Secrets of 2012?s fastest-growing company executives (part 3 of 4)


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Last month, in conjunction with Gazelles coach Ron Huntington, we held an executive breakfast featuring four CEO’s from among the area’s fastest-growing companies.

Together they shared more than an hour’s worth of great insights, best practices and advice for companies big and small, old and young, with a focus on how they have accelerated innovation, driven culture, cut costs and sped up revenue growth for their businesses.

This is the third in a four-part series highlighting some of their best insights from that breakfast.

Ron Huntington
Steve, some of the things that you’ve experienced in terms of the personal benefit as the leader of the organization. What are some of the things that have changed in the time you’ve been doing this in terms of your life balance, your own workload, some of the things that are perhaps now more fun than they were before?

Steve Carrigan
Yes, it’s interesting you bring that up because the other night I was just thinking about it. I was driving home at about 6:30 listening to that NPR business program that goes from like 6:30 to 7:00 and I was thinking about how I used to listen to that every single night because I never left work before then. I was like, “Man I haven’t listened to that in so long.”

You know I kind of mentioned the thing about never lose a whale, and it resonates, and it’s in the DNA, people know it. So one of the things is that when we were probably 150 people and I started kind of taking over and running the business back in 2003 or 2004, I pretty much knew everybody in the organization and on small, medium, and large decisions they were all checking in with me. My office was like this revolving– well it wasn’t even an office, I was just out in the middle with everyone else, which by the way I think is a good idea. But just all day long I was just interacting with people and helping with decisions and stuff.

But now that we have this notion of a one-page plan, the top five and top one of five, a lot of times people tell me, “Oh I’ve got this decision.” In the old days they would come to me or come to management like, “Well, if my top one of five is never lose a whale…” They’d just go refer to what the top five goals are and they can just make their own decisions by and large. I hear that all the time, “Never lose a whale.” So they make their decision based on that framework, so I think that’s been good.

The biggest thing is that I used to kill myself in the early days and I worked every Saturday and I always made sure I was the first person there. Part of that was to establish credibility but these days I just don’t work as hard as I used to. I feel a little guilty, so if we could just keep that in the room. Heinz, don’t tell anyone that please.

The entrepreneur tends to be the one who works longest and hardest throughout most of the growth spurt. What we’re discovering is there are some ways that you can actually ease that burden on yourself and actually have more fun passing that burden and the initiative onto the shoulders of other people.

Joe, going back to the same question; how has your life changed in the last few years with utilizing and deploying these processes along the way?

Joe Pritting
It certainly has been a roller coaster, an emotional roller coaster as we did the whole corporate merger and divestiture. I take my family pretty seriously and spend time with my kids and that’s important to me. So I’ve maintained that over the years regardless of the business demands. I’m lucky in that I have a team that is equally devoted, or more so devoted, to the business and more in tune with what needs to happen and how fabulous to have people who are doing their thing without needing to be managed or dealt with.

The profit piece, trying to improve profit has been my goal since I joined the organization in 2000 as the finance guy and it’s just been a road that we’ve had to travel and it feels like it’s coming around. I like the frequency of meeting; I like the discipline to keep working on these things.

It’s not an instant “all of our problems are solved” kind of thing, but we’ve had that consistent voice helping us to talk about the tough issues and then helping us deliver on what we’ve agreed is our goal. I often say our marine engineers are very passionate about boats and I’m very passionate about profit, and so as it comes around and our business profitability is going up, it’s rewarding to me to see that come about.

Norm Viguray
I first want to echo the amount of time that you get. I remember years back when we first started with The Four Decisions, I was working probably 60-65 hours a week. Now, just as a youthful reflection, I’m putting together all of my schedule and I’m going to be in Europe for a month and they are going to have—even though my wife still doesn’t see the difference between two hours and 65 hours a week—in about 15-20 minutes of daily updates I’m going to be able to keep a pulse check on exactly how the company is going.

So I’m going to be just 15 minutes, at worst an hour is the program we’ve put together, for me having to check in. Meanwhile I’m going to be on the train just flying through Europe having a fun time telling them that I’m visiting 100 clients that we can expand our business to. So that keeps inside the room as well.

The other thing that’s a little bit different, it’s sometimes nerve-racking in this sort of situation; say you’re a numbers guy. I’m the numbers guy in our company; I’m not the philosophical, I’m not the passion, I’m the numbers, “What are we going to do with this, to that, to that?” These four decisions kind of clear the path for a numbers guy like me to see the future of the company.

You sit down and you set up your rocks, kind of your pathway, your values, all of those sorts of things where if you ask yourself a question, “Should I be doing this today,” you can just look at this list and say, “Well am I doing all these things? I guess I am, so philosophically I’m meeting what the company needs.”

So it kind of clears out that question of what are we doing on that level of getting our company to if somebody came down from Mars and was able to say, “What do you do?” and be able to see it, that gets cleared out of the way and I’m able to look at things and say, “Well what is the ROI on this? Are we hitting what our expected results were from this campaign?” It clears for me to not have to sit and get mired into the, “Well you know we’re not hitting our results on this but we really want it to be an image producer…” It clears the path to be able to cut through a lot of the little emotional things that can be tied in and just say, “Okay, is this doing what we expected it to do and is this returning what we thought?”

For me, in my mindset, that allows me to work so much better in that sort of situation to just be able to say, “Is it working? What are the results?” and make a decision from there on whether to continue on, if we adjust, or exactly where we go and what the road ahead is.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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