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Don Charlton Breeds a ‘Culture of Candor’

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Don Charlton is the CEO of Jazz, a recruiting software firm. Recently interviewed for Adam Bryant’s Corner Office segment, Charlton discusses the challenges of succeeding in business as a black man and how that has shaped the culture of his business. Ranging from asking very direct questions to acknowledging the dog-eat-dog nature of business, his management style is blunt and hands-on. Here are some other key points Charlton had during his interview:

  • Be Self-Aware: “So you want the candidate to recognize the aspects of themselves where they can be confident and the parts they’re going to need for them to be successful in a new company.”
  • Be Prepared for Self-Improvement: “If you failed at this job in your first 90 days, what things wouldn’t you be doing well? And what don’t you know, but know you need to know, in order to be successful at this job?”
  • Ask Others How They Got to Where They Are: “The more you know about those journeys, the more people you talk to — just asking a simple question like “How did you end up getting into this career?” — the more you’ll start to recognize when the ground under your feet is moving you in a particular direction.”
  • Be Direct: “One thing is the culture of candor. After we have a big meeting with all of our employees, I might say, ‘Hey, you know that conversation that you’re going to have over lunch or at the bar where you might say, ‘Why don’t we do such and such?’ Well, that’s the question you should ask right now.'”

This “culture of candor” conditions employees to be ready for the challenges that are brought on by the nature of business. Hammering out weaknesses before they become relevant is key to success, and we believe Charlton’s culture does just that.

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

The Key to Entrepreneurship: Patience and Discipline

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The New York Times’ Adam Bryant sat down with Jim Dolce, CEO of mobile security firm Lookout, to ask him about his experience in leadership, and what has led him to his success. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Dolce attributes his patience and company’s structure to his success. Here are a few key points from the interview:

  • On being patient in a fast paced environment: “It takes discipline … When you’re impatient, you attempt to get something done so that you can then, in serial fashion, go to the next thing. Instead, you have to go wide and work multiple issues at the same time and be patient on each of them.”
  • Accountability in Corporate Culture: “If we’re pushing down responsibility into the organization and empowering people to make decisions, then there has to be accountability. Otherwise, you’re just delivering the empowerment into a black hole.”
  • What He’s Learned From Being a Serial Entrepreneur: “When you’re working in a venture-funded start-up, time is of the essence. Investors get impatient. So the lesson there is that real breakthrough innovation is best achieved a step at a time. Technology is something that can be consumed in small bites. You don’t have to take a big bite all at once. “
  • What Advice Would You Give to Would-Be Entrepreneurs? “Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and know that this is going to be hard and there’s going to be a lot of heavy lifting and there’s going to be a lot of disappointment.”

Becoming an entrepreneur involves a lot of hard work, stress, and uncertainty. However, there are fewer things more rewarding in life than having your own business succeed. Through patience and realistic expectations, discipline and accountability, you too can find success with your firm.

For the full article on The New York Times click here.

C.E.O. Lori Dickerson Fouché on Recognizing Leadership

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Lori Dickerson Fouché is the C.E.O. of Prudential Group Insurance and held the position after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. Having taken leadership roles as a young black woman in America, Fouché has been successful in management positions since the age of 24 and continues as C.E.O. of a major insurance company at 47. Here are her highlights from the interview with Adam Bryant:

  • On lessons she learned early in her career: “One was learning how to prioritize. You simply can’t do everything.”
  • Assess your leaders by their results: “I expect my leaders to listen. I expect them to ask questions. I expect them to understand what’s going on.”
  • On Hiring:
    • Know that prospective hires have done their due diligence on the company
    • Ask what kind of cultures they like to work in, where do they excel, and how do they conduct themselves in the face of challenges
    • Look for resilience and perseverance
    • Ask how they would lead people

As graduation season comes to an end and young graduates enter the workforce, it is important that they find jobs that they really want to do and learn what they can from that experience. Lori Dickerson Fouché suggests that graduates find a company that is a good fit for what important to them and their personal values.

