Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio (East Side)
Education: B.A., Harvard-Radcliffe; MBA, University of California at Los Angeles
First job: In college, I worked in health care on the Navajo Reservation doing public health. I drove a converted school bus that was turned into a health care clinic around Arizona bringing teams of physicians and nurses to areas that normally wouldn’t get that care. It was a great experience for me. I learned so much.
Greatest business challenge: Getting the right talent. What I’ve always found in all the things I’ve done is you have to focus on people and make sure you match the right people to the position. I’ve also found that sometimes you have hidden talent. People don’t even know how great they can be. So inspiring them and pulling that kernel of capability out of someone who had no idea they could do something is a challenge, yet it’s a very rewarding experience.
Advice to other CEOs: I shouldn’t presume to give advice to CEOs, but of the things I have learned, open communication to your associates is really key. We all say it, but you really have to put some meat behind it. You really have to figure out, is it e-mail, is it phone, is it round-table discussions, is it monthly meetings? ... Whatever it is and it’s probably all those things it helps a lot. And you have to stay upbeat. Never let it show that you don’t know where the brand is going. You have to make them all feel that you know where you’re going.
You also have to be open to learn. When this whole thing came through with Sun [Capital Partners], I decided the experiences I’ve had in my past clearly are going to help me move forward, but I shouldn’t presume I know the answers to everything. What I’ve found is that being open to listening to what the Sun team has said to me they have opinions on a lot of things, but they don’t want to run this day in and day out has been a helpful approach for me to take. I have ideas about how successful businesses should operate, but seeing what they think has been interesting also.