Name: Daniel Fogel
Organisation: Protonix Technologies
Daniel Fogel began his career in the previous millennium as a developer in the telecom industry. In 2003, he decided to try his luck as an entrepreneur and co-founded two startups. One of them pioneered a new business model in the VoIP domain, and the second introduced innovation in the social music services area.
Since 2017, Daniel has been active in the Fintech industry. Today, he manages Protonix Technologies, a company that provides an innovative and unique all-in-one solution for brokerages.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Daniel's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
One of the most challenging things I've found as a leader is to minimize the communication and transparency gap between low-level employees and management. This gap leads to a lack of comprehension regarding the reasons behind management decisions, directly affecting employees' motivation to strive for excellence in their work.
A leader needs to ensure that employees at all levels feel like important contributors to the company's success. When employees know that their efforts are meaningful, they willingly push themselves beyond expectations, finding satisfaction both in the outcomes of their work and in their personal development.
The meaningfulness and satisfaction of employees are essential factors for the company's success, and it is the leader's role to cultivate them.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
From the beginning of my career, I have always approached tasks from top to bottom. It's not sufficient to understand only the details of the requirements but also to comprehend the entire picture.
Using this approach, the projects I worked on usually exceeded expectations. This was noticed by my managers, and I was gradually promoted to the companies where I worked. After five years in my career, I decided to become an entrepreneur and take full responsibility for the business.
This was a challenging period. Although I created a few great products, I also made a lot of mistakes from which I painfully learned. Eventually, I had the opportunity to meet a group of talented businessmen who gave me the chance to prove my leadership and professional qualities. This evolved into a partnership with them, and I now lead a new business.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
There are no set working hours when you are in a leadership position. Almost 100% of my waking hours are spent at least thinking about the business.
Two important things to insist on when it comes to structuring your workdays:
As a leader, don't expect to maintain a perfect work-life balance, but you must at least make a firm decision to try. When you spend time with your family, take care of your physical health, or invest in your hobby (it is highly recommended for leaders to have a hobby), focus only on that and don't think about work.
Ensure that you allocate time for deep work; otherwise, you may get drawn into details and be unable to make proper decisions on matters that require leadership.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
You need to be transparent, both with your employees and the board of directors. Due to high work pressure, I sometimes miss to provide updates on what's happening. When comparing the importance of doing versus reporting, it might seem that doing takes priority, but that's not the case. Lack of transparency in your work can erode the confidence of those you work with.
While providing updates might feel like self-marketing, I'm not advocating for efforts aimed at self-promotion. On the contrary, if people are unaware of what's happening, they won't be able to determine whether the company is on the right track, and the default assumption may be that it isn't.
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?
I know it is expected to answer the question with a business book, so I'll say Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
My real answer would be books like "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which is a great example of thinking out of the box (or realizing that there is no box).
A leader needs to be capable both to understand the reality the business exists in and to think in completely new, creative directions.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Don't be afraid to make decisions. Ensure that you understand your destination, analyze potential obstacles along the way, and then take a step forward.
You might make a mistake, but if you don't take action, the potential harm will undoubtedly be more damaging to your business.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Every business experiences ups and downs, and no two success stories are identical. The real challenge lies in rising after a fall.
When I found myself in this situation, I had to convince the entire company that we could indeed recover. After a thorough analysis of the situation, I developed a plan and made sure that all employees in the company not only understood it but also understood why it was the proposed plan.
This didn't just lead to the successful functioning of the company; it also preserved all the employees, who are, at the end of the day, the most important asset in companies relying on the skills and knowledge of their people.