A good friend introduced me to Jim Estill’s Time Leadership Blog. It’s a Blog that I now read every day. What I like about it, is the focus on time and leadership. Both are critical success factors for “new to the world” innovation, and successful business & technology reinvention. I know that you will get great value from this interview and Jim’s insight.
Jim is the CEO of SYNNEX Canada a leading technology products distributor. Last year the company that Jim built from the trunk of his car (EMJ Data) in 1979 to over $330 million in revenue and 300 employees was acquired by SYNNEX. SYNNEX Canada Limited a wholly-owned subsidiary of SYNNEX Corporation is a leading distributor of technology products to more than 8,000 resellers throughout Canada. SYNNEX Canada Limited supports the growth of its partners with extensive business-development and educational services, expert technical support, flexible financing options, certified configuration services and progressive e-business solutions.
Q: Why did you start EMJ Data back in 1979?
A: I always knew I wanted to own a business. I studied computers in school (Systems Design Engineering) and was a nerd so thought I could sell them. Starting when I graduated was also great – I was used to working long hours and living on almost nothing. Perfect for a business start up. Low overhead – long hours.
Q: You’ve successfully evolved from the owner of a startup to the CEO of large scale enterprise. Do you have any tips/techniques/best-practices that you employed, that you can share?
A: The one thing I needed to learn to do to graduate from a small company to a larger one was to give some things up. Let people who are better than I in an area make decisions (and this is tough – sometimes I have to accept decisions that are not exactly the ones would have made)
Somewhere along the way, I became focussed on time use. I have studied that. Successful companies (and people) use their time to the greatest productive use and spend it on the right things.
I am quite focused on self development. I know I will always need to learn to keep growing.
Q: Your record of delivering 99 quarters of profitability serves as a great role model. It especially shines given the rate of churn/change the technology industry has undergone at the same time. What are the 3 things one can do to break your record?
First thing –don’t sell your company until after 25 years.
Second – follow my “Fail Often, Fail Fast, Fail Cheap” mantra. Companies need to innovate and this means some failure. The key is to do this in a way that does not risk the business.
Third – Focus on culture. It is the culture of a company that allows it to win and make the right decisions.
Q: It may be a bit early to ask about 2006, but technologically speaking what do you think the big trends will be next year?
A: Blogging, podcasting. VOIP. 2 LCD’s per desk (increases productivity). Smaller, lighter, faster everything.
Q: What advice do you have for those entrepreneurs who are working out of their homes/trunks right now?
A: Have a vision. Have goals. Where do you want to be in 5 years? The more clearly you can se it, the more likely it is to happen. What do you need to get there? Break it down. Anything you focus on will improve.
Check out Jim’s Blog at - http://jimestill.blogspot.com/