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Leadership for Life Alumni Newsletter

Fall 2005: Three-Time CCL Alum Strives to Make his Life his Message


Jon Lindberg would like to look back on his life some day and know that the real meaning of it wasn't about how much money he made but about the impact he had on others. "I'm serious about working hard and doing a great job for my clients," he says, "but money as an accomplishment in itself is fleeting."

It is not an unusual sentiment from someone who seriously considered becoming a minister while in college. Though choosing a corporate path instead, Lindberg has been mindful ever since of how to make the most of his life choices. A favorite quotation of his is from Gandhi: "My life is my message."

Lindberg calls himself a "corporate entrepreneur," and it fits. After earning an MBA from the University of Chicago, he went to work for Procter & Gamble as a financial analyst. Two years later, he left P&G to start his own home-services company and watched it grow to some 50 employees. After selling that business, he helped guide a Swedish financial accounting software company toward a successful public offering.

Since 1998, Lindberg's corporate and entrepreneurial sides have existed nicely together at Chicago-based SmithBucklin Corp., the world's largest association management and professional services company. As an executive director of the organization, he helps nonprofits develop their growth strategies.

The young professional has attended three programs at the Center in as many years. Each, he says, has given him a greater appreciation for what it takes to be successful - not only in business but as a person. "They helped me to truly understand myself," he says.

Lindberg first came to CCL in the summer of 2003 to attend LDP. An avid learner open to change, he remembers most vividly the feedback that came from people back at work.

"In general, I think people would say I'm a pretty good guy and a pretty good leader," he says. "But it was incredibly helpful to get a clear, objective view of how other people perceived me.

"There had been so much that I did in my day-to-day routine with absolutely the best of intentions that ended up having an impact that wasn't helpful for others, wasn't helpful for the business and, ultimately, wasn't helpful for me. It was in this program that I started to think about myself at a deep level."

The LDP made him a "complete fan" of the CCL programs, Lindberg says enthusiastically. "I wanted to keep going to them!" He returned in 2004 for Looking Glass Experience and in 2005 for Developing the Strategic Leader, each time learning more about how effective leaders motivate their teams and get results.

Lindberg's professional development has come amid great change in his personal life. His first marriage ended in divorce a year before he attended the LDP. He has since remarried and very recently became a father. According to Lindberg, what he learned at CCL has helped him understand what it takes for a marriage to succeed. In a nutshell, he says, it is just as important to know how to settle differences and give and receive feedback in marriage as it is at work.

"I've studied this, and statistically the highest correlation for success in a marriage is a couple's ability to resolve conflicts," he says. "And feedback is such a gift! I have really embraced that and I think it has strengthened the relationship between my wife, Nancy, and me. And now, as the dad of the world's most beautiful baby boy, I hope it will also make me a good parent."