For the last twenty-two years, I’ve been an executive at a rapidly growing, mid-sized publicly traded company. Located in the northeastern United States, we employ about 1,800 people in half a dozen states.
My role there began more traditionally — creating a corporate communications function for a rapidly growing company, and so I spent a lot of time in the areas of public relations, marketing communications, and media and government relations. During and after our initial public offering in 1997, I built and managed an investor relations function as well.
My own experience, in both politics and business, has been that you can’t talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into. As time passed, I realized I had a deep interest and desire to help build a great organization by focusing nearly exclusively on the “behavior” part of the equation.
My current focus is to liberate our leaders to be great at work and life, to help them build themselves and others to perform as well as humanly possible. I try to motivate them, inspire them. I help them think more clearly, communicate more honestly, and realize their success depends on their ability to make everyone around them great at solving problems. I get paid to think about that, write about that, and talk about that. I do a lot of teaching and coaching. People ask for my advice. Sometimes they listen. I am deliriously happy.
I'm an adjunct instructor and serve as the co-chair of the Board of Advisors for the University of Vermont's Sustainable Innovation MBA, which is designed to create the next generation of business and organizational leaders who will change the way we live, lead, and profit.
I am currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Vermont Youth Conservation Council, and chair the Vermont Climate Economy Action Team. I am currently serving as a member of the Governor's Commission on Climate Action. I was a member of the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council during 2015 and 2016. I recently completed twelve years of service as a member of the board of directors of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. I also served as the chairman of the Vermont Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy steering committee during 2013 and 2014.
Prior to 1995, I spent a little less than a decade in what you might euphemistically call “politics” in New York state; there was rarely anything “politic” about it. I spent a few years as a partisan propagandist in the subterranean political apparatus of the state legislature, ultimately winding up as a political and corporate communications consultant working for clients throughout the northeastern U.S. My closest brush with fame (and, at the same time, the truly criminal) came when I was retained to help elect Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci mayor of Providence, Rhode Island after his first felony conviction forced him from office. Receiving national media attention, the successful campaign was called “the greatest political comeback in American urban politics.” Though a deeply flawed man, Buddy was the best, most purely instinctive politician and the most charming individual I ever met. I consulted on two of his campaigns, and had more fun than I could stand. Buddy was released from federal prison in early-2007 after again being forced to resign from office upon his conviction for running a racketeer influenced and corrupt organization (RICO). Mmmm…good times.
I attended Washington & Lee University, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University at Albany. My concentration was in the foreign policy of the Soviet Union; shortly after receiving my degree, the Soviet Union collapsed rendering, on paper, this academic effort curiously useless. Just like that, four years of chasing women and drinking beer — down the tubes.
Actually, chasing women and drinking beer was an excellent preparation for a career in politics.
I was born in upstate New York, along the Erie Canal, in 1963. I had a wonderful upbringing, full of opportunity, encouragement, and optimism. My parents raised my younger sister and me to say “please” and “thank you,” and to shake hands firmly. My mother was an office administrator, and my father was a teacher, principal and superintendent of schools over his long career.
My wife, Renae, and I have five children, ranging in age from high school to post-graduate. We live in Vermont, and feel we are the luckiest people alive.