Forward-motion – I count myself a fan. I’m the kind of girl who taps her feet when sitting and who paces while standing. I get energy from milestones. I love new challenges.
It might seem surprising, then, that I’ve worked for the same company – BlissPR – for more than 15 years. Prior to joining Bliss, I changed jobs multiple times – so many times that a former boss once asked me whether “I was hard to please…or simply flakey.” I wasn’t sure of the answer myself. Today, I’m fairly confident that the answer is “hard to please.” And I’m a few steps closer to understanding what environments make employees-like-me happy. Part of the answer has to do with stimulating colleagues, interesting assignments and top-notch clients. But part is also about leadership.
For the past 35 years, our firm has been led by Founder, John Bliss. John is one of those rare individuals who’s “in it for the team.” He communicates in countless ways (big and small) that he cares more about doing the right thing – for employees and clients alike – than about making a quick a profit. This month, John Bliss is retiring from full-time work, transitioning to a part-time schedule. Tonight is his retirement party. It’s now up to the next generation of leaders to solidify and strengthen the company that he’s built.
Among the lessons that John has taught me:
- Remembrance of Things Past. When I first joined BlissPR, I was amazed by John’s ability to remember dates with laser precision. He can tell you from memory the hire date of every long-standing employee – and the start-date of most client relationships. Over the years, I’ve discovered the secret to his near-perfect recall: he cares. He cares deeply about each and every employee. He cares personally about every client relationship. BlissPR milestones aren’t abstract dates for him. They are cornerstones of the company he has built.
- The Power of Teams. John is all about teamwork. When employees try to thank him for any gesture of generosity – a raise, a bonus, a company outing – he’s famous for saying: “don’t thank me, thank the company.” He’s taught us to use the pronoun “we” vs. “I.” Once, early in my tenure at Bliss, I mistakenly threw away a critical file of documents. John calmly said: “Let’s figure out how to fix this together.” We did. It’s amazing the problems you can solve when everyone pulls together as a team.
- The Integrity Factor. John believes in total transparency. Internally, we run an open-book company. Every employee knows where the company stands financially – and shares in the profits. Externally, we never mark up expenses, and we routinely over-invest in clients. John’s mantra is: “Don’t be greedy. Pigs get slaughtered.” There are few people whom I trust as completely as John.
New recruits often ask why BlissPR is a great place to work. My response: “It’s the team you travel with.” The team I’ve traveled with for the past 15 years is one-of-a kind. John has built a company in his own image – i.e., smart, caring, generous, collaborative, trustworthy.
As April 1 approaches, we are all grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely with John. His leadership has made the hard days a little easier – and the good days, pure “Bliss.”