The Alvin file Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2010

Born: Pittsburgh

Education: Biology and business degrees, Thiel College, Greenville, Pa.; master’s degree in public administration, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

First job: I had a newspaper route when I was maybe 9. That was great. There were lots of hills in Pennsylvania, and I had to pull my little red wagon up and down the hills. It turned over once in awhile.

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

Create a clear direction, and make sure the direction is as simple as possible. Then, recruit and develop the absolute best people to bring the direction to life.

What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?

I heard this definition of leadership that I thought was terrific. It’s called the ‘leadership diamond.’ If you can picture a diamond, the top point is the vision for what you’re trying to accomplish. The side points are integrity and a sense of reality. The bottom point is the courage to do the right thing. To me, a leader has to have all of those attributes. Every single time, you need to put the best interest of the company first. If you do that, the vast majority of employees will benefit from that and so will your customers.

What is your definition of success?

The most basic definition is achieving your objectives. But my favorite definition of success comes from the late basketball coaching legend, John Wooden, who said that (“Success is the peace of mind ... knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”)