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7 Questions on Leadership with Steve Paris

Name: Steve Paris

Title: CEO

Organisation: Fan Owned Club

After nearly 20 years kicking around big corporate, Steve co-founded Fan Owned Club, where he now serves as CEO. His hope is that everyone finds a way to pursue their passion and to live their best life. Steve is a proud alumni of UMASS' #1 global rated sport management program.

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

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


Jonno White

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

It’s a bit of a cliché, but it can be lonely. Virtually everyone I speak to during the day is a team member, customer, partner, investor, or prospect. There are a lot of ups and downs in any business, and I have to remind myself to be careful about getting too high or too low at any point, as my attitude and demeanor sets a tone that can have a material impact.

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

My first real experience leading people was as a sophomore in college when I became a franchise owner of a painting business. In the spring, I marketed the business, landed clients and hired painters for the summer. But I really had no idea what I was doing. I turned out to be a terrible painter, and at least at that point, I was not much of a leader. But it was an incredible learning experience that I have been building on ever since.

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

I am an early riser, typically up before 5 am. I use the early hours while the house is quiet to get my day organized, to exercise and to prepare for the morning hustle of getting kids up and out the door. The day is always a bit of a moving feast, but I try to block time for focused work and calls with Europe before noon, pushing US based sessions later in the day. Early evening is saved for family time, and typically, I am able to catch-up on emails and reading while putting the kids to bed. I will do one last check for any fires burning before reading or streaming something for pleasure. Typically, I’ll fall asleep to a podcast before 10 pm.

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

It took me years to articulate it this way, but from that first experience leading four crews of painters, I am continually reminded that the key to success is to hire good people and to get out of their way. Some situations and some people will require close involvement and attention, but just as you can’t cut your way to growth in a business, you also can’t micromanage a team to high performance over the long term.

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 am a voracious reader and tend to pick up bits and pieces from many places. But I am currently enjoying Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last. It resonates with me because it is all about putting your team first and building trust. I think if your starting point is people – your team, your client, your customers, pretty much everything else will take care of itself.

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

Worry the least about who gets credit and the most about getting things done. Excellence speaks for itself, and the halo created by winning benefits everyone, including and especially you as the leader.

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

It was probably 12 or 13 years ago. I was leading a cross-functional team in a high-pressure environment. The group was assembled in our conference room to work through a particularly thorny client issue, and I presented what I believed to be a reasonable solution. Immediately, the room erupted. Literally, I think everyone down to the most junior person in the room disagreed with my proposed approach without a moment’s hesitation. We had created a culture where the best idea wins, and everyone felt empowered to speak openly and to contribute. It was one of my proudest moments as a leader up to that point.

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