Hire and empower.
First and foremost, I like really intelligent people. Personality is really important, don’t get me wrong, but brains can’t be beat.
Intelligence is really important in business. It isn’t just raw intellectual capability, it’s the ability to understand problems, read other people and juggle 9,000 things.
Hire good people, give them responsibility and then let it go. They know that I won’t throw them under the bus if things go wrong. Everybody handles it differently.
I don’t have the patience or the mindset to spend a lot of time going over financial statements, even though it’s important to do. I’ve learned to hire a really good CFO and trust them and trust what they’re creating and how they handle the statements.
Make family yours and those of your employees a priority.
You can measure success a lot of different ways, but it’s very hard to lead people if you’re not sensitive to the issues that go on in their lives outside the hours they spend with you. You don’t get any of that if you don’t understand your people.
Communicate with them really well. Get to know their families. I have an open-door policy, and I know that sounds a little trite, but I interact with them. I try my best to be a regular guy. I stay away from closed doors.
I’ve seen very few successful executives in any business who are successful in business and unsuccessful in their personal lives. You’re not well-rounded unless you actively participate in your own family’s lives because what are you then? Just another suit.
I grew up with a father who worked very hard, and he always had time for me, and I try to do the same thing with my children. Pay attention to your family. Take care of your children. Be a good spouse. Listen. Get away when you can.
Don’t immerse yourself in (business) because it will burn you out.
Learn to let go.
I tend to develop from within and push a lot of people out of the nest good people that have gone on to other teams or businesses who have been really successful. I may have wanted to keep them, but it’s better for their development to move on.
Don’t be afraid of it. One of the people I worked for early in my career was always upset if they heard anyone talking about employment with another company.
It always seemed funny to me because I see it almost as a compliment. You hate to lose your best people, but from a management perspective, a little change is good sometimes.
Having people move and change isn’t a bad thing, and I’m never offended by people wanting to get ahead who work for me. Sometimes their career path may be blocked by really good people in front of them.
Keep your ego in check.
Great people can be involved in businesses that fail. Lots of things can bring companies down. A lot of times, it’s leadership at the top.
Some of the pitfalls are forgetting the principles that made you successful in the first place. Principles that got them to those situations sometimes go out the door. Ego begins to drive decision-making as opposed to sound business principles. That’s sometimes fatal.
They’re touched by celebrity, and they forget the reasons they were successful in other businesses and do things they would never do don’t empower their people, don’t stick to a plan; get amnesia, we call it. Amnesia can be a real problem ‘Oh, I forgot I was told that.’
Learn to delegate.
It comes over time. Some people can’t do it and don’t like to do it and can still be successful. I never had the time to not do it.
It’s so many little tasks that have to be accomplished to run a successful, $100 million business as large as ours. You can’t do it all yourself, nor should you.
I’m a conductor. I orchestrate, listen and go.
Be honest with yourself and others.
Go with your instincts. Try your best to evaluate and put the bullshit meter on people’s ideas, because there can be a lot of hype. Stay true to yourself and try to be honest.
I have to manage down, and I have to manage up. I have an owner, and I’m only one of any number of businesses he’s involved with. For every issue I have, he has 20, so don’t take him everything that you might. You learn what to inform him of.
You have to have the balls courage is a better term to stand up to your own boss and tell him the truth. Eventually, if you don’t, and you sweep problems under the rug, they come back to haunt you.
If you go in and ‘yes’ the things they’re suggesting all the time, you can get in trouble, and it can be a problem. If you’re delivering news that’s unpopular, you’re better off delivering it than sugarcoating it or worse, ignoring it.
Try to have fun at it. People are attracted to fun. They’re attracted to laughter. They’re attracted to a sense of humor. You get more out of people if you try your best to spend some time with them.
Whether you’re in a CPA firm, or doing what we’re doing, if you’re the CEO and you’re the boss, you want people to relate to you, so you better have some fun doing it or you’re not going to, ultimately, be successful.
HOW TO REACH: The Dallas Stars, www.dallasstars.com