Born: Sharon, Pa.
Education: B.A., business and accounting, Westminster College; currently working on an MBA from Northwestern University
First job: I had a little lawn-mowing business when I was about 11. I had about 12 people in the neighborhood, and I’d cut their grass. I also washed some cars and waxed some boats.
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
Character counts. Honesty and integrity, at the end of the day, are the most important things to being a successful businessman. That is the No. 1 lesson I’ve learned in my life. Watching businesspeople who are filled with integrity, the success they have versus those who are not, they might have similar success, but there is a difference in the guy who has the integrity and the character. That success is just that much more valuable to them, for a lot of different reasons. It’s not just about the money or the notoriety.
What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?
You have to be a great communicator, not only with verbal communication but with body language as well as with your ability to listen. You have to be able to listen. You also have to have a degree of compassion and empathy. When you speak, you need to understand that words have power, and your delivery of that message is critical. The tone, the expression, all of those things are very critical because the people who listen to you when you are a leader, they really hold on to every word you say, and certain people will try to interpret things in different ways. That’s why communication is an absolute imperative.
The second thing I would say is you need to have a level of confidence. You need to be confident in your own abilities; you need to learn from your mistakes and not be afraid to make mistakes. But you also can’t be arrogant, and there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. You want confidence, which is a very valuable trait in a leader.
What is your definition of success?
It’s really easy: Leave it better than you found it. If I am going to come to Michigan and spend the time I’m going to spend in Michigan and when I’m no longer in Michigan, people can look back and say, ‘Michigan is a better place because Dave Boyle was here’ that to me is success.