The Rebellious CEO

published 14 November 2023

One of corporate America’s greatest foes shows how 12 CEOs he has known uniquely rejected narrow yardsticks of shareholder value by leading companies to larger models of prosperity and justice.

Over the course of 7 decades Ralph Nader has been Corporate America’s fiercest critic. Supreme Court Justice William Powell singled out Nader in his infamous memo as the “single most effective antagonist of American business… [the] target of his hatred… is corporate power.”

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ABOUT THE REBELLIOUS CEO
One of corporate America’s greatest foes shows how 12 CEOs he has known uniquely rejected narrow yardsticks of shareholder value by leading companies to larger models of prosperity and justice

Over the course of 7 decades Ralph Nader has been Corporate America’s fiercest critic. Supreme Court Justice William Powell singled out Nader in his infamous memo as the “single most effective antagonist of American business… [the] target of his hatred… is corporate power.”

But now, in a book that will surprise both his fans and critics, Nader profiles a small group of CEOs who he believes performed extraordinarily well as business leaders and civic reformers, some well-known, some not, who should be celebrated as exceptions whose life and career should be a course of emulation and inspiration for students of business, executives and the wider citizenry.

This select group of mavericks and iconoclasts — which includes The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, Vanguard’s John Bogle and Busboys and Poets’ Andy Shallal —give us, Nader writes, “a sense of what might have been and what still could be if business were rigorously framed as a process that was not only about making money and selling things but improving our social and natural world.”

PRAISE

“Profiling 12 chief executives and company founders, Nader highlights how these leaders valued principles as much as the bottom line, and in some cases considered profits to be a mere stepping stone on the way to achieving nobler goals . . . A rosy . . . idiosyncratic tribute to moral leadership.”– Publishers Weekly

The Rebellious CEO celebrates twelve gutsy ethical executives in memorable essays to challenge and inspire contemporary business leaders.” – Foreword Reviews

“What happens when America’s most influential business critic shares his long (and surprising) history of private, candid conversations with some of America’s most thoughtful CEOs? Something close to magic. In this profoundly engaging book, Ralph Nader draws insights from his encounters with a collection of visionaries and mavericks that show the promise of business at its best—and how most business leaders fall sadly short of that promise. The characters we meet are as stimulating as the lessons we learn. This book is a master class in what business leadership might have been—and still could become.” – William C. Taylor, cofounder, Fast Company, author, Simply Brilliant

“This is a fascinating book that will surprise people, coming from Ralph Nader. I have known Ralph Nader for over 50 years and he’s always been his own man, working on behalf of consumers, employees and the environment. But Ralph has also always been a teacher, trying to help us understand and deal with the problems we face as individuals and as a society.  This book, looking at 12 fascinating CEOs and their accomplishments, can teach everyone, especially corporate leaders, the power they have to generate changes and improvements in society. You can’t help but be inspired by what these 12 CEO’s have to say.” – John Koskinen, former CEO of the Palmieri Company and former senior government official, including commissioner of the IRS

“Ralph Nader has fought the good fight for fairness, honesty and justice for a lifetime. While he has from the first been a tough critic of corporate dishonesty and corruption, he has always been the first to praise those CEOs who have been both very successful executives, but who also exemplify the best practices for their employees and customers alike. In this book, we join him in examining the careers of some of the greatest executives he has known and admired over the years.  It is a fascinating and illuminating look at how business can be both profitable and humane.” – Tom Dunne, Founder and CEO, Thomas Dunne Books

”Think all progressives are socialists?  Ralph Nader identifies some of the great, responsible corporate leaders—and shows how our marketplace can be changed…for the better.  Now if only every MBA student and company president…would read this book.” – Mitch Rofsky, President, Better World Club, past Chair, Business for Social Responsibility

“Ever since Ralph Nader successfully sued General Motors and made their president publicly apologize for violating his privacy rights, his glare has stricken fear into the hearts of CEOs like no other. In The Rebellious CEO, we learn about a different breed of business leader: founders who were all deeply touched to serve a higher purpose than the almighty buck. In so doing they opened their minds to creating beautiful billion-dollar businesses by serving people and planet first and mastering the market rather than being a slave to it. Nader weaves his personal experiences with these leaders with their poignant writings to show how real leadership not cowed by conventional wisdom can make business a force for justice. This is essential reading for anyone who believes in the art of the possible and wants to disrupt business as usual. – Toby Heaps, Co-Founder and CEO, Corporate Knights

The Rebellious CEO

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