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: Clay Risher
Title: Managing Director - Business Development
Organisation: TrueNorth Capital Partners LLC
Clay Risher is the Director of Originations and New Business Development for a boutique investment bank located in Stamford, CT, USA, called True North Capital Partners. Clay is also an award-winning author and journalist. He published his first novel in 2011 called Flash Point and regularly contributes to REIT.com where he writes a bi-monthly column called "Capital Markets".
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
It's hard to say any one thing is the "most" challenging aspect of leadership. I think the ability to effectively manage complexities, personalities, motivations and sometimes egos is something every leader is challenged with daily. I'd say that synthesizing information quickly and getting to a collective win-win is an earmark of any good leader.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I think most good leaders are the ones that will step forward when nobody else will, whether they want to or not. Generally, it's kind of a battlefield promotion that pushes you to the next step in the journey and how anyone learns to lead. A funny quip that I've always loved to reference is "You'll know who the pioneers are, as they are the ones with the arrows in their backs!" Fortunately for me, I've had great parents and great mentors who helped me build a solid foundation of ethics, a sense of community and a willingness to help.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Up early, and that's irrefutable. Our two rescued hounds don't go to the bathroom on their own! But I actually like the early mornings. Most of the year, I usually start my day either by working out or meditating or sometimes both. In the summer, I try to go fly fishing early in the morning before work, as it sets the tone for the rest of my day.
I try not to turn my phone on 1st thing in the morning and sort of think about my day first. I once heard Ryan Holliday, the host of the "Daily Stoic" podcast, tell a story about Napoleon Bonaparte, allowing his daily mail to sit unopened on his desk for a couple of weeks at a time. His logic was, it might be a problem at the moment, but it has a high likelihood of being resolved by the time he opened his mail.
I think we are all getting sucked up into a spiritually damaging drama machine of social media, 24/7/365 access, and multi-tasking with little to no real focus. I believe the effects of which, are at a minimum unhealthy, and downright dangerous for our mental and spiritual capacity. If it's not code red, then leave it alone, other people's problems are out of our control. Pray for them and swim in your lane. You never know what's coming down the pipe. In other words! This too shall pass, so why get involved if it doesn't directly involve you?
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I used to be very hot-headed, temperamental, and "overly honest", I guess. I've learned to let go and let God when things are out of my control. I've learned to try to enjoy whatever is happening at the moment and if it's not a comfortable moment, then believe and know that "this too shall pass!" I think you also have to believe that we are all in this thing together. I think for any good leader, there needs to be sort of a leader's hypocritic oath; "first do no harm!" In my mind, it's aiding and abetting positive outcomes for all involved.
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?
A friend of mine just gave me a copy of "Trillion Dollar Coach", it's about Bill Campbell's ability to provide leadership and mentorship for most of Silicon Valley for over thirty years before he died. I never met Bill, but his brother Jim and my Dad were friends and if Bill was anything like Jim, he was a true compassionate leader, that wanted all good things for the people that sought his counsel.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I believe Epictetus once said, "You have two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak." There is an old saying that "in the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king", but I'd say in the current blind kingdom we are living in now, it's the one who listens, trusts in god as much as anyone else when making decisions and doing so from a place of kindness...that's the king or queen, these days!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I had a business along with my brother-in-law and sister back in the nineties, we were young and ambitious, a little crazy too, but I've had phone calls over twenty-something years later from some of our employees, expressing how grateful they were and how much they learned. It's not about the money, it's about the impact you make and the relationships you make on the journey. That's the real gold for me anyway!