Monday, January 24, 2011

Unreasonable Leadership

I just read a very good executive memoir called Unreasonable Leadership. That phrase comes from George Bernard Shaw’s observation “All progress comes from unreasonable people." (You know I’m a theater lover and thus a sucker for Shavian wisdom.) The author is Gary Chartrand, executive chairman and former CEO of Acosta, Inc. If you’ve ever shopped in a grocery or big-box store (smile), you’ve encountered Acosta without realizing it. They’re the sales and marketing agency that represents firms like The Clorox Company to position their products on the shelves.

It’s through Clorox (a client of that I encountered this self-published book. The two companies have been partners since 1933, instrumental in each other’s growth.

Three reasons that Unreasonable Leadership is a good example of the genre:
1. It’s full of detail. For example, it relates the whole Clorox-Acosta story in depth, bumps and all. In other areas, Chartrand spills the beans about finances, missteps, and other nitty-gritty matters.
2. Coauthor Chuck Day made Chartrand sound like Chartrand. Readers can tell when ghostwriter has or hasn’t captured the subject’s voice. I’ve only spoken with the man once, but the written voice seemed authentic to me, a fact confirmed by the folks at Clorox who know him well.
3. Chartrand is open about some of the forces that drive him (sports, Christianity) without pushing them in the reader’s face. The best proselytizers are the quiet ones.

One cavil: Like any good nonfiction book, this one needs an index.

More info: