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Is Success Hazardous to Your Health?
by Barbara Bartlein

The recent death of James Cantalupo, CEO of Mc Donald’s International, has cast new interest on the health of high level executives, especially those at the very top, the CEOs. There has been a number of deaths and/or heart attacks of prominent executives in recent years. These include; Roberto Goizueta, chairman of Coca-Cola, Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, Mike O’Callaghan, Chairman of the Las Vegas Sun, David Barry, CEO of Triangle Pharmaceuticals, and Pierre Bonelli, CEO of Bull. In addition, Michael Eisner, CEO of the Walt Disney CO had emergency heart bypass surgery in 1994.

CEO’s have long been identified as hard-working and driven personality types; Type “A’s” with a constant diet of stress, rich foods and sedentary lifestyle. Though it may look a life of luxury for those looking in, it is often 80 hour work weeks, exhaustive travel, and demands on free time for charity and community events.

While anecdotal evidence has been around for years that the CEO title may be hazardous to your health, there is new evidence that this may be true. For the past nine months, a CT scanning company in Florida, BodyView, has been offering free CT scans to CEOs as a marketing tool in hopes that others in the company will also want to pay $2200 for a scan.

According to BodyView, over 155 CEOs have completed the scan. The findings indicate that 38% had evidence of coronary disease, 10% had serious coronary disease and 6% needed immediate surgical intervention. This compares to just 6% with severe coronary disease for all men tested in this age group, according to James Stannard, Body View’s managing director.

Some things you can do to protect you and the organization:

•Skip the fancy meals. Most are fat laden, rich foods in large portions. Instead, consider the advise of Ira Lipman, CEO of security guard company Guardsmark. Lipman, who underwent triple bypass surgery in 1996, faxes his “Culinary Likes and Dislikes” to hotels and conventions. The fax includes a long list of fruits, vegetables and fish and omits red meat, eggs, and butter.

•Schedule the yearly physical. The only way to truly know your own physical status is through routine blood work and a cardio work up. Make sure your know your key numbers; ie. Total cholesterol, LDH/HDL, and triglycerides. Monitoring these values will give you a lot of information about your risks. Early intervention through medication and lifestyle changes and prevent problems from ever becoming clinical issues.

•Lighten up. Experts have long held the belief that Type A personalities had more heart disease and cardiovascular problems. But researches have identified, in recent years, that it is not the hard-driving aspects of personality that cause the problem. All personality types that harbor anger and hostility are more likely to develop heart disease. It is critical that you handle frustration and stress in a positive manner using humor and a healthy perspective. As Charles Bell of McDonald’s was quoted last fall, “I don’t get stressed. I give stress.”

•Put exercise on the calendar. If you don’t schedule and measure it, it won’t happen. Ira Lipman exercised at least one hour on a treadmill at 3.8 miles per hour a total of 245 days last year. How often did you? Schedule exercise right in your calendar and count miles, calories, or repetitions to make sure you stay on task. One half hour per day is a minimum.

•Have a succession plan. A sudden loss of a leader can paralyze an organization. Just ask Coca-Cola. They have yet to re-establish their top management team after the death of Chairman and CEO Roberto Goizueta in 1997. While no one likes to think about the possibility, failure to plan can damage a company’s image, performance and morale. Establish the succession team and groom future leaders. Make sure they have the experience needed to handle changes.

Remember, there is no point in working your way to the top unless you are around to enjoy the view.

Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at

FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at Barbara Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at



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