I’m going to open this article with complete honesty and I have no idea how to start this article.  At the moment I am simply typing to fill a blank page.  I feel like the British Comedian Bill Bailey who openly admits his difficulty starting his gigs.  However, once he gets started, his content is incredible so I have hopes the same thing will happen with this one.  The truth is that my subject matter today is just unfathomably successful, it’s almost difficult to put into words.  His name is David Richter and he is currently the CTO for Petco. He is also the author of two books and father of two children.  At the age of 23 he was turning around a datacenter for IBM that would inevitably become Unisys.  Can you see my problem?

Telling David’s story would probably turn into a Lord of the Rings trilogy so, to change it up a little, I’ve decided to condense his knowledge into 9 points that I believe really accentuate David’s values of success:

Understand your weaknesses

Early in his career David performed a Color Wheel personality test and the results suggested that he “would not work well with others”.  Years later, the same test was performed with his team and the results suggested that his specialty was, indeed, working with others.  By knowing what you want to achieve and what your current limitations are, you can work through so that they become your strengths.

Tony Robbins: “See things as they are but not worse than they are.”

Take risks and pay the price

At the age of 23 David took a job at half salary in order to turn a data center on the verge of closure into a success.   This data center would later become part of Unisys and David would become a recognized industry figure.  If you’re willing to pay the price in the short term then your long term will benefit.

Richard Branson: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”

Be a man of your word

David’s life hasn’t always been a rose tinted success story.  However, as we grew into our conversation I asked him about values and what advice he would give to aspiring leaders.  “The one thing that destroys companies is when a leader lacks credibility.  If they can’t hold their word and are perceived to have double standards, success is impossible.”

Don Miguel Ruiz in ‘The Four Agreements’ – “Be impeccable with your word.”

“If you get the relationships right, the rest is easier.”

Although I’ve put this at number 4, it was actually the first point that David brought up in our conversation.  He expressed his gratitude of having the opportunity to find and work with some incredible people and, by forging the relationships, he’s been able to work with them time and time again in various different aspects.

Zig Ziglar: “You don’t build a business, you build people and the people build the business.”

“Change the people or change the people.”

David and I spent a bit of time talking about firing people.  Positive huh?  However, David’s perspective was a very refreshing one.  Sometimes you need to understand that employment termination is not always about rejection or lack of quality.  David says that it’s more likely that the individual is in the wrong place.  The most important thing is that, when you do part ways with an employee, do it with integrity, spend time with them and allow them to leave with their head held high.

Hugh Jackman: “Before he was Wolverine in ‘X-Men’, he was fired from his cashier job at 7-Eleven.”

Don’t be deterred, find a way

Whilst working for NEC, David was tasked with creating an elite team but convincing talent to work for NEC with giant offices belonging to HP and Intel on the same street was proving impossible.  So, instead of admitting defeat, he chose to forge partnerships with colleges to secure the future talent.  The end result was that his division at NEC went 4 years without ZERO turnover.  The key is that David knew what he needed to do and, when the clear path was obstructed, he found another.

Unknown:  “If it’s important enough to you, you will find a way.  If not, you will find an excuse.”

Commitment & Immersion

I’ll admit that this part of my conversation with David almost made me use the phrase “are you kidding me?”  Fortunately, despite the fact that he completed a 42 month PHD in 17 months after completing a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Computer Science, I managed to restrain myself.  What was interesting though was his take on education.  “Real life is much more important than being in school” he said.  However, I think the lesson here is the commitment.  David knew the value of the lessons but didn’t want the years that are required to hold him back.  What was the answer?  To do it really quickly.

Steve Jobs: “If you’re working on something you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.  The vision will pull you.”

Make it NEVER about you

Towards the end of our call together, David and I started to talk about his current role as CTO of PETCO.  Reporting directly to the CIO, Kelly Breitenbecher he became very passionate about his relationship with her, “she’s amazing!” States David.  “It’s never about her and those values resonate through the organization to create a strong team based on ultimate trust and respect.” more tips can be found at https://likealeader.net/

 

 

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