Russell Wright knows a thing or two about turning a company into a multi-million dollar success. As the Chairman and CEO of leading technology company, SENTEL Corp,Wright strategically crafts the vision needed to achieve SENTEL’s business results by using his global background in managing operational aspects like human resources, Finance, IT, and day-to-day operations. A panelist at Black Enterprise’s 2014 Entrepreneur’s Conference, he’s best known for working with the aerospace community in the space, military and commercial aviation markets.
Formerly holding the top spot at Dimension International (DI), the global IT and aerospace management company originally headed by his father, Wright is credited with leading the sale of the majority of DI to publicly traded Honeywell International Inc., in a deal valued at $230 Million. Calling himself the “Business Whisperer,” Wright shares thoughts with Black Enterprise on how his success begins at the very early stages of finding the right team.
1. Find People Smarter Than You. The key to success is finding good people. Finding gurus in their particular expertise or field and bringing them in and building the team comradery type of business. Our business philosophy is ‘one family one fight.’ Everybody pulling the same, leaning forward and staying focused on the mission. Owners of business should always try to find people who are smarter than you. Everybody says it, but lemme tell you. I’m the quarterback. But there are some days when somebody else runs the business. I try to put people around me who are very capable of running the business. If I get hit by a bus today, there are others who will be in the office the next day keeping the mission.
2. Don’t Settle When Hiring. When you find yourself in a position to hire people, don’t settle. You gotta keep looking until your gut tells you that’s the right person. I’ve sat through countless interviews in my career, with people that lasted 5 minutes to 2 hours. I can tell in the first 5 minutes if that’s a person that will fit in or not. It’s always personality driven. Like personalities can work together. I always find people who think like I think, but have strong opinions about the direction of the business; because that’s the way you get the best out of people. I see a lot of executives sort of take the first one at the top of the list. Don’t settle. Keep looking. The right person it out there, you may have to get an outside group to help you. But if you stop looking you might find someone who might bring the organization down and take it another way. So I’ll look for 6 minutes, a year, a long time to find the right person. Don’t settle. Don’t stop looking. Sometimes they’re in another organization, and you have to encourage them to come over.
3. Do the Personality Test. I hired someone I wasn’t gung-ho about. I wasn’t like, ‘That’s the person!” Â I was like, ‘Well…they might fit.’ I tried it out and found my organization going backwards ‘cause they had their own agenda. You have to figure out if someone has their own agenda or not. I do the personality test. In an interview, I’m more interested in your personal life. How you view the world. How you view politics. Do you vote every election? Things that I sorta say, ‘You’re a good corporate citizen, you pay your taxes, you wanna help your fellow man if you see them in need of help.’ Those are the kind of folks I want around me. People who are going to pick me up when I’m down.
4. Remember that a Business has a Soul. I believe a business has a soul. And business will talk to you. It can’t help have a soul ‘cause it’s made up of people. A business will tell you what’s right and wrong. If you’re winning a lot of work, you’re right. If it’s wrong, it will tell you. You don’t plan to sell a business, you grow a healthy happy company and do the right things as far as profit margins, etc., and somebody will come along and want to buy a business. No one wants to buy a business with high turnover, low margins, lawsuits and drama. No one wants that.Â Build the best business you can build and when it starts to take off, I promise someone will come along and want to be a part of it.
5. Take Care of Your People. You treat people the way you want to be treated. You respect folks from the CFO to garbage man. You honor the fact that they want to come to you and not take their skills elsewhere. And you give them enough room to run and effect change in a positive way. Get rid of all folks who may be detrimental to that process and watch your business grow. That’s our philosophy. Take care of them. They’ll take care of you.
The 2015 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide, May 13-16, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve. Be sure to enter our Elevator Pitch Competition to qualify for the $10,000 grand prize. To register and find out more, visit dev.blackenterprise.com/ec/<http://dev.blackenterprise.com/ec/>