On Tuesday, September 12, Zenoss CEO, Greg Stock, hit the stage with Colin Pope, editor of the Austin Business Journal (ABJ). For more than five years the ABJ’s Face 2 Face series has showcased some of the brightest industry leaders including Martha Stewart, Tony Hsieh and Chad Dickerson to share their personal stories, tales from the boardroom and opinions to Austin’s business community for informative and inspiring discussions.
The recap appeared online hours after the live taping and revealed how Greg aspired to be a CEO since he was studying at Penn State and his diverse experiences climbing the professional ranks at multiple Austin companies to his current role as CEO at Zenoss. With personal stories to illustrate his advice, there were five strong takeaways for any executive or aspiring executive to succeed.
1.Developing mentors and advisors early in your career is invaluable. Surround yourself with strong people and bring them with you to each new company. It should not be a one-directional relationship, as it’s important to pass along your business experience to upcoming entrepreneurs by being a mentor as well.
2. Set long-term goals and track your progress. Whether personal or professional, strive to push yourself to be better. Take the hardest job, learn from mistakes and record how far you’ve come. Learning from his experiences as the longest tenured drum major at Penn State, job titles including everything from intern, sales, to technical support to marketing; it is critical to challenge yourself and have first-hand experience with the skills and challenges of each position. A mantra Greg lives by, Never be out-smarted, out-hustled or out-prepared.
3. Culture is key. Greg strongly feels that culture is a cornerstone of a successful company not just a frame filler on the wall. There is not an inflection point when a leader should start to focus on the core values and developing a winning culture. It’s every single day. It’s the commitment to putting together both a championship team and the core values that serve as the compass. Greg highlighted Zenoss’ five core values noting all are important but when asked to choose which means the most to him he called out “Winning With Integrity” without hesitation. It is important to Greg to make time to interview every prospective employee before they are hired to ensure the right fit with Zenoss. Establishing simple and fun traditions, such as Zenoss’ Zelfies, creates a living diary documenting the highlights, challenges and lessons learned of the journey traveled with many team members and customers. Greg acknowledged that being CEO can be lonely at times and it is important to document these moments to remind you that all your efforts are worthwhile.
4. Win for everyone on the team! Greg is very conscious that everyone involved with a company not only works hard for but depends on its success. Greg discussed how he keeps in mind every day that employees, board members and investors all have families and depend on the success of any company he runs. He strives to make working at and with companies he leads a win for everyone involved.
5. Be a Servant Leader – Greg is very passionate about giving back to the communities that give so much to him and the company he leads. At Zenoss, Greg empowers employees through Zenoss Cares to plan and lead ongoing community service activities for such organizations as Adopt a Highway, Central Texas Food Bank, The Thinkery, Capital Area Blood Bank and many more. Greg and his family are deeply invested in fostering dogs in the Austin area through Forgotten Friends and many days a new fuzzy face is seen roaming the halls of Zenoss making new friends. Greg pointed out that giving back should never be a checkbox item or leverage for PR but something you do because it is one of your true leadership values.
The segment aired on YNN (cable channel 8 or 1508), as “Straight From the Top”.