No Greatness without Goodness: How a Father's Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement

No Greatness without Goodness: How a Father's Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement

by Randy Lewis


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Randy Lewis bet his career that he could create an inclusive workplace at one of America’s biggest corporations—a place where people with disabilities could not just succeed but thrive. No Greatness without Goodness is the powerful story of a corporate executive who, after watching the world through the eyes of Austin, his own child with autism, realized that we all have a greater responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone, including those with disabilities.

As the senior vice president of Walgreens, Randy Lewis created thousands of full-time jobs for people with disabilities. No Greatness without Goodness offers a firsthand account of what it takes to lead with courage in order to change people’s lives for the better. Randy’s motto is “What’s the use of having power if you don’t use it to do good?” In this book, you’ll learn how to start working for good, no matter where you are or how much power you hold.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496411679
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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No Greatness Without Goodness

How a Father's Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement

By Randy Lewis, Stephanie Rische

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 J. Randolph Lewis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-8364-4



Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. MARGARET MEAD

I had practiced my speech over and over, but I was still nervous as I climbed the stairs to the stage in the middle of the Paris Las Vegas ballroom. Surrounded by an audience of five thousand Walgreens store managers, I said that we were about to undertake something that had never been done before—anywhere. We were planning to build the most efficient distribution center of its kind in the world.

And we were going to staff one-third of the workforce with people who have disabilities, many of whom had never been offered a job. People with mental disabilities such as autism and cognitive delays. People with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, and missing limbs. We were going to pay them the same as people without disabilities, have them perform the same jobs, and hold them to the same standards. We would offer full benefits and full-time employment, taking hundreds of people off welfare rolls.

And then Walgreens would do something else we'd never done: we would open our doors to the world—even our competitors—and share everything we'd learned with them.

As I prepared to tell the five thousand store managers how we were going to do all this, the huge screens surrounding the stage filled with a picture of my family. That's because my family is where the story began.

* * *

Under a gorgeous full moon, not long before dawn on Friday the 13th of May in 1988, my wife, Kay, and I drove toward the hospital and into a future more frightening, more humbling, and more wondrous than anything we could have imagined.

Apparently full moons don't just bring out werewolves, as all the labor rooms were taken. After four hours of labor on a gurney in the hallway, Kay delivered our son into the world. He didn't make a sound. His silence surprised me—his older sister had been born wailing, but our boy didn't even whimper. Still attached to his mom, he gazed into his new world, content to leave the commotion to others.

Our dreams for our second child were of the ordinary kind—baseball, Cub Scouts, model airplanes—but we would soon learn that this was no ordinary child. None of those childhood pleasures were to be his. Instead, he was to be my catalyst, my inspiration, and my goad. He would compel me toward action that I never would have thought possible.

I would like to say that my son looked like me, but mostly he just looked like any other chubby, healthy, happy baby born that day. In keeping with my roots, I had placed a small bag of Texas dirt under his mother's hospital bed in Barrington, Illinois, so one day he could claim that he'd been born on Texas soil. As we'd been planning even before we were married, Kay and I named him Austin, after the capital city of my home state. It was a good day.

* * *

In the following months, Austin progressed as expected, losing those chubby cheeks but not his beautiful smile. He crawled and learned to walk as he morphed from a baby to a toddler. Once he could walk, he was fast and curious. He terrorized Kay by slipping away during so many shopping trips that she began to tell store managers he was deaf so they would join the search for him. Austin's younger sister, Allison, was born eighteen months after he was, so with three kids in less than five years, we had a hectic but seemingly ordinary life.

Ordinary, that is, until the weekend we took the family to Kentucky for a reunion with Kay's relatives. I spent most of the weekend with two-year-old Austin on my shoulders, which was the only way I could keep him from sprinting away. It was a satisfactory arrangement for both of us. If I carried him, I didn't have to worry that he'd run off. And Austin was content to communicate his needs by twisting my head whichever direction he wanted to go.

Kay's family is full of schoolteachers, and as they watched her deal with a little boy who paid no attention to her praise or her scolding, they saw something we hadn't seen. And so began a lot of hushed conversations that would continue around us—but unheard by us—throughout the weekend. Kay's mother called soon after we returned home to suggest that our son ought to be tested for autism. Kay was so angry that she hung up without saying good-bye—something she'd never done before. The next week her mom sent us a book on autism. Angry with the kind of rage born of deep fear, Kay put it on the nightstand in the guest room without opening it. It sat there for a year.

