From Publishers Weekly
In 1996, Chappell and his wife, Kate, almost sold their successful company, Tom's of Maine, known for its baking-soda toothpaste, chest rubs and other natural-ingredient products. Instead, they found a new COO/partner, Tom O'Brien, former deodorant chief of Procter & Gamble, and embarked on a binge of new product launches. In this well-intentioned but unoriginal handbook, Chappell, founder/CEO of the company that bears his first name, outlines his seven-step program (the "Seven Intentions") designed to help business managers focus on social and environmental responsibility rather than on the bottom line. "Managing Upside Down" means "letting your own deepest beliefs and values... drive your business," and Chappell, who went to Harvard Divinity School, expands here on the message of his first book, The Soul of a Business (1993), which stressed that spiritual goals and the pursuit of profit are compatible. But much of his advice has a very familiar ring (flatten the hierarchy; give employees permission to act and think creatively; establish interlocking teams, etc.). As it concentrates on his own company's success story, the book often comes across as shameless self-promotion, and it is padded with testimonies from the company's stars. Platitudinous and preachy, this manifesto may nevertheless reach segments of corporate America, though its most receptive readership will probably be like-minded entrepreneurs. Chappell's insistence that companies large and small have an obligation to serve the community and protect the environment deserves to be widely heard, and Tom's of Maine practices what it preaches, giving grants to various organizations and encouraging employees to spend 5% of their paid work time volunteering in community jobs and services. Author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Chappell is a founder and CEO of Tom's of Maine, a company that makes toothpaste and other personal-care products from all-natural ingredients. He started the company nearly 30 years ago with a $5,000 loan, and now it is worth more than $25 million. Chappell believes that companies should be first accountable not to shareholders but to employees, customers, and the environment. When companies heed "the spirit," the bottom line will take care of itself! He spelled out this philosophy in The Soul of a Business: Managing for Profit and the Common Good
(1993) and now repeats his message. This time, though, he details seven steps--or intentions--that companies should follow: connect to the power of goodness, know thyself, envision your destiny, seek advice, venture out, constantly assess, and share! Chappell argues that most companies must reorient themselves to take these steps, and he advises what sort of leadership is necessary to do so. David A. Rouse