Leader of the Pack

How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself From Disaster to Success

Non-Fiction - Self Help
142 Pages
Reviewed on 02/22/2018
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Author Biography

Matt Sweetwood is a thought leadership and personal branding expert and was the U.S. CEO of beBee, Inc. With over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, he has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store, as well as the country’s largest in-store photography education. However, by far, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. He is a life and business coach, and is a regular contributor on national TV and to several publications in the social media, photography, business, ethics, politics and parenting arenas. Matt was the winner of the 2014 CMO Club President's Award, the 2015 Aish Center’s Continuity award and the Photography Industry’s 2016 person of the year. He has a bestselling self-help book, “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.”

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

In Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself from Disaster to Success, Matt Sweetwood (CEO, Keynote Speaker, Life Coach, and Lumix Photographer) shares his incredible experience of transformation. The author takes readers through his impassioned story of divorce and how he had to let go of the illusions he’d lived with for years and embrace reality, how he learned to stand up for what matters and beat the odds at his lowest moment in both family and career. But most importantly, the author chronicles his experience of becoming a successful single dad and business owner.

This is an inspiring story with powerful lessons for readers. Written in a friendly, easy-to-understand, yet insightful style, the book will evoke stirrings in the hearts of readers, the hunger to pursue what really matters in life. Imagine what it would feel like to wake up as a single dad, looking after five small kids, with the youngest at 18 months old? It was a very frustrating experience for the author and he captures the emotion in the following words: “On the day my life changed forever, I looked wildly around for any means of escape, but all I saw were their pale and frightened faces, staring up at me.”

This book made me cry in some places, made me smile as well, but it is the connection with the protagonist that had me repeating “You can do this,” as though I was cheering on a champion, and that made it a great read. It’s packed with insight and wisdom and a path that leads to success. I highly recommend Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself from Disaster to Success to readers who want to make a difference, single dads and business professionals. It’s a treasure trove.

Joel R. Dennstedt

It was like watching a train wreck. A phrase used to describe something so compelling and unique you cannot turn away. Believe me, Leader of the Pack by Matt Sweetwood is a train wreck. Not the book, which is indeed more gripping than your most nail-biting thriller, but his incredible, belief-defying challenge of an adult life. Young Mr. Sweetwood, like any poorly developed, naïve youth of the previous century, married what today we call a trophy wife. Like most trophy wives, she concealed a wicked insanity deep inside her core. One destined to surface explosively. Even at this time, one could not call a woman crazy. Just a mother. And before Mr. Mom became a legitimate (or necessary) enterprise, men were considered unfit to raise the family. Matt Sweetwood’s trophy wife browbeat her self-admittedly and submissively flawed husband into creating a brood of five. And then she left.

Leader of the Pack, however, is not a victim’s cry for sympathy or justice by its author. Matt Sweetwood only offers up this train wreck of a backstory to reveal how such an emotionally encumbered man may rebound to his Maker’s glory and, without the necessity of a woman (okay, maybe two warrior types), become a decent, protective, supportive single parent who instills incredible values in his children and raises the kind of family thought possible only from a mother. In this day of mass emasculation for the male role in our society, Mr. Sweetwood’s book comes as a stark reminder that men too are vital to its success. His story is not eloquently told. He does not put on airs. This is a plain-spoken but energetically vivid retelling of an inspiring response to an appalling life, and one feels ecstatically victorious at the end.

Gisela Dixon

Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself From Disaster to Success by Matt Sweetwood is a non-fiction memoir, almost an autobiography, of Matt’s experiences with women, marriage, kids, and parenting. Leader of the Pack starts off and moves along in a pretty straightforward and sequential manner as we learn in brief about Matt’s Jewish family background, upbringing, his own childhood, and college years. But the majority of the story is devoted to his marriage with his first wife, Charlotte, the five children they had together, and parenting them. In the course of the book, Matt details how his wife’s behavior became more unstable and even violent over time, how she finally left them all, and how and when Matt became both a mother and father to the kids instead of just the breadwinner. Matt also details his experiences with the women in his life after his first wife had left, including the abuse and neglect the children suffered as a result of this as well.

Leader of the Pack is essentially about Matt’s struggles with his relationships with women, how this affected his children, and how he eventually learnt not only to function in a healthier manner, but also managed to raise kids almost single-handedly that are well-adjusted and functional as well. The book questions the gender stereotypes in society and attempts to smash them. It is certainly high time both men and women were allowed to become free of any gender-enforced rules of how to act or behave, or who should do what. Fathers certainly can have and should have an important role in nurturing children and this fact is brought out well in this story. Overall, this is a motivational read for anyone hoping to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids, in spite of battling trauma, mental illness, or single parenting, whether male or female.

Grant Leishman

To all single parents out there (not just dads), Leader of the Pack by Matt Sweetwood should be required reading before you embark on your own journey of trying to raise children without a loving and caring spouse beside you. Matt found himself in an abusive and destructive relationship when he married the beautiful and beguiling Charlotte. A man tortured by his own low self-esteem, who manages to rationalise his own awful behaviour and neglect of his children’s needs by assuring himself that he is lucky to have gotten Charlotte to even look at him, let alone marry him. (Phew! Haven’t we all been there!) It takes Matt, his family and his finances to reach the lowest nadir before he finally wakes up and takes action to deal with this abusive wife and mother. He learns a lot about himself during this long journey into the depths of “hell”, but does he learn enough to stop himself from making the same mistake all over again, the second time around?

Leader of the Pack is the most powerful personal memoir I’ve read in a very long time. Perhaps it was because the circumstances Matt describes hit so close to home for me, but nevertheless, one can only admire the author’s courage in bringing this much too common problem out into the light and exposing the insanity of his thought processes that led him down the road he travelled. I found the narrative of this harrowing tale so compelling that I literally could not stop reading it. Readers will groan in disbelief in places and shout at the main character (Matt himself!) asking, “What were you thinking?” But all through it, the man’s simple desire to just be happy and to raise his five children the best way he can comes shining through. Although this is specifically about male solo dads and that is part of Matt’s advocacy, many of the circumstances Matt faced are equally applicable to both sexes in a violent, abusive, co-dependent relationship. If I could give this book more than five stars, I surely would. Congratulations on such a frank and honest memoir, Matt Sweetwood.

Arya Fomonyuy

Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself From Disaster to Success by Matt Sweetwood is a non-fiction, self-help book, a gritty narrative of one man’s journey to single parenthood and how he was able to overcome dire challenges, pull the pieces of his life together and bring both his family and business to success. In this story, the author explores the stress of a failing marriage, the cost of violence, and what it took to survive cops and the courts. Left alone, he would be a single dad, raising five small children, including an 18-month-old baby. The question is: How did he do it at a time when men didn’t even know how to change nappies?

This is a powerful and inspiring story, a story that unveils one man’s quest for success and meaning, and the principles he used to get his family out of difficulties and on to success. Many readers can connect with this story, told in a very simple and compelling style. Matt Sweetwood’s writing is filled with a rare sense of empathy and he makes readers care. His experiences are insightfully crafted and it doesn’t take much time for readers to find themselves rooting for him. The conflict is beautifully portrayed in the writing —psychological, interpersonal, and physical — and readers will be amazed at how the author uses what could have been negative as inspiration to make his life better. Readers will find in this book the empowering words and the example they need to succeed. Leader of the Pack: How a Single Dad of Five Led His Kids, His Business and Himself From Disaster to Success is a real gift for parents and business owners.