Microsoft: Its struggles were a function of changing consumer computing trends.
J.C. Penney: Its financial woes were due to store disruptions from remodeling and a pressured consumer.
Electronic Arts: Its issues were apparently due to the entire world playing games on iPhones instead of consoles...
Musts on How to be a CEO for 2014Embrace activists: 2013 has been the year of the activist stealing headlines and causing boards to quake in their boots. Other than the Bill Ackman Herbalife (HLF)/JC Penney flops, activists (shout out Carl Icahn with Apple) are showing they have good ideas on how to make all shareholders bank. CEOs need to check their egos, and invite these folks in graciously to talk shop as well as to open up board seats for them. Surround yourself with winners, on the executive team and board: It's a little harder to do this immediately on the board as shareholders vote. But if you look around corporate America's boardrooms and executive team lists they remain full of yes men/women. The executive suite and boardroom should be like a president's cabinet -- full of people with deep experience, energy and strong opinions that could assume the CEO position at once and drive daily positive change. That is how shareholder value is created over time. Learn how to communicate, being an introvert is unacceptable: Activists have taken to social media (Carl Icahn on Twitter on his Apple (AAPL - Get Report) position) to talk their books. CEOs need to finally learn how to properly use social media (and companies need to let them with pre-approved comments) to reach out to employees and shareholders. CEOs also have to get off the emails and take their message of positivity and transformation to the streets. When was the last time you saw Steve Ballmer share a Twitter selfie from a Windows phone alongside an employee live from a Microsoft store? Exactly.