As we enter this mid-way point for the First Quarter of 2011,
many of my clients have voiced frustration with their lack of new business,
their lack of energy and motivation, and at times a feeling of utter

So, I ran across a collection of executive comeback stories
that exemplified tremendous leadership qualities. Every single one of these
stories spoke to me. Admittedly, many of these executives are not my role
models in every aspect of their lives; however, every one of them has certain
qualities I do admire. That is what I want to highlight in this ‘Smooth
Landing’ post.

These four stories, as diverse as they are, point to lessons from
which we can all learn and from which we can gain new perspectives and hope.
Without exception, these executives aligned to their passions, beliefs and
skills and applied this to their work, companies and market offerings. The
result, though not always without hurdles and challenges, ultimately led to
their success.

The first executive I want to highlight is Donald Trump. For many, he
typifies the American business dream – rich, powerful and continuing to lead
the pack in his industry. Amazingly, in 1990 – just a mere 20 years ago – his
net worth dropped from $1.7 billion to $900 million in the red due to the
tumble real estate took. He was on the brink of having to liquidate many of his
properties, and potentially file bankruptcy. Rather than cower, he actually
leveraged this bankruptcy possibility into a $65 million line of credit as part
of his bargaining negotiation. This allowed him to weather the storm. He is now
worth in excess of 2.7 billion dollars. What a lesson in how shrewd and artful
negotiation coupled with sheer guts can lead to tremendous success against all

Think about Martha Stewart. Just seven years ago she was convicted for
insider trading and sent to prison. Her stock value plummeted over 22% and her
reputation was crushed. Many wrote her off as yet another casualty of Wall
Street greed. Amazingly, as soon as she was released from jail, she picked back
up her tireless and well-known work ethic. She launched a new talk show, new
strategic partnerships, and increased her revenue stream over time. Today, her
company is worth over $60 million! She never lost her poise, fortitude, or
faith in herself. I wonder how many of us could weather such a storm as

Who isn’t a fan of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? I had never followed
their historical rise to fame until I read this article. In 1984, their key competitor,
Haagen-Dazs (owned by Pillsbury), threatened to pull their entire product line
if their distributors didn’t pull Ben & Jerry’s. However, Ben and Jerry’s
launched an all-out media campaign entitled “What’s the Doughboy Afraid
Of?” They raised a huge stink to
the FTC relative to unfair trade practices, among other things. Wow – ever
heard of someone calling your bluff? It worked. They took this huge misfortune
and turned it into a powerful marketing and PR ploy with an ‘underdog’ theme
and won! Ben and Jerry sold their company to Unilever 16 years later for $326 million!

Colonel Sanders has long been an entrepreneurial marvel to many. He is
the restaurateur most point to for cracking the code on how to build a
successful franchised fast food chain. What I didn’t realize is that in 1955,
when Colonel Sanders had only a handful of locations, his original anchor
location, Sanders Court and Café, had an unexpected interstate highway built
right in front of it. The property lost over half its value. He was forced to
sell this original location and was left broke after paying off his debts. It
was a scary position for him. He was 65 years old and had lost virtually
everything he owned. Yet, he didn’t give up. He believed in his ‘original recipe’
and just kept plugging away. Fast forward literally five years later and he had
more than 400 franchises in operation! And just four years later, when he was
74 years old, he sold his interest for $2 million and, of course, remained a
spokesperson for his brand until he died. What did I take away from this? It is
simply never too late! Perseverance and belief in your product and service will
pay off!

For those of you who may occasionally need an extra B12 shot for you
and your team, you may want to consider skimming this site!