The Sarvadi File Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2009

Born: Aurora, Ohio

First job: In retail sales selling for Sears

Education: Attended Rice University and the University of Houston

What has been your most difficult leadership challenge?

Leading my family. It’s the most rewarding and, at the same time, the most difficult. Leading your family is always a difficult thing because they are the ones closest to you. You are with them so much of the time and you face life’s challenges together. So, that leadership role of being a father or a parent is probably the most difficult.

How do you tap into employee potential?

What happens in that respect is (you have to create) an environment where people can fail. In fact, when I describe this to people, I always say, ‘Look, my goal is failure.’ They say, ‘What do you mean the goal is failure?’

I believe learning is just failing fast. You fail fast enough and, pretty soon, you learn what not to do. Before you know it, you’re doing what you should be doing. It’s kind of like, when a little baby is learning to grab something. You hold that rattle out in front of them. They miss to the left, then they miss to the right, then they get closer and closer and then they grab it. Before long, they are able to grab it with no problem.

But what happens is, the person grows up and they got their hand slapped too many times, so they are kind of afraid to fail.