The key to being a successful CEO are the three C’s. The first is clarity — for yourself, the company and your people on what the mission is and what their part is in accomplishing it. The second is communicating your vision and measuring how everyone is doing. You can also achieve this by reporting on a daily/monthly basis culminating each quarter with a State of The Company Address that keeps everyone on the same page. The third is backing it all up with an empowering culture that values individuality, stresses the importance of failure in the journey to success and celebrates achievements as individuals, teams and company.
I had the pleasure to interview Rex Kurzius. Rex is the Founder and CEO of Asset Panda, a highly configurable asset tracking and management platform that is SaaS based with mobile apps. Since his founding of the company in 2012, Asset Panda has experienced a three-year revenue growth of over 3,500 percent. Inc. Magazine also ranked Asset Panda as the fourth fastest-growing company in Texas and the 104th fastest-growing company in America. Most recently, Rex was named the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Frisco (TX) Chamber of Commerce for his efforts to support young entrepreneurs, his service to the community and his innovative contributions to the rapid growth of Asset Panda. Before Asset Panda at the age of 23, Rex began a decade-long project to build a staffing firm named Resulte from the ground up. After selling Resulte, he founded Timberhorn, which went on to be one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies in America in 2013.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I grew up in difficult circumstances with my father passing suddenly when I was 10 years old. My family struggled and we were on the verge of being homeless when my grandparents moved to Texas and allowed us to live with them. There were not a lot of expectations for me to go to college or really be anything. I realized early on that my lot in life was going to be decided by my work ethic and my creativity. When I evaluated all the possible routes to take, entrepreneurship was the most logical choice. It had both the highest risk and the highest reward. And based on what I had already gone through in my childhood, the risk part didn’t bother me. I decided the greatest fear I had in my life was not fulfilling my potential.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
When I started my first company I was 23 years old. All the employees I hired were older than I was and when I went on business trips I couldn’t even rent my own car. I learned that age is just a number and if you work hard and have humility, people will follow you through anything.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Grit and perseverance were critical attributes of my personality that lead to my success. Babe Ruth said, “It is hard to beat someone that won’t quit.” Also, I am a life long learner who strives to learn something new every day. My goal is to be a little better tomorrow than I am today. I think failure is the pathway to success, and I try to fail often, learn from my mistakes and then succeed.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Being a CEO is isolating. When it is up to you to make the final decision there is no one else to blame or lean on. Both success and failure are on you.
- The people you are most generous with are often your biggest critics. I felt time and time again when I was generous the returned attitude was not what I expected. As a CEO, the entitlement attitude is tough to deal with.
- The key to being a successful CEO are the three C’s. The first is clarity — for yourself, the company and your people on what the mission is and what their part is in accomplishing it. The second is communicating your vision and measuring how everyone is doing. You can also achieve this by reporting on a daily/monthly basis culminating each quarter with a State of The Company Address that keeps everyone on the same page. The third is backing it all up with an empowering culture that values individuality, stresses the importance of failure in the journey to success and celebrates achievements as individuals, teams and company.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. We are all on this journey together. You will fail, but the sun will come up. You will succeed and that same sun still comes up. The key is to enjoy the journey and set your goals so high they fire you up to achieve them. .
- Surround yourself with a team that is better than you in every way. The key to success is having an empowered team that understands the vision and can execute it.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The three things that help me thrive and not burnout are exercise, learning and traveling.
Exercise and health create a better mental outlook and make you a better leader. If you approach everyday with the attitude that you have something to learn, life is more interesting. Adopting the mindset of evolving to get to a greater state of consciousness and clarity is very helpful. I like to travel to pull myself out of the day to day so I can think and work on my business. Some of my best ideas have come on the beach with a margarita in hand!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I believe that having mentors in your life is a key part of success. In the early days it was my father and grandfather. My dad owned a bakery and named it after me and my older brother. He helped me understand entrepreneurship. My grandfather was a WWII front line marine. He taught me the value of work ethic and would challenge me as a kid. As I became a professional, I joined The Entrepreneurs Organization and the Young Presidents Organization serving on boards and as Chapter President and Chapter Chair. Those experiences helped shape me and taught me how successful people think and operate.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I am driven by goals and achievement. I tell myself that I am striving to be the best version of myself each day. That starts with rigorous exercise every morning with a goal of a certain amount of effort each month. On a professional level I am constantly trying to push my boundaries and see how far I can go. I want to build a billion dollar business and I feel Asset Panda is the vehicle to do that.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I hope people look at my story and it inspires them. No matter where you start in life you can achieve great things if you work hard and are focused on doing the right thing for your employees and clients.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I believe that the greatest problems our world faces will be solved by entrepreneurs, not the government. I want to influence and encourage people to take a chance on themselves, and at the same time make the world a better place. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in this world,” and I believe in his philosophy.
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