Mikemilken.com » Biography
Named one of the '75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century' by Esquire magazine, Michael Milken is beginning his fifth decade of driving social change with a consistent focus on disrupting - and improving - the status quo. He is recognized as an innovator in access to capital, medical research, education and public health. It was in 1972, three years after Milken began a legendary career on Wall Street, when his wife told him her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. That marked the beginning of his search for medical solutions, which has played as large a role in his life as his better-known innovations in finance. Decades after he began parallel careers in philanthropy and finance, Fortune magazine wrote, "No one had ever really pulled together the full picture of how - and how much - (Milken) has shaken up the medical establishment and saved lives." Fortune corrected that with a 2004 cover story under the headline The Man Who Changed Medicine. Fortune stressed the changes he wrought, not just the checks he wrote. "Now thousands are living longer - and leaders everywhere are taking notice."
The Milken Scholars program, which was established by Mike and Lori Milken, has provided support and lifetime mentoring for hundreds of outstanding college-bound students who have excelled academically, served their communities, and triumphed over obstacles.
Milken also founded the Prostate Cancer Foundation, whose competitive research grants to more than 1,600 programs at 200 research centers in 20 countries make it the world's largest philanthropic source of funds for prostate cancer research. A BusinessWeek cover story surveyed Milken's "quest to cure cancer," reporting that scientists "are convinced they're close to unraveling [its] biological details. And Milken 'has done more to advance the cause' than anyone." Charles Myers, M.D., president of the American Institute for Diseases of the Prostate, says simply, "Milken revolutionized the field." The late Dominick Dunne wrote in Vanity Fair that one doctor told him Milken's support "had advanced the study of the disease by 40 years." In addition to raising hundreds of millions of dollars directly from the public for research, the PCF's advocacy has produced many times that amount in government, academic and pharmaceutical industry programs.
In his 2005 publication, Dr. Peter Scardino's Prostate Book, the eminent New York surgeon writes, "Through the Herculean efforts of Michael Milken and his dedicated colleagues at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, private research funding has made great strides...This remarkable organization with Milken at the helm has worked tirelessly and effectively to promote public awareness of the disease." In the Foreword to A Call to Action, a book documenting the history of the PCF, the former Director of the National Cancer Institute says that "few people have done more to advance the fight against serious diseases than Mike Milken." A 2004 article in Forbes said, "Prostate cancer, once a research backwater, is suddenly sexy thanks to the work of one patient: Michael Milken...'Milken is probably the single most effective layperson advocate for cancer research,' says former National Cancer Institute director Samuel Broder...(his) foundation had a crucial early role in numerous drugs." Milken has worked hard to raise awareness: In 1993, it was rare for men to get life-saving prostate-cancer screening tests; today, about 60 percent do. Partly as a result, the five-year survival rate increased from about 70% in 1993 to almost 100% today.
A 2012 article in Life Science Leader magazine said, "With its strong science-drive focus, tight research timelines and unique role as a community of academic and industry researchers, the PCF stands as a new model for other funding agencies in the life sciences."
In 2007, Milken helped launch the Melanoma Research Alliance to accelerate research progress against fatal skin cancers. Soon after, Vanity Fair magazine called Milken "a force" against disease when they listed him as part of "The New Establishment." The MRA has awarded tens of millions of dollars to scores of research programs.
During a meeting of philanthropists at the 2014 Milken Institute Global Conference, former California Governor Gray Davis said, "No private citizen on the face of the earth has done more to advance the life sciences that Mike Milken."
Summing up Milken's long involvement in medical research, CNN's Larry King told his broadcast audience, "When they cure this disease [cancer] they'll have to call it the Milken cure." But Milken's work is not limited to cancer - more than 50 disease-specific organizations, everything from Alzheimer's Disease to Vascular Cures, are part of the FasterCures network.
POLICY RESEARCH LEADERSHIP
Speaking at the 15th annual Global Conference in 2012, former President Bill Clinton said:
At the 2013 Global Conference, Milken was joined by Bill Gates, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in bringing a new focus to progress in sub-Saharan Africa.
A study by Weber Shandwick said the Global Conference is "one of the most sought-after speaking engagements in the world."
