Throughout my career, I called myself the change agent. I was the guy when people had problems, whether it be building a building or whether implementing a system or when financial calculations were wrong. I was the change agent. I always saw things and I said to myself, if you do it right from the beginning, it will make a huge difference where you don’t have to come back and fix it. So, I always wanted that opportunity to start with a brand-new startup, all of the things that I’ve learned, and I’m a true believer in people, process and systems. I’m a true believer in consistency, accountability, and the decision to do right things. A lot of times that third one is where a C-suite folks or presidents of organizations, they don’t do the right things. They do things right, but they don’t do the right things. And sometimes it’s about common sense.
I worked for basically five different organizations in five different industries. What I learned about and truly didn’t understand when I was in the grocery business was culture of an organization and how people have to fit a culture. And people have to be willing to understand that if they take care of the organization, the
organization will take care of them. It’s a one-on-one across the board. People in an organization and without the organization, you can’t take care of the people. And without the people, you can’t take care of the organization.
Everyone wants a high performer, right? Need A, B and C. A about 18% of every organization’s high performers, 55% B, what I like to call the fence walkers. And then you have your 20% on the bottom, who are your C, they’re the ones who spread the bad stuff, go all the way through. So, I’m always looking for a B individual who I can bring to an A. To that high performer, whether it be training, education, knowledge, how can I take them up. Two other things I’m looking for is passion and energy. You can’t teach passion and you can’t teach energy. I can teach a lot of things. I can teach a lot of skill sets, but if the person doesn’t want to continuously improve and they’re very satisfied with what they have, I can’t have it, especially in a new startup. I need people who want to come in and can wear multiple hats, but also understand what the future entails is they’re going to become a subject matter expert and they’re going to be satisfied with that, to take it to the next level. So, I’m always looking for those high B performers that I can take to an A. Most of the time, those people have a lot of background and experience. They just need a leader who cares about them and who really wants to take that time and effort to learn who they are.
I go back to what you asked me, that person, my sponsor and mentor pulled me in the office, and he said, where do you want to be in five years? I said, I don’t know. I just want to do hard work. And you recognize me for the hard work. It doesn’t work that way. I want those people who know their next step and they’ve done the outline in their career. That says I’m going here and this is how I’m going to get there. Whether I have to educate myself more or whether I have to train more or if I have to get certified and they know that’s what I want to do and how I’m going to get there, that’s what I’m looking for. So that kind of goes back to that passion and energy.
Not a lot of people have that. I’m looking for someone who’s going to come in and say, okay, James, I want your job. Because that same gentleman who called me in and asked me about five years, called me back six months later. And I walked in and said, I want your job. And so he understood, that I took what he was saying to heart. In that I could better myself, better my family, and better the organization by going out and doing those other things.