Bazaarvoice’s progress continues to amaze and humble me, and trust me when I say we are not taking our success for granted. This week, Tom Meredith joined our Board of Directors, and we couldn’t be more honored. Tom was CFO of Dell from 1992 to 2000, and is an Austin business icon, having also served as acting CFO of Motorola, and Vice President and Treasurer of Sun Microsystems. Many Austinites know Tom and his wife, Lynn, as incredibly generous philanthropists; the Austin Community Foundation is honoring them as Philanthropists of the Year.
Tom spoke to our entire company last week during a special gong ceremony, giving us a preview of the leadership course he’ll be teaching at The University of Texas at Austin. Here are Tom’s “five H’s” of leadership.
- Honesty – Be open about your business, keep employees informed, and always act with integrity. It’s your reputation. It’s our reputation.
- Humility – Don’t ever be too proud to ask questions, to know you’re not above authority. The first sign of failure is hubris. Don’t be boastful and don’t be arrogant.
- Heart – Your business should stand for something, support a cause, and act with purpose. For example, at Bazaarvoice, we’re working to give consumers a voice that will change commerce – and potentially, government, healthcare, education, and more.
- Head – Use yours. The business plan should be clear; it should be easy to define success. Remember the dot-com days, when investors were trying to figure out how companies were actually supposed to make money? That’s not ideal. IQ matters – akin to scale.
- Holes – You won’t know everything. Find people who know more than you do about different subjects. Leaders push with curiosity and restlessness. These values drive change and keep an organization thinking and on the move. A leader’s job is to ask the questions. What if? Why not? How come? A leader must be comfortable asking the “dumb” questions.
- And when asked about Humor, Tom said he needed to add a 6th H, noting that great leaders always have humor in the palace.
Tom is the latest to join our list of more than 30 impressive advisors and mentors. Alan Feld, who also joined us (on our Advisory Board), has more than 40 years of experience in corporate finance and securities law. And new Advisory Board member Ted Strauss served on the boards of BBVA Compass Bank and Clear Channel Communications after enjoying a long career at Bear, Stearns. Like Tom, Alan and Ted are both Texas business icons. Each of our Advisory Board and Board of Directors members plays an important role in our continued success, helping us navigate the challenges of high growth while maintaining the best of what got us to this point in the first place.
Tom has become a great mentor to me and our Board, and actually asked me to consider him for our Board of Directors while we were brainstorming CFO candidates. That someone of his stature sees the huge potential in Bazaarvoice, in our cause of helping our global clients generate revenue through customer conversations and fundamentally transform their businesses as a result, speaks volumes about how far we have come over the last five years and, especially, the incredible team we’ve built here.