The Cole file Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2007

Born: Los Angeles

Education: Bachelor of arts, Wesleyan University; master’s in business, Harvard University

What was your first job?

Camp counselor when I was in high school. My first paying job was working for H&R Block.

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

No matter how much you think you know about the subject, you have never seen all sides of it. Be careful to listen to others because they might have a better perspective on a problem than you have.

What is the best business advice you’ve received?

A boss once taught me that whenever you are in a situation where you are wondering what to do, think about what’s the right and honorable thing to do, and always do what’s right.

What is your definition of success?

When you’ve built a self-sustaining institution that customers look to as a leader in the industry.

Why is it important to encourage volunteerism and philanthropy in a company?

I was on the board of directors of the Cincinnati Red Cross, past national chair for the American Red Cross and past chapter chair for the Cincinnati Red Cross. It’s important for businesspeople to be involved in the community. It’s good for business, and I have met other volunteers who care about the community, and that has led me to understand other companies. While a company’s job is principally to sustain itself and make a fair return for its shareholders, you’re part of a community and you need to be seen as part of a community, and volunteerism is one way to do that.