Editor’s Note: Every quarter we assemble a small group of CEOs and top executives, and ask them the same questions. The answers offer insights into the strategies and processes that successful leaders use to guide their relationships and decision making.
Earlier this month, we asked Mona Amodeo, CEO if idgroup, to tell us how she spends her time. Her answer can be found at this link. Now it’s Paul Spiegelman’s turn to answer the same question. Paul is the founder of BerylHealth and the Chief Culture Officer of Stericycle.
How do you spend your time?
This is such a great question – one that all leaders should be asking ourselves every day. As I reflect on my years as a leader and business owner, it occurred to me that the answer to this question has changed many times over the years.
My own ability to grow as a leader has been the same as many entrepreneurs – we learn by doing, making mistakes, celebrating successes and continually moving forward. The biggest influences on my growth came from reading books and trusting mentors who were willing to spend time with me.
I hope the lessons I’ve learned about how to spend my time might be helpful to others:
I used to think about how to build a strategy to help us grow – I spent time worrying about the product, the market and how much customers would pay for our service. I felt the need to control most of what we did and have my stamp on everything.
I realized that my time was better spent on people – finding the right people, instilling a set of core values people could live by, getting rid of the wrong people, and getting out of the way. Once I realized that there were many people who were smarter than me that could help the company grow, I knew my place was to focus on building a culture and environment where people enjoyed what they did every day and were able to follow their personal passions.
I used to spend my time hiring people who already had experience doing the things we needed to do to help us grow. A consultant told me long ago not to hire or promote people with potential, since this would increase our risk of failure.
I realized my time was better spent helping people stretch themselves and take advantage of their personal visions to grow, even if it was into new areas. There is so much underutilized talent in every organization.
If as leaders, we can take the time to unlock that talent, there is no limit to what our people can do.
Vision & Culture
I used to be obsessed with making the next sale. I loved the sales and marketing aspect of the business and I was good at it.
I realized my time was better spent helping the company articulate “who we were” so we could sell that. So many companies focus on the features and benefits of the products we offer. But to truly compete and become a premium provider, we have to show a way to differentiate. So I spent a lot of time educating our team members how to sell the vision and the culture.
I used to be the first one in and the last one to leave – I felt like I had to put in the most hours, be the quickest respond and keep things moving.
I realized my time was better spent being present no matter where I was, at work or with my family. I don’t believe in work/life balance because I don’t think that exists anymore. It is just “life.” If we can find our passion, we should be enjoying what we do with our colleagues just like we enjoy the time we spend with our kids. The key is to pay attention to ourselves – our health, our fitness, our family and our work.
I used to spend my time focused on success – making the company bigger, growing value and making money.
I realized my time was better spent focusing on significance – the impact I can make on other people’s lives (comes with age). Quite a while ago, I came to realize that happiness is not the money you make but the people you touch, whether at work, at home, or in the community.
So I think this question can really only be answered at point in time for each person. Having sold my core business, I’m probably asking myself this question more often than ever! I wish more CEOs and leaders would ask themselves the same question and be honest about where they could make the most impact for themselves and all of their personal and professional stakeholders. They might be surprised at the results.
Paul Spiegelman is the founder of BerylHealth and the Chief Culture Officer for Stericycle. Paul is also the founder of the Small Giants Community, who partners with the Center for Values-Driven Leadership for the Return on Values (ROV) research project. Learn more about the culture and values of BerylHealth on the ROV website.