An Emotionally Intelligent CEO

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One thing sorely lacking in otherwise successful founder-owners of advisory firms is leadership skills. To paraphrase Michael Gerber, the author of the E-Myth series, advisors are naturally technicians, not executives. Sadly, few founder-owners make a successful transition to the executive leadership role, which is why most advisory firms plateau.

Dan Loeb – Activism Done Properly Doesn’t Have To Be Bad

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My recent trip to an online job search site,, validated my conviction about how critically important a strong, “emotionally intelligent” leader is to a healthy organization.

I got acquainted with through my son, a recent college graduate who was in the market for his first “real job.” It’s a job search site with useful information like company reviews and salaries. You can look for open positions at top employers around town like any other job search site, but it’s the “rate-your-employer” feature that sets it apart from other job sites. Quite similar to Yelp, current and former employees provide first-hand accounts of their experiences, good and bad, and rate their employers on a scale of 1 to 5.

The power of crowdsourcing was apparent as my son would skip over employers with low ratings. It would hardly matter how enticing their job descriptions sounded. Likewise, he was able to intuitively “smell out” favorable reviews that were manufactured and entered by employers to boost their ratings.

As I was perusing the site, I noticed an employer with an unusually high rating (4.6 out of 5 stars) with a 93% approval of its CEO. Though it was based on only 46 reviews, the sample size was big enough to be meaningful. Most of those reviews were favorable and appeared to be authentic, though, inevitably, there were a few negative reviews. What caught my eye was a sincere response by its CEO to one of the negative reviews. It was neither defensive nor argumentative, but rather genuine and caring. His “love” for his company and concern for its employees’ well-being was evident.

Well, here it is in its entirety. You be the judge. Everyone can learn from this emotionally intelligent leader.

(Obvious typos were corrected and paragraphs were separated for ease of reading, but this was otherwise untouched.)


This is Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments. First of all, it sounds like you are very unhappy at Gravity, would prefer not to be here, and judging by the fact that you say you are currently working at Gravity, my guess is that you think you are stuck. To me, it sounds like the comment about management relates to issues with pay. I know what it is like to be angry and feel mistreated, and I know it has a major impact on my happiness and life when it happens. Not sure how the financials are less savory (I assume you mean our bookkeeping?), but our CPA firm is reputable (they are the ones that provide direction on how to keep the books) and our bank seems to be very satisfied with our performance.

In designing Gravity, I have every intention of people being here because they want to be here and never because they are stuck. I am going to use your feedback as motivation to try to improve on just that. Although I agree people at Gravity are underpaid, hopefully they are underpaid less than they have been in our past.

You see, when I started this company, I had nothing other than a little bit of savings from my high school jobs and some credit cards and student loans. I am embarrassed to say that we didn’t even have health insurance for the first few members to join the team. I remember in 2008, we were in the red big time. We almost all lost our jobs that year, but the team pulled together and we were able to move forward without any layoffs, benefits cuts, and, importantly for our culture, we were the only company in the industry not to subject our clients to added fees.

I also acknowledge the sacrifice that it is to work at Gravity. The team here bends over backwards for our clients and doesn’t get enough acknowledgement, appreciation, compensation, etc. In 2010 I received feedback from one of our tech support representatives that he was underpaid. After evaluating this I wanted to acknowledge him and the rest of the team for their contributions to the company after getting through the 2008 recession. I was asked, “what if someone is underperforming and doesn't deserve the raise.” I said, either you figure out a way to help them perform or help them find a job where they can perform because this is not optional.

Since then, we have averaged between 13% and 14% raises for four straight years! Our competitors hate us because we are very disruptive with our business model. We charge so much less and provide much more. They are spending a lot of money trying to kill us. My solution is that if the goal is to increase pay, and it certainly is, perhaps we can push ourselves to constantly add more value and improve performance. We will constantly be getting significant raises, but yet still be in a way “underpaid.”

By read the Hoon Kang, full article here.

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