Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Chas Fox
Organisation: Micro-Mark/Scientific Models Inc.
I have 25 years of experience in the area of operations, sales, marketing, and communications in the consumer goods market. I have a history of success in building and leading teams of exceptional people. My experience is focused on both wholesale and direct to consumer markets. I specialize in turning around financially stressed companies by designing and implementing new strategies with multichannel customer touch points. My cognate for my doctorate in business administration (DBA) was Strategic Management and my dissertation was on Amazon.
My direct-to-consumer marketing expertise including strategic planning, ecommerce, new product development, and marketing. I have been the CEO of Micro-Mark in NJ since 2016. We are a 95-year-old company that develops and sells precision power tools, hand tools, and supplies to high-end makers. We focus on product innovation, introducing over 4600 products in the last 5 years. Additionally, I am an adjunct professor at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University teaching business strategy.
Prior to that, I was the CEO of Back to Nature in New Jersey, a wholesale and direct marketing company shipping gifts and providing ecologically beneficial products through Home Depot and Brookstone.
In 2007, I led the acquisition of Jackson & Perkins from Harry & David. I moved the headquarters to SC and made the company profitable for the first time in 10 years.
Before starting his professional career, I attended Furman University, playing football and track, graduating in 1986. I was drafted by the Kansas City Chief in the 4th round playing from 1986 to 1989 with the Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and St. Louis Cardinals.
My recent publications include How to Turn Your Idea into a Successful Product (Fox, 2021) and How to Run an Internet Business Now (Fox, 2021). My first book was You Can’t Be Too Fast, 101 Ways to Increase Your Speed (1989). I finished my doctorate of business administration at Liberty University.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging thing as a leader is to have patience. People and cultures take time to develop and can't be forced. People come from different perspectives, which then impact the company culture. A leader has to build trust over time to align the company culture.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Sports impacted my life from an early age. I was always the captain of the team and learned how to motivate and rally individuals and the team. I played with 4 Hall of Fame players while playing in the NFL. I observed their different leadership styles. After football, I realized that the leadership aspect of sports and business were similar. I developed my own style when I started my first company and have honed my leadership skills ever since.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am committed to a good night's sleep, going to bed early, and rising early. I always organize my day around projects I am working on and get updated on projects others on my team are working on. I make lists of what needs to be accomplished by priority. I make sure the list is worked through in a timely fashion.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I do every job in the building to show my team that no job is too small for me as the CEO to do. The point is that a good team has members willing to do anything as needed. I don't want to hear someone say, "that is not my job". When my team sees my willingness to do anything, they are also willing to do anything.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term servant-leadership in the 1970s. There are a multitude of books by various authors that have expounded on the subject. The 10 principles of servant-leadership are listening, empathy, healing, self-awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Appling all of these principles centers around humility. I used to struggle with humility as an athlete. My wife might say I still do sometimes. But I know humility is key to gaining trust.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
You must continually learn. We used to learn, then set it and forget it. Now, the world is changing so fast, more rapidly than ever before. In order to survive you must commit to continually learn.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
When I was a high school football player, I received a few scholarships to some good schools but not the Notre Dames or the Georgias. The one knack against me was that I could not catch. So I went to Furman University. My freshman year I was flirting with a girl. She was wearing glasses.
I asked her if I could try on her glasses. I put them on and could not believe what I could see. I could see the leaves on the trees; I could see the veins on the leaves on the trees. I was a pretty vein guy, and I would always cheat on the eye exam so I would not have to wear glasses.
I got contact and started practicing again. Now I was able to catch the football because I could see it. Not only could I catch the football, but I was also great a catching the football and became the all-time leading receiver in Furman's history and an NFL wide receiver.
You see, we all are doing something that holds us back. Sometimes you know what it is and still need to take steps to resolve it. Other times you are aware of what it is and need to become more aware. Self-awareness is a critical skill for a leader.