Words of Wisdom with Gordon Fowler, President/CEO, 3Fold Communications

At Metro EDGE, we know true mentors are hard to come by these days and that our members are eager to learn what it takes to be successful. Words of Wisdom is a new series featuring some of  Sacramento's brightest CEOs, executives and leaders sharing their advice with the region’s young professionals. Flip your brain over to sponge mode and soak this up.

Gordon Fowler

President/CEO, 3fold Communications
Email:  Gordon@3foldcomm.com
Phone: 916-442-1394
Twitter: @Gordon3fold

What are three things you wish you’d known as you embarked on your career:

1.  Focus on your strength. Know what you’re good at – and then focus on becoming the absolute best.  Too many people focus on their weaknesses so they can become well-rounded.  The problem is that no matter how much you focus on your weaknesses with a lot of time and attention, at best -- you’ll only be mediocre.

2.  Listen more. I was always very focused on jumping to solutions, and many times missed what my clients were actually trying to communicate; or I would take their words at face-value, and not dig a little deeper to get to the true issue.  Listening -- versus showing how much I know -- produces better, more meaningful results.

3.  Keep it simple. If you can’t explain your concept in a couple of sentences, it’s not ready for prime time.  Dig deeper so others can’t assume you haven’t thought through your key points and project priorities.

Did you have a mentor? If so, what was the most important piece of advice they gave you?

1. I’ve always had a mentor.  Best advice came from close to home, my Dad.  His motto: You can do it all – just not all at once.

How did/do you handle work/life balance?

I think the concept of work/life balance is dated and just doesn’t work – and is incredibly frustrating for professionals trying to figure it out.  Between my iPhone, iPad and laptop, work and personal life always intersect and are never far away.

My goal is not balance – but living life in rhythm.  Being present and available and hitting my stride every single time.  Whether talking with a friend, one of my kids, one of our team members or a client, it’s important that they get my full attention, ideas, thoughts, and input in the moment.

Do you have any suggestions of books, articles, websites, etc. that might help a young professional?

Between blogs, websites and magazines, I consistently read about 50 publications a month cover-to-cover; and I should increase that amount.  When I started in business, the key to success was staying current, and being fully informed.  Today, being informed is not enough.  Now, it’s all about anticipating the next big thing, and acting on it before anyone else.  Specifically, I read every issue of Fortune, Inc, Harvard Business Review (because I’m just so damn smart); and locally -- Sacramento Business Journal.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the 40 and under business professionals in our region?

Take more risks – if it doesn’t work out, it will rarely signal the end of the world.  When something heads south for my team, I always ask 2 questions before we discuss solutions: (1) will what just happened cause 3fold to go out of business tomorrow?  (2) will this cause the entire economy of California to collapse?

If the answer to both of those questions is “no” – then there’s a solution.   I would rather lose a potential client or campaign by being aggressive and taking a risk, then by settling for the safest and shortest path.