Conferenza, a leading newsletter covering executive conferences, called the Global Conference a "must-attend event for companies on the leading edge of medical research and innovation in delivery of medicine and healthcare on a global basis." It further noted that "like the World Economic Forum at Davos, it was impossible to walk away from the Global Conference without a better understanding of the problems plaguing our world. Unlike Davos, however, there was a strong focus at the event on actually trying to come up with ways that many of these problems can be solved, and some steps in 'real time' to facilitate doing so." Following the 10th anniversary Global Conference in 2007, a comment in Conferenza read:
Following the 2011 Global Conference, an article in RedHerring magazine said that "the event deserves its reputation as one of the most amazing platforms of the year. Hard economics and financial matters, public policy and trade, the role of China and Asia stand among the global-shaping topics addressed by the conference's cadre of exceptional speakers. In less than a few years, the Milken Institute Global Conference has truly become the place to be."
Barron's calls the Global Conference "the equivalent of a three-day university with multiple seminars every hour." The Los Angeles Times adds, "the conference is about expanding minds as well as wallets." It is, says The Wall Street Journal, a "big-name confab" while The New York Times simply calls it "Davos with palm trees."
A 2014 Huffington Post article on the best YouTube channels for leaders listed the Milken Institute ahead of the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Economic Forum.
ACCESS TO CAPITAL
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, preferred stock, and hybrids to build the right capital structure for his clients helped 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."
Writing in the June 2005 issue of The American Spectator, the former senior economist of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, Stephen Moore, wrote: "Michael Milken and Drexel easily created more wealth for American shareholders single-handedly than all the trustbusters in American history combined."
Milken used more than 50 different types of securities in some dozen asset classes to help finance corporate growth for his clients and adapt their capital-structure needs to changing market conditions. In his book How the Markets Really Work (Crown, New York, 2002), former Harvard Business Review editor Joel Kurtzman wrote:
Milken's most important work was financing entrepreneurs who had good ideas for building companies that became engines of job creation. Based on his studies during the 1960s and his practical experience in the early 1970s, he was determined to focus, first, on cash flow rather than reported earnings; and second, to consider human capital part of the balance sheet. He played this out by backing such pioneers as Bill McGowan (telecommunications), Ted Turner (cable television), Craig McCaw (cellular telephones), Steve Wynn (resorts), Len Riggio (book retailing) and Bob Toll (homebuilding) among many other leaders of the 3,000+ companies he financed. They earned Milken's respect and backing because they had greater vision than the risk-averse managers who historically had counted on banks for financing. When banks ran into problems in the 1970s and turned off the capital spigot, Milken stepped forward and made capital available for thousands of dynamic, growing companies that created jobs and shareholder value. This was an epic decision that helped make the U.S. economy the envy of the world in the last quarter of the 20th century. A 2008 New York Times article said, "Mr. Milken helped create a new generation of companies and an entirely new way to finance nascent ideas that have helped fuel the global economy."
Milken and his colleagues created what is today a major part of the structure of global finance based on their innovations in the 1970s. These innovations - now taken for granted and taught in business schools worldwide - powered job growth in America for a quarter century and are now moving around the world through the efforts of the Milken Institute.
In 1989, the government charged Milken with securities/reporting violations in a case that continues to engender controversy. He admitted conduct that resulted - during a brief period in his 20 years on Wall Street - in five violations. Although such conduct had never before (nor has since) been prosecuted criminally - a fact rarely mentioned in press reports - he resolved the case without a trial to prevent further impact on his family. After paying a $200 million fine and serving a one-year-and-10-month sentence, he resumed his philanthropic work.
MOVING TO A WORLD STAGE
Milken has been welcomed by heads of state around the world, including five U.S. presidents (Obama, G.W. Bush, Clinton, G.H.W. Bush and Carter) and the leaders of the United Kingdom, Russia, Georgia, Israel, Singapore, Mexico, Rwanda, Iceland and Albania.
Mike and Lori Milken have joined with Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in The Giving Pledge, which commits them to give the majority of their assets to philanthropic causes during their lifetimes. Read their pledge letter.
Summing up the reason for Milken's profound impact in multiple fields, New York Times columnist David Brooks said (on CNN, April 24, 2011), "I was with Michael Milken recently and he's one of those guys who just soaks you in. He just wants to learn everything from every single person he meets. That is a pretty valuable trait."
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