2015 C-Suite Awards presented by Venue & Lead Magazine
What is the most challenging aspect of being leader?
There’s two things that I’ve found. One, it always starts with communication. Good and bad situations all start with communication. I’ve found that over time you cannot over-communicate anything to anyone. The second aspect is being consistent in every aspect of my life. I think the business world wants you to behave by a different set of rules sometimes, to become a different individual because there are tough things that can happen in the world, but I think being just as consistent with your family and friends as you are at work is important. You see leaders fail all the time because they fail to live their lives with that integrity. I find that at the end of the day, if I can look at myself in the mirror and say that I lived myself with that consistency then that is a good day.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I used to be a hothead. Back in New York, I was much younger in an advertising agency. When I tried to defend my ideas and concepts I felt that I was justified in losing my temper if I felt that I was being mistreated. One day my copywriter partner sat me down and told me to stop. And he explained to me that anger is a secondary emotion, and that what I was really feeling was either anxiety or stress, but that there was a first emotion that I needed to get in touch with. And that really changed everything for me. I realized that I had to win those battles with my brain and not my temper and it really helped me in my career become much more calm in those situations and become a better listener.
What aspects of your personality have contributed to your success?
I really care about people and relationships, and I think I’ve discovered that if I take care of those two things that good things follow and you don’t have to worry about too much else. I think for me, those things help. I would also probably want to throw in being a good listener, but I think my wife of 32 years would find that amusing, so I’ll stick with relationships and people.
How do you think your employees would describe you?
Well I hope they would say I’m curious but I also think they would see me as adventurous. I think I am very competitive but I try not to show that side of myself a lot. I think I would be pleased if they said I was a good teacher and a good mentor, because that matters to me. On the embarrassing side of things, I read a lot of books and I have been known to start a phrase with, “Hey I just finished this book and...” and when I see eyes rolling I know it’s time for me to shut up.
What aspect of your company are you most passionate about?
I love strategy and I love the creative process but I think what I am most excited about and what I really love is the culture aspect of it. When we stated Curiosity five years ago, I was a little naive that culture just grows naturally out of whatever the situation is and my business partner learned very quickly that culture really is about deliberate choices. So we spend a lot of our time talking about our culture and how to make it reflect our values and the way we like to do business. I really find that to be one of the most satisfying aspects of building a place where people love to work.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I’ve done a lot of foolish things, but I would say the craziest thing was starting an advertising agency in the bottom of the worst recession in history, but if I had to do it all over again I would.