Published November 29, 2016
In October 2016, my Technology and Innovation class with UB’s School of Management had the opportunity to have a Q&A with Box’s Chief Operating Officer, Dan Levin, on achieving success and being an effective leader.
Box is a cloud storage company, and you might know the name because UBIT recently collaborated with them to bring cloud storage to all UB students, staff and faculty.
"Success in life, at least in the sense of a tech executive, isn't that hard," Levin said. "It's not the problem that requires a lot of innovation, it comes down to execution. People don't figure out the problem before they start to do it."
Levin went over five lessons for success, ranging from how to spend your time to interacting with others.
"You can't change who you are as a human, but you can choose how you invest your time," Levin said. "Strategy is a hypothesis for how you're going to get things done."
Another piece of advice from Levin: you don’t learn from easy situations. Focus needs to be put on what isn’t going well; focusing on what is good at the time is a waste of time. This also ties into another lesson: the time to learn is now.
"Right now the most important thing for you to do is learn," Levin said. "I made the mistake of not making the opportunity to learn, I didn't invest enough time in myself."
Levin pointed out that, while it is important to invest in yourself, it’s also important to invest in the culture of your work environment.
Levin explained culture is crucial to leadership.
"One of the great strengths of Box, as an organization, is we know our culture, we know what we want it to be, we are not bashful about using our tools to control what we want our culture to be," Levin said. "It's not about hiring the smartest or hardest working people; it’s about creating a positive environment in which your employees can flourish."
Creating an environment that’s too competitive and unfriendly might not be conducive to productivity, and can make employees averse to collaborations.
But planning and adaptation are the best skills any successful person will have in their arsenal. Levin emphasized this by quoting George Patton: "A good plan, executed well, right now is better than a perfect plan next week."
J. Brice Bible is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer (VPCIO) for UB. UBIT iis a service division at UB that provides enterprise technology leadership and guidance.