Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tools of a Leader: Courage

You may have heard that CVS made a bold and courageous move last week by announcing it will eliminate cigarette sales in all its stores. According to the Wall Street Journal, tobacco is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in America. A U.S. Surgeon General report last month linked 480,000 deaths to smoking.

Larry Merlo, a pharmacist who became the CEO of CVS in 2011, announced, “The sale of cigarettes and tobacco at CVS pharmacy stores ends today. By eliminating the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans.” 

His announcement is expected to put pressure on competitors Walgreen’s, Rite Aid and Walmart to adopt similar measures.  I admire the courage that it took for Larry Merlo and his leadership team to be the first in their industry to take a stand and, undoubtedly, take a hit in profits to do what they believe is for the greater good.

Jim Denison, one of my personal favorite mentors when it comes to relevant cultural issues, wrote in his September 4th Denison Forum that he spent an evening not too long ago discussing cultural issues with a group of brilliant, passionate young adults. One of the questions that surfaced during the discussion was, “How can I make a difference?”  They apparently see the great needs of our society and want their lives to count.

Don’t we all want our lives to matter? Wouldn’t we all like to think that, once we leave this earth and our “Dash” is over, we will have made a difference?

I believe that one of the things we all have in common is our search for significance. How many opportunities have we allowed to pass us by simply because we didn’t have the courage to act?

I hope you will join me on my journey to help build a hotel company that makes a distinct difference in the lives of others. This I know.  It will take courage.

Fred Cerrone

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