The Johnson file Featured

7:09am EDT May 24, 2005
Born: Jan. 21, 1969, Schenectady, N.J.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Amherst College; doctorate degree in physics, Harvard University

First job: Paperboy

Career moves: After receiving his doctorate, worked six years for a biotechnology company in research and development, then moved into product development, then manufacturing and operations, dealing with operational management issues. Joined Highlights for Children in June 2004.

Boards: Highlights for Children

What was your greatest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

I think my greatest challenge is yet to come. I don't know what it will be, but it's out there.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

I admire my great-uncle Garry Myers II. I never met him because he died in a plane crash in 1960. But I admire him because he left a successful career as an aeronautical engineer to close down the Highlights plant for his parents.

He still saw life in the company, a glimmer of hope, and never returned to his former career. Instead, he stuck around and made the business fly, and it wasn't easy. I admire him for his big career change and ability to succeed with some really difficult tasks.

What is the greatest lesson you've learned in business?

The greatest lesson I've learned in business is also the greatest lesson I've learned in life, and that is the importance of having good, attentive listening skills. Those skills cannot be underestimated.

There can be a lot of trouble if you're not working hard to hear the message. Bad decisions can be made if you're not listening.