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“Why I personally connect with at least five customers, partners or employees every day” With Daryl Crockett CEO of ValidDatum

I strongly believe in “on-the-go management.” I follow a management methodology I developed called Connect 5x. This means that I personally connect with at least five customers, partners or employees every day. It takes only minutes a day, but the rewards are tangible. It helps you to stay in tune with your customers’ and partners’ […]


I strongly believe in “on-the-go management.” I follow a management methodology I developed called Connect 5x. This means that I personally connect with at least five customers, partners or employees every day. It takes only minutes a day, but the rewards are tangible. It helps you to stay in tune with your customers’ and partners’ changing needs, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with and motivate your employees on a deeper level. In my opinion, most C-levels don’t spend enough time with the rank and file employees. There is nothing that brightens an employees day (an opinion of the company) than when a C-level speaks to them and expresses appreciation for their service.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Daryl Crockett is a world-recognized thought leader on Data Readiness, Data Security and Privacy Strategy. She is CEO of ValidDatum; a company focused on helping clients with Data Privacy and GDPR compliance, data project rescue, data-related architecture, strategy, solutions, project management, and data readiness. A seasoned executive in ERP project rescue, Daryl is a highly innovative international consultant and C-level executive with a background as a former CFO of a public company, and senior executive of various data-centric software and services companies. Ms. Crockett is at the forefront in data and analytics space, and author of several patents and is co-inventor of a number of software solutions including DITI Data and AMIGO™ designed specifically for highly regulated industries.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was working as a Chief Financial Officer, prepping a software company for an IPO. I was traveling a lot, hiring employees, setting up foreign subsidiaries and building corporate infrastructure. I was constantly on the go. But one afternoon, I received a phone call that would change my life. A police officer asked me to come home where he informed me that my husband had passed away in an accident. My life was thrust into upheaval. My sons, then ages 10 and 13, needed a lot of my attention. I quickly realized I could not be traveling around the globe and working 14 hour days, and I needed more flexibility and control over my work life. So I resigned from the software company and focused my efforts on building a consulting practice, focused on Data Readiness for ERP implementations for Boston based companies. Now my kids are thriving adults, and the business travel and my intense work-focus are back. I am grateful for these life lessons and what personal adversity has taught me about leadership and making difficult decisions.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

As is the case for many entrepreneurs, I have had multiple interests. In 2006, I had an idea for a unique type of children’s shoe and decided to patent, manufacture, market and distribute the products (in my spare time). I launched Shu-Gizmo in fall of 2008 — right as the economy was taking a nose dive — and that particular business never really took off. But the lessons learned about import/export, marketing, and manufacturing in China made me more knowledgeable about what my consulting client companies were doing. My patent-authoring experience laid the groundwork for the many patent applications I have filed since.

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?

I was traveling a lot and staying in a lot of different hotels around the world. One night, as I placed my room service tray outside my door, I accidentally locked myself out of my room without my phone, wearing only a nightgown. I had to sneak about the hotel, looking for an English-speaking guest to ring the front desk for me so I could get back in my room.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are focused on delivering a high-quality, white-glove service to our clients. We are highly invested in the success of our clients and their projects we are working on. We go above and beyond what is expected, again and again. Thus, we are often called in to fix complicated data problems where other consulting companies before us had failed. In one account, we were called in to find out that three other major companies had already been engaged and dismissed. It can be a little bit uncomfortable (but also empowering) when you personally know some of the other ousted teams and they realize you are there to replace them.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are currently working on a couple of interesting projects:

  1. We have recently pushed into the data privacy and data security space. We are applying our hands-on global data architecture expertise, helping clients to map and secure their most sensitive data. It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge of helping companies in the fight against cyber-criminals.
  2. We are working on new software that will help to streamline the data readiness process for ERP implementations. After rescuing so many system implementations, we are packaging our proprietary methods and tools into a software product that will de-risk these expensive and often troublesome and painful ERP projects. This software will enable companies to focus more resources on running their business, and less on upgrading their ERP systems.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I am a big advocate of leading by example. For me, this means showing respect for others and openly expressing my passion for our work and the corporate mission. I think for a long time I thought I had to be perceived as reserved in nature in order to be respected as a C-level, but I have discovered that by sharing more of my true authentic nature, I can better connect with people.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I strongly believe in “on-the-go management.” I follow a management methodology I developed called Connect 5x. This means that I personally connect with at least five customers, partners or employees every day. It takes only minutes a day, but the rewards are tangible. It helps you to stay in tune with your customers’ and partners’ changing needs, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with and motivate your employees on a deeper level. In my opinion, most C-levels don’t spend enough time with the rank and file employees. There is nothing that brightens an employees day (an opinion of the company) than when a C-level speaks to them and expresses appreciation for their service.

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 about that?