Read the full article here on The Newt York Times.

Pushing Beyond Comfort Zones

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Mitch Rothschild is the chief executive of Vitals , a website that connects patients with doctors and medical facilities. Adam Bryant from the New York Times sat down with Rothschild to discuss his early lessons from managing people, his leadership style, and how he hires. Here are some great points from the article:

  • Developing personal connections with your employees can be emotionally draining: “You always want to be one of those leaders who care deeply about their staff and look after them, but at some point you have to make the shift and say you’re going to do the right thing for the business.”
  • Don’t always assume that people know everything“People just have this incredible thirst to be connected, and they need multiple reinforcing points of communication. I have to remind myself over and over not to assume that everyone knows something.”
  • Seek out a meritocracy: “If you find a meritocracy and you’re highly ambitious and you want to drive your career forward, then nothing’s going to get in your way.”
  • Don’t wear “busy” as a badge of honor: “We’ve become crazy about being crazy, and I’m stunned at how many people are absolutely exhausting themselves. It’s important to figure out how to be ruthlessly efficient and disciplined with your time, and do only those hings that matter.”

To read the article in it’s entirely, click here.

The Upside of Being Replaceable

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Kristin Muhlner is the chief executive of New Brand Analytics , a social-media-monitoring company used to improve brand loyalty and acquire new customers. Adam Bryant from the New York Times recently sat down with Muhlner and discussed what she learned from being a C.E.O, what to look for when hiring employees, and what culture means to her. Here are some great points from the article:

  • Developing personal connections with your employees can be emotionally draining: “You always want to be one of those leaders who care deeply about their staff and look after them, but at some point you have to make the shift and say you’re going to do the right thing for the business
  • Don’t always assume that people know everything“But people just have this incredible thirst to be connected, and they need multiple reinforcing points of communication. I have to remind myself over and over not to assume that everyone knows something.”
  • Seek out a meritocracy: “If you find a meritocracy and you’re highly ambitious and you want to drive your career forward, then nothing’s going to get in your way”
  • Don’t wear “busy” as a badge of honor: “We’ve become crazy about being crazy, and I’m stunned at how many people are absolutely exhausting themselves. It’s important to figure out how to be ruthlessly efficient and disciplined with your time, and do only those hings that matter”

To read the article in it’s entirely, click here.

A Good Excuse Doesn’t Fix a Problem

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Brent Frei is the executive chairman and co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a provider of online project management. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Frei talks about early management, what to look for when hiring employees, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Here are some points from the interview:

  • Work together as a team to become a successful leader: “There are a lot of really successful ways to be a leader, but the only way I know how to do it is to be a part of the team. You get people on board, convince them about the right thing to do, get lots of input and ultimately drive to our goal.”
  • Hiring the right way will result in leadership: “If we hire right, there’s no managing; it’s just leading. And there’s a big difference between leading and managing. Leadership is: “We’ve got  problem everybody. We are all smart people. Lets figure out how we’re going to solve it. Let’s divvy up the pieces and lets go do them “.”
  • Intelligence and a quick understanding is valued: “I look for people who are bright and have a high “get-it” factor. That means they’re quick studies, so I’m talking about something really complex, they’ll say, “Got it”.
  • Don’t do it unless you really mean it: “If you’re not willing to eat rice and beans, and to get your wife and kids to eat rice and beans, don’t bother, because somewhere along the way, it’s going to be that hard. You have to have that mentality. Otherwise, it can be really difficult.”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

Culture Always Comes First

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Robert Reid  is the chief executive of Intacct, a cloud-based provider of financial management and accounting software. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Reid discussed how his leadership style has evolved, his work culture, and how inspiration is key. Here are some interesting points from the interview:

