Screen Shot 2012-11-28 at 10.36.51 AM.pngAlice G. Walton

Richard Taite is a bit of an incongruity. For the CEO of one of the world’s most successful addiction treatment facilities (financially and in treatment success rate), he’s refreshingly down-home and modest, in an industry that’s often not so. Part of his humility might come from the fact that he was an addict himself for 20 years before getting clean, becoming professionally successful, and founding Cliffside Malibu. So he understands his patients’ plights in the most intimate way.

“If you had told me twenty years ago that I would one day get sober,” Taite says, “marry an amazing woman who consistently inspires me to be a better man, have a child who is the love of my life, and become the founder of one of the leading addiction treatment centers in the world, I would have laughed in your face. Then I would have taken another hit of crack.”

In the throes of his addiction, Taite was smoking crack every day, going for a week or more without sleep, and eating a Big Mac once a week just to stay alive. He was homeless at one point, too. He ultimately managed to pull himself out of addiction in a sober living facility and a lot – a lot – of therapy. Today he says that the core issues with addiction for most people come from long held and erroneous beliefs about oneself that begin in childhood. Abusing alcohol or drugs, he explains, is often an addict’s attempt to cope with these beliefs that develop early but, unfortunately and destructively, stick around and shape us as adults. His treatment facility’s methods center around helping the patient get to the bottom of their “issues,” which has to happen first for a person to surface from their addiction.

Worst CEO on the face of the Earth, FOR SURE,” Taite jokes. Some would say he hasn’t always made the best financial decisions with the organization, spending out-of-pocket money to help clients in unconventional ways. “If,” says Taite, “you run a business like a love call, you are a ‘bad businessman.’ But you get to help a lot of people, and in the end that’s exactly why we are so successful.”

Continue Reading: forbes.com