What sets great business leaders apart from ordinary executives? Over the past few weeks, Executive Leaders Radio has been sitting down with prominent local CEOs, CFOs, and presidents to find out. Sponsored by Offit Kurman, Executive Leaders Radio’s “elite interviews” are a series of 10–25-minute conversations with the heads of top workplaces in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas. Guests share their unique leadership journeys: the career experiences, personal struggles, sources of inspiration, and formulas for success that have brought them to their influential positions. Informal and upbeat, these conversations capture a rarely seen side of the men and women behind the region’s finest companies. This week, we’re rounding up a few examples of leaders whose early childhood exploits had a lasting career impact. We’ve put together a few highlights from recent Executive Leaders episodes below, where you will also find links to full webcasts:
On his first sales experience: “My dad would drive me to the 7-Eleven as a kid, and I would buy ‘Big Buddies’—these big packs of gum—and I would buy about fifty or sixty of them. Each cost a nickel apiece, and I would sell them for almost a quarter in my junior high school. Every night, though he didn’t realize it, [my dad] was taking me to 7-Eleven to restock. Eventually, I got suspended. I think I started making more than the principal. He called it ‘disruption,’ but I called it profit. I learned that you could make money doing anything.” Listen to Larry Letow’s interview here.
On how his rebellious childhood prepared him to be an entrepreneur: “It takes away the fear of failure, because when you’re a troublemaker you’re kind of failing already. A lot of people are calling you a failure, and you’re not doing things the right way—not necessarily because you can’t do it the right way, but because you choose to take a different path. So the idea of—which is one of the most challenging things as an entrepreneur, and what I always tell people—is time and risk. Those are the two most important things about being an entrepreneur, and when you’re a troublemaker you don’t have the risk factor as much. You’re more willing to take risks.” Listen to Jared Shepard’s interview here.
On discovering her life’s purpose early: “I grew up on a farm and I think that helping was just the way it had to be. We worked a lot in order to put food on the table—[helping] was part of what we did. When you talk about the circle of life, I’ve experienced it there. Everything we did was helping. And as I grew into my career, I realized that in every job I was happy with, I was somehow serving others. Whether that was waitressing in high school, or bartending in college—all of those different stages. I liked being with people and I liked hearing their stories.” Listen to Shirley Clark’s interview here.
On the mentors who changed his life: “When I was 14 I worked at a warehouse run by my next door neighbor. I really looked up to him because he was a hard worker. We would leave at 5:00 in the morning and not get home many times ‘til 6 or 7:00 at night. I looked up to his success and drive. And then, throughout my years of business, I always sought out the people who were successful in the organization, tried to identify what made them successful, then tried to be better than them. That was the driving force behind what I do: to try to learn and be better as a leader.” Listen to David Notari’s interview here.