This week on our Leadership Series we had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Jeff Webb a man that has a inspirational and incredible story. Be sure to check out the full interview below exclusively on the L.A. Tribune.
You’ve been wildly successful with your billion-dollar company Varsity and we want to know what’s the top one or two things that you attribute to your success?
I’ve always had a passion for recruiting problem solvers, self-starters, and team players. These three things are what I call the Culture Creating Trifecta. When you bring together the right people with the right attitude that can truly compliment and enhance each other’s talents with great synergy there really isn’t much you can’t do.
You can’t build a billion dollar, or even a million-dollar organization for that matter, by yourself. You must learn how to attract and grow a team of naturally talented people that are already driven to succeed. I would be nothing without my team.
If you had to start over today do you think today’s business world and political climate would allow you to have the same success?
It’s never been harder to simply hire the right person for the job and have the direct time saving conversations needed to succeed quickly. Opportunities can come and go fast so speed to market and execution of ideas needs to happen smoothly. Political correctness and government regulations often ends up backfiring on almost everyone.
Too many things have to be done now days for appearances rather than for people. I want to help people and I don’t want anyone to hold me back.
When recruiting talent and hiring other leaders what do you look for?
I want talented self-starters and problem solvers with emotional intelligence. When it comes to leadership, your EQ is more important than your IQ. I also look for what I call the “Grand Master” gene. I like to see what someone’s ability is to see things 3, 4, and 5 moves ahead like an expert Chess player. Being able to forecast the good and bad that will result from various decisions is hard to teach and even harder to find.
What are the top 2 or 3 problems or crisis in America or maybe even the world that need to be prioritized to get solutions ASAP?
Right now, beyond the far-reaching problem of COVID, my biggest worry is the suppression of freedom of speech and other forms of expression. There has been a sort of alignment of interests found in big tech, education, entertainment, and government at all levels to suppress freedom of expression. These biased groups seem to want to cancel people in both their professional and personal lives because of their political views. That leads to dark places. It can also lead to the kind of frustration that further makes it difficult to ever reconcile us as a people. It’s a move toward totalitarianism.
Then there is government at all levels using COVID to suppress individual rights. COVID is itself a very costly problem both in terms of the loss of life and resources but the solutions shouldn’t be worse than the virus itself. I’m personally in the high-risk category so I’m taking steps to protect myself, but I am worried that these far-reaching, often over-reaching, steps governments are taking have their own disastrous side effects.
From age 5-25 young people are trying to get an education. What do you feel like this next generation needs to learn that you fear they are not or what experiences do you feel like they need to have that they are not getting?
I’m seeing a lot schools move towards STEM programs that have an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That is fine as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of important subject matter like problem solving, critical thinking, artistic outlets, team building opportunities and financial literacy. There is also a lot of value to learning history, civics, and philosophy.
These are the skills that will not only help someone be successful in today’s economy, but they are the kinds of tenets that will lead to more empathetic and caring communities. Without these subjects and experiences I’m afraid people will continue to become more polarizing and biased against each other.
You’ve got some big days ahead of you as you evolve into the next phase(s) of your life so what would you say is your creed or mission statement as you take on the coming months ahead?
Well, in terms of the kind of mission statement that hangs on the wall of an office I can tell you I’m still working on formalizing that. However, I can tell you what it will include. I will continue to be a difference maker and truth teller. I will be consistent and focused on making sure people have a fair shot at finding their own good fortune in life. I’ve been blessed with a strong work ethic from my parents, an education that’s never ending and an equal chance at carving out a good living, so I won’t stop until everyone that wants these same chances gets them.
You have accomplished so much and already contributed to so many, but have you started to think very much about your legacy or what you want your legacy to be?
That I used my God given talents to better the lives of others and that I was a wise steward of all the blessings that were bestowed in my life. That I led and shared in every way I could. I want it said that I lived my life by an example of doing what was most right rather than just talking about it. That I brought out the best in people and that the world around them was better for it.
Jeff Webb is the founder of the billion dollar company Varsity Brands that includes sports and cheerleading apparel, training camps and tournaments. He is the current president of the International Cheer Union representing cheerleaders in 117 countries and is the individual most credited with making it one of the largest sports activities in the world. In fact, it was Webb that initially got cheerleading on television starting first with ESPN in 1984.
Jeff has been featured in top publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, and New York Times to name a few. He is also the author of the new bestselling book American Restoration: How to Unshackle the Great Middle Class.