Setting a Gold Standard of Leadership: A Day in the Life of Dallas Fed CEO Rob Kaplan

Imagine determining the course of the American economy.

Twelve people in the United States actually have that job. They sit on the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee. Their votes affect hundreds of millions of people. And it’s just one of their many responsibilities.

Rob Kaplan is one of those twelve. How does he do it? He focuses on communication – no small task when you help lead one of the most tight-lipped institutions on the planet.

In this episode, Host Gautam Mukunda speaks with Rob Kaplan, the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, a giant institution responsible for everything from setting interest rates to keeping the economy growing at a steady pace to running a contest on economic analysis for high school students. Kaplan has a long and distinguished career in global finance, notably serving as the Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs. He is the author of several bestselling books, and served ten years as a professor at Harvard Business School.

“What do we do that’s distinctive at the Fed? . . . We’ve got to be a thought leader and we’ve got to understand economic conditions. We have to be a leading citizen in our communities, and we have to track, retain and develop superb people.”

Rob Kaplan Follow @GMukunda on Twitter or email us at

Books Referenced:

What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner, by Robert S. Kaplan

Guest Info:

Rob Kaplan has served as the 13th president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas since September 8, 2015. He represents the Eleventh Federal Reserve District on the Federal Open Market Committee in the formulation of U.S. monetary policy and oversees the 1,200 employees of the Dallas Fed.

Kaplan was previously the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice and a Senior Associate Dean at Harvard Business School. He is the author of several books, including What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner; What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential; and What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential. Prior to joining Harvard in 2006, Kaplan was vice chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. with global responsibility for the firm’s Investment Banking and Investment Management Divisions. He became a partner in 1990 and served as co-chairman of the firm’s Partnership Committee. He was also a member of the Management Committee.

Following his 23-year career at Goldman Sachs, Kaplan became a senior director of the firm. He serves as chairman of Project A.L.S. and co-chairman of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm that invests in developing non-profit enterprises dedicated to addressing social issues. He is also a board member of Harvard Medical School. Kaplan previously served on the boards of State Street Corporation, Harvard Management Company, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. He was also a trustee of the Ford Foundation, co-founding board chair of the TEAK Fellowship, co-founder and chairman of Indaba Capital Management, LP, and chairman of the Investment Advisory Committee at Google, Inc. Kaplan was appointed by the Governor of Kansas as a member of the Kansas Health Policy Authority Board. Born and raised in Prairie Village, Kansas, Kaplan received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.