Peter J. de Silva, CMT patient, member of CMT Research Foundation’s Board, and a former Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, has recently published, Taking Stock: 10 Life and Leadership Principles from My Seat at the Table.
In it is, he writes: “an invitation to take time to reflect on where you are right now as a leader, what got you to this point, and what you might want to do differently to continue to grow both personally and professionally.”
Peter may be best known in the business world as the former retail president for TDAmeritrade, where he was responsible for all facets of the +$5 billion retail business segment, including strategy formulation, financial performance, sales, digital strategy, distribution, client experience, associate experience for the 5,000 employees, and compliance and risk management. Peter also served as president of Scottrade Financial Services and UMB Financial Corporation as well as a senior leader at Fidelity Investments. He is also well known as a tireless community leader and champion, especially in his adopted community of Kansas City.
Peter is also a CMT patient.
Peter writes: “In addition to my business experiences, my leadership style has been impacted by my life-long struggle with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT)…I believe that life experiences test the impressions people hold, values they set and believe, or a set of actions that people might want – or not want – to emulate.”
I was born with a degenerative genetic neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT). It is a hereditary disease that affects approximately 3 million people across the world and 150,000 people in the U.S. While it does not kill, it can have a very debilitating effect on those who have it.
When I was growing up, my parents encouraged me to keep my CMT to myself. They reasoned that it was a private family matter and no one else’s business. They encouraged me to be strong, resilient, and never seek any kind of accommodation. I often struggled with whether I was being deceitful or just private by not sharing this information, even with those closest to me. For almost 60 years, I dutifully heeded their advice. I never let my CMT define me as a person or as a leader.
As I take stock now from a different, more mature, and reflective point in my life, some of the ways my disease impacted my leadership approach and style have come into clearer focus.
7 Ways I Drew Strength and Purpose from Chronic Illness That Anyone Can Use
Watch Full Testimonial from Author and CMT Patient, Peter de Silva
“In addition to providing life and leadership lessons gleaned from many years as a corporate and community leader, Taking Stock recounts the journey of someone who was able to finally come to terms with having CMT – and put it to good use. Like many with CMT, I kept my disease largely to myself. After all, I reasoned, that it was my, and my family’s issue and no one else’s. Why burden anyone else with my issue? I was convinced my silence was about remaining private, and not an intentional attempt to deceive.
Taking stock from where I stand today, I now realize that was a mistake.
Raising awareness of this little-known – but devastating – disease is more important than keeping it hidden and I want to encourage you to feel the same way. I am now chair of Endgame – a $10 million campaign to raise funds to invest in cutting edge research that will find treatments and cures for CMT. It may be too late for me, but I am passionate about future generations having a world free of CMT. Please join me in this movement.
-Peter de Silva
“Despite overwhelming odds against success caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), Peter persevered to become an inspirational, accomplished, and successful business leader. Taking Stock is a fascinating look into his ferociously positive mindset for conquering adversity with time-tested principles and integrity.”
Patrick Livney – Founder and Chair, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Research Foundation (CMTRF)
“Taking Stock gave me new insights on how special Peter de Silva is, both as a business leader and a Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) patient. His largely silent struggles with CMT have clearly made Peter a more empathetic and inclusive leader. The book also offered me, as a mother of a young woman with CMT, a much greater appreciation for the often nuanced physical and emotional challenges of this often-invisible disease.”
Cleary Simpson – CEO, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Research Foundation
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