Born: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Education: B.A., mathematics, Fordham University; master’s degree, math and secondary education, The City College of New YorkWhat is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
It might sound very cliché, but people do make a difference. You need financial strength. You need a good plan. But, at the end of the day, the execution of the plan and the utilization of the assets really rests with people. So not only do you need to get good people, but people who are passionate, who want to execute and feel valued. Every year that goes by, that lesson is reinforced to me. You hear a good story about an account or that we lost an account, and a lot of it comes back to somebody did a good job or somebody didn’t do a good job. Even though the world is always getting more technologically advanced, people are still the critical element.
What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?
Passion and honesty, which drives the ability to have true respect. People will follow you and will really believe in you if you have passion and honesty. You need to be able to attract talent. You’re not going to be the smartest person in the room all of the time, and you need people who can complement you.
You also need the courage to use the talent you have. When I was a teacher, it probably took me a year to learn that when a student asks you a question, even though you are a smart person, you don’t know every answer. So sometimes you have to say, ‘I’ve got to get back to you.’ The same applies to business when an employee asks a question. You have to have that courage to understand and check your ego and ask others what they think.
What is your definition of success?
From an organizational perspective, it’s that all the stakeholders are winners and that you have an organization that is viable, sustainable and expandable, one that is constantly challenging itself. You never reach a point where I’m here, that’s it, and it’s never going to get any better than this.