CEO Advisory Guru is the name of my consulting business—and it is also a title I wear proudly. There are four key life experiences that have brought me to where I am today: my military service, my background as an engineer, my early exposure to leadership as an executive at GE and my subsequent career at the helm of three national private-equity-backed service companies.
My Army Years
At age 17, fresh out of high school, I left home with $150 in my pocket and a duffel bag on my back and joined the U.S. Army. There, I learned about discipline and leadership. I learned how to work with people of diverse backgrounds to reach a goal as a cooperative unit. And I learned how to get to work on time. I owe a debt of gratitude to the military, and I continue to enthusiastically support the men and women who protect and defend our country—both in my personal life and in the companies I run.
The Army also provided my education and first opportunities in the field of engineering. Through those experiences, I learned the value of meticulous and strategic planning—a discipline that has served me well throughout my career.
The Engineer in Me
Engineering was the bridge to my first contact with GE Healthcare, when I joined the company as an engineering group leader in 1991. I was privileged to attend the world-renowned John F. Welch Leadership Academy in Crotonville, New York—a life- and career-changing experience for me. My 10 years at GE, where I ultimately attained the role of central Atlantic zone operations manager, taught me to run a business, and it became the launchpad for the rest of my career.
Hello, Private Equity
One day, I got a call from a recruiter with an intriguing proposition: I was being invited to interview for president of a private-equity-backed service company. This was my first exposure to the world of private equity, and it turned out to be the single most influential experience in my career. I was hired for the role, and over the ensuing 21 years, I had the honor of serving as president and CEO of a total of three service companies for nine private-equity sponsors. I’ve also completed 58 acquisitions and facilitated billions of dollars in successful exits.
In more than two decades of working with private equity firms, I’ve learned that anyone in business can use this tool to produce tremendous generational wealth. I’ve shared my experience and insights in my Amazon #1 Best Seller The Private Equity Playbook: Management’s Guide to Working With Private Equity. In The Exit Strategy Playbook: The Definitive Guide to Selling Your Business—another Amazon #1 Best Seller—I provide step-by-step guidance to get top dollar for your business when you’re ready to sell it. And, in my third Amazon #1 Bestseller, Empire Builder: The Road to a Billion, I fill your toolbox with a wealth of hard-won, read-world strategies you can begin using today to scale your business to a billion.
In addition to building successful companies with a strong, employee-centered culture, I derive great pleasure from speaking, consulting, teaching and coaching—sharing my experience and expertise with businesspeople in the same way so many others have invested themselves in my life over the years.
Sharing My Experience
In fact, the most rewarding work I do is lecturing to executive MBA candidates at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, helping to shape the minds of the world’s next generation of business leaders. That experience inspired me to participate as a student in the school’s executive program in business management—and it spurred me to finally put all I’ve learned in more than 20 years of private equity experience into my books.
The most important lesson, however, is this: No matter how much you work, at the end of the day, family comes first. So while I put my all into making my businesses successful, I intentionally carve out dedicated time to be involved in the lives of my wife and children. And I continue growing and learning every day—and having fun doing it!
I founded CEO Advisory Guru LLC to personally share my expertise and life lessons with other CEOs, private equity portfolio companies, founders, family offices and C-suite executives. It is a pleasure to help these professionals succeed and drive transformative growth—and a great way to honor all of the people who have poured themselves into my life.