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7 Questions with Burn Orton
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7 Questions with Burn Orton
Name: Burn Orton
Current title: CLO
Current organisation: Orton Consulting
Training leader with a multinational background and global perspective in adult learning, quality assurance, process improvement, vendor management, and specialized knowledge in the US healthcare delivery system and the government-sponsored health insurance industry
Specialties: Theories of Adult Learning, Training and Facilitation techniques, Instructional Design, Quality Assurance disciplines, Vendor Management, Call Center implementation
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
One of the biggest challenges I face on a day to day business is balancing the idea of a business that has to be run profitably, efficiently, and never forgetting that the key to that is the people, with real families, real problems, real joys, that may not see their impact to the bottom line.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started out as rank and file after graduating from a college degree that I had no passion for. When I found my calling as a learner and educator, I knew that doing my life's best work wasn't going to be work, it would be my pride and joy. The hundreds of people I've trained and countless more I've mentored have spread their own wings and achieved so much more than I dreamed of. Growing from the frontline, my willingness to roll up my sleeves and get into the details - because I knew how, and I could - motivated my trainees and later my teams, to put in the hard work required in doing what they love.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
The day starts with self-care. I cannot give what I do not have, and if I am not centered, or I don't feel good about my health, my mind, I cannot give my all to my teams. I'll admit, my mind never stops thinking of the next step, and what other achievements I can drive my team to aspire to, so when the day's work begins in earnest, I hustle like it is my first day of internship, like a horse on blinders running towards a finish line, while keeping in mind that I don't run on my own. An entire team of people help make a thoroughbred into a racing athlete, and the system only works if all feel the value of the prize.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
You cannot give what you do not have. We've held this mentality in most every life-saving crisis: in a drowning, on a crashing flight, a terrorist attack. Put on your life vest first. Secure your mask before helping other passengers. Don't be a hero. The smart leader knows that while the team is important, the team rarely succeeds if the leader is compromised. A selfish leader understands that in reality, he or she is being selfless for the betterment of the team.
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?
Ayn Rand's collected work on Objectivism, especially "Anthem", "The Fountainhead", and "Atlas Shrugged" were life-changing and formative of my leadership. The core belief is that if the work is meant to be done, it is meant to be done well, even in the face of ridicule or distrust. Your vision is your responsibility, anything less is an insult to no one else but you.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
This is the age-old conundrum that everyone in the learning fraternity struggles with all the time. The paradigm of "top-down" or "culture-based models" forces the leaders to think firmly within the confines of the box: designers can't be lawyers, accountants cannot think of advertising. The most successful mindsets often come from iconoclasts. The temporary conflicts allow the learner to truly discover what they love and can do well, in the perspective of an opposing opinion.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
One of my mentors took the time to know how my dog was doing after some medical issues. As seemingly asinine as that detail was, I felt that I was seen as more than just a P&L or business review, that my life and my happiness mattered.