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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

Michael Kovar

helps you in your leadership.

Michael Kovar

Michael Kovar

Name: Michael Kovar

Title: CFO & Treasurer

Organisation: Acra Lending

Mr. Kovar is Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Acra Lending. He has over 17 years of executive experience as a financial executive in financial services and real estate industries. He was CFO of Lender Processing Services Real Estate Group and was Vice President and Risk Controller at Lending Tree Loans. He was co-founder and CFO of Real Estate Digital and Cerulean Media Holdings, both of which had successful exits. Mr. Kovar also spent time at Pacific Life Insurance Company as a Financial Engineer in the Enterprise Risk Management Group. Mr. Kovar has a B.S. in Mathematics from Tarkio College and an MBA in Finance/Accounting from Arizona State University. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst and a Certified Public Accountant.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The unpredictable nature of business, industry, governance, employees and competition. There are a lot of forces at work that seem intent to make for rough seas.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have an internal drive to achieve and for significance. In fact, these are two of my top five strengths according to strengthsfinder. I had always envisioned great things for myself and realized that hard work, an open mind and creative solutions will go a long way in life.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up hitting the ground running, coffee, LA Times, Wall Street Journal then to the office. I typically make a short list of very specific items I would like to accomplish in this day. With constant interruptions and crises, I really try to focus and direct my efforts in a very focused manner to accomplish tasks daily.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I learned this a long time ago and am constantly reminded of this: You and your departments effectiveness is directly proportionate to the quality of your team and the leadership you provide. I believe there are two ways of performing your job as an executive: 1) focusing on your tasks first and everything else second (intraverted focus) or 2) focusing on your team first and your duties second (extraverted focus). I believe the extraverted focus on your team and providing what each individual employee needs to succeed results in exponential returns that far exceed the introverted focus returns. I work hard to keep my employees happy, motivated, trained and up to date on current events - and they respond by working hard for me.

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?

Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book is about creating small changes and then performing them over and over again. The first time change, such as deciding to eat a healthy salad for lunch today, doesn't have a great impact alone. But if this becomes a habit then the results are magnified and the impact is profound. I work with my team to think out-of-the box, provide their own level of customer service and create their role within the organization. I want my people thinking and making their own impact - my job is to pave the way and give them what they need to succeed.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Quit thinking small, think big for your future - then think bigger. Then make it happen.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

As a freshly minted MBA out of Arizona State University, I took my first job as an Intercompany Accountant at one of the largest companies in the world. The job was challenging and a mess and I worked hard to fix things. I received little feedback from my boss and just assumed I was doing a great job. A year later, my boss indicated during my annual evaluation that my work was subpar and I was not meeting expectations. I recall thinking that it would have been nice to know this earlier so I could have improved upon my deficiencies. I had unknowingly underperformed for a year. I decided to be transparent always with my employees so they always knew where they stood. An employee not meeting expectations is aware of this fact and is expected to improve things, while an employee doing a great job knows this too so they can continue the excellence. None of these communications is positive or negative, just facts.

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