Born: Outside of Chicago
Education: B.A., government, Cornell University, 1974
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
After eighth grade, I was a file boy and a runner for our company in downtown Chicago. This was 1966. We had about 25 people. We were two years away from being a million dollars in revenue. Today, we’re about 10,000 people approaching $2 billion in revenue. What I learned as an eighth grade graduate in the mailroom is that management gets what management wants. When I was told to get something, I went and got it
Who do you admire most and why?
My dad (John P. Gallagher) and uncle (Robert E. Gallagher). They were my strongest mentors. I was blessed to work with my dad for 22 years, side by side, before he passed away and with my uncle for 32 years. It was a remarkable experience.
What’s your definition of success?
My definition of success folds into a few areas. First is family. I don’t think there’s any success worth having that doesn’t somehow create a family atmosphere that is healthy and open and loving. I’ve been married for 35 years. I’ve got four kids, four grandkids, and that has been the reason I’ve gotten up and gone to work every day since I first started.
Second is to have a career that you can look back after 35 years and say, ‘This was the right choice for me. This is where I belonged.’
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Interacting with our people. They’re energetic, they’re bright, they’re professional. They’ve got concern about their clients. They’re just wonderful.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received was from my dad and uncle. Pick your attitude. A good attitude is infectious. Treat people the way you want to be treated. You’re just as warm to the person in the mailroom as you are to the queen of England.
Your workday is off to a bad start. How do you turn it around?
Take a deep breath. Restart. Get a cup of coffee. And recognize that you’re not going to have a career that every day is fun, so just get through it.