Foreword to Volume 12 ​by Michael P. Harden

Success does not come easy. If it did, everyone would own their own business, be a CEO, and live on a yacht. But that’s not the real world we live in. Successful leaders are rare. They make up a miniscule percent of the population. Typically, they are on a journey – a journey that often includes failures, adversity, risk, loneliness, and exhaustion. So why do some people succeed when others don’t? Reading the profiles that Gordon Bernhardt has collected gives us a great insight into what makes successful people successful. Their stories are teeming with common themes: multiple failures before hitting a home run, persistence when they are beaten down, learning from a mentor or parent that inspired and guided them, or simply seeing an opportunity and having the courage to reach out and grab it. Profiles in Success doesn’t tell us how companies became successful…it teaches us what makes people successful. It’s about their journeys, their obstacles, their tribulations, and finally, their triumphs. These are powerful and compelling stories. As an executive coach and Vistage Chair, I have been privileged to work with some of the best and brightest CEOs and senior executives you could find. With 42 years of business experience and over 13,000 hours of coaching, I have observed a lot of successful people. I am always fascinated to learn how different people overcame insurmountable obstacles to achieve their dreams. It’s always a different story, and there is always a lesson to be learned. What makes Profiles in Success so compelling, is that Gordon provides us with more than a series of profiles; he provides us with a primer on how to be successful. He shows us how individuals overcome adversity, learn from mistakes, and change course when a better path is found. Pick any profile, read it carefully, and I guarantee you will learn something important and powerful from it. Over the years, I have learned that successful people exhibit certain characteristics, and Profiles in Success has consistently validated that for me. As I see it, here are the key traits of successful people:
  • They treat others with respect and have large networks of people who respect them.
  • They surround themselves with “A” players who challenge them and elevate their game.
  • They are smart enough to realize that not every idea works out, and they will quickly pivot to another idea rather than give up.
  • They are relentless – in a good way – and use their drive to overcome obstacles and adversity.
  • They take risks when others would have walked away.
  • They hate to lose more than they love to win.
  • They give credit to others, and never fail to show their appreciation for the contribution others make to their success.
  • They strive to make a positive impact on everyone they meet.
Their view of the world and how they fit into it was often shaped in their early years. Parents, family, friends, teachers, and mentors inspired them and nurtured their talents, gave them feedback to make changes, and encouraged them to take risks. Most successful leaders will tell you that they owe a lot to the people who helped them on their journey. The stories they tell in their profiles are full of examples of how others pushed and inspired them to their success. They will readily admit that had it not been for others, they likely would not have achieved the success they now celebrate and enjoy. I encourage you to read the profiles. They are truly inspirational. Gordon, his team, and the people who contributed their stories, have given us a gift in sharing these profiles. You could read one business book a week for the rest of your life, but none would give you the insights to success that Profiles offers. I have been fortunate to not only be included in Gordon’s Profiles in Success, but to have personally coached many of the profiled leaders, and to know many of the others, both as colleagues and friends. We are truly the average of the people we spend the most time with, and being associated with many of these leaders has helped me “up” my game. When reading these profiles, take from them the inspirational elements of success, the positive spirit, and the wisdom that such successful leaders have shared with us. Michael P. Harden Master Chair, Vistage Worldwide Executive Coach CEO, Clarity Group LLC Exceptional Coaching for Exceptional Leaders www.executivecoachdc.net
Mike Harden is a seasoned international executive and business leader with over 42 years of business experience, 23 of which are at the CEO/President level. Although Mike has created and run a number of start-ups, he has also held senior positions with established growing companies, including President of a division of a Fortune 500 company. Mike is also a well-known and highly respected Executive Coach, developing, mentoring, and guiding CEOs and other C-level executives to be more successful. Mike has over 13,000 hours of coaching senior executives, and has taken numerous management teams through strategic planning, team building, and leadership programs. He also serves on several boards of directors and advisory boards. He has been interviewed and quoted in numerous newspapers and magazines such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times; appeared on many TV shows, such as CNN’s Money Line; and has often been interviewed on news radio programs. Mike currently writes a prominent and respected business blog for the Huffington Post: (www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-harden), and his own blog (www.executivecoachdc.net). Additionally, Mike has testified before several Congressional Committees, advised Senators and Congressional Representatives on emerging technology issues, and consulted with business and government leaders around the world.