2015 C-Suite Awards presented by Venue & Lead Magazine
What is the most challenging aspect of being leader?
The most challenging aspect of being a leader is being able to satisfy all of your stakeholders. You can’t satisfy all of them to the direction that they want, but you’ve got to strike that right balance to get each one a sense that you’re working with them and you’re satisfying them.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
You finish where you start. That is so important to any project that you do, any hiring of individuals, any jobs that you take. It is at the beginning that you look at that quality, and if you don’t have quality in the beginning you’re not going to get quality at the end. You finish where you start.
What aspects of your personality have contributed to your success?
The number one personality trait that has contributed to my success is hard work. I am not afraid to put the hours in, I’m not afraid to multitask. I had my first job when I was eight-years old and I’ve been working since then. So I am willing to put the time, the effort and the sweat in.
How do you think your employees would describe you?
Hopefully my employees would describe me as a person with vision, hardworking and very passionate about what I do.
What aspect of your company are you most passionate about?
I am the most passionate about our students, being able to give people that second, third or forth chance is the American dream. Our age range at Cincinnati State is 18-60, so people who didn’t do well the first time around in high school or college can come to Cincinnati, turn their life around, become a productive citizen and provide more for their family.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
The craziest thing I think I’ve ever done is I went to Africa as a student. I spent my third year of college in Uganda, and Uganda was a very new country, only about four years old. I went there not understanding how volatile it could be, how still primitive it was in certain aspects of the country. But I had a great year and came back home with a lot of great stories as well.
The craziest one is, when I was there I played on the basketball team for the university, and I was a very good basketball player, so I was the star. That year we didn’t lose. In fact, we beat the American embassy and that was a big deal, because obviously everyone there grew up playing basketball. Basketball in Africa is only as old as the Peace Corps, which brought basketball to Africa. So we beat everyone, including the American embassy, and at that time the general in the army called the school and said, I want to play your university team in basketball with my soldiers. I said, Hey, bring them on. That night, the American embassy called me up and said, If you play, that may be a problem. I said, Why? They said, The general has a reputation for being very mean. I said, I’m playing. Later on, a friend in the embassy called me up and said, O'dell, you play, you win, you’re dead and there’s nothing we can do. So I sprained my ankle that night and didn’t play and my teammates, who were all Africans, dogged it because they knew. And he wasn’t a particularly good player, the general, he was just big and he left with his soldiers and he was happy.