First job: I was a loan collections officer for a small loan company on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland. My second job was as an iron worker’s apprentice.
Education: My first year of college was at Borromeo Seminary where I was studying for the priesthood. Then I went to Loyola University in New Orleans, where I graduated with a B.A. in English.
Greatest business challenge: I always think that the most difficult business challenge is firing someone who is misplaced in a job. The person isn’t necessarily fired because they don’t have a great deal of talent, but they have ended up in the wrong job for whatever the reason. Typically, it’s a person you have worked with for a long time and you know well, and it would immediately appear that you are causing harm to their career. I say ‘appear’ because in many cases, it ends up enhancing their career. But it’s still very, very difficult on a personal level.
Most important business lesson: When I was CEO of Century Business Services, I had a colleague who had been in the business for 30-plus years and had a very successful career. Because he’d been so successful, I enjoyed listening to his stories, and as I sat in his office one night, he said, ‘I’ll tell you the three most important secrets to a successful business career.’ So I sat on the edge of my seat. He leaned forward and said, ‘Communicate, communicate, communicate.’ That was seared into my memory and has served me very well. The more you communicate up and down in an organization the more successful you will be.