4 min read

Riding The Edge

Nov 5, 2021 6:30:00 AM

Riding The Edge - Full

Being around a lot of founder friends in YPO, I’ve heard stories about #startuplife but there’s nothing like experiencing it firsthand! I got a small dose of it over the past year as my wife and I started a small lake rental & property management business.

There were more than a few twists and turns, even while only sitting in what EOS would call the Owner’s Box. I now realize why my YPO mates often bucket us non-founder CEOs as those “running their family business” or a “hired gun.”

It’s not that a hired gun (like me when I started at Gibson) or the next generation of leadership at a family business has it easy. We face all kinds of unique challenges that founders do not! Yet, starting something from scratch is an entirely different undertaking. For mature companies, the pain and excitement of startup life comes when launching a new product or opening a new market.

At Gibson, we’ve embarked on a journey of growth, learning, and development over the next decade. We’ve been working on some big initiatives the past few years that are now coming to fruition. Some have launched successfully. Others have already experienced temporary setbacks. And a couple are just leaving the launchpad!

I know there will be long and rewarding days ahead, filled with new challenges. There will be moments of fear and doubt on how we’re placing our bets. But I feel ready for it.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog on Attitude & Effort. My goal at the time was to provide clarity to my Gibson team on what they could expect from me as their leader.

  • You will always get my best effort. I will not mail it in. And I won’t ask anything of you that I’m not willing to do.
  • Being a high energy person, I’m always passionate about what I’m doing. I may come across as entrenched in my position. But I always want what is best for our organization. Pitch me and persuade me. Give me your input, ideas, feedback, and direction, no matter how much it hurts. Help me. And then once we decide, be all in!
  • You’ll find me action-oriented and optimistic. We will make decisions, try new things, and not dwell on our failures. I don’t like making the same mistake again and again but moving fast means less than perfect. We will learn as we go and become better for it.
  • I’m fully committed. I think long term. I won’t take shortcuts. I feel a responsibility to Gibson and to our people to ensure we remain relevant for the long haul. I also have a strong sense of duty to those who have come before me and built this great foundation for us.

It was helpful for me to re-read this as I know maintaining an abundant, growth-oriented mindset during our journey, starts with the right attitude and effort. The privilege and excitement of riding the edge at Gibson naturally comes with the potential for failure. There are no perfect plans. We’re accountable for the inputs, while appreciating the results may not perfectly follow. This means we will:

  • Stay focused, resilient, and accountable.
  • Operate in a state of readiness, being prepared and willing.
  • Remain relevant with regular upgrades on our personal operating systems.
  • Maintain existential flexibility, to pivot and adapt quickly.

Channeling Theodore Roosevelt, I’ll leave you with this about the next decade at Gibson:

It won’t be the critics who count; not the people who point out how the strong ones stumble, or where the doers of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to those actually in the arena, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who err, and come up short again and again; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best will know the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

To my fellow employee owners in the arena, striving valiantly, thank you. Let’s enjoy this experience. It’s going to be a great ride!

Topics: Executive
Tim Leman

Written by Tim Leman

Tim is Chairman and CEO at Gibson. He joined Gibson in 2005 as the Director of the Employee Benefits Practice and became a principal in 2007. He was named President in 2009, CEO in 2011, and elected Chairman of the Board in 2014.

With Tim’s leadership, Gibson has been selected as a Best Places to Work in Indiana, named to Principal’s 10 Best list for employee financial security, maintained its status as a Reagan & Associates Best Practices Agency, recognized as one of 20 Indiana Companies To Watch, and named to the Inc. 5000 list. Read Tim's Full Bio