One can argue that schooling and professional experience alone helps to mold a successful business person; although I see value in this belief, I strongly believe the knowledge one accumulates throughout their lives and personal experiences really makes a strong leader. I have personally received a 15-year successful Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Masters from Cambridge University in Business Leadership, Masters in Manufacturing, and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution from East Carolina University. With this education in my repertoire, I have been able to address key issues in business such as Operations, Supply Chain & Logistics, Quality, Order Management, Customer Service, and R&D, but those studies in themselves have not been the only component to making me the successful CEO I am today. Having said that, I simply cannot attribute my success to just my time spent in the classroom and business environment—the knowledge I have acquired throughout my years in the “real world” has prepared me to lead the vastly growing Dixon Ticonderoga Company of brands.
As I am constantly learning and improving as an individual, I have been able to identify some important life lessons that allow me to continue to be a dedicated business leader. I believe the following ideas that I have been able to capitalize on will allow others to continue their own personal paths to success and propel their careers forward. Please consider the following notions that I find valuable when you are attempting to improve your work ethic and drive in a company setting:
- Listen and Observe: in any situation, it’s extremely important to listen to others. Observations are key to be able to react properly—sometimes just sitting back, taking in your surroundings, listening carefully throughout your interactions, and taking notes is the best way to learn how to properly convey yourself to others. This skill is highly important if you are managing others and must make key decisions in business or life.
- Take Initiative: one must take initiative to be a leader. Without stepping up, there is a possibility of an objective falling short of expectations. Think to yourself, “this isn’t my first rodeo”, and confront a problem head-on.
- Plan Thoroughly: brainstorm, make lists, set goals, and be realistic when doing so. It’s a good idea to take into consideration the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each situation to properly strategize.
- Play Hard: insert yourself fully into what you’re doing—dedicate your time to ensuring something is done right the first time, but don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it. Your experiences should be enjoyable, and something you can later learn from.
- Be Transparent and Trustworthy: be open with your thoughts and approachable to others. It’s important for people to know they can trust your opinion and work (through the performance you exude), and come to you when there is an issue that needs to be resolved.