ImPAct Interview: Sam Coyl, Netrepid
Editor’s Note: Today, we kickoff a 7-day series of entrepreneur interviews featuring many of the leaders recognized for having “Entrepreneur ImPAct” at this year’s Governor’s ImPAct Awards. We have prepared five questions for each speaker related to the nomination criteria, and each entrepreneur has been generous enough to share their answers with us and our blog readers.
Below is the first interview in our series featuring our own Sam Coyl.
What are some ways you drive creativity in yourself and your team?
We welcome problem solving that may not follow normal convention. It we want to be successful and achieve our goals we need to be disruptive and change the course of normal business.
If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to continue to grow as a hub for business innovation, where should its leaders be focusing their attention to further fuel that growth?
In order for there to be innovation, there has be to an environment that fosters innovation. The Commonwealth needs to continually evaluate the programs that are available to promote, encourage, and even fund that innovation. Then we need to celebrate it. The good and the bad. The lack of publicity and notoriety for the innovations that occur stifles the continual creation of forward thinkers.
What entrepreneur or other prominent leader has had the greatest impact on your approach to managing and motivating your team?
Most of the tools and methodologies I use with my team are based on skills I learned as a US Marine. We are faced with stressful times, impossible deadlines, and aggressive expectations. The ability to lead, encourage and inspire my team are the core elements to their success.
How do you go about fine tuning and improving your leadership skills?
I listen. I spend a great deal of time simply observing my team. I talk to them and ask them what they think is working and not working. I talk to other leaders and business people and listen to things they have tried.
It is a constant challenge to be fresh and relevant in leadership just like in business and certainly just like in technology. Innovation is just as valid in developing and honing leadership traits.
Briefly detail a challenge that your business has faced in the last three years. What was the tipping point that led you to tackle the challenge head on? When did you realize your business had survived the challenge and that things were going to turn around?
Finding people is always a huge challenge. There are plenty of people applying for jobs but our environment takes a special type of person. We move at a pace that is much faster than most people are prepared for. The answer in the past had been to hire more people to make up for that. In the end, I realized that we were actually losing ground and the same core people were called in every time to fix it.
I found that we were assigning fewer and fewer tasks to those employees that maybe weren’t up to the challenge. I sat down with that core group and we discussed it. What was working, what wasn’t, what did the team need to be more successful.
In the end, I determined that having a smaller number of great employees was much healthier than a larger number of mediocre employees. We shifted roles and structures around a little bit and realigned how we built the team. We divested ourselves of the mediocre employees. There were some bumps along the way but the end result was a faster, nimble, agile team that was capable of much better responses and results with less overhead and management.