2015 C-Suite Awards presented by Venue & Lead Magazine
What is the most challenging aspect of being leader?
To me, one of the most challenging aspects is to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Then, knowing how to leverage your strengths and manage your weaknesses as opposed to trying to fix them. Another challenging aspect is just knowing when to get out of the way and let your people do their jobs - recognizing that they may not do it the way you would, but recognizing that they’re going to do well and get the job done. I also think it’s challenging as a leader, particularly if you’ve built a business, when things don’t always go as fast as you want them to go. There are times when you just have to take a deep breath and understand that everything is working the way it’s supposed to be working. Even though you want things to go faster, that’s not always for the best.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a lot of advice over the years. I’m 50 years old and I’ve been receiving advice all my life! Some of the best advice was in my first job when I was doing more talking than listening during a meeting. Afterward, one of the leaders took me out for a walk and said, “Robert, you have two ears and one mouth, so what should you do more of?” That was a very good lesson and one that I’ve been working hard to follow for a long time.
If I think more recently, even in the last 10 years of building LeanCor, you have highs and lows. In one particular case a few years back, we were facing a challenging time in the business and I was feeling discouraged. The Chairman of LeanCor offered me some advice. He said, “Face harsh realities, then fix and repair.” I took those words to heart and have used that advice a lot since. Sometimes events in both our personal and professional lives cause us to face harsh realities; then we need to fix and repair. This idea is much like the idea of continuous improvement – which is a foundational principle of LeanCor.
Just the other day, I was talking to a friend about how hard everyone is working these days and it seems there is little time for anything else. He said that “we work to buy time.” I thought that was an interesting statement. He then said, “So the trick is to make sure at some point you stop and cash in some of that time you’ve banked from all of your hard work.”
What aspects of your personality have contributed to your success?
I am extremely enthusiastic. At times I have an overabundance of productive enthusiasm and at other times I’m probably guilty of having unproductive enthusiasm. I strive to live by enthusiasm, drive, and making a difference in the world. Most of the team members at LeanCor share these traits. We want to make a difference. We want to add value to our customers and we are willing to work hard with enthusiasm and passion.
How do you think your employees would describe you?
They would likely say that I’m a pacesetter. I would hope that they see me living the values we believe in. Those values are: safety, integrity, respect, teamwork, accountability and drive.
What aspect of your company are you most passionate about?
LeanCor started from the ground up, and we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary! I’m very passionate about all things LeanCor, but there are three particular areas that I’m most passionate about. The first is our purpose. Our mission and vision is to advance the world’s supply chains. We truly believe that by supporting and adding value to our customers, we will in turn make the world a better place by eliminating waste in today’s global supply chains. It may sound altruistic and a little ‘pie in the sky,’ but it’s true and we believe in it. A wise man once said that a business that only exists to make money is not a valuable business. We are in business to add value for our customers and to make the world a better place, and I am extremely passionate about that.
Second, I am passionate about our processes. I think that our three divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – are designed in such a way that we can make that difference in the world. We are teachers on the training and education side, and I am personally very passionate about teaching. On the consulting side, we are helping to eliminate waste, fix broken processes, and improve organizations. And on the third-party logistics side, we are actual operators. We operate logistics for companies that want to stick to their core competencies. The value these integrated services create is something truly unique in the market place.
Last but certainly not least, I am passionate about people. LeanCor is people. I believe that LeanCor has provided a place for people to develop. When I think back to the last ten years, I think of all the valuable relationships that have started at LeanCor. Both tenured and new, our employees are building highly rewarding careers. I’ll even say that we have people who have left LeanCor and are doing amazing things in other areas. I would like to think that their success is partly because of things they’ve learned at LeanCor.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I would have to plead the fifth on that for the most part! If my 16-year-old were here, she would say it was the time I blew myself up on a ten-foot brush pile trying to light it with a can of gas in my hand. Hopefully, the crazy days have reduced since then. But if I reword the question to: “What is one of the boldest things I have ever done?” I would say it was the day I left my corporate role and started LeanCor without really understanding what that meant with a wife and two children.