The Fulton File Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2009

Born: Detroit

Education: For undergraduate, I’m a Chippewa from Central Michigan University, and for grad school, I’m a Wolverine from the University of Michigan.

What was your first job?

I was a bagboy in a supermarket; I was 16.

What did you learn from that job that still applies today?

I learned from that job that it’s the same thing I learned from being a teller when I started with the bank. I think you keep your head down and you put a good effort, good things are going to happen. I started as bagboy and ended up as an assistant manager. I went to General Motors in college, and I started sweeping the floors, and by the third summer, I was a foreman. I started with the bank as a teller, and now I’m the president. It’s not political — just keep the head down, show a good effort and good things are going to happen.

Fulton on hitting and exceeding goals: It’s not just, ‘You’re not hitting the plan; what’s your problem?’ But you also have to look at if you’re materially exceeding your plan, and you have to ask why. One can be just as negative as the other. If you’re not hitting the plan, you’re not making as much money, but if you’re exceeding your wildest dreams, maybe you’re in a little bit of a bubble where you don’t want to be.

Fulton on acquisition integration: Whenever there is change, there is risk of confusion, so what’s most important during change is to communicate — often and openly. We’ve done six acquisitions here in California. … The integration of systems and management and culture is all change. I found that what worked best was to have two things. One, an open mind with respect to how we did things. It cannot be our way or the highway, particularly if there’s a better way. So appreciate differences and implement best practices. Then, No. 2 is communicate, communicate, communicate. Be visible; hold meetings, skip-a-level meetings, skip-two-level meetings, skip-three-level meetings. Write clear memos often and keep your door open and answer your own phone. Employees, as long as they have knowledge, are receptive to change.