For leaders who are in the trenches everyday, to be described as “Grounded” is one of the highest compliments you will ever receive. Each week we will recognize a person we want to compliment as a Grounded leader.

August 22, 2014 – Pete Frates

PeterFrates2He is now wheelchair bound, relies on a feeding tube and is unable to speak. But that has not stopped Frates from creating an out-of-the-ballpark home-run fundraiser for ALS – The Ice Bucket Challenge. Frates’ disease progression may be ravaging his body but his intellectual prowess has not been affected:  “Inside I’m as sharp as ever — if not sharper than I’ve been” Frates says in his video (below). “Because when you sit and can’t really move, when you’re observing all day … you notice every little thing. My memory has gotten better. I just notice things I didn’t notice before.” [Read more]

August 15, 2014 – Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth_Holmes_Photo1Elizabeth Holmes may sound like another techie whiz kid. But she is something special. Holmes started as a 19 year-old Stanford dropout with a big idea to effectively dismantle laboratory medicine. She is described as coming from the same mold as Steve Jobs. Not only is Holmes determined and persistent, she believes she is doing what she was born to do. [Read more]


August 8, 2014 – Nick Kokonas

Nick Kokonas He wants to change how we make reservations at our favorite eateries.  Nick Kokonas is the well-known co-owner of three Chicago restaurants – Alina, Next and The Aviary. He and his executive chef, Grant Achatz, are known as culinary trendsetters. But lately Kokonas has also been making news for business innovation. [Read more]



August 1, 2014 – Maynard Webb

Maynard_G._WebbThis week’s Grounded Leader is a Silicon Valley legend. Maynard Webb describes himself as an angel investor, business advisor, mentor and philanthropist. But his real title could be Silicon Valley’s chief evangelist for giving back. [Read more]



July 25, 2014 – Kimberly L. Smith

570 K Smith author photo
Kimberly L. Smith came to our attention this week via the Huffington Post story and interview about her experiences working in Darfur. Smith and her husband opened the first orphanage on the border of North and South Sudan at the height of the Darfur crisis. It was during this time that Smith experienced several personal attacks. [Read more]


July 18, 2014 – Reed Hastings

This week’s Grounded Leader is a creative disruptor. His mission? To turn his company into the Internet’s first television network. Reed Hastings continues to surprise and shock Hollywood and the TV industry. [Read more]



July 11, 2014 – Admiral Michael Rogers

This week’s Grounded Leader will not sit in the shadows like his predecessors. The new director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, understands his job will require public dialogue. Rogers has stepped into his new leadership role with eyes wide open and realistic expectations. [Read more]


July 3, 2014 – Tim Howard

450px-Tim_Howard_USAEven the captain of the opposing team had to pay homage to our Grounded Leader of the Week. After the World Cup’s Belgium – USA game this Tuesday, Belgium’s team leader, Vincent Kompany, publicly paid his respects to Tim Howard on Twitter. Kudos well earned. [Read more]


June 27, 2014 – Bob Fallon

DCS08-404-10 Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (Newport News File)
This week’s Grounded Leader was among a prominent contingent of speakers at the  “TechSurge – Technical Support for Coastal Resiliency” Conference held in early June at Old Dominion University. It was a first-of-its-kind conference on the resiliency of coastal areas to the threat of climate change. [Read more]


June 20, 2014 – Howard Schultz

Our Grounded Leader this week has earned a reputation as a business savant and a progressive executive. Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, is not afraid to speak his mind or scoff at prevailing Wall Street wisdom. He has been known to … [Read more]


June 13, 2014 – Ivan Fischer

Ivan FischerPhoto: Marco Borggreve
This week’s Grounded Leader is Grammy award winning composer and conductor Ivan Fischer . Fischer is the founder of one of the world’s leading orchestras, the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Hungarian by birth, he is a Swiss-and-German educated, multilingual man of the world. In addition to his musical career, Fischer has also taken on a new role – social critic. [Read more]


June 6, 2014 – Arne Sorenson

ArneSorenson Marriott

The world of hospitality is a 24/7 business. It’s a business of taking care of people. And it is a global business. Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, is a lawyer, businessman, and, most importantly, a global citizen who is comfortable interacting with diverse communities of customers, co-workers and competitors from around the world.
[Read more]

May 30, 2014 – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou died this week at the age of 86. During her long life she became a national treasure, a celebrated novelist, poet, educator, actress and activist. [Read more]


May 23, 2014 – Barbara Walters

To get a sense of what her early work life was like, just watch innocent-turned-career-savvy Peggy Olson on Mad Men. In fact, much of Barbara Walters’ career parallels the Mad Men character, so much so that Walters has even been pegged the original Peggy Olson. [Read more]


