This week’s post is dedicated to three people who never set foot inside our offices, two of whom never even imagined Roundpeg would some day exist. Despite that fact, they each played an important role in the formation of this company. They are my bosses: Three of the many people I had a chance to work for and with over my career. Much of what I know about being an effective leader, I learned from these three people.
Tom Carr – A corporate psychologist told Tom one of two things would happen if he hired me: We would either be the most amazing team the company had ever seen, or we would kill each other the first week. Since I am including him in this blog post, you can guess we didn’t kill each other.
We were complete opposites in so many ways. Tom was an introvert, highly analytical and detail focused, and let’s face it, I am not. He found “i’s” to dot and “t’s” to cross everywhere he looked. While it often drove me crazy, I learned to slow down and occasionally think things through. But the most important lesson he taught me was learning the value of surrounding yourself with people whose work style and thought process were completely different from mine, forcing me to look at things from different viewpoints and adapting my communication style to make myself understood.
Rick DeMarco gave me a shot at a project no one thought I could pull off. While I valued his confidence in me, it was the advice he gave me at the start of the project that has stayed with me all these years. The project was to create brand strategies for each of Carrier’s major brands. There was a lot riding on the outcome, and I was concerned about making the decision based on the research data.
Rick told me not to worry. Success he argued, was not in the strategy, but in the execution. He believed a mediocre strategy would outperform a great one if you paid attention to the execution plan. He was right. As we work with clients or on our own marketing, I will often hear Rick’s voice reminding me it is all in the execution.
Sherri Silver didn’t want to interview me. Reading my resume, she decided I didn’t have the background she was looking for. I convinced the recruiter to get me an interview anyway. And once there, I sold Sherri on the idea of hiring me.
Over the next two years I convinced Sherri to allow me to experiment with flex staffing, performance-based incentives and off-site team building to improve the morale and productivity of my team. She let me try things and looked the other way as I pushed the bounds of what was the norm at Conseco.
Many of the things my team takes for granted today were tested and refined during my tenure at Conseco. When it was time to go, Sherri helped me put together an exit strategy which allowed me to launch Roundpeg and never look back.
Tom, Rick and Sherri gave me the confidence I needed to try this crazy idea of starting my own business. With the lessons I learned from my role models and mentors, I felt I was on solid ground as I left behind my steady paycheck and comfortable office.
Today as my employees go off to do great things, I hope I have given them as strong a foundation as I got from Rick, Tom, and Sherri.