The Paula Gordon Show
The Spirit of a CEO

Rodale Press‚ CEO Ardath Rodale (who her 1,400 employees and all children call „Ardieš) has doubled the size of Rodale Press since she took over when her husband, Bob, died in 1990. What are health, fitness and inspiration worth? A lot more than the half a billion dollars Rodale Press netted in 1997.

Ardie Rodale is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Rodale Press, Inc., which publishes Prevention Magazine, Men‚s Health and a host of other magazines and books. Ardie attributes Rodale Press‚s success to a clear commitment to the company‚s values of health, fitness and inspiration. She says the commitment is balanced with and fueled by the nervous tension needed to generate new ideas and expansion. Her approach is deceptively simple. Rodale Press‚ mission is to make the world better. Every magazine and book helps people take control of their lives. They all say, „You can do it. And here‚s how.š

Ardie‚s convinced having a woman as CEO was what triggered Rodale Press‚ explosive growth. „You need both the male and female in order to be a whole company,š she asserts simply.

Leadership is a hallmark of Rodale Press. When the first Rodale -- Ardie‚s father-in-law -- started the company in 1942, he knew organic farming could help people create healthy soil in which to grow healthy food for healthy people. But he faced stiff opposition from chemical fertilizer companies. So it is with added pleasure that Ardie describes today‚s Rodale Institute bringing her father-in-law‚s ideas full circle, training locals in Senegal and Guatemala to teach their own people how to grow healthy food -- organically.

For a CEO, Ardie Rodale finds her inspiration in unexpected places. The Mennonites taught her about the simplicity of life. She built a Pueblo Indian-style kiva in the middle of Rodale Press‚ main office building. Their energy center offers yoga, meditation and inspirational speakers. The company‚s day care center is bursting at the seams. She creates her own quiet times so she can listen to herself. But Ardie‚s office door is always open. Men as well as women come by to share their gladness and their sadness, both genders eager for the hugs she offers. This is a CEO who -- quite literally -- stays in touch.

How does CEO Ardie Rodale keep a sunny disposition in the face of unrelenting family tragedies and the pressures of a major corporate enterprise? „That‚s easy! I have come to realize how precious each day is. I found the joy of being grateful.š

Meet one CEO who is NOT resigned to business as usual. And it works!

Ardath Rodale

. . . is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rodale Press, Inc., a privately held company with revenues of half a billion dollars a year. She writes for Rodale Press‚s Prevention Magazine and her Chicago Tribune column is about to be syndicated by the The New York Times Syndicate. Ardie travels widely, sometimes with children and grandchildren. And she is a known hugger of people and trees. Her latest book, Gifts of the Spirit, is published by Daybreak Books, and distributed by St. Martin‚s Press.

Excerpts2:11 secs

Conversation 1

Everyone, from her 1,400 employees to the neighborhood children, call Ardath Rodale, CEO of Rodale Press, „Ardie.š That‚s the first of many surprises she has for Paula Gordon and Bill Russell. Ardie gives a brief history of Rodale Press, starting in 1942, when her father-in-law founded Rodale Press as an outlet for his interest in organic farming and people‚s health.


Conversation 2

In 1997, Rodale Press‚ revenues were at half a billion dollars and growing. That‚s double what it was when Ardie‚s husband, Bob, died in an auto accident in 1990. She describes her role as CEO, balancing the nervous tension she thinks necessary for generating new ideas with her commitment to Rodale Press‚ mission -- to make the world better. Everything grows from Rodale Press‚ values -- health, fitness and inspiration.

Ardie explains how these elements work together in a large company, especially influenced by what she has learned from the Native American peoples. She credits women‚s increasing role in Rodale Press with much of the flowering of the company, which is (and she assures us it will remain) a privately held, family business. She tells how a Mennonite neighbor powerfully influenced her son Anthony, whose photographs grace her latest book.


Conversation 3

Ardie celebrates the value of the simplicity of life as she describes her Pennsylvania farm and her Mennonite neighbors. She describes the power of working in the garden, whether she is cultivating plants or ideas, her business or her family. She tells how important quiet is to her and how she creates it in her own life. She describes the variety of approaches Rodale Press takes to helping it‚s 1,400 employees deal with every day stresses, including the (Native American-style) kiva she had built in the center of their corporate headquarters building.


Conversation 4

Ardie uses the story of a Rodale Press employee who was married in corporate headquarters‚ kiva as a springboard for serious lessons she has learned in how to run a large organization. She tells how she stays in touch with the fundamentals of human experience which shape the work of Rodale Press and the lives of those who make it happen.

Rodale Press‚ success has taken years to nurture. Ardie describes the hard times her husband and father-in-law overcame in building the business in opposition to large chemical fertilizer companies hostile to organic farming. She describes the joy her father-in-law felt when this work began to be recognized, at just the moment he died -- while taping an interview with Dick Cavett!


Conversation 5

Ardie Rodale‚s husband was killed in a car crash, she lost a son to AIDS, she has survived two bouts with cancer, yet she maintains a cheerful, sunny outlook. She explains how she does that personally and expands her personal story to include the work that all of the magazines from Rodale Press.  The ideas behind every Rodale product is to help people take control of their lives and to show them how to do so.

Ardie describes her three-part personal approach to affirming life. She urges us to think of ourselves as a many-faceted jewel and describes how important it is to take care of yourself or you can‚t do a good job taking care of anyone else. And Ardie offers the sun as a helper in troubled times!


Conversation 6

Ardath Rodale is an AIDS activist. She recalls the impact her son David, who died of AIDS, has had on her and his friends. „We must always reach out, no matter who we‚re dealing with, with unconditional love,š she concludes, urging us to see the God in everyone we meet.


Acknowledgements

Ardie Rodale entered directly into our hearts with her gentle ways, shrewd business acumen and personal touch. We‚re glad to call her.

Related Links:
Ardath Rodale‚s book Gifts of the Spirit is published by Daybreak Books, an imprint of Rodale Books,, and distributed to the book trade by St. Martin‚s Press. Information about all the Rodale magazines, books and on-line activities is available at the Rodale website.


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