The O’Dell file Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2010

Born: I was born in Denver, but I was pretty much raised in Kansas City.

Education: The University of Kansas — I’m a Jayhawk. I had a double major in accounting and finance, so I’m a recovering accountant.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced?

The biggest challenge we’ve had to deal with was we had to lay off a bunch of people and cut some wages and benefits. Those are some of the most difficult decisions you ever have to make, but I think you have to take satisfaction in that you had to do it, and you know you had to do it for the overall health. … That’s one of the hardest things, and when you go through a really tough time when you have to deliver bad news to the organization that you feel responsible for, that’s probably the hardest. I tell people it’s easy to be a leader when times are good — you go out and share the good news and give recognition and rewards and pay bonuses and things like that, but you really find out what you and your team have and what you’re capable of when you go through the tough times.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I was going through a very difficult period of time at one point in time on a difficult business thing that looked like a no-win situation. A guy told me it was one of these things he called career equity — it doesn’t pay well, but you’ll learn a lot as you go through the process. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use that more times than I’d have liked. I’ve got a lot of career equity. It’s what I said earlier; it’s easy to be a leader when times are good. I guess it’s when you’re having to make difficult choices, that’s when you really find out what your team needs to be like and what you need to be doing. Makes you appreciate the good times more, as well.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route when I was a kid, and I graduated from that to a dishwasher, I guess. I started working when I was pretty young. Actually, the paper route came after mowing lawns for $5. Remember those days?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I was in sixth grade, and you do those career study things, and I was pretty good at math, and I read something about a CPA guy who made $100,000 a year, so I decided I wanted to be an accountant, and it ended up coming to fruition for a while.

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