In 2016, it was reported that there were 29.5 million businesses in the United States, encompassing all sizes. In 2013, Bloomberg ran an article reporting that eight out of 10 of these businesses fail within 18 months or less. That article listed these top four reasons for failure:

  1. Not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue
  2. No real differentiation in the market
  3. Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise, and compelling fashion
  4. Leadership breakdown at the top

A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to finally meet Gordon Bernhardt after reading Profiles in Success and hearing his name mentioned by various business associates and clients. I was pleased when Gordon invited me to be interviewed for his fine work, and even more honored to write this foreword for Volume 13.

Reading the profiles of some of the most inspiring and successful business leaders in the District, Maryland, and Virginia area, I am struck by how the folks Gordon profiles are the solution to the problems listed above. Gordon is an excellent example, too.

To be interviewed by Gordon is an experience of having a deep dialogue, over an extended period of time, to tell your story. Profiles in Success has deservedly become THE publication in the market to focus on the person behind the company. The value could not be more clear, concise, and compelling, while Gordon, himself, also personifies caring, values-based leadership.

After nearly 45 years in business – the last twenty of those working with Vistage, an international group that sets up private advisory peer groups for CEO’s, executives, and business owners – I realize that the other most important similarity among the folks in this community of success is the drive, the grit, the sheer will to succeed, as well as the confidence to believe in themselves. When I first meet a CEO/business owner, they have almost always cleared that 18-month elimination period, and are interested in truly growing both personally and professionally. Since I believe a company can only grow as fast as the leader is willing to grow, I am always looking for growth oriented people to invite into my Vistage peer groups. In reading the profiles featured in Gordon’s books, I find that growth orientation – not just for the business, but for the individual leader as a person. This, after all, is the real inspiration that makes reading about these individuals so compelling.

Thank you, Gordon, for your positive modeling of a driven, deeply connected, personal-growth oriented leader. Now let’s read about some other dynamic leaders and be inspired!

Clyde Northrop
Master Chair
Vistage International

Clyde Northrop is a seasoned business executive with nearly 45 years of leadership experience. Clyde is also a well-known and highly respected Executive Coach, developing, mentoring, and guiding CEOs and other C-level executives to be more successful. At Vistage, the world’s largest executive coaching organization, Clyde provides leadership training and guidance to help professionals open doors to new successes and new heights. At Vistage for twenty years, Clyde has worked with approximately 1,200 business leaders in over 10,000 hours of one-on-one coaching.