Jason Levesque, CEO, Argo Marketing Group
A fellow CEO asked me where I got my MBA, and my answer was succinct yet the same as always,U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. When I graduated,I did not get a piece of parchment, I got a really cool hat and a whistle.
As an entrepreneur, you have to gather your education from non-traditional schools of higher learning. Whether it’s the grocer down the street or the U.S. Army, effective leaders rely on their lifetime experiences to shape future decisions.
For me, the lessons that I learned during my three years as a Drill Sergeant have become the foundation for my company’s current success. I hope these lessons can serve as teachable moments to other entrepreneurs trying to make it big:
Be the last one to eat. This is a very tough leadership task, especially if you love food like I do, but it’s one of the most important ones a leader can practice. Literally, when you buy lunch for the company, have a corporate picnic, Christmas party, or client dinner.Always wait until EVERYONE else has a plate before you dig in. Does this mean you go hungry sometime, or at best eat a cold plate? It sure does, but it shows that your people are more important to you than your own self interests. If it happens that your food is cold, well, you better work on your logistical operation. Armies run on their stomachs.
Acronyms are fun. Create fun sounding acronyms for as many things as possible.My favorite is CLAP, or Client, Liaison, Action, Plan. Example: ‘ Did you give the CLAP to anyone today?’ The military is famous for acronyms and the artful use of ridicules naming convention (Hummer anyone?). Make up some acronyms for the office, get everyone involved and start using them in your daily vernacular.
If you’re rolling your eyes while reading this, don’t.Nonverbal actions can beequivalent to nonverbal disrespect and a good leader will be able to read your body language from a mile away. Carefully watch the demeanor of your employees as they walk around the building, hold their coffee, look at each other and you will then know when something is wrong. The subtle nonverbal indicators will help you manage your organization and recognize systematic and personal issues quickly. Once you know the issue you can deal with it decisively.
Speaking of being decisive. Don’t waffle around and feel like every decision needs to be made by a committee, or that your subordinates have to run everything by you. Empower them to succeed and learn from failures in a secure environment.
My last lesson I learned from the military is to never take yourself too seriously, just the mission. Tomorrow you might be gone, but the mission and those who depend on the mission will still be here.
About the Author
Jason Levesque, a former U.S. Army Drill Sargent, says that his leadership role helped him acquired the qualities of an understanding, dedicated, and disciplined leader. In an economy where brand loyalty is at an all-time now, Levesque founded Argo Marketing Group, a concierge-level customer service agency to help brands manage and build a loyal customer base.
Over the past four years Argo Marketing Group has seen a 150% increase in revenue thanks to Levesque’s leadership and customer service insights. Argo Marketing Group currently employs 300 customer service representatives and provides on-site training for all new hires. In 2014 Argo Marketing Group is planning another expansion and hiring an additional 150 new employees.