10 Years of “Icing on the Cake”


A Decade of Recovery, Reflection, and Contribution

This week marks the 10 year anniversary of my near-fatal car accident in July of 2009 when I was still CEO of Campbell Soup Company.  At the time, I did not fully comprehend the severity of the situation or how it would continue to impact my life. I am thankful that I was able to muscle through another two years as CEO.  In hindsight, my wife and I were fortunate to be supported over those two years by an amazing cadre of doctors, nurses, family, friends, and Campbell Soup Company colleagues.  Looking back, we were given a new lease on life and, in that sense, the last 10 years have been “Icing On The Cake.”

I never really wrote about my accident until January of 2017 (here), as it was something that took years to recover from, process, and share publicly.  In that blog, I noted a few of the lessons that were affirmed to me through the recovery process:

  • The importance of being fully present for others
  • The criticality of bringing a “How Can I Help?” mindset to every interaction
  • The role that kindness can and should play in performance management

At the end of that blog, I noted that life is short and that I couldn’t think of a better legacy to leave than one of high performance characterized by contribution and kindness.  I still feel that way.

At this 10 year anniversary mark, as I reflect, I have two further thoughts.

First, I have a deeper and more profound sense of gratitude for being given the opportunity to continue to help those around me in meaningful ways. My belief in the “How Can I Help?” mindset is stronger than ever; it fuels my work and propels me forward.

Tomorrow is never promised, but we always have today.

Second, I have an ever increasing sense of urgency for getting on with things.  I increasingly believe that we all can and must do better…now.  We can’t wait. People deserve leadership that works in the here-and-now. Leaders need tools and resources that can empower them to show up more fully, to more deftly deal with the challenges of the 21st century. As my accident taught me: tomorrow is never promised. But we always have today.

These two reflections combined have given me a renewed energy for the work in front of us at ConantLeadership.  And they’ve provided more clarity about why we do what we do: we do it for you, to help you, the leaders of today who are tasked with influencing others and building a better world in a digital age replete with unprecedented disruption (and, often, dysfunction).

Setting the table for an even more promising decade . . . the best is yet to come.

As I look back, I am more driven than ever to use ConantLeadership as an engine for helping you to be the best leader you can be. As leaders, we all can and must do better. And I’m in your corner rooting for you on your journey. To that end, here’s what we have on the horizon:

  1. Books. We are increasing our leadership publishing efforts with a breakthrough book, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps For Lifting Your Leadership To New Heightsslated for publication in March, 2020. This book is intended to be the definitive resource for empowering leaders to reach their full potential. In The Blueprint, I share the powerful 6-step process I used to transform my leadership profile (taking me from jobless and dejected after a devastating firing to becoming a high performing senior leader with upward career mobility who feels fulfilled by work and is driven to contribute every day). As with all our efforts, this book was written for you and we hope you will find it useful.
  2. Resources. As a compliment to the book, we continue to develop a suite of high-impact resources and timely topical materials on “Leadership That Works” in the 21st century that you can explore on our social media platform, and on a soon-to-be reinvigorated website (our upgraded site is in the works and will launch later this summer).
  3. Teaching. On the leadership development front, we are stepping up our ConantLeadership Boot Camp, offering more sessions than ever this year. I teach this course personally to guide you through the creation of your own personal leadership model (apply here). We also continue to support the non-profit Higher Ambition Leadership Institute as part of the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership in Boston.
  4. Philanthropy. We proudly support a myriad of non-profit organizations that are doing amazing work and championing the kind of enlightened leadership that can change the world.  Most notably, at ConantLeadership, I do not take a salary and we donate all of our profits after covering our expenses to charitable organizations and non-profits. In 2017, we exceeded 1 million dollars in philanthropic giving and we haven’t slowed down since. Also in service to these organizations, I continue to devote my time to non-profit board governance — as Chairman of CECP: Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose, and as a board member for the Partnership for Public Service (PPS), the National Organization on Disability (NOD), the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership (CHL), and Hope College.
  5. Speaking. Finally, I am gearing up for a very active speaking engagement season beginning this fall. Get in touch if you’d like me to talk to leaders in your organization. Nothing inspires me like connecting in-person with the leaders of today (and tomorrow).

All in all, the last 10 years have been “Icing On The Cake” for me, my family, and ConantLeadership.  I feel incredibly blessed.  I also feel energized by the opportunities in front of us.  I can hardly wait to see what the next 10 years have in store.

I encourage you to join us for the journey.  Again, we are doing this all for you in service to the dedicated leaders of today. I truly believe the best is yet to come.  Together, we can all become better leaders and help build a better world.  Let’s go!