Success Series #1 – Larry Smith, Kathbern Management
“I benefited from watching them show great leadership, delegation, being calm under fire, being prepared, reducing complex problems down to a very brief summary, being decisive – it goes on an on.”
Larry founded Kathbern Management in 2004, utilizing his extensive senior management, technology and investment banking experience to assist organizations in a wide range of industries to find and recruit the best available talent in a variety of middle and senior management functions.
Here’s What Larry Had to Say To Us…
How do you start your day?
Ten minutes of stretching in bed before I get up.
How do you end your day?
Reading – usually the newspaper or a book.
What’s book has most impacted your life/business career?
Psychocybernetics (Maxwell Maltz). Maltz pioneered the concept of “visioning” success as a way of achieving it. The method has been widely used by people in all walks of life, including professional athletes.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered and how did you overcome it?
Lack of confidence early in my career. I just wasn’t outgoing and I was surrounded by all these people who were. Gradually, I realized that if I just did things my way, the result was usually pretty good and over time that gave me the confidence to believe in my own approach.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Rather than receiving great advice, I think I benefited from having a number of really great mentors who didn’t so much provide advice as they acted as wonderful role models. They showed me the right way to do things in so many ways. I benefited from watching them show great leadership, delegation, being calm under fire, being prepared, reducing complex problems down to a very brief summary, being decisive – it goes on an on.
What’s the worst piece of advice you ever received?
Again, it wasn’t so much that I ever got bad advice, but I had the benefit of also seeing some very poor management practices undertaken by poor leaders and managers. I benefited a lot by watching how those practices resulted in big problems and made a mental note to never use those methods myself. Often times these were authoritarian leaders who couldn’t or wouldn’t delegate, wouldn’t give credit and support or wouldn’t take responsibility for doing their own jobs, preferring to micro manage their subordinates instead.
What are some of your career highlights?
My initial ten years at Xerox provided a very solid base of experience that has served me well over the years. After that I was truly lucky to have a number of senior level assignments that stretched my capabilities and gave me some terrific experiences – such as being CEO of a publicly traded company, including reporting to a board of directors and dealing with the securities regulators. Being the President of the 407ETR toll company was also a fantastic experience, to be on the ground floor of building the operation of the world’s first open access toll highway was a challenge in many ways.
What do you do to relax?
I love to read but my ability to buy books, exceed the time I have to read them. But I still keep trying. I mostly read history and other non-fiction. I also love musical theatre – Les Miserables and Miss Saigon are two favourites.
What is the one thing that you’ve learned that you wish to pass on to others?
The most important thing of all is people. In business, there are really only three things that matter (Time, Money and People). Everything else is a sub-set of one of those factors. We all have the same time, so that is not a differentiator. Money (access to cash) is very important but without the right people, you likely still can’t get anything done. With the right people, you can likely organize to get the cash you need.