Mark Gottfredson has spent over 30 years helping c-level executives grow their businesses to their full potential. One important principle that he often shares is that of building the right foundation in your life- namely putting first things first and second things second. Learn why he says that family should be your first and foremost priority.
Alan: Welcome back, I’m visiting here today with Mark Gottfredson. He is a partner with Bain and Company. Mark welcome to today's show.
Mark: Thank you happy to be here
Alan: So Mark, for the listeners here can you give us your background and your pathway, just starting from school what brought you up to where you are today, the positions you've held and some of the notable things in life.
Mark: Sure so I was born into a military family my father was in the air force and so I grew up all over the country I lived in 17 different places by the time I was 17 years old. I then went and served a mission in Japan for the other church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And then did my education at Brigham Young University. Got a degree in Japanese from BYU. And then headed off to Harvard Business School. I graduated from Harvard Business School in 1983. And I joined Bain and Company then, I've been with Bain and Company ever since.
Alan: It's interesting that right out of school going with one company and not changing. It's not like the millennial's today or people coming out school with several career changes but coming back, what directed you towards the consulting industry- it's changed over the years but what was it like when you started?
Mark: Well when I went to Harvard, I had a little bit of background in consulting because I had a missionary companion who had a father who had a small consulting firm. And I did a little bit of work for him during the summers when I was at BYU. So I had some idea of what it was and then I went to business school. And the thing that I realized very quickly is that you could have a big impact and that has been kind of a theme in my life- making a difference and having an impact. And it just seemed to me like in the consulting industry, and the kind of things that Bain and company worked on, got to the biggest issues the company's faced and you can dive, work on those issues and then see the company changing and make a difference early on in your career and so that's kind of what got me started. What kept me going was really the people that I work with. The variability in the work constantly new interesting challenges to focus on. And as I had many opportunities over the years to go and do different things and as I evaluated them, I found that I loved what I was doing so I stuck with it.
Alan: So in your tenure with with Bain Consulting you took a little bit of time off.
Mark: I did
Alan: And what did you do during that time and how did that affect your career?
Mark: So just to give you a little bit of background on you know how it progressed. I actually started in our San Francisco office I was there for about a year, moved to Boston and worked there for about 6 years and then I opened the Dallas office of Bain and Company and led the office and the growth there and I did that for about a decade. And in 2000, I had the opportunity to. Go and serve the church. The church came to me and said would you be willing to do this and I said yes I would and so I had the opportunity to serve as a mission president and now the Japan Fukuoka mission. For those 3 years it was 2000-2003 I had the opportunity to preside over about 160 missionaries in the southern part of Japan. And I just had a wonderful experience in helping to to share the gospel and to serve other people and give a little bit back.
Alan: Now serving the missionaries is is no easy undertaking especially guess you're used to running a consulting company or an office and suddenly you're thrown in the midst of a bunch of 19 to 21 year old people, but what was the the changes that you noticed as you're trying to get your ground there?
Mark: Well there are some differences, when you're in the business world and you have relationships with people that are boss and employee kinds of relationships and where you can actually give them compensation, you motivate them with. But a series of carrots and sticks that you, if they don't perform well they won't stay with the company. If they perform well they can grow and be promoted and receive compensation and so on and so forth. When you're working with a group of volunteers what you're really doing is you're dealing with intrinsic motivation. And their intrinsic motivation is they want to make a difference in people's lives. You're not working with the top of the top. At Bain and Company, we recruit from the top 10 percent of the top schools. Here you get a mishmash of across the spectrum. And yet what I found is that when you're dealing with people's human emotions and with their most important incentives which are to make a difference in people's lives. To bring the gospel to people and to do the right thing you can actually get a lot out of. And because people trying to do things for the right reasons if you can really instill within them, here's what you need to do to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. They will break down walls and go after it so it's a very different set but once you get used to it. It's actually a even more powerful I think in many ways.
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Mark Gottfredson, he's a partner with Bain and Company, Mark I need to take a quick break and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back, I'm visiting here today with Mark Gottfredson, he is a partner with Bain and Company, and Mark in the last segment we're talking about how do you motivate people when when compensation is not part of the criteria. I want to jump back into Bain and Company and what drove you to get where you are in your career today. You mentioned you jumped into opening up a new office in expanding.
