Authors/Film & TV

Published on May 18th, 2020 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Michael Brody-Waite Says Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts: How To Lead Like Your Life Depends On It

Leaders in the boardroom aren’t often compared to addicts struggling to survive, but they do have a few important factors in common. Instead of chasing drugs, leaders often chase professional, financial and social success–often to the detriment of themselves and the people around them–while wearing masks to hide their true selves. In Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts: How to Lead Like Your Life Depends On It, Michael Brody-Waite explains the secret to great leadership, personally and professionally, is to simply do what recovering addicts do – Live Mask-Free.

The lessons learned in Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts are two-fold. First, Brody-Waite explains how recovery programs uniquely train addicts to systematically live and lead “Mask-Free.” Secondly, he guides the reader through a system that can help any leader leverage what has been working for millions of addicts for over 80 years. Readers will learn to remove the masks hindering their success, embrace who they truly are and gain a rare business competitive advantage in the process. 

Part how-to and part memoir, Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts weaves in Brody-Waite’s own experience with addiction and tackles the story of how he hit rock bottom at 23-years-old. The book captures how Brody-Waite converted recovery from addiction into a leadership philosophy that allowed him to go from homeless and unemployed to an award-winning CEO and founder of an Inc. 500 company.

In recovery, Brody-Waite discovered that workplace leaders and drug addicts are not all that different. Like addicts, leaders often say “yes” when they should say “no,” avoid difficult conversations, hide their weaknesses, hold back their unique perspectives and wear other masks that limit their potential. His “Mask-Free System” is built on three principles: (1) Practice rigorous authenticity, (2) Surrender the outcome, and (3) Do uncomfortable work.

“These three principles not only saved my life from addiction, they also propelled my career and set me apart as a leader,” said Brody-Waite. “Once I took off my mask, I didn’t hold anything back from my colleagues, customers, employees, family or friends. When individuals and teams adopt this “Mask-Free” mindset, they gain a significant competitive advantage, including improved productivity, more efficient time management, increased growth and strengthened trust.”

Companies such as Google, Dell, Global Payments and more, have already embraced the “Mask-Free Movement” as a way for their leaders to promote their authenticity. Now, with how-to worksheets and action cards, his book equips all readers with the tools needed to gain a level of freedom and success they didn’t know was possible.


About the Author:

Michael Brody-Waite’s TEDx Nashville YouTube video, “Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do” is the #1 talk in the history of TEDx Nashville. It has been seen by over one million people in 25 countries and offers insight into his 17-year journey from addiction and near homelessness to CEO and cofounder of an Inc. 500 startup that he sold to a publicly traded company. This talk sparked the #MaskFreeMovement and brought awareness to his Mask-Free Program built on 3 principles inspired by his recovery, showing leaders how to achieve balance, reclaim energy, and thrive in work and life.

Michael is an acclaimed speaker, entrepreneur, award-winning three-time CEO, leadership coach and author. His accomplishments include being named a Most Admired CEO, named to the Top 40 Under 40, and being recognized by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce as Healthcare Entrepreneur of the Year. Today, Michael is on a mission to teach individuals, organizations and communities how to lead themselves by living mask-free. In his personal time, he is focused on being the best husband, father, and recovering addict he can be. For more, please visit

Photo credit Michael Brody-Waite


Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts

Forefront Books; May 2020

ISBN: 270000765949

Available from

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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