Meet Gabriel Richards, Our CEO

Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)

Boy, there are so many admirable people in the world and in my life, but I’ll limit it to three.

In life, my parents are my heroes. They are dedicated, selfless lovers who have shown me what commitment means, what patience means and how personal relationships are the most important things in life.

In business, my late Uncle Earl. He’s a bold, independent man who showed me what was possible with self-employment. He was an entrepreneur from Phoenix who built the state’s largest electronics recycling operation.

What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

I suppose we can’t really pigeonhole this piece of advice as only “business” advice, but the advice that shaped who I am as an entrepreneur would be: “love thy neighbor.” Love, in my opinion, is the foundation of all good things in life. When we keep a loving respect for others at the heart of what we do, we tend to receive that respect back and earn long-term relationships. This approach also tends to lead to great solutions. When we love our clients, we put ourselves in their shoes and see things from their perspective, which guides us to act in their best interests. Finally, this approach leads to great work environments. When we (tough) love our employees, we focus on harmony and the conditions that bring about mutual success.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

All of my biggest mistakes have been related to poor hiring decisions. It’s been covered over and over again in business literature and I echo it: Be patient and careful when selecting your employees. First, have a multi-layered process to filter out the chaff and conserve your time for testing and interviewing the best possible candidates.

Second, profile your candidates’ work styles with an assessment that will give you insight into their personalities. You have such limited time to get to know them before you make a hiring decision, so you’ll want any tool you can use to help identify how a person approaches work and personal interactions.

Lastly, when you do make that offer, accompany it with expectations. Lay out a vision for your new hire, clarify the criteria for success, and set a schedule for regular review during their probationary period.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

First, any mission critical communications, be it with clients or employees. Barring that, I keep a to-do list on the side of my calendar, organize it by priority and bang out those tasks top to bottom.

What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

This might not be popular advice these days, but what has worked for me is scaling growth with profit.

Profit is the indicator that your business is doing something right. If you finance excessive growth through debt or external investment rather than by reinvested profit, you may be masking reality, which could lead to pain.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Create a vivid vision, give it a three-year horizon and really imagine what your life is like, what your business is like and what your environment is like in vivid detail. Then work backward to how you can get there, increasing detail and focus until you have an action plan for “this quarter” that you can further reduce to “this month,” then “this week,” then “today.”

Diligently maintain a weekly schedule of review toward your progress and hold yourself accountable.

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

Success is not a destination, it’s a state of mind. I’ve already achieved success because I am generally happy. I’ve achieved some goals, I’ve failed at others; there are challenges, there are highs and lows, but overall I’m doing what I want to do on a daily basis and I have a healthy family life. Really, what more could a man ask for?

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