Next is a finalist in the “Humble Beginnings” Podcast Episode category, Ed Swallow, senior vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer/treasurer of The Aerospace Corp. Here, he shares his thoughts on breaking industry rules and career advice.
Which rules do you think you should break more as a government/industry leader?
A good book I read a few decades ago was titled “First, Break All the Rules.” While I am not an anarchist, I am focused on challenging the fundamental assumptions that go into rules to make sure we aren’t applying them in a way that the rule was not intended. If you seek to understand the intent behind a rule, and focus on making good business, people and mission decisions, then you can break the rules if necessary to achieve your mission.
An example is the need for competition, where the assumption is competition gets you the best price. While it might get you the lowest initial price, it may also get you the highest possible risk. Thus, the long-term price may not end up being the best price but possibly the worst. This applies to people in government who make acquisition decisions and people in industry looking for partners or suppliers.
Best career advice?
“Never say no, that is what you have a boss for.” I received that advice when I was a first lieutenant in the Air Force and I live by it. When presented with an opportunity to take on a task, challenge or new job, there are two answers:
1) Yes, if you know you have the bandwidth, interest and ability or
2) Let me check with my boss, giving you the chance to think (and talk) through those three criteria and have a reasonable means of saying no without seeming to be unwilling to take on a challenge.
Demonstrating a willingness to be part of a team, to engage to the best of your ability and to do your best to be successful all start with saying yes.