Blake Irving (C.E.O. of GoDaddy) in “The Corner Office”

irvingAdam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Blake Irving, C.E.O. of GoDaddy). To read the complete interview, check out other articles, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

Photo credit: Earl Wilson /The New York Times

* * *

Tell me about your early years.

My father was an F.B.I. agent, so I grew up all over the place. I was one of four kids, and we probably lived in eight different places by the time I was 6, so I built up a resilience and friend-making capability. I was very comfortable talking to people; I didn’t care if they were 50 years old or 5.

I was always comfortable putting myself out there and doing things that were different. I followed things that I liked, and I didn’t care if other people liked them or not. I don’t consider that to be a leadership trait. It’s just that if you’re passionate about something and you’re gregarious and you connect with other people, you kind of bring them along.

I also drummed a lot. I was playing in some big bands, rock bands, marching bands, and I wrote and I taught. It was a very important part of my life.

How have your parents influenced you?

My dad was a very eclectic guy. He was a child star in Hollywood. He started playing jazz. He got his law degree, went into the F.B.I. and then became a district attorney. When he retired from that, he became a musician again. That ability to recast yourself over and over, and find something you love and pursue it, is something I’ve always tried to do.

My mom mixes intensity with warmth. She connects with everybody she meets, produces a very safe environment for them to tell her things, and then kind of helps them move closer to what they could do. If I did 25 push-ups, she would say, “That’s wonderful. Could you do five more?”

Did you have a specific career plan when you went to college?

I had no idea. I went into school as a business major, but I didn’t like it, and I wasn’t good at it, frankly. I was good at art, though. I ended up taking some graphics classes and fell in love with typography.

Then a classmate who was working on typefaces at Xerox said she was leaving the job. The company was digitizing typefaces in a lab, and I thought, “This is incredible.” I worked there full time as I went to school.

Had I not become an art major, that never would have happened, which was ironic. But that pushed me into an environment of working for a larger company, of getting a paycheck.

* * *

To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.

Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on that he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews of hundreds of business leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.