Keep your eye on the prize. Distractions come from every corner, but you have to focus on your work and goals.
As a part of our series called ‘Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO’ we had the pleasure of interviewing Jeffrey Canouse.
Jeffrey Canouse is CEO of Madison (MDEX: US), a consumer brand development company with extensive celebrity partnership experience. The publicly traded company works with such leading icons as Catherine Zeta-Jones, identifying select consumer goods segments that are underserved and offer significant growth opportunities. Mr. Canouse brings more than 25 years of senior financial management and investment banking experience to Madison, having served as CEO of multiple publicly traded companies in the restaurant, lending, fintech, and beverage industries.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
For me, it always comes back to family. I am the youngest of six children (four boys and two girls), and I grew up in a home where we always worked hard. We all had a sense of entrepreneurship and were brought up to believe we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to, from sports to school and business.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I think one of the hardest things when starting any business is a fear of the unknown. Sometimes people are afraid to tackle new challenges without knowing everything from day one. Another issue when starting out is finding the capital you need to grow your business, but I did whatever it took — from maxing out my credit cards and skipping meals to driving a 12-year-old car — until eventually I persevered. Over the years, I learned that you just have to commit and move forward, take each obstacle as they come, problem solve, and learn from each experience.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
What other choice did I have? To quit? That is not an option for me. I know its cliché, but you always need to move forward, because there will be new opportunities every day if you keep pushing.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are great. I have gone from stockbroker to investment banker to fund manager, and now I run a successful public company. It was the skills I developed over many years of work, learning, and most importantly doing, to get where I am today.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was first starting out in business, I would work very late. One time I recall waking up at my desk and my office lights were on, but every other office and hallway was completely dark. After looking at the clock, I realized it wouldn’t be long before the next workday started. I learned from that experience that I need to give myself time to rest properly, or I won’t be able to perform to the best of my abilities.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I would have to say the people that bring our products to fruition. From a simple concept and prototypes to getting all parts to fulfillment, they have tremendous commitment and experience in their work and details. For example, our ability to form a partnership with a major celebrity and offer a new product for women that is typically only associated with men has enabled us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
You need to take care of yourself. There have been many nights when I simply had to close the computer. So then I would look at the phone, and I had to learn how to put that down as well. Technology is all around us, but is imperative to rest, take care of your health, and recharge periodically.
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?
Not to sound redundant, but my family. We didn’t grow up with much, but we had each other, and we encouraged and looked after one another. At one point, some of us moved from South Florida up to Atlanta so we could all work together and live near each other. I could not have made it to where I am today without them, and I hope they feel the same way about me.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to do my part by being a good neighbor, a good community member and church member, and just being there for friends and family when they need me.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You need help. Even if you are capable of performing many tasks — you cannot be everywhere at once. Surround yourself with good quality people.
- Keep your eye on the prize. Distractions come from every corner, but you have to focus on your work and goals.
- Think things through, and don’t get too emotional. As a chess player, you learn to look several moves ahead.
- Then, take action. We only learn from doing things. Even the most well thought out strategies can have detours — so keep going until you fix any problems.
- Most important, take care of yourself. Being a leader is rewarding but can be stressful. You need to watch your health, get rest, and recharge so you can be at the top of your game when working and overseeing your business.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Helping people understand that the American dream does exist, and you can obtain all the success and happiness you want when you realize that it is up to you!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!