Education: University of South Carolina, bachelor of arts degree in advertising with a minor in marketing
What has been your greatest business challenge?
The largest challenge I had was selling Dun and Bradstreet software. I closed on a brand-new, big house I had built in Atlanta in November, and I was told in December they were going to publicly auction the software business. It started Jan. 2, and we didn’t sell the company until November of that year.
I had a role of selling the company, and I had a role of keeping the employees as well-informed as we could, most of which I couldn’t tell them. At the same time, we were trying to drive the business forward, and nobody knew who was going to buy us, so customers were hesitant to invest in our products.
We tried to inject a lot of humor. We had a studio in our offices, so every Thursday night I would write a script, and every Friday morning, I would do a taped voice mail message because I could blast it across the world to every employee. We always had people from out of town, so I had them as our roving reporters, and we had sound bites and talked about who got married, who had babies, what customers went live, what new customers we added and poke fun at the executive team, and then use that as a vehicle to communicate as much as I could about what was going on. That was a long, draining process.
What’s the best business lesson you’ve learned?
Everybody will tell you, you are what you hire, and I believe that. There is no substitute, period, for hiring people that are brighter than you are, that have more capabilities than you do, and then turning them loose and letting them have the freedom to perform.
Understand what you don’t know, and then hiring people who do what you don’t do well has had a tendency to keep me out of trouble in my career, so I think it’s the willingness to admit what you don’t know.
What was your first job ever?
I worked in a bank in a training program. It was awful. It was my job right after college. I tell you what, it was awful. I made $8,000 a year, but I was miserable.
What’s your favorite board game and why?
Oh, Monopoly are you kidding me? Monopoly because it’s play money. And I get to compete with my kids and my wife, and I probably lose more than I win, but you get to roll the dice with somebody else’s money that isn’t real, and they can’t fire you if you lose it, so it’s just fun, you know?