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Lessons on Life and Business

Interview with John Cataldi, Managing Partner, Native American Venture Fund

Q1 What is the most valuable career advice you can give to people just starting out?

Lots…

· Find a mentor

· Read a book weekly

· Always grow your social network that is currently outside of your social class or current intelligence level, you will be amazed what you can learn or what mentors you may find

· Never settle

· and always push outside of your comfort zone

Q2 What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

· Being your own island – isolation

· Authentic feed back.. getting rid of the yes men

· Knowing when it time to step down – lead follow or get the hell out of the way… that latter is hard for any founder

· lead from a place of example and influence rather than authority

· effective Communication

Q3 How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with your “core values”?

· One of the best ways to preserve company culture is to hire carefully. Create traditions and award achievements that is in aliment with values. But be careful… sometimes core values are like sacred cows…. Which everyone knows makes the best filet migon…. If core values promote company growth, keep it up, if it detracts from the bottom line.. sounds like a sacred cow … hmmmm yummy

Q4 Where do the great ideas come from in your organization? Do you encourage junior members to be creative and share business ideas with senior management?

· I hire above my intellect and paygrade… I don’t mind being on the short bus… as long as my hires can excel KPI

Q5 Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe some one who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

· Brent Hill, my business partner and mentor… my senior in intellect, as are most of my hires, but he has a special place in my world as he co-manages our venture fund portfolio as my equal. 99.9% of the time I never take partners, I have been burned by too many… he is the rare exception.

He leads by both example and a long track record of success. In business I trust no one… but my partner… it’s a bond that is rare… and he has mentored me in complex financial transactions to personal growth. He is the full package, and I can honestly say he has become one of my closest friends.

Q6 Tell me about a time you struggled with work-life balance. How did you solve the problem?

· Work in progress. Play hard, work hard. Always have fun.

Q7 Have you made unpopular decisions like firing employees and reducing compensation levels? What do you do to keep employee motivation enact after such actions?

· Tied employee compensation to performance. Your eat what you kill.We all do!!!!

Q8 As leaders do you create work environments that are more competitive or collaborative in nature?

· Both, we work as a team but reward greatness

Q9 How do you get buy in from senior management and board on your business ideas?

· I am senior management, I teach my children… 8 and 10 that no doesn’t mean no as long as you can create a logical argument for yes…. Argue, fight for what you believe, you will get your shot, if successful, you will be promoted, if not regroup and try again. The bigger the risk the bigger reward

Q10 How to increase employee productivity? Do you invest in their wellbeing?

· Give the the autonomy to be successful on their own steam, but ALWAYS support to grow their abilities. 

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