The Transformative CEO: Impact Lessons from Industry Game Changers

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Leadership Lessons from the World’s Greatest CEOs

“Fox and Reiss have created a new leadership category—The Transformative CEO.”
—Rafael Pastor, CEO, Vistage International

Bestselling author Jeffrey Fox literally wrote the book on How to Become CEO, and radio talk show host Robert Reiss has explored strategy with some of the world’s biggest business legends.

Now, in The ...

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Leadership Lessons from the World’s Greatest CEOs

“Fox and Reiss have created a new leadership category—The Transformative CEO.”
—Rafael Pastor, CEO, Vistage International

Bestselling author Jeffrey Fox literally wrote the book on How to Become CEO, and radio talk show host Robert Reiss has explored strategy with some of the world’s biggest business legends.

Now, in The Transformative CEO, they have identified the key traits and characteristics that describe this remarkable type of leader.

Filled with fascinating insights from superstar CEOs, this one-of-a-kind guide puts you right on the front lines with the men and women who have transformed businesses with spectacular success. You’ll learn how to:

  • Turn around a company

    (Marvel Entertainment)

  • Build superior customer service


  • Think big and go global

    (MTV International)

  • Perform while transforming


  • Have a higher purpose


  • Innovate and make everything better

    (Eggland’s Best)

You’ll learn how CEOs think and act in good times and bad—and you’ll get a front-row seat to some of the most profitable industry game changers of our time, including AT&T Mobility, Danaher Corp. and many others.

The Transformative CEO provides a new definition of leadership. Jeffrey J. Fox and Robert Reiss show how anyone can become a transformative leader.

Find out how:

HOME DEPOT cofounder and CEO Bernie Marcus built a new model of retail culture for customers—from the ground up.

1-800-FLOWERS.COM founder and CEO Jim McCann turned the 800 number into a brand—and delivered record profits and growth.

PAUL MITCHELL SYSTEMS founder John Paul DeJoria higher purposes first—success unshared is failure.

BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION (BET) CEO Robert L. Johnson founded a television network–and tranformed television.

CAMPBELL SOUP CEO Douglas Conant warmed up employee morale—and made its business hot again.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071794985
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/15/2012
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 959,148
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey J. Fox is the author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestseller How to Become CEO and Audie Award winner Rain. Founder of Fox and Company, he works with Fortune 500 companies such as General Electric, IBM, and Ametek, among others. He is a popular speaker.

Robert Reiss is founder and host of The CEO Show syndicated to more than 600,000 listeners. His company publishes The CEO Forum, a quarterly magazine with a subscription base of exclusively 10,000 top CEOs. Reiss is a frequent keynote speaker on lessons from CEOs.

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Read an Excerpt

The Transformative CEO

Impact Lessons From Industry Game Changers

By Jeffrey J. Fox, Robert Reiss

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012Jeffrey J. Fox and Robert Reiss
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-179498-5



The Transformative CEO

The transformative CEO comes in all sizes, colors, ages, genders, ethnicities. He or she has a different style, personality, background, ability. It is what he or she accomplishes that distinguishes the transformative CEO from all the rest. The transformative CEO turns around companies, creates new industries, revolutionizes the way business is done, commercializes amazing products, changes society. The transformative CEO is obsessed with company culture, customers, innovation, and leadership.

The transformative CEO encourages risk taking, but prevents recklessness. He or she embraces mavericks, free-thinkers, outsiders, as long as they embrace the winning company culture. He or she woos, cajoles, leads her colleagues, but is not interested in winning a popularity contest. The transformative CEO sees opportunities where others see certain failure. The transformative CEO, according to Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, "must see around the corner." The transformative CEO spots the right wave to ride, and then gets the organization to surf to success. The transformative CEO creates wealth, taxpayers, donations, job security, unlimited futures, grateful communities.

The transformative CEO changes or creates.


