My Reading Life: Chris Stevens

Author: Angela Sienko

Those who competed in the inaugural Notre Dame MBA Deep Dive competition in 2011 likely remember Chris Stevens. At the time, the 1974 Notre Dame grad was the vice president of corporate relations and customer development for Keurig Premium Coffee Systems—the No. 1 coffee brewer in North America, which he co-founded with three colleagues. He came to Mendoza to judge the Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) proposals that were submitted for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters as part of the Deep Dive.  

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That visit made an impression on Stevens. He left Keurig in 2013 to take a position as an adjunct professor at the Mendoza College of Business. Since returning to his alma mater, he has won numerous awards for his teaching. Most recently, the Notre Dame Board of Directors awarded Stevens with the Harvey G. Foster award for his distinguished work on behalf of the Notre Dame community and those in need.

At Mendoza, Stevens teaches Business Problem Solving and three sessions of the Interterm Intensive course—on which the Deep Dive Competition was based—for the Notre Dame MBA program.

In addition to his teaching duties, Stevens is the founder and CEO of CS 74 Ventures LLC, a holding company of various initiatives in which he has invested/owns with the commitment of donating at least 50 percent of the profits to charitable causes. He also is a past board member of Massachusetts CRINC, the ALS Association of America, the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and the Notre Dame Monogram Club.

In his “spare” time, Stevens’ activities include motivational speaking engagements, acting, broadcasting and writing. His first book, Fighting to Give: The Jimmy Culveyhouse Story, detailed the story of an ND classmate who died after battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

So how does Chris Stevens, who also is a father to five children, find time to read for pleasure? Let’s just say it’s not during normal business hours…

Question: With your busy schedule, when do you find time to do some personal reading?
Chris Stevens: I am a very early riser—I wake up at 4:30 AM. That’s when I read. It’s the best time because it’s before things get hectic!

Question: What are you reading now, and what have you read recently that has left a lasting impact?
Chris Stevens: The best book I read recently was Winners Dream by SAP CEO Bill McDermott. I’m in the process of writing a book now, so I am not actively reading one.

Question: What are your favorite types of things to read, for example: magazines, online newspapers and blogs, Twitter, hard-copy books, electronic books?
Chris Stevens: I used to like John Grisham stories and things like the Bourne series, but now my preference has turned to “real books” — I focus on history and business. I do read a ton of online articles and I’m also a pretty big fan of John Kotter. I also read anything by Joe Girard on the topic of selling. My other favorite is Getting It Right by our very own Mendoza faculty members Viva Bartkus and Ed Conlon.

Question: What is your favorite book of all time and why?
Chris Stevens: It is hard to pick a favorite since I’ve had such varied interests. I would put Bill McDermott’s Winners Dream high on my list. I also loved Joshua by Joseph Girzone, and Professor John Gaski's Frugal Cool. But I have to say that my favorite book is my own—Fighting to Give, the Jimmy Culveyhouse Story. This is a true story about a Notre Dame friend of mine who died of ALS. All of the proceeds are dedicated to ALS research.

Question: What book do you think every Mendoza student should read in some point in his/her life?
Chris Stevens: I would recommend  Simon Sinek's book It Starts with Why and of course, Fighting to Give!