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I was thinking about Joel Greenberg. Joel was one of my earliest inspirations in the business world, and he passed away suddenly. I thought back to 1984, APL’s office on Broad Street as I started as a management trainee.

Joel would call me into his office with my latest writeup on his desk and start to ask me questions, give me perspective. One of the things that stuck with me … during one of those sessions, Joel said “Hans, everything you write here is factually correct. You understand how things are done. What I don’t see is your perspective on the big differentiator, the people. You describe how things work but not what makes things work great. Look at the energy out there – what are people doing? They are helping each other, covering for each other, sharing information… there is energy.”
I never forgot that. It is all about the people!

On my first sales call as a trainee, i went on calls with Phil Waterman. I had studied up on the customers and was asking Phil what our approach would be on the sales calls – what were we trying to achieve? Phil just looked at me and said “Let’s see what they say. They will tell us how things are going.” Phil’s approach with his customers was centered on his relationship with his customers. In essence he was checking in on them, listening and looking to help them with what was keeping them up at night. Customers have to know you and trust you before they will entrust you with their business – it is all about the people!

I came to learn that who I worked for was much more important than the job title. As i progressed in my career I pursued that. I had the opportunity to work for John Ferguson, Rick Barbaria, Keith Mackie, Flemming Jacobs, John Mullen, Essa Al Saleh – all these leaders put people first, believed in the power of the team, believed that leading people is about being open and transparent and giving them the opportunities that their potential warrants.

Leaders are first and foremost stewards. We are entrusted with the people that make up our organizations. Each of our employees has a family that depends on and they come home to communities that are important to them. We are well-served to remember that every day. We can create the best plans, but the execution happens at the hands of the people we lead. Getting the best out of our people, is to motivate them, to challenge them , to be open with them and to trust them!

it is all about the people!