Education: B.S. in engineering, Michigan State University
First job: I had a little lawn-mowing business in the neighborhood when I was a kid. I was also a dishwasher and busboy at a restaurant and a (resident adviser) in college.
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
Every business can be turned around and faster than most people think. There are so many cases out there of companies that have turned things around with the right mindset and the right people. If you have the right people sitting around the table with you, you can turn around almost any business.
What skills or traits are essential for a business leader?
Leaders need to have self-awareness, self-confidence, an ability to self-assess and a dose of self-deprecating humor. Leaders also need to have an understanding of the emotions and moods of others. They need to be good at knowing others as well as themselves.
Leaders need to have empathy. They need to be able to understand how people see them. They also need traits such as persistence, motivation, passion and a strong desire to succeed. They need to set goals and pursue those goals with a lot of energy.
What is your definition of success?
That the business is different because of what you’ve done, in a positive way. That, looking back on a situation, things would have been different without you involved. If you can become an individual who provides significant, long-lasting change in a positive way and who can use an exceptional environment to attract and retain great people around him, that’s success to me.