Bringing the Text to Life
Call him a spiritual pilgrim of the capitalist persuasion.
His name is Tom Chappell, and he’s the CEO of the natural-toothpaste company Tom’s of Maine.
Eighteen years ago, when Chappell was 43, he had just guided his company through a period of aggressive growth, and now he had more money than the sultan of Brunei. Chappell himself, however, rather than experiencing satisfaction and fulfillment, was feeling drained — emotionally and spiritually. The usual advice for business leaders when they hit that point is to sell the business, buy a sailboat and travel the world, but Chappell instead found direction from a question his pastor’s wife put to him.
“What makes you think Tom’s of Maine isn’t your ministry?” she asked.
What this CEO decided to do was stay with the company, but also to enroll in Harvard Divinity School, a move that so surprised the school’s admission office that for Chappell’s first semester, they would only let him enroll as a provisional student.
The agreement Chappell...