December 17, 2017

Big Splash

Job Thinking"Avoid the tendency to make big decisions before you really know what you're talking about" is Richard R. Buery Jr's advice. Chief Executive of New York's Children's Aid Society, Richard answered a few questions in an interview with Adam Bryant.

The first time he was somebody's boss was at a summer camp for kids in a housing project in Roxbury, Boston. He was in charge but not responsible for their careers. College and high school students were working for modest wages and Mr. Buery Jr had to create a plan and be accountable.

"It was a great experience. I love getting people excited about an idea. That's really what it's about." He had to convince parents to take care of their kids and potential employees that this would be a great way to make Type A Harvard kids do good things with their summer.

The lesson learnt was that there is nothing that's not possible, but you need confidence and support from mentors. Partners and mentors need to be just as committed to a successful outcome. The importance is experiencing the challenge. My strategy for finding mentors is asking interesting people whom I admire to have lunch, ask them some questions and for feedback. Most important at Children's Aid is to be clear and concise in communication.

Growing up in a community where most aren't doing well, and to have the opportunity to do well yourself somehow has an effect on you. It's a sense of anger and outrage and wanting to do something to channel the unfairness into action.

Take time to learn and listen before making a big splash to prove your worth. Pay attention to everything that matters, be a good person and train people well. One of the reasons I want to be an entrepreneur is I didn't want to have any more bad bosses. People should be honored for the work they do, treat each other well and be valued.

When recruiting people I look for those who are equally ambitious, driven and angry, who don't like the way the world works and want to make a fundamental change about it. Skills are important too, but you can't teach passion. I need people who are comfortable and clear about achieving impact in a results-driven environment. I also look for people who have had personal and professional adventures and tried different things. That's what makes a good employee, a good leader, and a good colleague.

Richard's advice to new grads is to try crazy things, explore what they love and find their passion. Don't worry about a career plan. "It's worked so far for me"