The Boy Who Would Be CEO - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Boy Who Would Be CEO
I read something in the May issue of the London Financial Times that struck a chord with me: a feature titled, "I want to be like youadvice for the would-be CEO."

Pharmaceutical Executive

And if Barry cares about something this much, it will inevitably hurt. It will hurt when he can't succeed every day. It will hurt when he works long hours and gets home after his children have gone to bed. So quite simply, if he doesn't absolutely have to lead, I would tell Barry not to set out to do it. The money and title aren't worth it; there are more important things in life. I would tell him to lead and become a CEO only if he feels that doing so is the absolutely only way to actualize his deepest desires.

In truth, there is no real "leadership industry." This is a fabrication of book publishers and consultants. There are only leaders—each one fallible, individual, and struggling to take his or her ideas and make them real living, breathing realities. If Barry wants such a life, then there is room for him, as there is for lots of young would-be leaders. But their road ahead won't be paved with the platitudes of the "leadership industry." It will be a path cut anew with the fresh determination of a generation that dares to find its own way.

Sander A. Flaum is managing partner of Flaum Partners. He can be reached at


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