Mark: I've had many many opportunities and my career has been tremendous. One of the things has always been important to me as I mentioned to you in the previous segment is this idea of being able to make a difference in whatever you do. And so when I work with companies I work with chief executives. It's always about what can we do to accomplish something that is in fact. Truly great. How can we turn around a company and make it go from perhaps not great performance to great performance how can we take good performing companies and really get them to become great. This idea of we need to do something that's constructive. If we do something this constructive it helps the society, it creates jobs. It creates opportunities for people. If companies are growing then they have people that are excited and happy. Their lives go better. So this idea of making a difference has driven me throughout even when I was a mission president, the idea of making a difference in people's lives seeing them be able to become more happy. More grounded. One of the things that has been critical in all of that I think is having the right foundation. And this is been a theme that I brought as the other head of the office in Dallas. It's a theme that I've tried to bring to the company as I've served on the company's board of directors. And as I headed practices and so on within the company. This idea that you have to have the proper foundation in your life to be able to accomplish the other things. I often use the phrase and I've used it with people I recruit I've used it in speeches within the company is that if you put first things first and second things second, you can have both first and second things. But if you put second things first and first thing second, then you'll get neither first nor second things. So what are the first things and what are the second things. Well the first things are building a foundation with your family. Family is the foundation of everything. If you have a strong family foundation you get along well with your spouse. You have your children. Doing the right things. It frees up a lot of mine share to be able to focus on what's happening in the business world. Faith is another foundational issue here. People of faith tend to have a grounding which helps them to be ethical inappropriate in the workplace. If you have that foundation of what I call first things. And it's actually quite easy to succeed in the business world. Because you're doing the right things for the right reasons. As such a critical foundation I've seen individuals who their career is their foundation. And they work hard they come into the business and they work hard and their family life starts to suffer. There marriages break down. And when that happens, their success in the business world starts to falter because they can't keep their mind on it. They don't have the space to be able to accomplish on succeeding. And so for me having the right foundation is one of the things that has driven me right from the beginning. And it's proven to be true. If I've had that foundation. Everything else is falling into place.
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Mark Gottfredson, he's a partner with Bain and Company. Mark I need to take a quick break, and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm visiting here today with Mark Gottfredson and he's a partner with Bain and Company. Mark in the last segment it resonated so well when you talked about first things first and second thing second and putting your family first and then your faith. But let's move that into the work place. You eluded to the fact people that don't have that initial foundation oftentimes falter in their life and how do you apply that in day to day work setting in relationships around you?
Mark: You're you're probably looking at how does that impact an individual and also how do you provide leadership to get people to apply that in their own lives. You know there's been many many books written on leadership and I'm sure that in the time that we've got here we can't cover all the elements of leadership but there are a couple of things that I would say. One is, there's integrity, there's having a set of values and then living by those values. And if you are living values, people will look up to you. That's something that I think is absolutely critical in leadership, people are looking for a beacon that they can sort of go after. And so you need to have a pillar of basic values that you espouse. And those who can share those values will be attracted to you. And they'll follow. The second thing is that when you're working with people, one of the things that's really important is that you be a good listener. People ask your advice, if they feel that you can understand them. And so first understand before you can provide any advice. And actually only 7 times out of 10. If you just listen to people, they'll actually figured it out themselves, and you don't have to give any advice and so you take the opportunity to listen to them. And if you're a person that they feel they can listen to, they'll actually be almost magnetically attracted to you. So I think one of the key elements of being a good leader, and applying things in the business world is to be a good listener. And if they come at you, and the values are not there or the. The chore is not there, that's where you can provide them advice. And I find that it's really interesting, people will come and talk to me often times about their career. And I'll end up giving them advice about their family. If you fix that, these other things will take care of them. Of course sometimes there are very specific things you need to talk about. You shouldn't be saying stupid things in a meeting or those kind of comments that you'll make the people but. But people are attracted to this. And if they feel like you're developing them. They'll go to the end of the earth to help you jointly accomplish great things.
Alan: You spent a number of years before opening up the Dallas office, I want to spend a couple of minutes though talking about that transition to speaking directly, to working with the companies to working internally being there as the captain among the consultants. How was that transition?
