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?
Steve: I am an avid wine lover and a co-owner in a Napa Valley winery called Brilliant Mistake Wines. I have also been collecting wine for over 20 years and love sharing wine experiences with friends and family.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Steve: In my former business, the industry was greatly impacted by technology and change as the business evolved over time. The challenge was having the vision to see the need for change and then leading the organization through that change to a positive outcome. That experience taught me to always be reviewing the future state of the business (to ensure the business is competitive and relevant) with a laser sharp focus on what customers want and need, and how to make it easier for them to get it. Seeing change, building trust, and leading an organization in a new direction has been instrumental to my growth.
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?
Steve: As I look back, I would say getting here had a lot to do with how passionately I believe in serving others — in helping them succeed. Other defining qualities an effective leader must have include being open, honest, transparent and genuine. Essentially, the ability to build trust.
Aspiring leaders also need to surround themselves with successful people that they can learn from and/or identify a mentor to improve their knowledge and skills. I truly believe this made all the difference for me as I grew in my role and career.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Steve: No matter how large or hard the task, always keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter if you make little or big gains, what matters is that you keep moving forward, one step closer to your goal.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Steve: Give your time to someone who needs it. Our most valuable asset is time. It’s the one thing you can’t make more of. When you take the time to participate in a business group or forum, coach or mentor others, or just invest your time in someone else, I sincerely believe that’s the best way to pay it forward.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Steve: I am a private pilot. I scuba dive, ski, ride motorcycles and participate in endurance athletics. All of these require discipline and dedication and allow me to be in the moment with no distractions. As a CEO, entrepreneur and business leader, I believe mindfulness is critical to self-awareness, making good decisions and fostering creativity. Some people meditate, some take quiet moments, I tend to surround myself with sights, sounds and experiences.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Steve: As leaders, we often spend so much time serving others that we can leave ourselves behind. While I may not always practice what I preach, take time for yourself. Invest in your personal, financial and spiritual growth including your own health and wellness. We can be our own biggest asset or pending liability if we don’t take care of ourselves.