The Clayton file Featured

7:00pm EDT January 29, 2008

Born: Akron, Ohio

Education: Bachelor’s degree, business, Boston University; MBA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What’s your biggest business challenge?

The biggest challenge is always making sure you have the right people doing the right things and that they work together well. In that process, you’re never perfect. Recognize when it isn’t working and do that quickly. Make the tough decision, and get on with it because if you don’t, you’re going to lose credibility with the rest of the team for not having made the right decision. More importantly, the team dynamics aren’t optimal, and, as a result, you’re not driving performance as you could. That’s a never-ending lesson. It’s never perfect. You think you’ve got it licked but things change.

The second one is understanding my role. I’ve always believed that technically I’ve understood what my role was, and I believe I’m a good leader, but there are days when I haven’t been as good of a leader because of pressure, stress, problems, and there are days when I haven’t been as out-front as I need to be. Those days you need to hitch up your britches, put on a happier face, and get out in front and lead the organization.

What was your first job?

I taught tennis during high school. I migrated, like many kids, into day-camp counselor and that kind of stuff. I worked one summer in a Ford automobile factory. Out of undergraduate school, I went to work as a manager in training for McDonald’s. I’ve been a GM, and I understand exactly what they do and how hard it is and the challenges they have.

What’s your favorite board game?

Clue. I just like trying to figure out puzzles and solving them faster than the other guy.

Fast fact: Clayton was previously the head of Burger King’s North American operations before taking the helm at Jamba Inc.