure for his clients helped to create millions of jobs, leading a Time bureau chief to write, in 1997, "Milken was right in almost every sense." This view was echoed by a December 2001 article in The New Yorker, which concluded, "In the end, Milken was right." A Wall Street Journal editorial referred to "Mr. Milken's contribution to the explosive economic growth experienced by the U.S. in the past 20 years." Canada's Globe and Mail called it "one of the greatest achievements of modern capitalism."

    Since 1982, the Milken Family Foundation has worked closely with more than 1,000 organizations worldwide in supporting extensive programs in such areas as youth services, inner-cities solutions and medical research. Mike often relates the inspiring lessons he has learned through his efforts with the Milken National Educator Awards, the Foundation's most acclaimed program, which is now the largest teacher-recognition program in the U.S. His belief in education extends beyond teachers and the profession. The Milken Scholars program has assisted hundreds of extraordinary students who have overcome dramatic life challenges.

    Since his mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972, Milken's commitment to finding ways to accelerate medical solutions has been unwavering. His uncanny ability to bring diverse groups of researchers, government officials and business leaders together in collaboration has transcended any single disease, leading Fortune magazine to call him "The Man Who Changed Medicine".

    The Milken Institute, an economic think tank, help cities and regions develop stronger economic programs; and the Institute's annual Global Conference brings together 3,000 thought leaders from 60 nations to focus on solutions.

    Milken travels extensively to meet with world leaders in dozens of countries, giving him a unique perspective on the global competition for human capital. He passionately weaves together changing demographics and economics, accelerating technology and the need for expanded access to education and health resources into an inspiring vision of a more prosperous world for all people.

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