Born: Asheville, N.C.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, business administration, North Carolina Central University
First job: Sales and marketing trainee for Dow Automotive
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
As it relates to innovation and technology and working on new product development, the best lesson is to feed it if it is good, find a way to feed it in tough times and have the courage to stop it if it is bad. If it is not a good idea, don’t continue to fund it.
What types of people do you admire in business?
I admire people who have courage. Courage, to me, means to take appropriate risks. I admire people who are very good at the communication and motivation aspects of business. And I admire people who get stuff done and deliver results.
What are some universal truths you’ve learned about leading a business?
Have clarity and transparency with regard to what you are about and what you are not about. Be honest about what the real situation is, and make sure your employees knowwhat the real situation is. Don’t sugarcoat it. Surround yourself with good people and communicate constantly.
How do you define success in business?
It does come down to the numbers, so the results are a very clear measure. You can do lots of stuff and work your tail off. But at the end of the day, it should have a positive impact on your bottom line results.
But it isn’t just about numbers and profits. You also want to make sure your customers are satisfied, because that makes sure your revenue stream continues. You must also have motivated employees.