On Transformative CEOs

Arkadi Kuhlmann (CEO, ING DIRECT): "Never in history have the issues facing the CEO been more daunting and challenging than they are today. We are in a global marketplace. We can be constantly, instantly, visibly in touch with customers, colleagues, suppliers anywhere on the planet. Information, cash, credit, invoices, payments, data, bids, disinformation, rumors flow seamlessly around the world every second of every day. These forces shorten the business cycles. New products must get to markets faster. Competitive responses are faster. Markets occur, evolve, and devolve overnight. Given these immediate pressures, the CEO must align short-term investments and short-term results with long-term, over-the-horizon goals.

"A CEO's term of service keeps getting shorter. Time to build a transformative culture is shorter. Yet, the activities of a company, like multiplying organisms, keep getting more interwoven, more complex, more difficult to measure and manage.

"Our best CEOs will therefore be a rare breed of renaissance individuals: people equally comfortable with art and science, literature and math, Paris, Texas, and Paris, France, society and business. They are individuals who can simplify; who have experience-honed intuition, street smarts; are mentally fast, nimble, and above all, the best CEOs are creative.

"Blending such qualitative and quantitative disciplines is not easy, but it is demanded by the wide range of challenges in the new world. And the blending never stops: the CEO's continuous learning journey is indeed a steep mountain.

"For CEOs, there are countless stakeholders who will vote not once, but daily, relentlessly, remorsefully. They will vote at the cash register, at the annual meeting, in the boardroom, at the banker's office, on LinkedIn and Twitter, and in social media ballot boxes still unimagined. 'Managing in a glass box,' will be literally true.

"Brave and resourceful, creative and effective, will be the hallmarks of the transformative CEO. For the transformative CEO has no choice but to change the game, and to change the game forever."

David Steiner (CEO, Waste Management): "We are transforming from an old- fashioned trash hauler business to an organization that is intent on turning waste into value, thereby, some day, eliminating dumps and landfills. Any time you are going through a transformation, you have to get the big things exactly right. And the biggest thing is to be sure you have the hearts and minds of employees. We want to save the planet. On this matter, our employees are way ahead of the game. I didn't have to win their hearts and minds, I joined them."

Larry Culp (CEO, Danaher Corp.): "Leaders must make sure the organization does not compromise on talent. Leaders must constantly help the company define 'great talent.' Our number one core value is 'The Best Team Wins.' We firmly believe that if you have the right people, aligned on values, skills, competencies, then performance follows. With good people errors in strategy and execution will be limited and quickly corrected when they occur. When an organization has talent throughout, leaders can set the bar high, thoughtfully and fairly, and reset that bar continuously to drive great results."

Pat McGovern (Founder and Chairman, International Data Group [IDG]): "The transformative CEO is constantly in the marketplace meeting with customers and prospective customers. It is in the marketplace where one can spot emerging trends and unfilled customer needs. If you can fill the need with a profitable price, and that price is lower than the economic value delivered to the customer, then you have the rationale to form a business unit. To make the business successful find that person who will love the idea; who will enthusiastically engage customers; and who will hire similarly motivated people who will make it happen. Treat that leader as you would like to be treated: with trust and with frequent, public, visible appreciation."

Robert L. Johnson (Founding CEO, Black Entertainment Television, Founder and Chairman, The RLJ Companies): "The transformative CEO creates something so compelling it changes people's lives and becomes an iconic brand that sustains itself over time. This takes a visionary leader who can inspire talented people to build a company with a culture based on integrity and value creation. Building a company is like parenting a child: need to nurture, plus lots of love, including tough love."

Arunas Chesonis (CEO, PAETEC Corp.): "The transformative CEO must have no fear of failure. Even a bit of trepidation can demoralize colleagues, whose complete confidence in the mission is necessary to succeed. And leaders must have a 'no greed' credo. The team must feel there is a fair sharing of the wealth, the value, they are helping to create. To do otherwise will lose support of key colleagues."

Anne Mulcahy (CEO, Xerox [ret.]): "The main function of the CEO is to create followership. Having a great strategy, having a great execution plan is insufficient to be a good leader. It's about the CEO's ability to deploy, to be credible with your people, to clearly communicate. Followership and building super competent teams are the most important aspects of transformational leadership."