May 16, 2014 – Virginia Rometty

Ginni RomettyCEO Virginia (Ginni) Rometty is leading this 102-year-old company into the future as if she is running a marathon. Leading a big enterprise requires a balancing act of addressing immediate needs while initiating long-range objectives, taking care to be sure the future is not short-changed. She manages for the long haul. [Read more]


May 9, 2014 – Richard Edelman

The job of this week’s Grounded Leader is to measure how badly (or how well) business leaders garner trust. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer results are not so healthy: Only one in four people surveyed trust business leaders to address and correct problems. [Read more]


May 2, 2014 – Adam Silver


The honeymoon is certainly over for Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He closed out his first 90-days on-the-job with a huge leadership test:
How to respond to the controversial remarks from Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, about African-Americans? [Read more]


April 25, 2014 – Neil Blumenthal

NeilBlumenthalBe a rebel with a cause and you may just disrupt an industry. Doing good does make you happy. [Read more]



April 18, 2014 – Stephen Colbert

Stephen_Colbert_Peabody_2012_(cropped) For a very funny man, this week’s Grounded Leader, Stephen Colbert, is quite serious about his career. His satirical ‘truthiness’ has him filling some really big shoes. [Read more]



April 11, 2014 – Margaret Gould Stewart

Facebook Gould


There is no instruction manual for designing user experiences like this. Stewart is actually leading the emergent best practices of designing at scale. As a large-scale designer, her work requires a combination of audacity and humility. To be successful as a large-scale designer, you need an unwavering focus on the user, on the people you are designing for and how it might help them lead better lives. This is the higher purpose. To loose that purpose, is to loose your way. [Read more]

April 4, 2014 – Richard Plepler

HBO Plepler

CEO Richard Plepler’s leadership abilities are being tested. His company, HBO, sits at the center of a disrupted marketplace and is facing heavy competition. As the mature and profitable industry player, HBO is the one newcomers are aiming to beat. [Read more]


March 28, 2014 – Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

This week Michelle Obama’s trip to China made headline news with her charm and her gentle political persuasion. A goodwill tour (sans political tension and rhetoric), she used her version of panda diplomacy to raise issues of minority rights, internet access and free expression as universal rights. [Read more]


March 21, 2014 – Paul van Zyl


Social entrepreneurs generate innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They tackle major social issues and offer new ideas for wide-scale change. This is the label that best describes our Grounded Leader this week. [Read more]


March 14, 2014 – Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey accepts the Oscar for best actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Matthew McConaughey’s Best Actor acceptance speech at the Oscars this month continues to generate buzz. Within minutes of the speech, the blog sphere was all a twitter about his introspective speech, [Read more]



 March 7, 2014 – Christopher Altchek and Jake Horowitz

PolicyMic founders
They are New Media Rockstars, a quintessential Gen Y entrepreneur story. It goes like this … met in college, graduated, got jobs they quickly grew bored with, then decided to do what they loved – argue politics. [Read more]


February 28, 2014 – Thomas Bach

Thomas Bach

The Olympic Winter Games in Sochi were a success thanks, in part, to IOC president Thomas Bach. A German fencing Gold medalist (1976) turned lawyer and business executive, Bach’s quiet leadership is reaping him accolades across the sports world and among the media. [Read more]


February 21, 2014 – Dick Costolo

Dick Costolo, Twitter
Our Grounded Leader of the Week started out as a stand up comedian. He then went on to found a company called Feedburner which sold to Google in 2007. He is a leader who can deliver a punchline. He did that last week when he won CEO of the Year at the 7th Annual Crunchies Awards. He faced stiff competition from an elite group of tech CEOs – Amazon’s Bezos, Yahoo’s Mayer, Uber’s Kalanick and Tesla’s Musk.  [Read more]

February 14, 2014 – Larry Merlo

It takes courage to be the first. Especially if you are the first national chain of pharmacies to stop selling a very lucrative product like tobacco. In a bold move, CEO Larry Merlo announced on February 5th that CVS Caremark will stop selling cigarettes and all tobacco products at its more than 7600 stores nationwide [Read more]


February 7, 2014 – Pete Carroll

This week started with the Super Bowl and is ending with the opening of the Socihi 2014 Winter Olympics. It is only fitting that a sports leader is our Grounded Leader of the Week. [Read more]


January 31, 2014 – Pharrell Williams


This week’s Grounded Leader, Pharrell Williams, had an incredible year. His song, Get Lucky, won big at the 2014 Grammys – Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. He also won Producer of the Year for the hit song, Blurred Lines. In the world of music and entertainment, Pharrell is standing on top … [Read more]


