Mass­Mu­tual Pres­i­dent and CEO Roger Cran­dall addresses 130 audi­ence mem­bers at Northeastern’s CEO Break­fast Forum on Tuesday.

Roger Cran­dall, chairman, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Mass­a­chu­setts Mutual Life Insur­ance Com­pany, began his address at North­eastern University’s CEO Break­fast Forum on Tuesday with the story of a friend whose port­folio was crip­pled in 1999 when the dot-​​com bubble burst and again in 2008 with the finan­cial crisis. “I can’t afford to get crushed again,” Cran­dall recalled the 63-​​year-​​old saying.

“That’s a key thing we as busi­ness leaders need to think about: what can we do to help not just our clients but our employees solve prob­lems,” Cran­dall told 130 atten­dees and others watching live online through Northeastern’s Face­book page.

Northeastern’s CEO Break­fast Forums rec­og­nize leading CEOs who are invited to speak to an audi­ence of other chief exec­u­tive offi­cers and senior exec­u­tives from the Greater Boston area.

In intro­duc­tory remarks, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun noted how both uni­ver­si­ties and com­pa­nies like Mass­Mu­tual must take a long-​​term view to ensure suc­cess. Cran­dall fol­lowed on that theme throughout his keynote address. The key, he said, is for employers to empower their employees by pro­viding them with the tools to make good deci­sions about man­aging their finan­cial futures. By investing in people and striving to pro­vide solu­tions rather than prod­ucts, Cran­dall said, people can then invest in them­selves.

Cran­dall said this is impor­tant now more than ever, as the fed­eral budget deficit con­tinues to grow, the aging pop­u­la­tion increases and people cannot depend as much on the safety net of pro­grams such as Social Secu­rity and Medicare.

Cran­dall pointed to results of sur­veys Mass­Mu­tual has con­ducted with Amer­ican fam­i­lies in recent years that found nearly 40 per­cent of people say they aren’t pre­pared for the future. While indi­vidual own­er­ship of life insur­ance is at a 50-​​year low, the sur­veys found that roughly 75 per­cent of those polled say they should prob­ably have it. “The bar for pro­viding solu­tions is higher than ever,” he said.

At the end of the pro­gram, Cran­dall fielded ques­tions from audi­ence mem­bers as well as through social media. One Face­book user asked about advice for stu­dents to suc­cess­fully rise through the ranks at their future employers. Cran­dall said along with hard work, young employees should not only aim to become experts in spe­cific areas — “You want to be the go-​​to person,” he said — but also learn how to moti­vate experts to come together to achieve common goals.

As he put it, “That’s lead­er­ship.”

Watch the full ver­sion of the CEO Break­fast Forum below: