Richard Parsons, a former Chariman of Citigroup and former CEO of AOL Time Warner

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A former Chairman of Citigroup and former CEO of AOL Time Warner, Dick Parsons has tackled some of the toughest jobs of any American corporate executive in the past 25 years. In this episode of Fortune Unfiltered, Parsons explains why he’s always the person who gets called after disaster strikes. “I’m attracted to that – it keeps your attention,” Parsons says of leading in a crisis. “ It concentrates the mind as Pat Moynihan used to say. If you’ve got serious issues you need to be alert [and] alive in the moment. I’m not the world’s best steady-state manager...not a particularly good one because my mind wanders.” In addition to the AOL and Citigroup jobs, Parsons took over as interim CEO of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in May 2014 amid the Donald Sterling scandal. But all those professional tribulations pale in comparison to the battle Parsons is fighting today. About two years ago he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer for which there are a variety of treatments but currently no cure. Parsons talks frankly about his battle with cancer, his management philosophy and his reflections on being one of the first African-Americans to run a Fortune 500 company.

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