Born: New Brunswick, N.J.
Education: B.S., accounting, Biscayne College (now St. Thomas University), Miami Gardens, Fla.
First job: I was a groundskeeper and a weed puller, but I spent many fine years as a dishwasher. I did that all the way through my high school years. Even in college, I did some restaurant work.
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
Business isn’t altogether different from life. If there has been a lesson that has been confirmed to me over the years, it’s the simple line of ‘just do the right thing.’ If you do the right thing, you’ll be rewarded, and at least you’ll be able to look back and feel good about yourself.
What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?
No. 1 would have to be honesty and integrity. Whether it’s a political leader, a business leader or another type of leader, that has to be No. 1. The organization has to feel good about and believe in their leader. Someone could be deficient in other areas, but if they’re honest and have a great deal of integrity, I think it’s paramount.
No. 2 in today’s business environment is communication. A good leader has to be able to successfully communicate. Many people have many different styles, but at the end of the day, do your people understand what you are saying and communicating? I have no opinion on what style is better than another, but I have to tell you, successful communication is very important in today’s leader.
A third thing I would point out in a successful leader is compassion and sensitivity. In my travels, people who have been successful are people who are sensitive to others. It sounds like such a silly little thing, but the people I admire and find successful listen more than they talk. And when they listen, they hear what someone is meaning, not just what they’re saying.