The “Grow or Die” Mindset

“In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.”

Lou Holtz, former American football player and coach

As you know, when I became CEO of Campbell Soup Company, things had been trending downward for several years prior to my arrival. As I’ve referenced in previous chapters, employees were worn out, shareholders were disgruntled, customers were dropping off, and engagement was severely stunted. Despite all this, expectations for my leadership were high and I knew, to meet the standards set for me, we would have to grow relative to those expectations.

In senior leadership positions, you basically have three years to prove yourself. In the first year, the various fire drills, issues, and assorted mayhem are naturally linked to your predecessor and you are granted forbearance. The second year, speed bumps are somewhat forgiven (although less so than the first year) because you are learning and can point to a change strategy that is still very much “in process.” But by the third year, it’s all on you. If you haven’t managed to begin to right the ship and advance things in the proper direction at that point, everyone will appropriately challenge your leadership. Knowing this, your leadership must be highly nimble and adaptable. You must have a mindset that centers the urgency of growth.

Understanding this urgent need was central to how I landed the CEO job at Campbell. My first interview with Campbell was with the entire ...

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