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Tips From The Top: One On One With Andrew Pudalov

I spoke to Andrew Pudalov, founder and CEO of Rush Bowls, about his journey and best advice

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Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

I have a fascination with science and always thought I’d be well suited working in this type of environment. In fact, I was a pre-med student during my first two years of college as I was very interested in learning about different areas of medicine. I was also intrigued by the power of data and how new innovative research could contribute to revolutionary, life-saving medicine, treatments and therapies.

Adam: How did you get here? What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

The tragic events of 9/11 propelled me to leave New York and Wall Street and move my family to Boulder. Not only was I eager to live in a new area of the country, I was also motivated to make a transition and experience a new and different career path. Making such a drastic change was not viewed as a positive by all; some considered it risky and irresponsible and thought I should stick with what I knew best. But while this was a challenging endeavor, it was also an educational opportunity for me. It was an uphill climb to reinvent myself while simultaneously creating and growing a business and continuing to provide for my family. But I adapted, remained optimistic and learned how to address obstacles that arose along the way.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

In my experience, effective leaders have a vision, clear goals, are solution-focused, have an open mind and are team-oriented. Leaders and aspiring leaders should guide by example; do the heavy lifting, even when certain decisions may not be the most popular. Leaders and aspiring leaders should be able to continually adjust to new challenges while also staying on course and maintaining a vision. Aspiring leaders should view setbacks as opportunities, not as hindrances.

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Always persevere. From what I have seen and experienced, it is not always the smartest, most intellectual individual that has the most success. It is the person who has the will to take some risk, put it all out on the line, who works efficiently and is constantly pushing the envelope towards achieving a goal or realizing a vision.

Maintain clear ethics and objectives. I firmly believe in having a fair, ethical approach to business. All too often, businesses do not function according to morals and values; they are fueled by numbers and the bottom line. In my experience and opinion, it may take a while, but ultimately unethical decisions will negatively impact results. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an executive or a civic leader, you are much more likely to gain acceptance and support when you lead with clear objectives and a moral code – those around you will know what to expect and what it takes to make progress and deliver results.

Be an excellent listener. It’s vitally important to share ideas and listen to what others have to say. When you’re a good listener, you gain different perspectives and insight, develop a broader perspective of the bigger picture and will always learn something new.

Adam: What is your best advice on building, leading and managing teams?

Surround yourself with those that will complement your strengths and weaknesses. Build teams that you consider bright, skilled and compatible, but also have a shared vision. I’m not a fan of the “yes man” – teams should be comprised of independent minds and those that can respectfully and effectively challenge one another. I appreciate when people have contrarian opinions, but are committed to staying focused, finding solutions and achieving mutual goals.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Being an entrepreneur is a hectic lifestyle, always worrying if the business will continue to progress and grow. I would have good days and not so good days; trying to stay optimistic and persevere. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the pressure was relieved when I was advised not to preoccupy myself with possibility of failure. Turns out, failure is pretty common and many of the most successful have experienced it in one form or another – and more than once. This advice helped me change my mindset – if things don’t go according to plan, don’t consider that failure, consider it an opportunity. One door may close but another will open.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

It is also a focus of Rush Bowls to be active in the community and we are committed to a number of non-profits. 

One thing everyone should do to pay it forward is to have a degree of selflessness. As an individual, it’s always beneficial to share your ideas and experiences in order to provide insight for the next person to learn and grow, regardless of personal or professional goals. As a business perspective, this selflessness can be in the form of giving back, whether it’s donating time, money or resources, being a partner and contributor to the community is a natural way to pay it forward.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Two hobbies I’ve always been interested in are sports and reading.

I played many team sports over the years – lacrosse was a particular favorite. These activities helped me develop my team orientation and helped me realize the importance of being a meaningful contributor to a group’s success.  I also love to read – it broadens my horizons and keeps me open-minded. Reading also exposes me to diverse areas of interest outside of the business world, as well as varying perspectives that I may not have otherwise considered. I really enjoy reading about history, especially the struggles of revolutionary war, and the leaders that defined America. 

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