"It's not whether or not you make a mistake. Mistakes are inevitable. It's how you recover from your mistakes that makes all the difference."
As children, we're all asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" How did you answer?
I always wanted to be an inventor. What I liked most about being an inventor was solving problems by using availabe stuff in completely new ways.
What have been the most defining moments along your career path?
I had just started a new position with a large company. I was in a meeting, with a dozen of so internal technolgy folks, listening to a presentation which was actually a pitch to gain acceptance for a fairly complicated and potentially time-consuming and expensive project. The political tension in the air was almost palpable. As the presentation ended and the presenters asked if there were any questions, the tension and the silence held. Not only was I new to the organization, but I was a minor player in the meeting. Nevertheless, I raised my hand and started to speak. I gave my impression of the presentation and of the project. I was severely critical of the project's goals, it's methodology, and the manner in which it was being forced upon the organization. When I finished, there was a short silence. I thought to myself "Now I've done it.". Then, to my surprise, the tension in the room dissolved, a lively discussion ensued, and it became clear that the majority of attendees were as critical as I had been, some even more so. It was at this moment that I realized how a small amount of effort applied at the right moment and in the right way can have a tremedous impact on an organization. It was also that moment that established an instant reputation for me among my peers and superiors. And that reputation opened doors within the organization that significantly improved my effectiveness.
How did you get your big breaks?
Almost all of my big breaks came about because I realized it was time for a change and I took some action to actualize that change. Naturally, this doesn't mean that you always win out and get the big break. Sometimes you take a chance and it doesn't work out at all. But, if you can't see that it's time for a change, or if you're not doing anything about it, it's unlikely that you will recognize a good opportunity when it is offered.
What was the best advice you received when you were first starting out in your career?
"What if I screw up?". This is probably the most prevalent, high-anxiety question in the minds of those just starting along their career path. The best advice I ever received was the answer. "It's not whether or not you make a mistake. Mistakes are inevitable. It's how you recover from your mistakes that makes all the difference."
What have you learned from your experience?
Career effectiveness is all about change - how you manage change, how you respond to change, how you create change.
What most excites you about your job right now?
The most exciting aspect of my job today is the challenge of effecting deep-rooted changes and building an innovative and strong organization.
On a scale of 1-10, how relevant was your academic major to your career? (1=not at all, 10=absolutely essential)
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