The Rebellious CEO: 12 Leaders Who Did It Right
“What happens when America’s most influential business critic shares his long (and surprising) history of private, candid conversations with some of America’s most thoughtful CEOs? Something close to magic.” – William C. Taylor, Co-Founder of Fast Company
One of corporate America’s greatest foes shows how 12 CEOs he has known uniquely rejected narrow yardsticks of shareholder value by leading companies to larger models of prosperity and justice
Over the course of 7 decades, Ralph Nader has been Corporate America’s fiercest critic. Supreme Court Justice William Powell singled out Nader in his infamous memo as the “single most effective antagonist of American business… [the] target of his hatred… is corporate power.”
But now, in a book that will surprise both his fans and critics, Nader profiles a small group of CEOs who he believes performed extraordinarily well as business leaders and civic reformers, some well-known, some not, who should be celebrated as exceptions whose life and career should be a course of emulation and inspiration for students of business, executives and the wider citizenry.
This select group of mavericks and iconoclasts — which includes The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, Vanguard’s John Bogle and Busboys and Poets’ Andy Shallal —give us, Nader writes, “a sense of what might have been and what still could be if business were rigorously framed as a process that was not only about making money and selling things but improving our social and natural world.”
Here is an excerpt from The Rebellious CEO: 12 Leaders Who Did It Right by Ralph Nader.
This book is an easy read for business students, current and future business leaders, and for a discouraged citizenry. During six decades of confronting CEOs in many different industries and lines of commerce, I have had, from time to time, one-on-one meetings with the heads of corporations. Some of these meetings were desirable; others were necessary. In some of these encounters, I found a few CEOs to be wonders of values and performance. These meetings turned out to be impressive, educational, and even encouraging concerning the state of what other CEOs could emulate. This book, the result of these encounters, selects twelve CEOs who exceeded my expectations.
These are people whom I got to know and grew to admire. All but three have passed on. Their work generated forces that have made our economy better than it would have been. Whether their practices and accompanying wisdom continue to reverberate and resonate outside of their immediate circles is hard to say. Their lives and work provide examples that can benefit the present and future, if more people, more students, are able to learn about these leaders and examine how they overcame their challenges to deal with the human beings whose lives impacted or were impacted by them.
Some are visionaries, such as Anita Roddick with her environmental consciousness or Yvon Chouinard with his love for the wild, who had a crystal-clear vision of the way the world should be moving. They poured all their energy into their visions.
Others are mavericks. These are CEOs who were just all-around humanists. They didn’t move in tune with a burning vision but simply acted in solidarity with the people and progressively to solve the problems that obstructed their paths. Here I place Jeno Paulucci, who, when he saw a mining company was illegally dumping in his own backyard, fought hard to stop it in its tracks. Also of this genre was Sol Price, who worked hard to improve educational and employment opportunities in his home base of San Diego, California.
The distinction I am making is a differentiation, not a judgment, for each set of leaders, in their own way, gave us a sense of what might have been and what still could be if a business were rigorously framed as a process that was not only about making money and selling things but about reducing damage and improving our social and natural world.Buy Now