An important part of any success I’ve had in my career is the underlying competitive nature of my personality. I
suppose to a certain extent, that’s a prerequisite for anyone in leadership positions, but for me, it is an undercurrent of everything I do. It may not be readily apparent, but losing games or having business setbacks pains me to no end.
And my greatest joy is winning on or off the field whether it is a team I work for or simply one I have chosen to support. That nature inspires me to work harder, longer and smarter to make sure that my team is successful.
Arnold Zack, a Massachusetts attorney and friend of the late US Senator Paul Tsongas once told him:
“No one on his DEATHBED ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time on my business.’”
I think about that quote often, because if its true, I will likely have some serious regrets in my final days. My adult life has revolved around my job at the expense of my personal life. For almost all of the last 19 years, I’ve commuted from my wife and home base in Wisconsin to follow my professional dreams in Chicago, then Los Angeles, Minnesota and Chicago again before my recent return to Milwaukee. I’m aware of the trade offs I’m making and asking others I care for to make. As a result, I try to make my work as enjoyable as possible. Most of my best friends and the people I spend the most time with are those I’ve met through work.
Competitiveness was instilled in me at a young age by my father and my brother Tim and developed by successes and failures throughout the rest of my life. It is the single characteristic that motivates me every day.
One of my earliest memories was serving as William Tell’s son with a paper cup on my head as my father and brother did their best to remove it with a Frisbee from 15 paces. It may sound borderline abusive, but I was a willing (as willing as a four year old can be) participant and excited to be able to take part in this competition (my mother wasn’t quite as excited!).