Born: Royal Oak, Mich.
Education: Art Institute of San Diego, bachelor’s degree, advertising
First job: I worked at Baskin-Robbins. I was one of 27 co-workers, all of which were female, one of which is now my wife.
What is the most important key to inspiring your team?
First and foremost, it’s about believing in what you’re doing and being passionate about it. If that passion isn’t there, eventually people figure it out. You’re asking them to go above and beyond and push the limits, and if you’re not willing to do that or if you don’t have that passion or belief in the business, they’re not going to follow you.
What is the most important key to leadership? It’s just making decisions. I’ve seen far too many leaders of organizations who are a figurehead. They are assessing the risks, but at the end of the day, they are not really making decisions.
As quick as the business environment is changing, you don’t really have the opportunity to get every piece of it. You have to go on what you’ve learned historically, what you have at the moment and a little bit of gut instinct, and make a decision. And if it’s the wrong decision, then you react and change. But, too often, that kind of paralysis is the downfall of the organization.
I work with a ton of different CMOs and CEOs of companies, and the ones who are successful are the ones who are always making a decision. They are making a call and moving forward. Because the business environment is just moving at such a pace now, it’s either that or become obsolete.
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
I believe that desire can actually be taught, just like you teach a skill or how you teach an expertise. Especially with some of the young people, one of the things, more often than not, we’re running into is we have young people coming out of school that believe they should be an account director and running the place right out of the gate. There’s not that expectation or understanding that you’re going to work hard and climb the ranks and pay my time that’s out the window. More often than not, the young people coming in have huge expectations of what they deserve without earning it.
That’s a challenge for us. People don’t want to work as hard, so teaching that desire in people in juniors as well as people all the way up through their career that can be taught. It comes through creating a vision, engaging people in it, teaching people their role, and acknowledging them and celebrating their successes along the way.
I wouldn’t have said that five years ago, back in New York. I would have said ‘Either the person has it or they don’t.’ You know how you always hear people say that? I don’t think that’s true. You just have to pull the right levers.