Todd has great thoughts on innovation, traits of successful entrepreneurs, and how to lead an engineering company through periods of truly epic growth. Todd bought into his original company in the late 90s, and ran it successfully for many years before selling in 2013 to SSOE Group (He currently leads SSOE’s innovation initiative). During his time as CEO of Evergreen Engineering, Todd won contracts that required him to triple the size of his company in a very short time frame. And he did this not once, but twice! Remarkably, he succeeded in both instances. Talking to him, I got the sense that at the center of this achievement is his opportunistic, entrepreneurial approach to business. We talk about his philosophy in-depth in the conversation, so be sure to listen!
- How he got involved in his current company
- How he grew his business into new industries
- Winning major deals without being salesy
- The four winning traits of an engineering CEO: Identifying problems, technical knowledge to fix the problems, communication skills to connect with customers, and business understanding to put all of that into sustainable action
- How he got those traits
- Important traits of entrepreneurs. Recognizing value, developing value, delegating work successfully, not being afraid to fail
- Early challenges in the business
- Early experiences that prepared him
- His approach to growing a business in giant leaps
- “Some people have fantasy of control”
- How he went from losing his job to creating his own business
- “Businesses aren’t always going to be able to take care of you so it pays to be able to go out on your own”
- Can opportunistic entrepreneurship be taught?
- Thoughts on letting go of control during the sale
- Starting an innovation program at his new company
- Changing an organization to be more flexible and innovative
- The importance of an abundance mindset, flexibility, partnering, and not being afraid to fail
Book Recommendation: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
You can find SSOE at SSOE.com. Before we go, I want to highlight a couple things that I found really insightful. First, is Todd’s statement that the most important trait of an entrepreneur is the ability to identify value. Second, I liked his thoughts on how some people are limited by a fantasy of control. Often the best approach, and what worked so well in growing his company through a couple of really massive transformations is to find the existing opportunities, and make them a reality, rather than try to force a particular outcome. Given all of this, I really look forward to seeing what he’ll produce in his new, innovation-focused role going forward.
Music for this podcast is by Cambrian Explosion, whose members were almost burned at the stake for producing music that was enchanting in the extreme. You can find their work at cepdx.bandcamp.com, Apple iTunes, and Spotify.
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Thanks for listening, see you all next time!