The Peiser file Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2007

Born: New York City

Education: Bachelor of arts degree in economics, University of Pennsylvania; MBA, Harvard University

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

In the areas that I’ve focused, which is a lot of turnaround stuff, I’ve learned to keep a level emotional appearance and outlook. People are looking at me all the time, and I have to keep remembering that the highs aren’t as high as they seem and the lows aren’t as low as they seem. My main job is to motivate people, and therefore, I need to have a presence about me that demonstrates I’m confident in the future. When things are bothering me, I can’t show it that much.

Also, to remember that mistakes are going to be made and that people shouldn’t be too concerned about making mistakes — but you’d better not make the same one too often.

What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?

Intelligence, strategic vision, analytical abilities, communication skills and an ability to get into the weeds a little bit but not get buried by them — and be sure you are able to stay above them most of the time.

Also, an ability to be both external and internal. I’ve spent a lot of time outside the industry from the standpoint of government lobbying and industry affairs. A good leader is probably as good externally as a representative for the company as internally with his own people.

What is your definition of success?

I think ultimately building an organization that will continue having success after I’ve left. I think it’s pretty easy to say success means financial success and high stock prices and things like that. But I think the real measure of success is to have an organization that will continue to do well under different leadership.