Before his second birthday, Austin had been using some words: Daddy. Bye-bye. No. But now he seemed to be saying them less often. Kay's anxious eyes were assessing him all the time. His face seemed to have lost the quick expressions it once had. He paid so little heed to us that we suspected he might have truly gone deaf. We got his hearing tested, and although it was fine, Kay continued to worry. I'm the kind of guy who naturally thinks everything's going to be fine, and I told her to stop worrying. But she couldn't. After weeks of listening to her fret, I gave in.

"All right," I said. "Let's get him checked out. At least that will get everyone off our backs."

Before we took Austin in for testing, the doctor sent us assessment forms to fill out. As Kay went through the speech and language questions, she realized how much we had failed to notice. Words that Austin had once used—ball, dog, water—had disappeared entirely from his vocabulary.

"When did your child begin putting words together?" we read on the assessment form.

He hadn't yet. Not even two words. When Austin wanted something, he pointed or pulled us toward whatever he wanted. When we couldn't understand him, he cried and threw tantrums.

As we sat in the specialist's waiting room a few days after Austin had completed the comprehensive battery of tests, I was planning the grief I'd give Kay's family when the tests showed our son to be perfectly fine. As we walked into the doctor's office, I expected to hear that Austin's speech was a little delayed, which is common in boys, and that he'd grow out of it.

Kay joked with the doctor as we shook his hand. "So, you're going to tell me that I feed him too much sugar, aren't you?"

The doctor didn't smile. Instead, he said, "Why don't you have a seat, and let's go over what we found."

Almost every test showed that Austin lagged far behind expectations. He had delays with language—both understanding and speech—and problems with motor skills and muscle tone. The doctor said our son had pervasive development disorder, which was often code for autism in those days. No one knew the cause of Austin's condition. Hoping for a silver lining, I asked, "Will he get better as he grows older?"

The doctor glanced up from the reports before him, looked at both of us, and said quietly, "He might get worse."

Nightmare visions of our future flashed before me—putting locks on the doors and windows to keep our son from running away, changing diapers on a grown man, having to subdue an adult who threw tantrums like a two-year-old. A dozen other possibilities, each worse than the one before, filled my mind.

As Kay and I walked toward the car, I regained a bit of my usual optimism. Things had turned out differently than we'd hoped. But problems are for solving. I had a good salary and medical insurance. I tried to cheer Kay up by reminding her that we still had a lot to be grateful for.

"Isn't it better for this to happen to us than to another family that doesn't have the love and resources we have?" I asked.

Kay wasn't with me on that one. Looking up toward a cloudless sky, she asked, "How can the sun be shining today?"

Once in the car, Kay began to cry—more than cry, actually. She began to sob like a child. I stared straight ahead, gripping the steering wheel until my fingers ached. A clock had begun ticking in my mind—the same clock that ticks in the mind of every parent with a child who has a disability. It marks off the minutes I have left in this world before I die and leave my son without someone to take care of him.

The son we had when we walked into that doctor's office was gone, just as surely as if he'd stopped breathing and died. The people Kay and I once were had died too. We'd been among the lucky ones. A happy marriage. A stable income. Three healthy children. The present was good, and we'd had every reason to think the future would be even better.

Now everything was different. We had joined the ranks of parents whose fate evokes pity and fear. Someone sent us a poem that I later learned is often sent to parents of children born with a disability. Called "Welcome to Holland," the poem is written from the perspective of a person who has his heart set on visiting Paris and spends months in joyous anticipation and planning. But his plane is diverted to Holland instead. After his initial disappointment, the traveler learns to appreciate what Holland has to offer that Paris doesn't—tulips, windmills, Rembrandt.

The poem was sent to comfort us. It didn't.

We weren't in another country; we were in another world. We'd expected to land on Earth, but we'd ended up on Mars—an arid, desolate, lonely world where nothing relating to our son would ever be easy again. We'd struggle in ways others wouldn't be able to imagine, and we'd be judged by people who couldn't possibly understand our situation. Restaurants, shops, theaters—all the places we'd once enjoyed with our children—would become sites of such anxiety when our son was present that we would stay away. Friends who had once welcomed us and our children would now reassess their invitations. If you think people don't like it when you bring your dog to their house, try bringing your autistic child.

