The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
Up next is Justin Cleveland, Cloud Industry Executive of the Year finalist, who’s head of sales at Authentic8. Here, he talks success, future focus areas and career advice.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve hired amazing people and have gotten out of their way. I view my role as creating an environment for my teammates that removes roadblocks and hurdles and enables them to get the job done their way. I’m a huge believer in executing every day with purpose and velocity and empowering people to make decisions without fear of failure.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
A lot! I’m most proud of the fact that despite the massive successes we’ve had in revenue growth, customer acquisition, retention rates, etc., we haven’t lost our north star of being a customer-first company. Everyone at Authentic8 would drop whatever they are doing on a moment’s notice to jump on a hard customer problem, and that’s something I’m really proud of.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
We’re very focused on the continued evolution of our platform and delivering a service that is unparalleled in terms of its ease of use, customer satisfaction and contributions to national security. I firmly believe that Authentic8 is creating the model for how a Silicon Valley technology company can partner with the government and positively impact national security but remain true to the “weirdness” and innovation that makes us different from traditional government contractors.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
Failures are almost never terminal and are rarely as bad as they seem in the moment. I try to hold myself and my organizations to a really high standard, but failure and losses are inevitable. I’ve learned to take failures as opportunities to learn and grow and not to be too hard on myself in the moment, which is something I used to do too frequently.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Follow your passion and stop doing something when it stops being fun. My path to this position has been as nonobvious as humanly possible, but I’ve always worked hard, been hyperresponsive to the task at hand and had fun. When a job stops being fun, go do something else.
Life is too short. Every day at Authentic8 isn’t perfect (shocker), but after 4 years, I’m still learning and having a ton of fun!