We are launching today a weekly CEO interview, entitled The Lighthouse Series. Partner Christopher Clark asks five simple questions to a CEO that are matters of the heart, mind, and business. We hope that this is helpful to fellow CEOs as they muddle and model their way through the fog, winds, and frightful waves currently underway.
THIS WEEK'S CEO: RICK AULETTA
Rick Auletta is the CEO of Motionsoft. Prior to joining Motionsoft, Rick was the CEO and President of Softgate Systems. He has served as an advisor and as a board member for several companies, including Aerial Applications, The Neat Company, and RewardsNow.
1. How are you feeling at the moment?
Generally, calm. I am staying focused on doing the next right thing for Motionsoft and my family. Someone once taught me to be crystal clear on what is clear. My priorities are crystal clear: take care of my family, the ones at home and the ones at work. Realistically, all I have control over is my own activity level, the same as in normal life. Yes, I have anxiety and a healthy dose of fear about the future. Today I am thankful and crystal clear about what I have to do. Most importantly, I try not to convey my anxiety to others. Humor is my alternative choice of human emotion in this case, even if I am the only one who thinks I am funny.
2. How do you prepare your week when it is hard to predict even what the next day will bring?
I try to prepare for my week the same as I always do in that I align my schedule to the tasks that I want to accomplish during the week. The difference now is that I am forcing myself to anticipate unique work and home scenarios that may abnormally impact the week. The key for me is to engage my leadership team on weekends more than I usually do. I am spending more time over the weekend, exploring the perspectives of our key employees and customers. Part of my weekly prep involves planning for resourcing challenges around sickness and keeping in mind that I am just as likely to be impacted personally as anyone else.
What have I failed to do? I have not completed or maintained a master list of key issues/drivers/opportunities, decision timelines, and impacts. I need to be more disciplined on my personal documentation, which is a priority for this upcoming week.
3. Do you have a priority checklist? If so, can you share a couple of things on it?
First and foremost, we have a Motionsoft company priority plan that our entire management team takes ownership of. We run a disciplined virtual Motionsoft Command Center (MCC) as many times a day as is necessary. Typically implemented during software release. Renamed COVID-19 Command Center to deal with the current reality. The MCC is Motionsoft’s procedural guide to managing and governing business priorities that require the initial notification, escalation and management of incidents impacting the company’s customers, members, quality or reliability of SaaS services or events having actual or potential financial or reputational impact. I keep a close eye on the priorities of the Company and our customers, which typically help define my priorities.
Personal company priorities:
- Cash: I look at our cash dashboard every week.
- System stability: I monitor our system and product stability. #1 source of escalated call that I get from customers.
- Sales pipeline: I track leads and pipeline movement weekly.
- Call center volume: Customer communication and incident notification. Tracking reports.
- At-risk customers: I maintain direct relationships with enterprise customer CEOs.
- HR: Change management impacts on people and culture. (Heavy lift for Motionsoft during 2019/20)
- Banking relationships and compliance
4. Who do you seek out for advice on your business (excluding investors)?
The health and fitness industry has a good trade association called IHRSA. I like to read the research that IHRSA puts out. Additionally, with our company’s IHRSA membership, I have access to industry thought leaders in multiple categories. More typically, I rely on my private network of friends and business associates that I have developed over the course of my career. I am fortunate to have met many successful people and some who have not had commercial success. Long-term relationships are important to me and I trust the advice I get from the people I know the best.
5. How are you keeping yourself sustained and finding moments of relaxation?
Admittedly, this is an area that I have let slip over the last three weeks. Under normal circumstances, Orange Theory is an excellent outlet for me. I miss it during the COVID-19 shutdown. I like to binge-watch Netflix. My movie pick of the month is JOJO Rabbit. I don’t want to sound overly pious, but, as a Catholic, I find my most significant relaxation during worship. Unfortunately, being human, I probably watch 3 hours of Netflix to every one hour of prayer.
During COVID-19 self-quarantine, my son Andrew is teaching me how to play chess. My daughter Mary is helping me relax by bugging me to find her an internship this summer. We have a future son-in-law who plays MLS soccer for the Vancouver Whitecaps. My wife, Kathy, and I enjoy watching Whitecaps soccer. Most importantly, I am trying to be “present” at home with my family.