By Annie Pettit
It’s not unusual for start-ups to launch by announcing their plan to save the world on their way to financial success. These days, every new company takes great care to identify and support a charity that matches their cause, some doing it as a genuine desire to do good along the way to success, others because becoming successful means they must do good.
But that wasn’t how it worked nearly 25 years when Christine Magee co-founded Sleep Country Canada with Stephen Gunn and Gordon Lownds in 1994. Christine starred in their very first TV commercial, which can be found along with other lovingly curated retro commercials on their YouTube Channel, in which she talks about their plan to avoid exacerbating the landfill problem by offering used mattresses to people who don’t have one. And yes, if you watch the video with the sound on, you’ll hear the famous cheesy jingle that every true Canadian can recognize and sing playing in the background – why buy a mattress anywhere else.
Today, Sleep Country Canada has 185 locations in nine provinces across Canada. Among other awards, the company was twice rated a Top 50 Best Managed Company and three times rated one of 50 Best Employers in Canada by Hewitt Associates, co-sponsored by the Globe and Mail newspaper.
Christine’s leadership of and success with the company is notable for several reasons. First, she is genuine. The person you see in the commercials is actually Christine. She may be acting for the commercial, but a professional actor she is not. If you watch the bloopers, also available in the retro playlist, you realize you’re listening to a real, normal person talk about something she truly believes in.
Second, Christine has taken on the huge responsibility of being the face of the company, and not to grow her own personal brand. If someone is going to represent her company, she feels it ought to be someone who truly believes in the what the company has to offer. It ought to be a person that people, consumers, customers can trust.
The fact that Christine hosts the commercials herself cues me that Christine genuinely wants to connect with her customers. It shows that the leadership team cares about how customer experiences. Now that research has demonstrated making the CEO the face of the company is a successful strategy, more people are choosing to do it. But of course, there’s a big difference between doing something because it results in greater financial success versus doing something because it mirrors the beliefs of your company.
Finally, Christine places high value on giving back and doing the right thing. She supports organizations such as the Donated Bed program, Give a Kid a Coat, Backpacks for Kids, the Children’s Miracle Network, and she works with the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business to encourage young adults.
Christine’s successful leadership has been recognized in many ways. She has received too many awards to mention them all but she was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends, she was named one of Canada’s most powerful women, and she has been appointed to the Order of Canada for being a ‘model of corporate citizenship.’
If you’re looking to emulate an inspirational leader, perhaps you need look no further than Christine Magee.