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Vanoureks to speak in Vail on leadership, how to make better organizations

VAIL—The global financial crisis, Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and abuses at Fannie Mae; “Occupy” protest movements and Johnson & Johnson’s mess of product recalls, lawsuits and allegations of kickbacks. What’s wrong with organizations today?

Not too long ago, it was Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia. And it’s not limited to corporations: Penn State’s sexual abuse charges and, further back, the Olympics and baseball and cycling scandals.

According to Vail resident, businessman and author Bob Vanourek, the problem is all to clear. “We need better leadership,” he writes in his new book, “Triple Crown Leadership,” which he authored with his son, Gregg Vanourek.

The father-son team lament the above problems and more, plus tell the stories of dozens of better-performing organizations in the book that hit stores last week.

“Frankly, we are very disgusted with the leadership in many organizations around the world,” Bob Vanourek said Friday.  But they also are optimistic.

After spending four years interviewing 61 organizations in 11 countries, and based on two careers in business, education and leadership, they’ve come up with what they call a “quest” to improve they way organizations are run, by unpacking the leadership practices used where they saw success.

According to them, better leadership — like the Triple Crown of horse racing — has three parts: Excellence, ethics and endurance. The problem they see is that organizations often short-sightedly concentrate the first leg and in the process, leave integrity and the long-term in the dust.

“Today, there is so much focus on making your short-term numbers that the ethical and enduring dimensions get drowned out,” they write.

The book — and a free Thursday night lecture in Vail — sets out to explain how to build excellence, ethics and endurance within an organization with a different brand of leadership.

“We need a quest that raises our sights, summons our passions, unleashes out talents, and calls our better angels to the post,” they write in the book’s introduction. The following chapters draw on their leadership experiences and interviews with companies such as Google, Zappos, eBay and Xerox to explain how to achieve the kind of success they’re talking about.

Twelve-year Eagle County resident Bob Vanourek served as CEO of New York Stock Exchange companies during a 30-year business career. He is a well-known local speaker who has led the boards of of the Vail Symposium and the Vail Leadership Institute.

Gregg Vanourek lives in Sweden and teaches at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and the Royal Institute of Technology. He is traveling to Colorado for the event.

The men have done multiple workshops and presentations together. Their style is steeped in storytelling to illustrate their points, with a casual, conversational tone.

The lecture will run under 45 minutes so there’s plenty of time for questions and discussion, Bob Vanourek said. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Donovan Pavilion, where “Triple Crown Leadership” will be available for sale with an authors’ book signing at the end.

Published by McGraw Hill, the book has been well received among business authors and leadership gurus, was excerpted in Fast Company magazine and received solid reviews on Amazon. The introduction and first chapter can be read for free at

Once the concepts are grasped, it’s natural to wonder where else “triple crown” concepts could apply. Bob Vanourek said he’s frequently asked how the principles could impact politics, where many Americans feel integrity and long-term focus are sorely missing.

What: Lecture by Bob and Gregg Vanourek, authors of “Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, And Enduring Organizations”

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, July 19

Where: Donovan Pavillion


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