At the beginning of my business career, I had the benefit of being mentored by a successful businesswoman. She had started her business out of necessity when her husband walked out, leaving her and her children penniless. She quickly grew her business into a thriving nationwide business. She was strong, but always fair and respectful with customers and employees. She was a visionary in her field, but she was also a great listener. Bottom line, she taught me that I didn’t have to become a hardened soul in order to succeed in business and that I could and should retain my core values and shape my strengths into leadership style that inspires people to work hard and respect others.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I do a lot of mentoring of entrepreneurs or to people who are just starting their careers or who are trying to break through to the next level in management. I feel that if I can share with them some of my hard-learned lessons, they might get to where they are going to that much faster. I am also a habitual practitioner of daily random acts of kindness.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Stay focused and loop everyone into your vision

As a CEO, it is very important to make sure that you have a clear plan and set of actionable goals for your company. But more importantly, you need to share those goals with all of your staff and support network. Create departmental and individual employee goals that contribute to the corporate goals. Every employee should know where the company is striving to go so they can work in unison with each other to reach that goal. Not being clear about your goals is like organizing a road race and not telling the runners what the course is and where the finish line is!

2. Develop your employees

Growing your corporation and achieving your goals is dependent on your employees performing at a higher level. My advice is to consider employees as people, not just “resources.” Particularly in the IT industry, I often see employees treated as plug-and-play. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a demanding employer with high expectations of those who work for me, and I am not afraid to make staff changes when needed. But I also recognize that humans are dynamic and emotional beings who vary in their output based on how they feel about their situation. It is incredibly important to value the individual’s contribution to corporate goals and to have personal development goals and tracks where employees have realistic opportunities to grow within the corporation. Without this focus on employee development and contribution, “resources” will come and go and few of them will give you their full effort for any length of time. Help employees care about the company’s success by showing the company cares about the employee.

3. Manage your advisors closely

I have learned the hard way that you need to have the best possible legal and financial advisory partners you can afford, but you need to work directly with them to get optimal results. It is a fallacy that you can hire fancy consultants, lawyers, and accountants who will automatically to do what you need them to do — to help you stay in compliance, implement your technology perfectly, keep you running lean, etc. You need to view these advisors as expensive tools which are only as effective as how well you manage them. Personally interact with these partners closely. Meet regularly with their leadership, ask a ton of questions, and make sure your goals for these partners are aligned with your corporate strategy and goals. Left to their own devices, these outside vendors will meander through your organization and either be less effective than they should be or worse, they will embed themselves within your organization, creating an unhealthy and expensive dependency.

4. It’s lonely at the top, so hire a great executive coach

Being a CEO is an incredibly lonely and stressful job. Like with parenting, you constantly want for some manual or wise person to help you through difficult times. It is completely normal to wonder if you have considered all aspects of a situation or to worry if you are being blind or bias to a particular person or idea. I have personally used several coaches through the years to help me wade through challenges that my employee staff just cannot or should not help me with. With my coach, I can discuss alternative strategies and what-if scenarios with candor and in privacy. I can flip-flop back and forth, express raw emotions, ask uneducated questions — all of which would not be a good idea to do with employees whose fate may be tied to these critical and pivotal decisions. If employees see you in emotional distress or being indecisive, they can quickly lose faith in your leadership abilities. So it is very important to do your thrashing about away from employees. A great coach will come to know you very well. They will listen, but they will also tell you when you are stalling, avoiding or just being foolish. I don’t want my coaches to be yes-people. I want them to frankly share their thoughts and opinions. I am often paying for that kick-in-the-pants that I cannot seem to give myself!

5. Take care of yourself, and make doing your job look easy

Like most C-levels, I am type A personality. I tend to pour my heart and soul and all my energy into my business. It sounds like a great thing for the company, but here’s the catch. As much as you might value your capacity for hard work, you must take care of your physical and emotional health. You must give the appearance of a fresh and relaxed leader because your employees, board members, and investors are viewing your mood and stress level as a barometer for the health of the business. Regular exercise and sleep reduces stress and improves your emotional control, mood and focus. Spending some time away from the office on non-work activities with your family and friends often gives you the time and distance to view work challenges from a different perspective. Many times, it is only when I step away from a hard problem or stressful situation that I gain the insight and strength to address the issue.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

Since I have had personal success with my Connect 5x method and making purposeful communication a habit, perhaps we should try the Kind 5x model — following a model where we all strive to do five kind things every week deliberately. Kindness can take many forms — from picking up litter to giving a compliment, to helping a neighbor or person in need, to allowing someone to go ahead of you in a line, etc. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could create a habit of personally doing at least one kind thing every day? Amazing things could happen!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“In the absence of information, people assume the worst.” So this means that if you don’t communicate with your family, customers, and employees, eventually your relationships begin to degrade. Sometimes it’s a challenge to make time for all the people who need to hear from you, but since these are the people you rely upon for your emotional support and financial well-being, it only makes sense.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I do most of my social media work on LinkedIn at this time. https://www.linkedin.com/in/darylcrockettceovaliddatum/

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

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