Today, I was reflecting on my 36 years in leadership positions and those leaders who were also my managers and had a huge impact on my career and leadership. I have been privileged to work for some of the greatest people that I know, but two leaders really stand out due to the impact they both had on my career and life.
The first is my mentor who I met when I was 22 years old and at Swiss Army Brands. We were busy transforming the enterprise from a knife company to a consumer products company and it was such an exciting time of growth and expansion. That is when I first met Leo Hart. He joined the company as the CEO. The number one thing Leo taught me was about service to others first. Leo was kind, a good listener and a dynamic leader who made those around him want to strive for more. In fact, Leo and I often worked on Sunday afternoons together to get a jump on the week. I loved those Sunday afternoon sessions, as I was just a sponge learning as much as I could. I had never met someone before who taught me so much each day and I will credit Leo for most of what I learned in leadership and certainly even today when we chat, I learn a great deal from him. It demonstrates the importance of having a mentor in business and in life.
The second leader I met much later in my career when I was at WPNI. His name was Chris Schroeder and he likely was the most intense person that I have ever met. Our time together at WPNI was enlightening on many levels and I have learned so many important things from Chris that I use in my leadership at iFrog. Chris focused on execution and during our time together we completed 144 key business initiatives in 5 years. Chris demanded excellence from those around him and he inspired them to dream big and think big. Although one of the most important things that Chris taught all of us was a notion to “call bullshit” and that debate and dialogue are important. Staff had to defend their position and justify new business objectives and frankly, that made everyone around him better. He liked learning, reading and experiencing new things – he always wanted to get better and it inspired all of us. He was a dynamic leader who has and continues to have a profound impact on my life.
So, as I reflect upon my own leadership, my goal at iFrog is to build a billion dollar global business and serve clients with a sustainable competitive advantage. I am committed to world-class service, that in my mind, will meet the levels that would impress Leo Hart. Thinking about stated and unstated needs of our clients that ultimately make our client’s business better is ingrained in our mission ambition. I also want to make certain that our pirate staff is served with outstanding leadership from myself and the executive team. Our goals cannot be individually driven, but rather team based. We have an aggressive roadmap for the next three years and we update that plan on a regular basis. We communicate regularly and we live our mission and core values. At the same time, like Chris, I encourage debate and dialogue and even having a fellow pirate “call bullshit” when it is needed.
Ultimately, my journey has been impacted by a great many folks who I have had the pleasure to spend time with during my career. At this time in my life, I tend to be more data driven, more independent, more comfortable with myself. I read much more and I am even more curious than I have been in the past. I notice that today I am obsessed with the details and making certain the directing pirates all understand the numbers of the business. I am consistently on a journey of continuous improvement and more than anything I have the confidence that comes with a certain level of accomplishment. Most importantly, today as a leader, I am totally having fun. I love my life, my team, my clients, and what I am doing. I learned through many different experiences that what I love doing best is building great businesses and serving clients and staff.
iFrog started as a small regional boutique agency and evolved to be a national marketing solutions company that sits at the intersection of marketing and technology and will soon be global. We had to build out a technology stack and are now in addition to a marketing company, we are also a SaaS (software as a service company). I will continue to learn and grow and be thankful for each path I cross and to all those who make me better each day than I was the day before.
As always, please don’t hesitate to hit me up 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be a pirate, have a great day and take a moment to reflect on the impactful leaders in your life! #ifrogmarketing, #ifrogtechnology, #pirates, #PiratesForChange
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