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The chairman and CEO of the Great American Insurance Company, Lindner begins each day with 30 minutes of prayer.

He’s overseen the company’s transformation to an international underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products.

While he plans to stay on the job for at least another decade, Lindner has begun making plans for immediate and long-term successors.

A Calculated Risk-Taker Finds Peace

Not even significant wealth made Carl H. Lindner III happy. So he quit his workaholic ways, reconnected with his family and found his spiritual side.

By  Mike Patten

[Page 3 of 4]

“Carl believes in doing things well, and he put his money where his heart was, investing millions in facilities and staff,” says Randy Brunk, the academy’s head of school.

“Carl is a kind, thoughtful, wise, persistent, and committed parent and friend. Though he has significant wealth and influence, he never considers himself anything more than a fellow worker in the Lord’s harvest. I have seen him roll up his sleeves to do the work and at the same time write a check unlike many have ever done for Christian education.”

Lindner says he and his wife concentrate their giving on education, evangelism and the poor, especially children.

“My wife and I have been very blessed,” he says. “As a philanthropist and as a Christian, you get so many requests for various needs that over time you need to ask God to help you understand what your passion is. We focused our efforts with the poor and orphans in particular in many different organizations. We’re involved throughout the world in a number of orphanages and a number of organizations that focus on that.”

David Szymanski, the dean of the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, says Lindner is one of the most impressive businessmen he’s run across.

“He’s absolutely, totally committed to the industry,” Szymanski says. “I’m really impressed by his forward thinking. His whole family has a philanthropic approach to life. He’s very grounded by his faith.”

Next Generation

Lindner’s plate is full for 2012. While he sees himself staying on the job at least another decade, he realizes he and others on the senior management team are getting older.

“One reason for our success is we’ve worked with the same group of senior execs probably for 25 years,” he says. “I have a great management team, but we need to develop the next generations. The good news is we have a great team, but all of us are in our 50s or early 60s. We’ve always done strategic reviews of every one of our businesses, but what I find is the people development part always gets short shrift. So as a company we’ve begun doing strategic leadership reviews. We have detailed plans that are developed business by business for people, both for immediate successors and long-term successors.”

And he expects the economy to remain a challenge. He says he intends to be ready.

“[You have to] make sure you have the right enterprise risk management controls in place and that you’re aggressively looking at many different crisis scenarios to make sure that you’re going to have your capital stay intact,” he says. “That’s why as a company we’re keeping quite a bit of powder dry. Offensively for opportunities and defensively for the things you don’t know about.

“Craig and I have made a decision we’re going to keep $300 million in cash and excess capital just as dry powder. Some of the time some of the best opportunities to acquire things are when the biggest problems are out there.”

Patten is a contributing writer.

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