Born: Lancaster, Calif.
Education: I went to high school, and I did not complete college.
Biggest business challenge: The biggest challenge in business was deciding when to leave a company. The last company I left because I felt it was just going in the wrong direction. It’s always difficult to leave a place that you work because you typically love those you work with, and making that decision absent additional opportunities. That was the most difficult decision I had to make was leaving the people I loved to work with. I’ve become a better leader because I think I understand that when you decide the direction to take a company, there will be people that disagree with you. The penalty may be they leave. You have to understand what motivates people and that when the company changes direction, there will be people that disagree with it that will either be demotivated or will leave.
Most important business lesson learned: Never run out of cash. If you do that, you’re OK.
Whom do you admire most in life?
The leader I admire most in history is [Abraham] Lincoln because I’ve read a lot about the tremendous adversity he faced and how he was able to effectively be a great manager during a time of incredible difficulty. I think the mark of a good leader is not someone who can be successful in an easy environment or easy market it’s who can be successful when it’s really tough, and he had a really tough assignment.
What’s your favorite board game and why?
Chess, because you have to think many moves ahead and I think a good business leader plays chess, not checkers.
Monson on technology: Any business, regardless of what you do, you better be thinking about technology, because often, that will make the difference long term between winning and losing. It plays a crucial part of any company. You can either be a leader or a follower in technology, and I believe if you look at companies, typically the ones that are more successful than others have improved technology faster.