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Tips for Reaching the C-Suite

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Business leaders, like all people, are motivated in some way by at least one of five things – achievement, influence, power, recognition, and money. The best business leaders are not motivated by "power". Instead, they are influenced by a high need to create value for their business. A Steve Jobs type does not go out and become great simply for his own ego, instead, he does it because he wants to make a difference.

Great leaders ask themselves at the end of the day 'What am I doing that is meaningful or impactful?'

Tips for getting there:

  • Build yourself as a leader - your boss won't do it for you.

  • Get a mentor - find someone that does what you want to do and learn from them.

  • Associate with the right people.

  • Affiliate yourself with the best influencers, industry groups, and leaders.

  • Circulate - get out there and immerse yourself in your network and build your brand.
My story:

It was 1983- I had helped my first mentor in the search business start his own business in 1980 and I had just finished my MBA at Boston College in late 1982. My first child had just been born and we were at the beginning of the Reagan economic expansion. My cofounder, Jim, was a fellow Holy Cross grad who I had worked with at Data General where we had been a pair of frustrated MBA students and talked often about becoming entrepreneurs. So we made the leap and started Fenwick Partners in September 1983. I had always been interested in helping the best business ideas get funded and placing top talent, so becoming a business owner was natural. I bought Jim out in 1994 and sold the company to Heidrick & Struggles in 1998. I spent three years there at the top of the dot-com bubble as the Office Managing Partner of the Route 128 office! We did an IPO and a secondary in 1999. Three years after being bought out, I left the company and took a year off to honor my non-compete. I cofounded Polachi in 2002 with my brother Peter and partner Susan.

Taking the year off to create a new business was an experience. For me, taking the year off allowed me the opportunity to continue learning and improving my skill-set in the field. I used the time to reflect on past business practices and focused on using the experience to improve as a leader.
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