Daniel Lamarre (CEO, Cirque du Soleil): "In Cirque du Soleil's case, the transformation was taking this fabulously creative organization, which performed 7 'traditional' shows (traditional to Cirque) to a globally recognized entertainment business that now has 22 shows on 5 continents. Our lessons are: build on the fundamental values and company culture that keep us unique (which for us is mind-blowing creativity); diversify our performance format and content; preserve our stunning high-level acrobatics, theatricality, and original choreography. All presented with a dollop of the special Cirque du Soleil touch. Of course, this transformation must be executed with the complete knowledge and enthusiastic cooperation of all our people."

Mark Dixon (CEO, Regus): "The transformative CEO is a surfer. Business is a surfing experience. Ride great waves. Set up great businesses. Every ride (I've had eight) is exhilarating, exhausting, better than the one before. You need an alchemy of talented people, skills, ideas, relentless execution, sheer effort. Create a business that is re

Excerpted from The Transformative CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox, Robert Reiss. Copyright © 2012 by Jeffrey J. Fox and Robert Reiss. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents



Authors' Notes          

Meet the Transformative CEOs          

1 The Transformative CEO          

2 On Transformative CEOs          

3 How to Turn Around a Company          

4 Protect or Change the Company Culture          

5 Put Culture First and Forever          

6 Hire to Your Culture          

7 Performing While Transforming          

8 Have a Higher Purpose          

9 Give Back          

10 Nothing Is Impossible          

11 Take the Risk          

12 Obstacles Are Opportunities          

13 Expensive Customer Service Is Free          

14 How to Innovate          

15 Make Everything Better, Better, Better!          

16 Defend Ideas          

17 Lead with Love          

18 Leadership Is Not a Friendship Contest          

19 Be Aware of Your Wake          

20 On Decision Making          

21 Plan with Principles          

22 "263 Is Zenny"          

23 Dollarize or Die          

24 Always Price to Value          

25 Sell. Sell. Sell.          

26 Be a Bold Brand Builder          

27 Tell Stories          

28 Beware of Your To-Do List          

29 80 Percent Is a Lot          

30 A $700 Billion Cost Cut          

31 Look to the Numbers          

32 Live and Lead by the Girl Scout Law          

33 Exude Delight          

Epilogue: Fun          


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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    The Transformative CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox and Robert Reiss identi

    The Transformative CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox and Robert Reiss identifies a number of common personal qualities and approaches taken by celebrity CEOs in building or turning around their companies. Jeffrey and Robert then breakdown these items into supporting subparts and provides a series of quotes from notable CEOs in support of each subpart.

    Specific topics covered by The Transformative CEO include:

    - Turning around a company
    - Building superior customer service
    - Thinking big and going global
    - Performing while transforming
    - Having a higher purpose
    - Innovating and making everything better

    Why You Should Not Buy This Book

    I found The Transformative CEO to be shallow and largely uninsightful. While the book does provide some overarching characteristics and approaches of successful chief executives, I found many of these items to be common sense truisms, philosophies most junior managers and graduate level business students would stipulate. That renown CEOs agree with these premises serves to give them credibility but does little to suggest how the reader should implement the recommended approaches.

    The book suggests actions to improve the management decision-making process. Surprisingly, these actions – the most valuable and explicit points made in the book – are largely unsupported by CEO comments.

    Alternative Recommendation

    I believe there are certain qualities, characteristics, and approaches common among successful CEOs. Furthermore, I believe CEOs set the tone and tenor of the organization over which they preside and so embodying these traits is important.

    I recommend The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker as a superior resource for learning about the admirable qualities of an executive. Through his book, Dr. Drucker provides readers with the specific actionable steps necessary to become more effective as leaders through improved decision-making and action.

    All the Best,
    Nathan Ives
    StrategyDriven Principal

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 15, 2012

    Great way to get the opinions of over 50 CEOs!

    I have been a fan of Jeffery Fox since using Don't Send a Resume with my career management clients years ago. This book, written with Robert Reiss, is another grand slam for Jeffrey! Combining their skilled approach to excellence in business with the thoughts of numerous CEOs has created a great read. A relatively short book, you will read it quickly, absorbing some of the information. Then, you will find yourself returning time and again to revisit great ideas on improving your business skills.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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