January 24, 2014 – Arianna Huffington

Arianna_Huffington_2012_ShankboneThe high profile meeting of the minds going on at Davos is where you will find our Grounded Leader of the Week. You’ll find her blogging, interviewing, tweeting with and about today’s global leaders, issues and the future. These days, Arianna Huffington is definitely in a global state of mind. Her media company, The Huffington … [Read more]


January 17, 2014 – GM’s Mary Barra


Be your authentic self in all you say and do. That makes a socially healthy leader. This week’s Grounded Leader does just that. Mary Barra’s commitment and belief in teaming has landed her the CEO job at GM. This week she takes the leadership reins at the notoriously sluggish organization. Highlighted in media reports this … [Read more]


January 10, 2014 – Carey Smith

Carey SmithWith a title like Chief Big Ass, you won’t be surprised by how Smith describes what he does as CEO: “… I sometimes describe myself as a ‘hyperlink.’ I have an office, but most of the time I just walk around and try to determine if we’ve got any problems.” [Read more]


January 3, 2014 – Graham McKay

Graham McKayA man who had a dream, a deep commitment to his own self development and the development of his employees stretched his company into expansive growth and became a dominant player on the world stage. McKay’s vocational health was the foundation of his leadership. His personal mastery and drive to success is his leadership legacy.
[Read more]

2013 Grounded Leader of the YEAR – Nelson Mandela


It was Mandela’s unique and unflagging character that defined him as a healthy and grounded leader – a leader whose influence spanned nearly eight decades, and who inspired the rich and poor, the black, white, and brown, CEOs and politicians, neighborhood kids, hardened capitalists and committed socialists. This broad appeal was based on Mandela’s essential goodness, and the lessons that goodness taught us. [Read more]


December 20, 2013 – Apple’s Tim Cook

Tim_Cook_2009Growing up in Alabama in the 1960s shaped this man. Witnessing a cross burning first hand as a child left deep scars, but also awakened a deep sense of appreciation for human rights and respect for differences. It is this legacy that drives Apple CEO Tim Cook. [Read more]



December 13, 2013 – Japan’s Soichiro Fukutake

soichiro fukutakeSoichiro Fukutake is Director and Chairman of Benesse Holdings. Under his leadership, the people of Benesse are fulfilling their mission to help others while pursuing growth both globally and in Japan. While Fukutake is listed on Forbes World’s Billionaires, his generosity of spirit extends well beyond financial philanthropy showing that he practices what he preaches. Based on his belief that “the economy should be a servant to culture” he envisions a 21st century where society creates communities “where growing older means growing happier.” [Read more]

December 6, 2013 – Germany’s Angela Merkel


This week’s Grounded Leader of the Week has sat on top of Forbes list of Most Powerful Women In The World for 8 of the past 10 years. We laud Angela Merkel’s leadership acumen (she is often described as the de facto leader of the European Union). In particular, we want to recognize her ability to bring together Germany’s conservatives and social democrats to form a united, viable government. [Read more]


November 29, 2013 – Elon Musk


Holiday travelers may have trumped SpaceX’s launch plans this week, but this sort of setback is part of a day’s work for it’s CEO, Elon Musk. In a recent Washington Post interview, Musk shared his anxiety about the Falcon 9 rocket launch, explaining that with a launch: “You can’t issue a recall or do a patch…You either get it all right or you’re screwed.” He understands what it takes to achieve something remarkable. The first three Falcon launches failed. [Read more]


November 23, 2013 – UK’s Julian Richer


For most family and closely held businesses, planning for the next generation of leadership is the toughest and most critical challenge they face. But that’s not a problem for Julian Richer. He’s handing over his company, Britain’s largest independent chain of hi-fi shops, to … his employees!

[Read more]

November 15, 2013 – Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup


Leadership is a family affair for Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup. Her baby sister, Maggie Wilderotter, is CEO of Frontier Communications. Both are among a rare group of women to achieve CEO status in corporate America. [Read more]


November 1, 2013 – Suresh Kana, Senior Partner, PwC Africa

Suresh Kana PWCDriven Humility.

That’s the phrase often used to describe Suresh Kana. His commitment to personal and business leadership development is refreshing, inspiring and noteworthy.

