7 Questions with Dan Fineberg
Name: Dan Fineberg
Current title: president
Current organisation: DAN FINEBERG PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
After nearly 40 years leading marketing programs, teams and initiatives for semiconductor, imaging and software companies, I now run my own consulting and content business. In the 1980s, I worked with PC software pioneers like Gary Kildall to help tell the story of a new kind of personal productivity. In the 1990s, I led Intel’s Standard High-Volume Server initiative to help build demand for client/server solutions that re-engineered corporations around the world. In the 2000s, I led FEI Co.’s category-creation campaign for a new type of electron microscope that lets you see nano-scale surface details that could never be seen before. Today, I help large, medium and small technology innovators communicate about and market innovative computing, robotics, networking, cybersecurity and cloud solutions.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I am not the CEO or executive of a large enterprise, although I worked closely with large enterprise executives when Intel was driving hard to re-shape enterprise computing. A key challenge I saw then for enterprise executives was balancing the competitive risk-taking imperative with the equally important need to maintain reliable, repeatable operations. Different individuals respond differently to those challenges, and there never seems to be a "right" answer, until after the fact.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
As I said, I am not a CEO or executive of a large enterprise. I became an entrepreneur after many years of working in the tech industry as a communications expert and marketing leader. The relationships and trust I built from working well with others gave me the confidence and opportunities to try starting my own business.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up around 5:00AM. After taking care of the essentials, I catch up on the news of the world, business and technology as I eat breakfast. I launch into my workday online at 8:00AM from my home office. I review my schedule for the day, week, etc. and reach out to clients and colleagues to move forward on the programs and projects we're engaged in. I like to take 15-minute breaks every two or three hours to keep my energy level high and to allow ideas to percolate--of course I take a longer break to eat lunch--often with friends or co-workers (although that's done "virtually" these days because of Covid-19). I try to wrap-up my workday by 6:00PM. After that, I'll grab some dinner and try to spend time with family and friends (virtually--thank goodness for video conferencing!).
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leadership is far more about influence than authority, and influence requires engaging with people through an exquisite combination of rationality, expertise and passion.
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?
Marketing High Technology by William H. Davidow tells the story of Intel's "Crush" campaign about 40 years ago. Key principles explained by Davidow include: don't confuse your channel with your customers; and plan products, not devices. I read the book in 1990, shortly after joining Intel, and it has influenced my approach to product planning, market development and customer relationships ever since.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
It starts with corporate culture: train and evaluate leaders' performance based on their role-modeling the shared values of the corporate culture (that you ask them to help you develop and disseminate). Everyone's accomplishments should be celebrated in the context of how they demonstrated those shared values.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
As one of three marketing leaders at a multi-national scientific instruments company, I made a culturally insensitive remark which risked my credibility with the team. Upon realizing my error, I immediately committed to proactively address the issue through a series of self-improvement efforts, such as additional post-graduate work in leadership. My immediate and robust action earned back the respect and trust of the team.