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J Barry Griswell      

Retired Fortune 250 CEO and WSJ Best-Selling Author

Barry Griswell has more than 36 years of experience in the financial services industry, including more than 20 years in executive management at the Principal Financial Group where he retired as chairman, president and chief executive officer.  Prior to his association with the Principal Financial Group, Mr. Griswell had a distinguished career at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, most notably as president and chief executive officer of MetLife Marketing Corporation.  Mr. Griswell  has also served the insurance industry in major leadership roles including chairman of LIMRA International at a time of international expansion, chairman of the Life Underwriter Council at a time when market practices issues were drawing significant regulatory interest, and as chairman of the American Council of Life Insurers in a time of regulatory and market practices threats.  He has also spoken about regulatory issues on many occasions in the U.S. and internationally.  An outstanding leader in financial services, as well as in organizations that support cultural, social, and humanitarian causes, he is a published author and currently is president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines in Des Moines, Iowa.

Barry Griswell was born into economically disadvantaged circumstances in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was raised by his mother, a single parent.  He realized that education provided his best chance for success and enrolled in Berry College where he played basketball and received a BS with a major in business administration in 1971.  In 1972 he earned his MBA from Stetson University.  His education did not stop there, however.  He has demonstrated his belief in lifelong learning by earning three important professional credentials: CLU, ChFC, and LLIF and continuously seeks ways to stay ahead of the curve.

Keenly aware of the role that adversity has played in his life, in 2009 Mr. Griswell co-authored a book that was listed on the Wall Street Journal's Best Seller List.  The Adversity Paradox: An Unconventional Guide to Achieving Uncommon Business Success (St. Martin's Press), sets forth precepts for success and liberally illustrates them with real world examples and cases.

In addition to his work with non-profit organizations established for the public good, Mr. Griswell is a board member of the National Financial Partners, Inc. and Herman Miller, Inc., both prominent publicly held companies.

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