Kana is the Senior Partner for PwC Africa, leading an investment of $100 million in people and infrastructure. He’s also providing leadership in the recruitment of thousands of partners and staff in Africa. In addition to his work at PwC, he is a professor at the University of Johannesburg, an honorary professor at [Read more]


October 25, 2013 – America’s Women Congressional Leaders

Female Democrats Hold News Conference On Violence Against Women Legislation
The Federal government is back open and the dust has settled in Washington, DC. We can now clearly see where the leadership came from to end the Federal government shutdown. [read more…]



October 18, 2013 – Angela Ahrendts, Apple

Angela AhrendtsHow did this Midwest America-born-and-raised woman rise to the top of a global fashion company only to join Apple, the technology darling of Wall Street? Her deep curiosity and an adaptive mindset. On her watch as CEO at Burberry [read more …]




October 11, 2013 – Doug DeVos, President of Amway

Doug DeVos Amway

Sometimes leadership comes in the form of healthy partnerships of healthy leaders forming strategic alliances. This week’s Grounded Leader of the Week is Doug DeVos, President of Amway. He leads the very successful partnership between Amway, the Chinese government and Harvard’s Public School of Government. Amway thrives in China, with Harvard’s help and its focus [read more…]



October 4, 2013 – Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman


This week’s Grounded Leader of the Week is Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman. The iconic business leader’s transformation from extreme workaholic to balanced business leader and philanthropist is praiseworthy as a Grounded Leader. Gates’ path to a higher purpose, global connectedness and generosity of spirit is well documented especially since leaving Microsoft as CEO. Passion for his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pretty much resonates in all he does publicly today.

In this recent appearance at Harvard, Gates answers facetious questions from the interviewer in a lighthearted way, sharing his experiences as a Harvard dropout, his successes and his failures. Read more …

September 27, 2013 – Pope Francis

This week’s Grounded Leader of the Week is Pope Francis. We recognize him as a man of positive emotions – love, generosity, hope, forgiveness. A man of deep curiosity, his willingness to adapt to the changing times, to engage in new thinking, to challenge rigid, old models, has already earned him the title “Troublemaker” from the mainstream media. Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker, in her op ed, describes Pope Francis as “…a paradoxical mix of friend and foe wrapped in a happy package of tough love: friend of the poor, downtrodden and marginalized; foe of the purveyors of a status quo that worships money and throws away the young and old.”

Pope Francis’ leadership can be seen in how he is building nourishing communities, inviting more people into the spiritual tent, and expressing a generosity of spirit – reaching his hand out in love to diverse people who make up the rich fabric of world society. This takes exceptional emotional health, intellectual health, social health, and spiritual health. This is why he is our Grounded Leader of the Week.

September 20, 2013 – Ron Shaich, Panera Bread CEO

My mantra—and one I know you’ve heard me say often—is “Leadership is personal.” Well, this week’s Grounded Leader of the Week is taking leadership quite personally.

Ron Shaich is Founder and CEO of Panera Bread. Last week, Ron was inspired to take personal action after reading the New York Times article, “On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of of a Debate on Food Stamps.” Not resorting to Undercover Boss gimmicks, Ron is taking a personal stand to highlight poverty and show that he and the company he leads, Panera Bread, care about hunger in the United States.

September 13, 2013 – Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak)

This week we salute Dan Rockwell for his Grounded Leadership online. Everyday he is is sharing, guiding and directing people to learn about leadership. His Twitter handle (@LeadershipFreak) and tagline (helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less) say it all.

Dan exemplifies the characteristics of social health* – transparent, intimate and collaborative – as he helps others grow themselves by creating mutually rewarding relationships online. In this new media world of ours, he is setting the social media example for those of us in the business of leadership.

Be sure to follow Dan on Twitter and read his blog!

September 6, 2013 – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

The news business now sees glimpses of a new “golden era” thanks to a curiosity-seeking entrepreneur. The recent, bold move made by Jeff Bezos, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Amazon, to buy The Washington Post means BIG changes are coming.

Bezos has been in Washington, DC, this week meeting with Post managers and staff. His clear message to his new company:

  • Put readers, not advertisers first.
  • Don’t write to impress each other.
  • Keep a ‘forever young’ mind-set to stay curious, open and imaginative.
  • Most importantly, don’t be boring.

In a simple but profound way, Bezos laid out his vision of the future for the newspaper. Bezos’ innovative, risk taking (but patient) leadership makes him our GROUNDED Leader of the Week.


August 28, 2013 – Martin Luther King Jr.

Fifty years ago, on August 28th, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

A man of deep principle, Dr. King personifies being a healthy leader in many ways. Deep self awareness, a life of positive emotions, and the uncanny ability for resilience are just a few of the healthy characteristics he exhibited. Constantly adapting to changing circumstances, his higher purpose, his deep sense of generosity, and ability to build a community of believers makes Martin Luther King Jr. our Grounded Leader of the Week.

Rolling Stone Magazine: 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King (video)

August 23, 2013 – Antoinette Tuff

Antoinette showed extraordinary courage and focus this week when she talked a gunman out of a shooting rampage at her school.  She is our inaugural GROUNDED LEADER of the Week.

Antoinette Tuff hailed as ‘true hero’ for handling Georgia school gunman

Can courage like Antoinette Tuff’s be taught?