18 months after starting work at Access Development (I’ve been here 10 years now) I was on a sales team that ran a month long March Madness style contest. Different categories were determined and brackets assigned with eight reps competing in various areas of sales, consulting and productivity. Our team had many talented people making the contest both fun and challenging. In the end I won the contest through hard work and honestly a lot of luck, and partially because I wanted it more. Some reps held back during the month unsure if they wanted to win the grand prize – lunch with Larry.
Who is Larry?
Larry Maxfield is the CEO and Founder of Access Development. (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this story). In 1984 he almost headed off to study at MIT then decided to start a small company called Access Development in Salt Lake City, Utah. His vision, work and determination have built a strong company now 30 years later.
Back to the story: By nature I’m very competitive – that’s what drove me to win the contest. It wasn’t about the prize. Other reps were hesitant to win the contest because the idea of lunch with the CEO made them nervous.
When the day came for the lunch, Larry pulled up to the building in his FJ Cruiser and I jumped in the passenger seat. As we drove he said “Congratulations on winning. Remind me the details of the contest.” I explained the components and work that went into winning the month long competition. Larry unassumingly replied “Wow, you had to do all that and all you got out of it was lunch with me? That’s not a great prize” he laughed. “Plus, I’d go to lunch with you anytime if you just ask.”
We had a good meal that day while talking about family, hobbies, business and other topics. On the drive back to the office Larry told of an employee who shortly after coming to work at Access came to his office with a list of company problems. Larry said to me about that experience “Every company has lots of problems and challenges, ours is no difference. I know what the problems are. What I need are solutions. Solutions don’t come from me or upper management; solutions come from all the people in the trenches who do the hard work day after day. I welcome feedback, ideas and solutions from all the people who make this company great.”
Larry, the most powerful man in the company, demonstrated true leadership that day. He showed how real leadership and humility go hand-in-hand. He expressed sincere interest in being available to any employee anytime, whether for a casual lunch or to hear ideas on how to improve the company.
Of any contest, award or prize I’ve ever won, lunch with Larry was one of the most valuable!
Be a leader. Be humble. Be Sincere. Be you!