The Power of People, Culture and Innovation

I’ve interviewed hundreds of CEOs over the last three decades, but I have to say Gerard van Grinsven of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), who is on this issue’s cover, is one of the most innovative and engaging. 

Oftentimes, CEOs tend to have a moat of formidability about them and tend to be careful about what they will reveal of themselves. There’s a lot of corporate speak, which makes for boring interviews. 

Van Grinsven reminds me of AutoNation chairman and CEO Mike Jackson. Both have very humble roots – Jackson as a mechanic, van Grinsven as a bartender – but their talent led to increasingly greater roles until they were leading transformative companies in their fields. Like AutoNation founder H. Wayne Huizenga, who also had humble roots, van Grinsven was able to take his talents and find success in an entirely different industry.

Culture matters a lot in companies, and it was clear to me that van Grinsven is serious about setting the right tone: People matter first. He also showed he isn’t afraid to be innovative and then create buy-in to get support.

Lastly, the company has a very customer-centric approach, which was readily apparent during my visit to CTCA’s Atlanta-area hospital. It’s one thing to talk to a CEO, but it’s a different matter to really immerse in a business for an entire day and see the consistency in an organization.

Van Grinsven isn’t the only top business leader in this issue who has managed to bring his talents to new fields. Andrew Rosen, for example, was originally a lawyer for the Washington Post Co. He has now been the leader of Kaplan for two decades and is one of the major forces in education in the U.S. His recent book, “Change.edu,” is getting recognition from the likes of Bill Gates.

Then, there’s Frank Stronach, who became a billionaire in the automotive industry, and built another career in the horse-racing field. If you’ve wondered who was behind the giant Pegasus statue along Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach, here’s your chance to get to know him.

There’s also a double dose of New South Florida in this issue, both about billion-dollar-plus projects: Brickell City Centre, where the first phase is at the hard-hat tour stage, and SoLe Mia, which is just starting construction. SoLe Mia will be a $4 billion project when all the stages are completed.

What are your thoughts on the boom in South Florida? Email me at
kgale@SFBWmag.com.
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       Kevin Gale

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