The Essence of Leadership

Paul Reuter, Founder and former CEO, CSP

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Probably no topic has been written about more than leadership. But I believe we need to dust off those books and do a very thoughtful study of what we really want in our leaders. We need to be accountable for the standards we set and the performance we expect—nothing less.

True leaders are not stars of “the now”; they take time to root. They do, in fact, “walk the talk.”

They influence lives for the better. They care and are often humble, and they grow and get better along their journey. They are instinctive in their ability to inspire others to be better. Leaders are committed. They lead by example. They gain our trust and make a difference. They are the real deal, and we can feel who they are.

So when we find a person who fits this description, we need to acknowledge that person and be sure others learn from their good examples.

In short, we need to celebrate them and be thankful for what they have contributed.

Each year for the past nine years, CSP has hosted an annual dinner at the NACS Show. Our Retail Leader of the Year dinner is a 400-person, by-invitation event that has touched the lives of many. I am amazed at the feedback I get from folks who tell me how much they appreciate the person honored and how that person’s story affected them. This year’s event was no exception. But how could it have been anything less when the guest of honor was Mr. Joe DePinto? If you do not know about Joe and his story, you need to turn to p. 42.

If you do, you already know why he is unquestionably a person who does us all proud. The dinner for me is not just an event. Rather, it’s a culmination of many months of study—the study of a person who came from humble beginnings and accomplished much. But the accomplishment is not the dollars or the largeness of the company. The story is about the largeness of how a human being can mean so much to so many. It’s about one of those rare breeds of people whose life can really be headlined “a true leader.”

Joe, a special thanks for all you have done for so many, and for reminding us, “It is all about the people.” As a true leader, the people you touch and influence multiply your leadership again and again. You should be very proud. I know many are proud of you. Thanks for letting CSP share your leadership with so many.

As we get ready for this special time of the year, let’s remember that we are all leaders and can in so many ways touch the lives of others. And as we do, let’s also remember how very much we have to be thankful for. Last week a friend suggested I do a “gratefulness meditation.” If you jot down health, love, family, friends, God, etc. (not necessarily in that order), I am sure you will realize how truly blessed you are.

May you and all of your loved ones have the most wonderful holiday ever. My best from all of us at CSP. 

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