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7 Questions on Leadership with Joshua Candamo

Name: Joshua Candamo

Title: Chief Information Officer

Oranisation: Ensurem

Joshua Candamo is a technology executive with a proven record of entrepreneurship and corporate leadership spanning over 20 years. Joshua is intimately familiar with modern technology, with a Ph.D. in computer science and numerous scientific publications in artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, and other related fields.

Joshua is also the author of Five Doors of Success, a book conceived from his engineering mindset and passion for helping people succeed in their careers. Five Doors outlines a uniquely pragmatic approach to achieving success, along with Joshua’s experiences in applying his own system—emigrating to the United States and navigating corporate America, from a minimum-wage worker to an award-winning tech executive.

He lives in Tampa, Florida, with his wife Trish, twin boys Joshua and Jacob, and a third furry child named Cleo.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Joshua's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

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

Throughout my career, I’ve seen that the most critical challenge for any business leader is to consistently make well-informed, timely decisions under any circumstances, including situations with high stakes, rapid changes, or uncertainty.

Good decision-making is driven by skills like critical thinking and emotional intelligence, but even more important is having consistent access to relevant and accurate information. No leader can have a complete understanding of everything in their business, no matter how small it is. Thankfully, you don’t have to know everything; you just have to know enough. You also have to know the limitations of your knowledge. Armed with this information, you can focus on enlisting people with a more thorough understanding of the information you’re missing. Good decision-making, especially when it comes to the most difficult decisions you’ll face, hinges on this.

As a leader, I try to be exposed to a wide range of high-level information, rather than more narrow, overly detailed information, for important aspects of the organization I’m managing. In particular, I like to focus on information that adds to my understanding of the specific KPIs that are driving the overall organization's core business results and growth.

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

Every one of us is a leader, in one way or another. Leadership has always been wired into our biology, fueled by the social, nurturing instincts that are essential for our survival as a species. Even a Neanderthal living a quarter of a million years ago would have had parental instincts that made him an innate leader caring for his offspring. Today, you can see many of the same instincts and behaviors in anyone who owns a pet. A leader is also someone who guides others towards the achievement of goals. So, in this vein, I’m no different than anybody else.

People often get hung up on the popular debate of whether leaders are created or born. To my mind, the unequivocal answer is both. Yes, there is a biological component embedded in our genes through evolution. Like I mentioned above, everyone has that. There’s also a component driven by personal desires. This is the leadership component that you can refine with knowledge and experience. And here lies the difference in career paths—between someone like me, who pursues a career around business leadership, and someone who doesn’t.

I mention all of this because I think it’s important to ask yourself: do you want to follow a career path around leadership? And if so, what do you need to work on to be an effective leader?

And now I can finally answer your question, because I distinctly remember the point where I launched my journey towards becoming an effective leader. I was working at a company where I was exposed to both the worst and best managers of my career. I couldn’t make sense of it. How could two people with similar responsibilities, working in the same environment, differ so dramatically in terms of efficiency and effectiveness? Over time, and with a lot of thought, I systematized the answer to that question. A good leader helps their employees and their organization achieve success, in harmony. Leadership is about balance—a balance you have to consciously work on, by improving soft skills to engage, nurture, monitor, and mentor those you guide.

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

I believe in the power of a loosely structured workday for optimal productivity, as well as achieving a healthy balance between professional and personal goals. Early mornings kick-start my day with exercise and priority tasks, fueled by my morning espresso (sourced from different countries each month to keep things fresh). Allocating at least an hour to reading and learning is essential for staying informed and innovative. By balancing meetings and collaboration, I ensure dedicated time for family and relaxation in the evenings.

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

People are people; it doesn’t matter if they’re on Wall Street or Sesame Street.

As a business leader, if you put people first, half of your battle is already won. However, too often we see capable leaders fail to deliver on the other half of that battle, which is making sure you take care of the business as a close second. In other words, they fail to balance corporate culture and productivity—to the detriment of both the business and the employee. This is the main reason why over 90% of all startups fail, across all countries and industries.

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?

The book that’s had the biggest impact on my leadership style is my book, Five Doors of Success. In fact, I completely owe my professional success to it.

Five Doors of Success describes the strategy I followed to navigate corporate America. From struggling without a college degree, to finding a minimum-wage job, to eventually earning my Ph.D. and becoming an award-winning corporate executive, this book is the result of all the wisdom I painfully learned through my career—as well as through many other books that have forged my way of thinking.

Grand stories about larger-than-life historical figures, tech billionaires, or political geniuses—although extremely inspiring—aren’t stories I can relate to much. Perhaps you feel the same way. As I read book after book after book about wildly successful people, I kept asking myself… What about the people who succeed but you never get to hear from? What about normal people like you and me? This is why I decided to describe in detail the system I followed, because I wanted to help anyone else who was looking to forge a better future—without luck, money, or friends in high places. This is the same advice I want my children to one day learn from. It’s a systematized approach to success, based on knowledge and skills anyone can build over time. Success isn’t about grand outcomes. Success is about reaching a state of readiness to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for.

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

Having valuable insight is always an asset. Having the wrong information is always a liability. My advice is to surround yourself with people who will give you their unapologetically truthful opinions, even if they’re the last thing you want to hear.

Be wary of surrounding yourself with yes-men. A “yes-man” (or woman) is someone who tends to agree with everything you say or ask. Regardless of whether looking to gain your favor or avoid conflict, they will end up providing misleading insights that can hurt your decision-making. The same can be said about no-men (someone who tends to always disagree or decline requests).

Look for people who can help you foster an environment of community and collaborative meritocracy. This is the kind of environment that leads to regular incremental improvement, which in turn will lead you to thrive professionally. If you need reassurance, you’re better off looking in the mirror.

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

I’m sure you’ve heard of Julius Cesar. He was the leader of one of the largest organizations in history: the Roman Empire. Based on what you know about him on the surface, would you say that Cesar was successful? If you could ask him, what do you think he’d say? Be mindful that he was assassinated by being stabbed 23 times by some of his closest allies and friends. Now how successful would you consider him? I love thinking about this question because it demonstrates how deeply personal success is. To be successful, you don’t have to change the world, be rich, or be famous. Success isn’t an aspirational, elusive, or impossible idea. There is a clear path to success that everyone can follow. Stop comparing yourself to others; instead; use them for inspiration. If you need someone to compare against, use yourself. What have you changed over the last year or the last month? Are you inching closer to the person you want to be?

If you remember only one thing from this interview, I hope it’s this: success is a version of your future, made purely around the choices you start making today.

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