Michelle Peluso, the C.E.O. of Gilt Groupe, the online shopping site hasn’t had an office in over a year! Her desire to connect and understand the various teams under her leadership has lead her to sit in the open with everyone. She has no interest in an ivory tower feeling disconnected from her people. Learning this approach and the power of positively from her father, an entrepreneur himself, and curiosity from her mother, a teacher, she brings passion and purpose to life and business.
In terms of hiring, Ms. Peluso loves loyalty. She says, “I understand that maybe it’s more generational, and maybe I’m crossing over to the old generation, and soon I’m going to be talking about how I walked to school barefoot, uphill both ways. But I like grit and persistence and loyalty.”
I do too!!
Her advice to women: grace! She states, “if your going to live a bold life, and if your going to take risks and try to step out of your comfort zone, you are going to occasionally fail, make some mistakes, and occasionally disappoint yourself… Grace is meeting those moments on your journey, then picking yourself back up, being humble enough to learn and not be to hard in yourself.”
Well said and a great perspective for both men and women as well as parents!!
Brad Smith is the chief executive of Intuit, the software company. He learned leadership skills by becoming a black belt by age 18 and teaching 150 students soon after. There, he learned that “success is creating the environment where people can be their best selves and continue to grow and develop.” I love it! In my business I do likewise for the people I coach from athletes to entrepreneurs to adolescents trying to figure out life!
Mr. Smith, interviewed by Adam Bryant of the Corner Office, says that he learned from his father to: “never mistake kindness for weakness.” Again, I love it. Too few of us are truly kind. It takes courage to be kind. Anyone can be critical and judgmental. “Always be kind and generous but always stand your ground,” he states a core lesson from his father. Well said!
Mr. Smith also believes in the value of making mistakes, acknowledging your wrongdoing, learning and improving. When interviewing prospective hires he asks them to tell him about their biggest mistake and what the lesson they took away. In helping college students make career decisions he guides them to go for what excites them, to pursue their passion or what makes their heart beat faster, another lesson from his father!
I like Mr. Smith’s style and perspective; it’s positive, no-nonsense and progressive. With this kind of leadership, more corporate environments would be both humane and fulfilling!
Kim Bowers, C.E.O. of CST Brands, a gas-station and convenience-store retailer, doesn’t trust managers who manage up really well but not down. In other words, it’s fundamentally important that your team will go to bat for you what she refers to as “walking over hot coals for you.” Creating that loyalty and bonding with your people is an indispensable leadership skill!
Ms. Bowers’ perspective on career management is very interesting as well. She says, “Throw it out the window. It’s not going to happen that way. If you work really hard, opportunities will come along, and success will follow.” I agree that working hard is important, staying open, and looking for ways to expand your skill sets and abilities is fantastic. However, some people might want to cultivate mentoring and guidance because they don’t always see the opportunities when they come or have the courage to take the risk. Also, I find that a fair amount of younger people today aren’t patient enough to work hard and pay their dues. On the other hand, when I guide someone who finds them-self in an environment where hard work leads to frustration, change might be necessary sooner no matter what it looks like from the outside.
I teach fluidity which means cultivating awareness of the circumstances and creating the courage to take action to change unhappy situations. Fluid people are less attached in general to certain outcomes which is another way of saying what Ms. bowers is suggesting that ultimately you can’t really control your career. But what you can do is work hard, stay open, and seize opportunities as they come!
I read the Corner Office by Adam Bryant every Sunday in The New York Times business section because I enjoy his interviews with business leaders. This week he interviewed Dara Richardson-Heron, the chief executive of Y.W.C.A. In terms of career advice, Ms. Richardson-Heron states: “I tell them life is not fair. Make the best of the cards you are dealt. I also tell them it’s important not to feel entitled or to think people owe you something. You have to earn what you get. A dose of realism is important for people growing their careers. Nothing comes easy. The bottom line is never, ever give up.” Well said!!
I love reading the Corner Office section of The New York Times Sunday Business section. This week Mr. Bryant interviews Lynn J. Good, the CEO of Duke Energy. Her sense of responsibility and dedication to others originated from parents who were educators with a tremendous work ethic. For instance, while growing up her neighbor was a widow and the family always called this neighbor before going to the supermarket or mowed her lawn as they did their own. Working at Arthur Anderson, the failed accounting firm, taught her that family, friends, and relationships are just as important as work and perhaps more important for happiness. I see a lot of executives whose lives are out of balance. I teach balance, harmony, and flow as fundamental to long term success in life and business! Ms. Good also addresses the value of communication for effective leadership. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I would suggest that great communication is essential to happiness as well! People who form close ties and do intimacy well tend to be far happier than those who communicate poorly and struggle with relatedness.
Val DiFebo, the CEO of Deutsch NY, the advertising agency, has plenty to say about leadership and business but what stands out to me is her comments in the Corner Office (New York Times Sunday Business section) about the power of presence. “There’s a real skill and an art to reading the room, and it drives me crazy when people are not present. You have to be present.” I couldn’t agree more! Whether working with executives, entrepreneurs, or athletes, I almost always start with presence. Many people, even so-called successful people, are rarely present. Instead, they are constantly plotting, planning, or rehashing. This is limited behavior eventually leading to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Being in the here and now as much as possible is powerful for a variety of reasons – nowness unleashes creativity, spontaneity, and joy to name a few!
The idea that we must do something significant about the civil war in Syria seems silly to Mr. Friedman who argues that Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting since the 7th century over the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad’s “spiritual and political leadership.” He notes that without boots on the ground to control and develop the center, any intervention will fail as our intervention to take out the dictator Qaddafi has plunged Libya unnoticed into severe economic and political crisis. And since that is not happening, “arm and shame” is our only sensible foreign policy there. I like Friedman and this article is worth reading in detail. It’s an excellent summary of why America’s credibility is not at stake here. Perhaps Obama’s credibility is but as Friedman suggests, Arab civilizations have largely missed every giant opportunity for positive change.
I enjoy the second page of The Sunday Times business section because these interviews with successful executives in The Corner Office section offer solid insights into many common business practices like hiring. I find many of these interviews to be informative and valuable summaries of leadership perspectives. For instance, Christopher Williams, the CEO of Williams Capital Group, believes that the most important aspect to hiring is not one’s resume or pedigree but their confidence, honesty, and willingness to acknowledge mistakes. Like many successful leaders, he is listening for both talent and realness!
This time Francisco D’Souza, the CEO if Cognizant, a large IT company, was interviewed by Adam Bryant. Two aspects of this article stand out for me: that before he became CEO, Mr. D’Souza hired a business coach and got feedback from 20 of his peers, underlings and those above him. He learned that his feedback was too intense and critical at times. This was important to his success as a leader. Hiring a coach, especially the right coach, can be life altering! Also, his intention to hire based on passion and talent, both being necessary, especially in a business where new learning is so important and essential!