Adam 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 Robert Reid, chief executive of Intacct, a cloud-based provider of financial management and accounting software. “I used to think strategy, execution and culture were a three-legged stool. Now I realize that if you create the best culture, the other two will follow.”
To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
Photo credit: Earl Wilson/The New York Times
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Were you in leadership roles when you were young?
I was the captain of my baseball team. I was the catcher, and that prepared me for anticipating things — the batters, the pitches, all the different scenarios. The team I was on was extremely competitive. We had all grown up together, and we pushed each other to always figure out a way to win.
Other early influences?
It had been grilled into me that education is really important. My father passed away when I was 9, and I realized that I was going to have to pay my own way. I mowed lawns, delivered papers, shoveled snow. I started doing jobs before my friends because I knew I had to depend on myself. That instilled in me a desire to work and to make money. And I found that having a little extra cash is a pretty cool thing.
Tell me about your parents.
They were the most well-balanced people I’ve ever known. They had an extremely good partnership, and they just worked through things. They also taught me that everyone has a purpose, and that you need to figure out how you can help people in what they’re trying to achieve. It’s not about you; it’s about what you can do for others.
What did you study in college?
I went to the University of Tennessee for music. I played the French horn. I was pretty accomplished, and Tennessee offered me a full scholarship. But then my aunt sat me down and said: “I’m glad you’re passionate about music, but you’ve had the good life and then it was taken away from you. You could have the good life again, but being really practical, you’re probably not going to be able to achieve it with a music career.”
So in my freshman year, I switched to advertising as my major, with a minor in marketing, and I kept playing music on the side. She also said, “You need to have objectives as you go through life.” So I set an objective of what I wanted to do when I got out of school — what I was going to do at 25, 30, 35 and 45.
I was also going to retire at 55. I wanted to have the funds in place so that if something happened to me, my family would never have to go through what I went through when I lost my father. That drove me to try to succeed faster. I actually retired at 57 for about 18 months before I went back to work.
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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 nytimes.com 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 with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here.