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Leading with Vision and Heart is inherently a story of success, but it is also a story of the importance of family and friends, including legendary baseball player Hank Aaron. Len Roberts' memoir shares the joys of fatherhood, but also the heartache when his first-born daughter was struck by a drunk driver. And it recounts a love story over half a century in the making, between Len and his wife, Laurie. From a passion for travel to a family love of animals, and from C-suite boardrooms to the family lake house, Len has led a life that leaders of all backgrounds can learn from. In this book, he shares the memories, insights, and leadership principles that he has developed over a lifetime of integrity and accomplishment, while acknowledging and honoring the loved ones who make it all worthwhile.
Leonard H. Roberts was born on February 19, 1949. Growing up in Chicago as the son of a Jewish mechanical draftsman, he spent his childhood going to school, playing games in the neighborhood, and confronting bullies and prejudice at a young age. Len married his high school sweetheart—and lifetime love—at the age of 18, and they would later have three daughters together. Len earned a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and Marketing from the University of Illinois in 1971, and he was a world-acclaimed food scientist by the age of 19. He also earned a law degree from DePaul University Law School and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1974. His remarkable career began as a food scientist at Central Soya while a high school senior, and then at Armour Foods, hired there during his junior year of college, and continued at Ralston Purina Company. Len Roberts made a name for himself in food science, marketing, and food service between 1968 and 1985, serving in key management positions. But his most lauded accomplishments were yet to come: incredible turnarounds at three Fortune 500 companies. First, he served as president and CEO of Arby's, Inc., where he is credited with engineering an acclaimed and dramatic revival of the company. Next, he repeated this feat as chairman and CEO of Shoney's, Inc., leading the second-largest restaurant chain in the country with 1,800 locations. Then he secured the triple crown with a third turnaround, this time as chairman and CEO of RadioShack Corporation, where he was the catalyst for the successful reinvention of a company with more than 7,200 retail stores and revenues of $4.8 billion. Along the way, he battled the corruption of Miami financier Victor Posner, and the extreme racism of Shoney's founder, Ray Danner, while protecting and promoting the interests of the companies he led, the people they employed, and the customers they served. His vision and leadership elicited major media coverage in outlets like USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and others, and brought numerous industry accolades and awards.