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Lessons from a Leader: Prioritizing the Vital Few

Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd was recently interviewed in Chicago by Bizcast HQ, which highlights innovative businesses wth a unique story to tell. We’re proud to have been a part of their showcase and are sharing just a small segment of the interview that particularly inspired us on leadership, prioritization and communication. Business today operates at the speed of light and it can be overwhelming to ponder how to effectively get things done while driving results. Akeroyd offers a simple tip: simplify and focus on the long term.

Watch his video and view the transcribed interview below.

Kevin Akeroyd from BizCast HQ on Vimeo.

“Cision is essentially six software companies that have all been acquired by a P.E. firm to form one much larger software company. Our mission in the world is to essentially help communications executives.

I went from Fortune 500 here in Chicago, I went to the wild wild West and struck out and went to a pre-revenue, 17-employee startup company in Silicon Valley, nine months before the first dot-com crash, so I got out there just in time to watch everything go all the way down to the ground, so, that was a lesson in and of itself but I stuck it out. I’ve been in software ever since, and now 17 years later, software clearly rebounded, technology’s clearly rebounded and I’m a tech guy now instead of a manufacturing guy.

I used to hire people that looked, felt and smelt like me. I’d hire to my strengths. Now I realize that diversification and hiring to your weaknesses is far better. Hire a diverse team and you’ll get a lot more done. Realize as a team, you’ll get more done. The second one’s communication: you can’t communicate well enough, or diversely enough or often enough to your consumers, your employees, your investors, or your partners… it’s impossible to communicate enough. Putting those concepts into action has helped to further my career.

The strategy I try to use to actually try to be productive and get things done is realizing that there are a hundred things to do but you’ve got to prioritize the vital few. There are very very complex, sophisticated, multi-threaded issues. The job of a leader is to simplify that, so that your engineers can build it, your marketers can message it, your salespeople can sell it, your customers understand it and can buy it.

Simplification is the second big thing.

The third is to try and actually be balanced. I’ll mention two flavors of balance. One is what I call ‘art-science-belief’: your art is your presentation layer. How good do you look and do people trust you? The science is all the business process, analytics, metrics… and the belief is probably the hardest one but most important because people, organizations and companies, the number one limit to what they can achieve is actually what they believe. So if you as leaders can help companies get good at art, science and that belief structure you could really do amazing things. And the second one is that you’ve gotta actually focus on the long term, you know, half the morning is strategy, half the morning is tactics, and you’ve gotta balance that at all times.

If you can do those things, you can be an effective leader.”

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About Camille Sheehan

Camille Sheehan is a PR associate for Cision, where she has worked since 2014. While attending the University of Maryland, she worked as a public affairs intern at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, D.C. With a background in communication and public relations, she loves keeping up to date with the latest trends and breaking global news. In her free time, you can find Camille listening to country music, eating tacos, sampling Irish whiskeys or snapping photos outdoors on her DSLR. Find her on Twitter @CSheehanPR.

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