Candid Answers to Tough Leadership Questions: An Interview

Last spring, Jim Bradford, Dean of Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, interviewed me on my leadership philosophy and practice. He asked some tough questions. I tried to be as candid as I could be.

I intended to share the video here on my blog a few months ago, but it got lost in the shuffle. However, I thought about it today and thought you might enjoy seeing it.

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This was filmed before a live audience of students and faculty on April 26, 2010 at Owen for a program called “Inside the C-Suite.” (“C-Suite” means Corporate Suite.) This is me, live, and unscripted—for better or for worse.

Dean Bradford is really the star of the show. He asked me a series of great questions. In this interview we discuss:

  • What I learned from a personal business failure.
  • Why growth can sometimes be your undoing.
  • How we define our business at Thomas Nelson.
  • How the recession has affected the book publishing business.
  • Why you must run a big organization like a small one—in order to survive.
  • The biggest issues I am facing as a leader. What keeps me up at night.
  • How Web 2.0 has changed the expectations of younger employees in the workforce.
  • How I have personally struggled to achieve work/life balance.
  • A situation where I had to take a difficult ethical stand that almost cost me my job.
  • How social media fits into my role as a CEO and why I think it is critical to my company’s success.
  • Why corporations should embrace social media as something that furthers corporate transparency and accountability.
  • Why I believe in executive coaching and have employed a coach for years.
  • The practical value of humility in leadership.
  • How I have learned to challenge the status quo.
  • Why you must go first as the leader and walk your talk.
  • The importance of intentional living and leadership.
  • How do I stay focused on my most important priorities.
  • My favorite leadership book.
  • My least favorite leadership buzzword.
  • My best advice to new leaders.

Vanderbilt is doing a great job with its students, especially in the business school. I have the distinct privilege of lecturing there two or three times a year. If you are thinking about getting an Executive MBA, I heartily recommend their program.

Question: What do you wish Dean Bradford would have asked me?

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