Level 5 Leadership, Family First, The Passion Around Meaningful Problems & Personal Causes with Chris Mahl
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Chris Mahl: It’s a very old concept level five leadership which is how do I get behind you. I mean leading from the front which is important in terms of experience, but also standing behind people. Lifting up the folks who are working for you to success. They know that you’re behind them but really you’re empowering them, those would be the big success factors I’ve seen in leaders and have been able to experience myself.
Dave Carvajal: What would you say is your driving force behind the passion and fire in your belly?
Chris Mahl: Well family, my daughter number one. Really her, and her development and success in her life it got to be number one. You check with her, unlike a lot of dads she characterizes me as her best friend and that’s how we experience it all the time. Family is first, always will be. The health, the ambitions, the joy that people experience I’m there.
Chris Mahl: I have to say over the years I’ve been involved with multiple sclerosis through family members that have been really profoundly impacted by that and some research around that. And recently for those of you who are New Yorkers I’ve spent more time with the Wild Bird Fund which is here in New York so I’m going to share a little love their way. Which is the only fund and the only organization in New York City that deals with Wild Birds that are injured in New York City.
Chris Mahl: Just last year there was over 4,000 of these birds of prey and significant birds we have the Hudson River over here and there’s cliffs and they do phenomenal work. Really the passion of the founder who just cared and kind of did it in their home and now it’s grown and it’s only three years old. The wildbirdfund.org check it out, it’s here in New York and you can not only volunteer there and obviously give of your money but your time as well. It’s really an amazing group of people.
Chris Mahl: We’ve got peregrines, and wild hawks, and eagles they are kind of close to extinction and very local to the New York region area, so super meaningful stuff they do and I’ve been enjoying a lot.
Dave Carvajal: What about the future for Chris that gets you most excited?
Chris Mahl: It’s the same, it’s been the same in technology since I started. It recreates itself so it recreates itself and I can mention companies that are tens of billions of dollars and people 20 years ago that are long gone. So the innovation speed with the advent of the SaaS model and the cloud development model, and cloud model kind of everybody is a tech innovator now. As we know there’s a big brain drain on the banking recruiting into tech because pretty much everyday can get into tech.
Chris Mahl: The chip remains the reason that everything changes because the power of the chip continues to double, it is then and it is right now. The speed of the networks that we have on the planet is opening up. The Wi-Fi access is opening up so an entire digital ecosystem exists like every 18 months. The brilliant developers, and innovators, I mean Uber eight years ago couldn’t do it. How much is that company worth now?
Chris Mahl: The networks weren’t there, it wasn’t available and the idea everybody would have loved to have had that eight years ago but the last couple of years- boom. Brilliant. The opportunity for innovation will not slow down and the models that have created big companies now will create new big companies a few years from now. So for me the future in terms of the industry I’m in keeps recreating itself.
Chris Mahl: Really if you draw a line through my good fortune it’s because I kind of pay attention to that and think about those innovations. When I find somebody who’s really at the nexus of those things, where they find me- I’m pretty fired up. So this industry never stops.
Chris Mahl: There are people that need to innovate as fast as the industry and if you’re passionate about it, it’s the most exciting thing on the planet. One’s belief in the problem you’re solving, the vision that what I’m doing is meaningful and different. I think back to presentations I saw from Bill Gates 15, 18 years ago, Larry Olsen and in both cases they talked about is it a meaningful problem? Can we find people that care?
Chris Mahl: One is be brutally honest with yourself. Not enthusiastic, not idealistic but realistic. One is that problem. Two is you got to have passion about it. I mean it’s got through your toes, your ears, your nose- you’ve got to care because there are things that will constantly change about that problem market and you need to know about it. Three is put your big person pants on.
Chris Mahl: I’ll be politically incorrect, these are tough cycles. Building companies is not easy, they’re like having babies. I’ve had both, it truly needs that kind of attention, and care at the right time when it needs it. It’s not a 9 to 5 thing ever, it’s part of what I’m addicted to which is why I keep doing this. The whole idea that there’s this whole opportunity to grow something and because meaningful. I think those will be three things.Then I do this for the entrepreneurs, good for you.
Dave Carvajal: How would you like to be remembered?
Chris Mahl: Well I think I’ll give you two aspects. One is my philosophy of building organizations is really upside down. What I mean by that is if you look at plastic structure somebody is at the top and really it doesn’t matter who is at the top. It’s the people at the point of contact with building the product, partners, clients are not successful the top is irrelevant. That has a lot to do with my philosophy in building people up and empowering them.
Chris Mahl: The stronger they are, the most successful I am. In fact over the years I’ve been able to say pretty succinctly certainly around sales leaders and folks on the revenue side is they’ve always made more money working for me than they had prior. Pretty much that’s always true. That helps them.
Chris Mahl: I think the other one is just in the eyes of my daughter, pretty simple. being her best friend. Time stops when I hang out with her, it doesn’t matter. The other thing which is still true when she was little we laughed all the time. So much so that she became a chronic hiccuper and in fact we’d have to stop and do the eye thing and help her stop hiccupping. We’d be laughing two seconds later and the hiccups were back. It’s till true today, it’s bizarre.
Chris Mahl: We laugh non-stop and probably that’s the number one joy, that is and will be the number one joy of my life really.