* * *

We were given Austin's diagnosis on Ash Wednesday. Two nights later, at the Good Friday service, Kay sang with a septet during the evening service. As she stood at the front of the church, with the cross before her and the baptismal font behind her, she sang her heart out. There was only one question on her heart: God, what have you called us to?

We blamed ourselves; we blamed factors outside ourselves. But we never blamed God. Even so, we didn't understand why this was happening. If God had some grand design in sending us Austin, we couldn't see it. All we could see was the back of the quilt—the mess of loose ends and tied-off threads you find on the homely undersides of old-fashioned quilts. If he was using us to piece together a brilliant pattern, it was facing away from us, far from our own line of vision.

Kay and I began to scrutinize our pasts for anything we might have done that could have caused harm to our son. In the years to come, we would hear that mothers of children with autism were once blamed for not giving their babies the early nurturing they needed. Refrigerator mothers, they'd been called. Had we neglected Austin when he was a baby? No. Not fntentionally—never. Kay adored and enjoyed our children, even under the most trying of circumstances. She'd nursed Austin until he was a year old. He'd been a normal, affectionate baby.

Then he changed. At one point we read that some people blame immunizations for autism. We retraced our steps and concluded that Austin had begun losing his language at about the same time he got his immunizations. Should we have skipped the immunizations? The research indicated there was no direct link to autism, but we were scrounging for answers.

We had no idea what lay ahead. In my grade school Weekly Reader, I'd read about Dag Hammarskjold, the secretary general of the United Nations. Then, years later, I heard a simple but beautiful prayer he wrote. It had sunk into the cobwebs of my mind until the day of the doctor's visit, when it burst to the surface. The next morning I went into my office, found the prayer, printed it out, and pinned it on my cubicle wall, where I saw it every time I sat down at my desk. It was the best expression of hope I could muster.


Excerpted from No Greatness Without Goodness by Randy Lewis, Stephanie Rische. Copyright © 2014 J. Randolph Lewis. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Thank You and Yes 1

Chapter 2 Go with the Terrain 9

Chapter 3 Connecting 19

Chapter 4 Finding Gold in Dark Places 23

Chapter 5 Be Ready 29

Chapter 6 Archimedes and the Scorpion 33

Chapter 7 Money, Mission, and Meaning 41

Chapter 8 Principles Require Action 47

Chapter 9 Find the Crack in the Concrete 51

Chapter 10 Playing Chess 55

Chapter 11 Failure Is Just a Time-Out 59

Chapter 12 Compassion and Justice 63

Chapter 13 Adjusting Our Sails 71

Chapter 14 Pick Your Moment 75

Chapter 15 Best Practices 83

Chapter 16 Leaders Go before Their Troops 89

Chapter 17 I'd Better See Some Dinosaurs 93

Chapter 18 Manage Your Fear 95

Chapter 19 Cash in Your Chips 99

Chapter 20 Cathedral Builders 103

Chapter 21 Crossing the Rubicon 107

Chapter 22 Eliminate Fear 111

Chapter 23 Share the Story 115

Chapter 24 Where the Buck Stops 121

Chapter 25 The Journey Is Worth It 125

Chapter 26 Bucking the Status Quo 129

Chapter 27 Don't Let the Big One Get Away 133

Chapter 28 Esthers Lesson 13P

Chapter 29 The World Is Waiting 143

Chapter 30 Katrina 147

Chapter 31 Manage in the Gray 151

Chapter 32 Share the Load 155

Chapter 33 Sacagaweas 159

Chapter 34 Tough Love 167

Chapter 35 Failure Is Not an Option 171

Chapter 36 Breathing Life into the Dream 175

Chapter 37 Positive Distractions 181

Chapter 38 Clear and Elevating Goals 185

Chapter 39 Verily, Verily 191

Chapter 40 Being Andrew 195

Chapter 41 A Place to Succeed 201

Chapter 42 How Long? 209

Acknowledgments 213

Appendix 1 Principles for Hiring People with Disabilities 217

Appendix 2 Moving from Grief to Acceptance 223

Notes 227

About the Author 229

What People are Saying About This

C. R. Walgreen III

The story of how unconditional love, unending patience, and total dedication to a good cause creates miracles.

