The president and CEO of the former Governor Computer Products grew the company’s revenue from $26.7 million in 2004 to $33.3 million in 2005. But even with the rapid growth of his 50-employee company, Cullinan still makes it a priority to maintain a life outside of the office.
Smart Business spoke with Cullinan about how he achieves that work/life balance, building a team environment and how validating change can improve a business.
What’s the key to succeeding in business without losing track of your personal life?
Have your goals that you want to accomplish through your business, but also have goals in your personal life. If you’re lopsided and I went through that for years where everything I did seemed like it was focused around my business you may be successful there, but if you aren’t successful in your overall life, what kind of success is that?
I make sure to have time for myself, to work out and to spend with my family. When the weekends come, I turn it off. Some weekends you can do it better than others, depending on how it’s going.
You strive for that balance. The only way you do that is by planning things. You plan things that are personal in your schedule. It’s so easy just to set your business schedule and not plan anything for yourself, personally.
Business will consume you. If you don’t plan those other things, business will take up all your time.
Has maintaining that balance helped you be a better leader?
I think so. From a stress standpoint, today’s environment is a multitasking environment, where we are doing four or five things at the same time.
The health, diet and getting the right sleep, all those little things really help. You really have to balance that. If you just work, and work to the point of fatigue, you really don’t have the clarity for creative thinking.
How do you avoid becoming a slave to your planner?
You have to be realistic. Sometimes you can plan those things, and sometimes you have to cancel them because life events happen. It could be that I have an emergency in my family, or it could be I’m just not feeling good that day.
But if you can hit it at 80 percent, don’t feel bad when you can’t hit the other 20 percent. Don’t try to be a perfectionist about it.
Sometimes people who go on diets, as soon as they go off, they feel they failed and they go off completely. The smart person would say, ‘I’ve gone off today, but I’ll get back on tomorrow.’
You can’t beat yourself up. We all can’t stay on the schedule 100 percent of the time.
How do you handle change?
You have to be an agent of change. Change has to start at the top. As a CEO, your role is to analyze what is going on in the marketplace and what is changing.
Going out to visit your customers as a CEO is important, but you get it from the market and you get it from your sales force. You keep your ear to the ground. Once you see what changes need to happen, you start having conversations with people on the team. You have to communicate the ‘why’ we need to change and, ‘We’re not changing just to change. We’re changing because the market is changing. We need to move with it or maybe be a little ahead of it at times.’
Not embracing change will make you obsolete very quick because today’s environment, it’s changing all the time. One of the advantages of being a smaller business, a medium-sized business, is the fact that you can change and make change happen rather rapidly compared to a large company.
How do you build a team environment?
You need to meet with your employees. Have an understanding what their goals and objectives are. Part of what we do in the interview process is to make sure we have people who are motivated. In the sense (that) they are achievers.
There are some people that are just not motivated. That’s the wrong type of hire. To hire people, the right people, when you sit down and interview - they’re never happy with what they did last year. They want to grow the following year.
You sit down with them and review where they’ve been and where they would like to be. What type of increase in overall income would they like? If it’s 15 to 20 percent, well then, how are you going to get there?
That starts the process and is a much healthier approach than just saying, ‘Here’s your goal for the year,’ because we all support what we help create.
HOW TO REACH: Governor Business Solutions, www.governorcomputer.com