WashingtonExec has been reaching out to successful leaders in government and government contracting to learn more about their habits, experiences and perspectives.
Sid Fuchs is president of MacAulay-Brown, which was acquired by Veritas Capital and merged with Alion Science and Technology in August. Fuchs has a long history of corporate turnarounds and putting companies on growth trajectories in the public sector. A talented guitarist and noted speaker, he is the author of “Get Off the Bench: Unleashing the Power of Strategic Networking Through Relationships.”
WashingtonExec: What’s on your reading list?
Fuchs: I am currently in the middle of “Five Frogs on a Log” by Feldman and Spratt, and “On Leadership” and “Tough Calls: Making the Right Decisions in Challenging Times” by Allan Leighton. “Five Frogs” is about transition and integration in M&A (timely given MacB’s sale in August of this year), while the other two books are by Allan Leighton, a turnaround specialist who revived the Royal Mail in the U.K. as well as several retail chains. All three books are practical, experience based and results focused.
I’m also reading Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life.” He is a clinical psychologist and again, is very practical and articulate. I guess I should read a “fun” book for a change.
WashingtonExec: Tell me about a time in your life when you had to really stretch yourself in order to learn and grow.
Fuchs: I spent the first eight years of my career as a CIA officer. In my last assignment, I was living overseas and decided I wanted to leave the agency to pursue a career in private industry. I went from being a CIA technical ops officer to a sales manager at Digital Equipment Corp. over a weekend, but it took much longer to figure out what the new job and career was all about.
That change was a major step function and a risk since my family included two small children at the time, but I learned so much from allowing myself to first admit that I didn’t know much about what I was doing, and to learn from my mistakes. You have to admit you don’t know something before you can learn it.
WashingtonExec: If you could go back and give your younger self career and/or life advice, what would you say?
Fuchs: Listen, learn and be patient. All outcomes happen for a reason and can be contributed to three dynamics — what you inherit, what you put into it and pure luck and timing. Also, life isn’t about a “job” or a “career.” Life is about a “body of work” that makes an impact on many levels.
Finally, the journey matters. Enjoy the path forward and don’t get bogged down on job titles, the size of your office, where you live, the car you drive, or how much money you make. The only people who care about those things are the ones who like to keep score, and they will never be happy. So, in a nutshell, be happy and give back every day.
WashingtonExec: What’s your favorite city to visit? What do you enjoy doing there?
Fuchs: I would have to name three — New Orleans (my hometown), New York City and Venice, Italy. They are all different but share a common love for music, food, history and energy.
WashingtonExec: Tell me about an app, device or type of technology you personally love and why.
Fuchs: I am embarrassed to say that just this year I moved from my beloved BlackBerry to an iPhone X. I thought I would never give up my BlackBerry, but finally made the decision to move into the 21st century. I have to admit the iPhone is an amazing device and I am glad I made the move. I am also starting to have more internet-based devices at home like thermostats, light timers, security cameras etc.