Today’s Core Connections Feature profiles Geppi Family Enterprises Executive Representative, Joe Foss. I remember meeting Joe for the first time on the green at Caves Valley Golf Club a little less than 10 years ago when he was Vice Chairman and COO of the Baltimore Orioles. Since that time I’ve seen Joe’s strong leadership serving with Erickson Retirement Communities, McShane Group and currently with Geppi Family Enterprises where he is bringing to reality a variety of business initiatives and endeavors under the Geppi flag. Currently a resident of Timonium, MD, Joe has been married for 36 years and has three adult children.
How do you lead differently now than you did 5 or 10 years ago?
During the past 5-10 years I’ve gone out of my way to have many more face-to-face meetings. The reliance on email and texting has hurt quality communication and effective execution.
Is there a quote that you always tend to bring up in meetings?
“Things happen for a reason. Let’s learn from it and move forward.”
What’s your next big goal?
Keep relevant for the next 5-10 years.
What’s a substantial risk you’ve taken that paid off (or didn’t)?
I started a regional sports network that has been highly successful with absolutely no experience in that industry. The key was surrounding myself with experienced and capable people and listening to their recommendations.
Is the customer always right?
The customer is not always right, but they all begin with the premise that they are. If you don’t recognize that fact, you’re going to fail.
Who has been a mentor to you? Tell us about them.
My best mentor was my boss who gave me my first managerial job 35 years ago when I was in banking. Among the things he said were, “Your employees want you to be their boss and leader, not their friend, ” and, “You’re going to learn more from your mistakes than you will from your successes if you pay attention. ”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a mentor?
My best lesson from my mentor was to surround myself with great talented people (much better than me) and give them the credit for successes.
What’s the best way to judge if someone is a good fit for your organization?
The best people for the organization are people who candidly state their opinions while they are offering solutions. I don’t like people who are negative and continue to point out the problems.
What keeps you coming back each day? What’s the best part for you?
Each day is a new day with fresh possibilities, challenges and opportunities.
Coke or Pepsi?
Neither Coke nor Pepsi, I haven’t had either in 20 years. I drink a lot of water and did so before it became fashionable.
Best vacation spot?
The coast of Maine.
Biggest Pet Peeve?
Bullies who think they’re not.
What’s something about you that people are surprised to find out?
Despite having had several very visible public leadership positions, I prefer being in the background. I’m a homebody and love it.
If you could time travel, what would you want to say to the college-aged you?
To be a leader you need to work at it. There is no perfect style but you must be yourself. Everyone will eventually spot a phony. The hardest lessons are to really learn from your mistakes. Don’t just say the words.
One piece of advice for young, aspiring leaders:
I have truly been blessed to have a fascinating career. I have been a bank executive and CEO, a professional sports executive and a business consultant where I think I made some difference. I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I’m still trying to get better. I cannot see myself slowing down yet.