  • Don’t just focus on strategy, focus on culture: “I found that execution was virtually equal to and maybe even more important than strategy. So I started reading a lot about execution, and I started working more closely with people on the front lines. And then I discovered that was a wrong approach, and what really mattered was culture.”
  • Create a workplace that inspires: “If you create an environment that inspires people in the good times and bad, good people will figure out the right strategy and will do the right things from an execution prospective”
  • Listen to your employees and help guide them: “If someone is not doing something the way you expect or you have a different viewpoint, you need to seek to understand what’s going on and help them.”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

 

Play to Your Team’s Strengths

02-CORNER-master495Deborah Harmon is the chief executive of Artemis Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment management company headquartered in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Harmon discussed her personal managing tips, her hiring process, and how she got to where she is today. Here are some of the most salient points from the interview:

  • Become a problem-solver and a fixer: “If you have that attitude, it encourages people to bring you their problems early and often, and that’s good. But if you’re a fixer, then you risk spending your whole day fixing other people’s problems.”
  • Play by peoples strengths: “rather than trying to shore up their weaknesses. Because if you play to people’s strengths, you create a team of complementary skill sets. It’s like a puzzle. ”
  • Chance favors the prepared mind: “I use that in our company with young people because they have to be so detailed-oriented, but also in seeing how people prepare for the interview. 

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

Picking Up and Running With Your Dreams

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Alastair Mitchell is the chief executive of Huddle, a cloud-based collaboration software company co-headquartered in London and San Francisco. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Mitchell spoke about his early management lessons, how to handle tough situations, and advice for college students. Here are some of the key points from the interview:

  • Learn how to empower people and give positive feedback: “knowing when to let them take risks and when not to criticize them too hard if things go wrong. You have to back them up and then say, That didn’t work, so how are we going to improve it next time?”
  • When faced with difficult decisions, what would we regret not doing in life?: “What would happen if I were to walk out across from your building and cross the street, and a big red bus is coming the other way and I don’t see it. In that brief moment before it hits me, what would be the thing that I would regret not doing? Whenever I’m faced with difficult decisions, I always apply the big red bus test. Instinctively, people know the right answer, but it can be buried under so many layers of doubt and questions. Starting my own business came from one of those moments. ”
  • Motivate yourself and think outside of the box: “I look for people who think big, who are motivated and who have the entrepreneurial instinct. In my questioning, I’m looking for almost the rough edges — the things on their résumé that look different or reveal an inner drive.”
  • Trust who you are and listen to your gut: “Go big or go home. And just trust yourself. Whatever your gut instinct is, you’ll probably be right seven or eight times out of 10. So just go with your gut. What you’ll regret more is the fact that you haven’t gone with your gut. ”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

Respect the Opportunities You Are Given

19-CORNER-master495Michelle Munson is the C.E.O of Aspera, a unit of IBM that provides software for high-speed file transfer. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Munson opened up about her leadership style, what it’s like to work for her, and advice on how to achieve success:

  • Forgiveness is the sincerest form of progression: “I’ve made my share of mistakes. But the most important lesson I learned is that there is a degree of forgiveness from people you work with if your intentions are right and you follow through. Because I’ve been sincere, the team has forgiven my mistakes along the way. That’s given me peace of mind and confidence to keep evolving.
  • People WILL have different values: “Not everyone values the same things I do. Some things are universal, like the gratification of achievement, but other things are not, like work styles. I have backed off and allowed people to work the way they do best.
  • Respect what you have: “My biggest pet peeve is people who don’t respect the opportunity they have. To me, respecting an opportunity means embracing it and dedicating yourself to making the most of it.”
  • Go beyond being a critic; learn to solve the issue: “You can’t create unless you have some ability to discern what is lacking or needed or doesn’t exist, and that goes beyond being a critic. It’s very easy to criticize. The real challenge is, how are you going to solve it? How are you going to make it better, with whatever resources you have?”
  • Be a critical thinker: “When talking about career advice “The second thing is critical thinking, which leads to independent thinking, and that comes from a diverse education and stretching yourself with independent-study internships and outside projects and activities. It can come in many forms, but it is paramount to have that in combination with skill and competence in your field, because that’s what allows you to create.”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.