The Maritz file Featured

7:00pm EDT January 29, 2008

Born: St. Louis

Education: Bachelor’s degree, organizational psychology, Princeton University

What is the most important business lesson you ever learned? It would be to face reality.

What was your first job?

Working on a barge carrying coal on the Ohio River. It taught me that not all bosses were good. It taught me that people are happy to do things, but people don’t like to make work. They want to understand why what they do makes a difference.

Maritz on the attributes of a good employee: Intellect, intensity, dedication and decency. Those are the basic human qualities that we’re looking for in folks. We want smart people. We want people who have an intensity about them and who have an intensity to get the job done. We don’t want slackers. You want people who are dedicated. They are loyal to the cause, and they are going to stick with you. We want good, decent, nice honorable and ethical folks who will fit in around here. We don’t want any jerks. It’s a team sport.

Maritz on reputation: We didn’t set out with the idea that we wanted to establish a good reputation so that we could attract good people. We set out to be good. We try to be honest with people and try to treat them with respect and give them opportunities. When you do it for a long time, you develop a reputation for being a good place to work. I would counsel against trying to create a reputation for the purpose of trying to attract good people. If you’ve got a good culture and a good business, you will attract good people. It’s the equivalent of treating the disease and not the symptom. You really want to be it, not just claim it.

Maritz on customers: Without them, you don’t have employees or culture or anything else. Our people come second only to our customers. There’s a lot of things that internally require attention, but if they don’t ultimately have some impact on the customer, they are kind of beside the point.