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Overcoming Adversity And Leadership: Dr John Sperling Story

Overcoming Adversity and Leadership: Profile of Dr. John Sperling, Executive Chairman of Apollo Group, Inc. (Parent of the University of Phoenix)

By Howard Edward Haller, Ph. D.

This groundbreaking leadership research by has received extensive endorsements and enthusiastic reviews from well-known prominent business, political, and academic leaders who either participated in the study or reviewed the research findings. You will discover the proven success habits and secrets of people who, in spite of difficult or life threatening challenges shaped their own destiny to become successful, effective leaders. The full results of this research will be presented in the upcoming book by Dr. Howard Edward Haller titled “Leadership: View from the Shoulders of Giants.”

The nine initial prominent successful leaders who overcame adversity that were interviewed included: Dr. Tony Bonanzino, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, Monzer Hourani, U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Dr. John Malone, Larry Pino, U.S. Army Major General Sid Shachnow, Dr. Blenda Wilson, and Zig Ziglar.

The data from the above nine research participants was materially augmented by seven other successful leaders who overcame adversity including: Jack Canfield, William Draper III, Mark Victor Hansen, J. Terrence Lanni, Angelo Mozilo, Dr. Nido Qubein, and Dr. John Sperling.

Additionally, five internationally known and respected leadership scholars offered their reviews of the leadership research findings including: Dr. Ken Blanchard, Jim Kouzes, Dr. John Kotter, Dr. Paul Stoltz, and Dr. Meg Wheatley.

I interviewed Dr. John Sperling at his home in San Francisco, California. Dr. Sperling was the founder and initial Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, of the Apollo Group, Inc., and is now Executive Chairman and Director. This organization owns and operates the University of Phoenix and other colleges. John was born in poverty. As a child he suffered physical injury, psychological trauma, and was raised in a home where his parents were always fighting. Additionally, he was abused by his derelict father. When John’s father died when he was 15, John was “very happy.” He said of his father’s death “it was the best day of my life.” John overcame adversity and impossible odds in his business career.

Sperling’s University of Phoenix was challenged on a number of fronts because they were a “for-profit” University, which the regulators believed was heresy, immoral and they thought should be illegal. John battled every regulatory body that his vehement enemies could launch against him, “including two regional accrediting agencies, the state legislatures in both in California and Arizona, the FBI, and various law enforcement agencies, plus multiple civil and criminal law suits.” While the journey was difficult for John, the University of Phoenix and the Apollo Group won all the battles, and disproved the false charges, and was victorious on the law suits.

Sperling’s life story is a true Horatio Algier story of going from poverty, to being a billionaire. He went from a semi-literate dyslexic kid, who barely graduated from high school, to someone with a master’s degree from U.C. Berkley and a Ph. D. from Cambridge University. Notwithstanding the “tragic adversity” in his youth, Sperling expressed that the battles in his career and adult life were the most important.

Copyright 2006 © Howard Edward Haller,Ph.D.

Submitted by:

Dr Howard Haller

Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D. is the Chief Enlightenment Officer of the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho based The Leadership Success Institute. His Doctoral dissertation in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga Univ. included interviews with prominent US leaders in business, politics & education. Dr Haller offers one adversity story. http://www.TheLeaderInstitute.com




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