CEO Road Rules

The Road Map to Executive Excellence

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  • Right Focus is about defining your purpose, setting a vision you can attain, declaring your guiding principles and understanding the thing in your world at which you can be best. Determine your focus and you’ll improve the decisions you make at work and at home as life gets more complicated and time gets more precious.
  • Right People is about selecting and/or hiring those who will help you excel in your work and in your life. It includes everyone you care about and who supports your success, especially your CEO Forum group.
  • Right Execution is about executing with excellence and getting the right things done on time and with high impact at work, at home and in your community. Right Execution is also about going beyond your self-interest and leaving a lasting impact beyond financial success.

What They’re Saying


“CEO Road Rules has gone beyond many leadership and success books to provide practical, proven ideas on how to balance work, play and family and create a Significance Plan for your life.”
Nido Qubein, Leadership Expert, President High Point University

“The people dimension is the great management multiplier, especially for top executives. Positive, knowledgeable, inspiring managers are always in short supply. This book’s case histories will cause good managers to reflect on improving their talents.”
L. Daniel Jorndt, CEO & Chairman (ret.)
Walgreen Co.

“Winning in business and being successful in the competitive environment is all about leadership, teamwork, and focus. Key and Stearns offer strategies, tools, and insights into how it’s done and what’s really important.” 
Angel Ruiz, President & CEO
Ericsson Inc.

“A collection of simple but powerful rules to live by in business and life! The combination of the right focus, right people, and right execution will work for you.”
William McCorey Jr., VP, Global IT Infrastructure
IBM Corporation


From Authors Mary Key, Ph.D. & Dennis Stearns

When we researched CEO Road Rules, we found examples of entrepreneurs who were succeeding despite the trend toward overseas outsourcing. They were also doing well against big Fortune 1000 competitors and actually thriving despite tough economic conditions in their own backyards. The top CEOs interviewed for CEO Road Rules did three things very well, day in and day out. They focused their business better than other company leaders, they surrounded themselves with better people and they were better at executing their plans at work and at home in a balanced and consistent way.

The Path to Success
Right focus involves finding the right type of work, work that makes you jump out of bed in the morning and seize the day. Our top CEOs found their niches early on and threw themselves into their work with passion and zest. This was contagious for their work team and customers. They also did more and better planning toward their life goals. They made sure their mission, vision and values were well thought out and developed with input from their entire work and family teams. Many entrepreneurs have their business plan on a napkin in their back pocket. But our top CEOs had done a lot of early planning with experts in business development and their products or service niches.

Right people means surrounding yourself with the people who will support you on the road to success and help you when things inevitably go south. Our top CEOs were deliberate over spans of 20-30 years in their selections of a life-mate, friends, mentors, employees and senior managers. They believed that, when you surround yourself with people of optimism and good will, you will find success no matter what challenges are thrown at you along the way. Resiliency, the ability to bounce back after failure and make something good come of bad, was a consistent trait in these leaders.

Right execution seems simple: have the right focus and surround yourself with the right people to act on that focus. Many a good plan and people have failed because execution fell short of the mark. Our top CEOs learned when to be a good cheerleader or a devil’s advocate, and they learned how to bring accountability into play that would encourage better work after failure, not crush the spirit of those who don’t quite reach their goals. People pay attention to what is measured and reinforced.

Ultimately, effective execution is also about the footprint you leave behind. Legacy, looking beyond just material success to attaining significance in one’s life, is the pinnacle achievement for the top CEO group. They don’t want their net worth statement emblazoned on their tombstone – what will they accomplish in their life that makes a lasting difference?

Buy CEO Road Rules Today!

Download our complimentary chapter of the limited availability, CEO Road Rules: A Christmas Story.