Jeff Kellan


Bob Wright

Randy Lewis is a real trailblazer.

Senator Tom Harkin

A story that inspires us all.

Nancy M. Schlichting

Exhilarating. Describes the potential power and impact of one person.

Thomas F. Keller

A powerful story! A must-read for all MBA programs.

Allan Cox

An amazing feat of faith and foresight that comes true.

Temple Grandin

Fascinating! A must-read for everyone in business school.

Emil Brolick

Anything seems possible after reading this book.

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No Greatness Without Goodness: How a Father S Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book! It is a well-told story of Austin, the autistic son of Randy Lewis, and his impact on corporate America (and beyond). The insights for both parents and business people are exquisite. Both useful and touching. I am so proud of Randy Lewis for the pioneering of Walgreens' distribuion centers as wonderful workplaces for people with disabilities. I am proud of Walgreens for having the wisdom to go with Randy on this journey. Thank you Randy! Judy A.
JeanieMNJL More than 1 year ago
The author became a Walgreens Senior Vice President and parent to a son with disability. He championed his company's movement to hire the handicapped. By necessity the goal was a profitable venture not a charity cause. This book has lots of business savvy and compassion. A story about the miraculous.
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible book everyone should read that uncovers a need in our nation to help people with disabilities find employment. It was written by the senior vice president of Walgreens whose son is autistic. Even before he learned that, he wanted Walgreens to be motivated by three principles: money, mission, and meaning. If they hired disabled people who could work, they would make a difference for the community, the shareholders, and the employees. They would spend $180 million on this program to get it started. He knew they would battle fear which undermines creativity and stepping out in a new direction. He also knew that a disability could not be an excuse for laziness or poor performance. He got the city to run buses so the poor would be able to get to work. He felt he had to set an example in hiring the disabled and proving they could do the work. They would ask the employee how he’d do the job. Supervisors would then list the steps to complete each job. Once a week they would review their performance and show confidence in each worker. And the project was a success!
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
Great book! Randy Lewis tells the story of his family – how his son was born and then diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. Life with Austin was hard, very hard, and he wondered what Austin would do if anything happened to him or his wife – who would care for Austin. As Austin got older Mr. Lewis realized that as a senior executive with Walgreens he could make a difference in hiring disabled people, people like his son Austin who might not get hired otherwise or certainly would not get paid enough to live on their own. But, how could he effect this change? This is that story and what a remarkable one it is. (It does get a little long with lots of descriptions of how to make the machinery work). I loved how at the end of each chapter Mr. Lewis has motivational sayings, such as “Use every opportunity to help others see meaning in their work. They will be transformed from bricklayers to cathedral builders.” A statement he also made that resonated with me was “Why have poser if you don’t use it for good.” I’m glad Mr. Lewis used that power to change the lives of so many people with disabilities!
AnotherBibliophile More than 1 year ago
Inspiring and Worthwhile; This is an excellent, well-written story of corporate responsibility, told with feeling from a caring father and businessman. It is both a story and a valuable learning tool. It is not long, but it contains a lot of good sense, not only for hiring the disabled, but also for the successful management of any team. It is impressive to read about the determination, the hope, the involved process, the many serendipitous meetings with just the people needed, and the worthwhile accomplishments achieved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 Randy Lewis is a retired Walgreens Senior Vice President and was over their Distribution Centers. But more important is his role as father to Austin who has Autism. Through his life with Austin he realized that their weren't jobs available for those with disabilities and this concerned him. How would his son ever have a chance to live a somewhat normal life without this opportunity? From struggling with these questions and thoughts for his son he came up with the idea to build a distribution center that was staffed with one third disabled workers.  This book is fabulous. I read it in one day. I loved hearing his story and how he overcame obstacles to make it happen. Not only did Walgreens change the way they hire and create the goal to have 20% of their entire workforce, even in the stores, disabled; but he also helped inspire other companies to do the same. What a great story of a father's love and determination to make the world a better place for his son.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a difference this author has made for those with disabilities, and the business world - a good difference!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you for making this book available for free today! The author's work, and message, are so important!