“So, tell me, Mr. Hawthorne,” Sydney started, “how did you become such a prominent leader in your industry? What’s your secret?”
Mr. Hawthorne chuckled, “I had a lot of help. My team worked with me to make things happen. I couldn’t’ve done it without them.”
“It seems like you really care about your employees,” Sydney noted with a small smile.
“I do. I’m always working with my board of directors to make sure we cultivate a familial culture. I want my employees to come to work feeling as if they never left home.”
Sydney nodded thoughtfully before saying, “Is that all? What about your clients? I’m aware that your company is very hands-on with them. Did that make an impact?”
“Oh, certainly,” Mr. Hawthorne replied with a grin. “We make it a habit at our company to be intimately involved with our clients. They’re our bread and butter. We make it our priority to make sure they’re happy and satisfied with our services.”
“Well, Mr. Hawthorne, if I weren’t a reporter, I’d be tempted to apply to your company. It sounds like you really have cultivated a positive and homey culture.”
“Thank you. When I first started this business, I was so focused on getting things done that I neglected my company’s culture. I wanted so badly to make it to the top that I was willing to do anything to get there. It really hurt our business down the line,” Mr. Hawthorne explained, his eyes staring off into the distance.
“I remember reading about that,” Sydney murmured. “I’m guessing that creating a team and family culture really helped?”
His eyes focused on her face. He smiled, “It did. We picked ourselves back up and really committed to our clients, and reestablished our values. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know where we’d be.”
“I notice you don’t claim the business as solely yours.”
“I make mistakes, but I’m a quick learner. I know this business is more than just mine. Like I said before, I wouldn’t be here without my team. We all made this business what it is today. I’m indebted to my team and my employees.”
“I see. So, to recap: You became a top leader in your industry from your team and your clients. Would you like to add anything before we wrap up?”
“It didn’t hurt to pay attention to the trends out there,” he chuckled. “We played a balancing of being mindful of trends, but not letting them completely dictate our every move. I think all three of those things combined brought us to the top of our industry.”
“Impressive, Mr. Hawthorne. Very impressive,” Sydney commended. “Well, it was a pleasure interviewing you today.” She extended her hand out to him.
He shook her hand, saying, “I hope you get an A on your paper.”
Sydney laughed. “I think I will. I don’t think my professor is going to believe that I interviewed a big wig like yourself.”
“Well, I’m sure it helps that this conversation is being recorded,” he chuckled. “It was great talking with you.” He stood up from his chair.
“Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule. Not many CEOs would do that,” Sydney smiled, stopping the recording on her phone and getting to her feet.
“It’s a pleasure. Good luck on all your endeavors,” Mr. Hawthorne smiled back.
“You as well,” she replied cheerily, watching him go.
What stood out to you from this interview? How can you follow in Mr. Hawthorne’s steps and lead your own industry? In what ways can you cultivate a culture of family and teamwork at your workplace?