Mark: Well it was a learning experience obviously. I think one of the things you do is, you go throughout your life as you have different roles you need to learn about them. When we first opened the Dallas office I had a group of people here and it was actually a difficult period in Baines history a time when we had some financial troubles back end of the 1990/1991 time frame. And I had opened an office and I was suddenly in a position where I realized that I was largely responsible for whether these people had a job or not. That. My going out being able to generate some business was first of all absolutely critical as to whether these people would be able to feed their families or not. And that was a new sense of responsibility for me that was. Overwhelming in many ways. You know I would lie awake at night. Wondering if I'd be able to accomplish what needs to be done on and to be honest with you I hadn't been well trained in things like selling business so I went out and bought sales tapes and listened to them in the car as I was traveling it built a habit for me of, when I have time, when I'm in a car or something like that, or can’t otherwise be engaged. To constantly be trying to learn about new things as I'm going through that. And that sense that I need to learn every step along the way. You know it other times, I've served on the board of directors of banning company. And with that I've had to think about the good of the entire company. When you're with things like promotions and compensation and things like that there's a lot of administrative aspects to that but at their core there actually intensely personal thing for the individuals that you're working with. And being able to recognize and think about how that impacts them personally is a critical element again of having the integrity in the process.
Alan: Warren Buffet once said, that the things that drive markets are fear and greed, and you touched on something that the level of uncertainty- stepping into a new role. We live in a world today of ever changing values and technologies, when you look into the future, what are some of the drivers that really keeps you going, pushing the new frontiers and the boundaries.
Mark: Well you know I think again I've talked about the fact that I want to make a difference in people's lives and that it drives me. Since I've been back in addition to the work that I do at Bain and company, I've been involved with a number of non profits. I'm very involved with the Boy Scouts for example I'm very involved, I continue to have positions of responsibility in the church. And so I have a lot of outside interests in addition to inside interests and if you look at the things in the places that I spend my time. It's all about trying to build constructive values and ethics amongst people. I think that for example the Boy Scouts of America really is the best organization at building ethical values in in young man. And and therefore I spend a lot of my time on that. I am as I said I I have leadership roles in the church and so I am I'm speaking to people on a regular basis about about building faith and becoming happy in this mortal life. And so that motivation I think this will be with me throughout my life which is it's about. Helping people accomplish they're full potential in their lives. It's true with my clients. It's true with the employees in Bain and Company, It's true with the the people that I work with it church and that I work with in other extracurricular activities as well, that's really a theme.
Alan: Fast forward and then say looking back in the future what do you want to be known for if a person says Mark was this type of individual.
Mark: Well, first of all, I'd like my kids to say, he was a good father and that they looked up to me I think that that's my most important responsibility at the end of the day and if failed with my children that would be the biggest failure of all. The second thing that I think I would like people to say about me and and to be to be known for is that this is somebody who helped to develop others. He was successful in his own right, but he was somebody who gave credit to others and he developed others and they were able to be successful as a result. And I mean successful not just in a business sense but successful at life. And if I would have accomplished that, that will have been a tremendous legacy.
Alan: When you look at then the world today what do you say are some of the biggest challenges are among society and maybe rather that do the broad struck of the world let's just look in this country.
Mark: I think in this country, one of the one of the real challenges that we have is. Is around the values that we hold. I see lots of people wanting to be good. And wanting to do good things. They want to save the planet they want people to be healthy. There's lots of good things out there and I think that's absolutely tremendous but I think that many of the core fundamental principles- remember I said, that first things our families. I think our families are in trouble I think of our families were strong and we had strong nuclear families. And those values were taught to children and those children carry those values forward, we'd be much better off as a country. You can talk about what's happening politically and everything else, but I think at it's core, it starts in the home. And I think too often the home is ignored. And that foundation is the critical element.
Alan: So being at Bain and company, where do you see the future of the consultancy practice?
Mark: Well you know our business has grown, if you look back over the 33 years that I've been a Bain and company, our average growth has been about 12 percent a year and you say, how long can you grow at double digit rates before you start taking over the whole economy. And the truth is there's actually a lot of room. And the reason is. That the world is moving faster. Business problems are becoming even bigger and there's always going be demand for people who have experience in dealing with strategy and can solve the world's toughest business problems. There's always going to be demand for that and so I think as the pace picks up, our business will continue to do extremely well.
Alan: Mark, if a person wants to contact you on a consultancy basis, how would they go about doing that?
Mark: Well, my email address is mark.Gottfredson@bain.com, you can also contact us generally by going to our website which is www.bain.com.
Alan: Mark thanks to being with us today.