7 Questions with Tim Freeze
Name: Tim Freeze
Current title: GM and VP of Sales
Current organisation: BrightEdge
Mr. Freeze is a GM and Vice-President at BrightEdge where he leads the Global Solutions team. He previously was owner and CEO of UniComData and Dallas Data Center, two Dallas-based technology businesses that he sold in 2012. He is a businessman with over twenty-five years of experience in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, professional services, retail, and technology. Mr. Freeze began his career in public accounting and worked for eleven years in a variety of roles and responsibilities. He then began a career in professional sales, working for software companies Oracle and SAP, and the professional services firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. His experience includes working with for-profit entities as well as not-for-profit and governmental entities. He has extensive experience working with companies of all sizes, from SMB (small to medium sized business) to Fortune 50. Mr. Freeze has always worked in a customer-serving capacity, and holds customer satisfaction as his highest priority. His volunteer work has included serving as a Member of the Board of Directors at American Red Cross DFW, as a Partner in Dallas Social Venture Partners, and as Treasurer and Board Member at Dallas for Children. Mr. Freeze graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BBA in Accounting. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Institute of CPA’s.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
As you know, there are many challenges facing executives in today's world. Time management is my biggest challenge and always has been because of the numerous demands from family and work and my desire to accomplish many things. Accordingly, it's important to maintain a good balance and become an expert at prioritizing what's important. Don't major in minors is one of my favorite catchphrases, which serves as a reminder to focus on what's important and let go of everything else.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" is one of my favorite quotes. What I've learned over the years is that when you're ready for your next challenge it will typically appear even though you may not recognize it as such.
I started my career in public accounting which provided amazing experience and numerous leadership opportunities...the experiences I gained there over a nine year period were simply remarkable. I then worked at a F500 company for a couple of years before moving into sales with a small software company in the HR space. From there I went on to Oracle and SAP and eventually owned my own companies. Each one of those moves were part of my career and personal progression that eventually culminated in becoming an executive in larger enterprises. The more experiences you can gain during your career, the more rounded and prepared you'll become when the opportunity appears to become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Prior to Covid, I traveled 3-4 days every week and my days were always different depending on where I was and what my schedule was like on a particular day. However, since working from home full-time, my day is typically structured as follows:
6:30-7:45--Breakfast, visit w/kids before school, get dressed
7:45 to 5:45--Video calls all day!
7:30--Walk dog and wind down
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Wow, there have been so many during 2020 due to Covid, but the one that clearly jumps out at me is how employees' personal and work lives intersect, and how leaders have to recognize that fact and steer their enterprises forward even with the challenges of that intersection. Working from home accelerated the demise of the dying concept of employees working a 9-5 schedule, and being totally "at work" during that 9-5 period. Sales teams and other customer-facing roles have traditionally enjoyed flex hours because their schedules are often dictated by customer demands. With WFH, just about everyone in the organization has flex hours now being dictated by their personal lives and circumstances...caring for children and other family members, teaching their children, working through technology challenges, etc.
Being understanding and flexible as a leader is paramount in this situation.
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?
One of the first books I read on leadership when I was just out of college was "A Passion for Excellence" by Tom Peters. It differed from other people leadership/management books I had read because it wasn't necessarily a how-to book with step by step guides for different situational circumstances. It was instead a book about inspiring others by having a passion for excellence. Although I was too young and inexperienced at the time, I have since found that having passion and getting your team inspired around a vision they can share and participate in is what true leadership is all about. Exceptional leaders have that ability to rally their team around a common interest or cause. Following this approach proved invaluable to me during the financial crisis of 2008-2009 when I had to navigate my two companies to the other side of that downturn!
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Always be recruiting. I'm a big believer in full-time recruiting and hiring when you find someone who'd be a great asset to the team and company. Not all companies operate that way however, preferring to hire when there is a need. This is not always ideal because you sometimes end up with the "best available" person vs the best person for the job. I always like to have the capacity hired and trained in advance so challenges can be met head-on when faced with them. In addition, I learned early on that you should always "train up" those below you so they could take your place someday, because without upward movement you'll remain stagnant in your own career. The more leaders you create the further you'll go.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I remember in 2008 in the depths of the financial crisis, the economy was horrible and we had lost half of our business. Most people probably wouldn't be thinking of starting a new business, yet that's exactly what I did. In the midst of the recession, I started my data center business and offered bespoke services like you'd get at AWS or Google in today's world. Even though it was a gut-wrenching decision, I fully believed that in a crisis comes opportunity. I had done my research and focused on a need that wasn't being filled at the time. I then mustered up the courage to pull the trigger and worked non-stop on it for the next 3 years. It ended up being a rewarding decision that had been made at the right time. To this day it remains one of the most meaningful decisions I've ever made because it spared jobs and created new ones in the months that followed.