Lars Dalgaard, former CEO of SuccessFactors, at his home in Pacifica, Calif.
It was a likely ending to a common Silicon Valley tale -- studies show that over two-thirds of CEOs who sell their company leave the acquiring firm within two years. While Dalgaard, 45, had been given a seat on SAP's powerful executive board, many speculated that the brash, outspoken CEO wouldn't last long in SAP's more buttoned-up culture. But his departure had a much more personal catalyst -- his father's sudden death and his young son's battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer that attacks the body's blood-forming tissues. Dalgaard's story is an extreme example of the difficult choices executives make when balancing work and family. "I thought I was awake before, but I woke up bigtime," he says.
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