Today’s New York Times business section featured an interview with Kathy Savitt, CEO of the new social network and e-commerce site Lockerz. Savitt has held high-level posts with Amazon and American Eagle before this start-up.
Savitt comments on what she has learned about the business world. Nursing home administrators, take note:
“Guts is one of them. We talk about having the courage to work through failure, the courage to work through tough customer feedback, the courage to confront brutal facts in your business…
“…And finally, optimism. It’s easy for people at many companies to become cynical, which leads to politics, which can create a cancer that can topple even the greatest companies.”
What makes people cynical? “A good example is when a team member has a great idea or has a big issue with a customer experience and no one responds, no one even acknowledges it, no one gets back to them. The idea festers, problems mount, no one listens. That’s a recipe for cynicism.
“Another cell of cynicism is when you feel a company is not actually living out its core values. And just a lack of overall communication can cause problems. Leadership can have the greatest of intentions, and their senior team may feel completely bought into the vision. But if people on the front-lines don’t know what’s going on in the company, you might have a seed of cynicism that can grow.”
On hiring: “It’s not enough just to have I.Q. You have to have active listening skills and really want to communicate with someone…
“Some of the questions I ask all the time include, what did you love most about the work you just finished doing? And if you could design your life in terms of work, what would that job actually be? If you could take 100 percent of your abilities and create a job description, what would it look like?
“…Another question I ask all the time is, if everyone here was a C.E.O. and I was to make you the C.E.O. of something on Day One, what would it be? I ask that because I like to get a sense of what you feel so passionately about that you want to own.”
Good advice for all of us. The full interview is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/business/05corner.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=savitt&st=cse