Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Authority Magazine as part of their "Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me before Becoming CEO" series. The interview covered a lot of ground, including my management philosophy, my advice on how to achieve work-life balance, and my advice for future leaders. I've enclosed an excerpt of the interview below, and I encourage you to read the complete article to learn more.
Thank you so much for joining us Terry! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always enjoyed learning and development: the theory, the application, and the impact. My first post-college job was that of an elementary school teacher. While I found out quickly that I wasn’t called to teach children, I loved my role in teaching adults … teaching teachers how to use computers in the classroom (that will date me!) In the pursuit of my masters and doctorate of education, I was introduced to this whole new-to-me field of management and leadership and the positive — and sometimes negative impacts leaders had on their people. In forming Entelechy, Inc. back in 1992, I combined my love of training and development with this most amazing thing we know as management and leadership. For 27 years we’ve been helping leaders increase their effectiveness and, as a result, the effectiveness of their people. People feel good about their work, their contributions, and themselves. They go home happier people. The world is a better place when leaders are better leaders.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
My passion is in developing people, not developing a business. However, if I wanted to reach more leaders and positively impact the lives of more people, I needed to learn how to develop and run a business. After working hard to be the entrepreneur, the businessman, the financial planner, the sales director, I realized that I’m not great (okay, not even good!) at all these things. What I think I AM good at is building a place — a space — for people to achieve their greatness. My lesson, therefore, is to lead from strength. At the same time, running a business requires that you pay attention to important things like business development, cash flow, hiring, etc. Find people who do these things well … and love doing them; then delegate and celebrate their successes!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO?” Please share a story or example for each.
Develop business constantly. As a small company you’re either selling or doing; that’s a recipe for failure. Instead, you need to sell while you do work or you’ll run out of work.
Think long term. Employee development, business development, strategy; how does what you’re doing today get you to where you want to be tomorrow?
Take a chance on enthusiasm. Skills can be developed. Passion, eagerness, willingness to learn; those things can’t be easily developed. We hired a person with no corporate training experience. While she had an education background, in my experience, that actually would work against her. Yet, she was so passionate and focused that it was hard not to hire her. We did and, five years later, she is one of Entelechy’s most prized resources.
Life-work balance isn’t a thing so don’t try to make it something. See my “burn out” advice below.
People are the reason. I love the fact that some of my employees have been with me since almost the beginning of the company. It means that they’re getting something important from this thing called Entelechy, and that makes me proud. While most of our clients are huge, we’re not. Yet time after time we’ll hear from a client who’s moved to another company and wants to bring us in. It means that as a company we’re providing something valuable, and that makes me proud. Our company has positively impacted tens of thousands of managers who have positively impacted hundreds of thousands of employees, and that makes me proud.