Hunter Harrison, the revolutionary railroader from Memphis, dramatically turned four publicly traded companies into cash machines. Starting as a laborer when he was a wayward teenager, Harrison spent a half century in the rail business and nearly two decades running Illinois Central, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and CSX. Never accepting the status quo, Harrison not only renovated established railroads, he forced an industry to shape up. As the pre-eminent proponent of Precision Scheduled Railroading, Harrison created approximately $50 billion in shareholder value. Charming, intimidating, and not afraid to make enemies, the no-bullshit CEO let nothing get in his way. At the same time, he was a talent scout and coach to thousands, and a devoted father and husband for more than fifty years.
Railroader offers insights into running all businesses. Howard Green’s highly personal biography is deeply researched, based on conversations with Harrison over several years. It also includes candid stories from Harrison’s family and colleagues — those who admired him and those who criticized him. Green’s access and decades of experience give him the unparalleled ability to tell the story of this uncompromising leader who both inspired and infuriated.
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Howard Green was a broadcast journalist for thirty-three years, best known as founding anchor at Canada’s Business News Network where he hosted the flagship interview program, Headline with Howard Green. During his almost fifteen years at BNN, he conducted more than 14,000 interviews, many with leading CEOs and the biggest names in business and politics, including Sir Richard Branson, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Prior to that, Green spent eighteen years as a correspondent, producer and director making programs for a variety of networks including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and PBS. A two-time Emmy Nominee and winner of Canada’s top television prize for his documentary work, his films have been broadcast worldwide. In 2013, Green became a bestselling author with the release of his first book, Banking on America: How TD Bank Rose to the Top and Took on the USA. His second book, Distilled: A Memoir of Family, Seagram, Baseball and Philanthropy, co-authored with Charles Bronfman, was also an instant Globe and Mail and Toronto Star bestseller and finalist for the National Business Book Award. Howard Green lives in Toronto.
Published: December 2020
Originally published by: Page Two Books, Inc.
“Hunter Harrison was a colorful man with a zest for life and a passion for railroading. He was certainly the greatest modern manager of these massive networks of commerce that undergird industrial society. Railroader is the story of an interesting life and the intricacies of complex managerial challenges, woven into an enjoyable and highly informative book.” — Frederick W. Smith, chairman and CEO, FedEx Corporation
“Precision railroading was his vision and unbending will his advantage. In this tightly written account of Hunter Harrison’s fifty years of extraordinary achievement, Howard Green has captured the essence of the man. A valuable history and, as well, a great read.” — Bill Downe, former president & CEO, BMO Financial Group
“A riveting, up-close profile of one of the most successful and controversial CEOs of the modern era. Railroader is a master class in sharp-elbowed management in a fabled industry. Part hard ass, part mentor, part preacher, Hunter Harrison goes from one railroad to another to another to another, turning them all around and creating conflict everywhere he went. You won’t be able to put this book down.” — Ali Velshi, anchor, MSNBC and business correspondent, NBC News
“This book energized me to approach business and life just a little more like Hunter Harrison.… Howard Green masterfully puts you up close and personal with a man who's both utterly straightforward yet complicated, all while giving a great perspective on what was happening in business at the time.… This is one of the best books I've ever read.” — Nicole Verkindt, founder and CEO, OMX
“Railroader presents both a fascinating business story with global resonance and a very personal tale of a life fully lived in a ‘no-holds barred’ fashion to the very end. It is a brilliant profile of an enigmatic, somewhat obsessed, railroad mercenary, who turned his industry on its head, with new benchmarks for future generations of leaders. Lots of juicy learnings throughout.” — Calin Rovinescu, president & CEO, Air Canada
“A great read. Railroader offers a balanced view of Hunter Harrison’s complex personality. Hunter Harrison, like Steve Jobs, is proof that a strong, knowledgeable leader with a vision can make a huge difference.” — Jim Keohane, president & CEO, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan
“Howard Green infuses his narrative with the passion and snap that epitomized Hunter Harrison’s consummate success running four different North American railroads. Railroader is an affectionate but blunt portrayal that is a lively, compelling read, giving vibrant, human texture to an exceptional business career.” — Derek Burney, former Canadian ambassador to the United States
“Revered and reviled, Hunter Harrison was a CEO like no other. He transformed North American railroads. He repriced executive compensation. He ignited debates about safety and competitiveness, and left us all debating the price of precision.… In Railroader, Howard Green captures the man in full, with an intimate yet nuanced portrait of an uncompromising, compulsive executive whose legacy both endures and confounds.” — John Stackhouse, senior vice-president, RBC, and former editor-in-chief, the Globe and Mail