My Mom gave me advice when I was in high school, she said: “Work hard, be positive, and learn something new every day.”
David Giertz has more than 30 years experience in the progressive financial services industry. Most recently, David was the President of Nationwide Financial’s Sales and Distribution Organization. There David delivered strong operating results helping the division grow from $11B to $17.8B in profitable revenue.
David is also a Certified Business Coach with the WABC (World Association of Business Coaches), and achieved a world class Gallup associate engagement score.
Prior to Mr. Giertz’s time with Nationwide, he started his business career at Citigroup as a Financial Services Advisor. After which he progressed to Area Director, until ultimately being promoted to Executive Vice President of Sales for his record of constantly surpassing industry expectations.
David Giertz has an MBA from the University of Miami, and a BS from Millikin University.
What is an idea you’ve had that has come to fruition? Where did it come from?
During a time when a number of top performers were departing for jobs at other companies, it was evident through exit interviews that they weren’t primarily leaving for more money. In fact, many employees left because they felt disconnected and undervalued. To address this, I implemented an idea that brought our top 20% of performers together twice a year to give them exposure to Sr. Executives and provide advanced development workshops. The opportunity to interact with Sr. Executives allowed them a forum to provide feedback and ideas to help the company improve, which proved mutually beneficial. In addition, the advanced development curriculum put them in a position to not only improve their current skill set, but also develop future leadership skills to ultimately work towards getting promoted. The result was not only a drastic reduction in turnover of our best employees, but it created a more engaged and loyal workforce. The benefits were further evident in both reduced turnover and rising Gallup engagement scores.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
While every day is different, the common elements are starting the day with a healthy breakfast while digesting the morning news. Depending on anticipated challenges, I typically begin my day early so I can block time to assess, organize, and strategize before any meetings. Meetings and calls during the day with associates, colleagues, and customers are very common to discuss strategy and its execution, but prep and prioritization is required prior. It all begins with understanding customer needs and concerns, the business environment, and our resources, so I can collaboratively create solutions. Often, the best insight comes from customers. If I don’t have a business lunch meeting, then I enjoy a healthy lunch at my desk to catch up on email and the midday business news. I also like to take a 10-15 minute walk to get my body moving and re-energize. Prior to departing for the day, I take action on any pending issues and review the following day/prep for it. If I don’t have a business dinner, exercising after work also helps my energy management.
How do you bring ideas to life?
What I have found is by bringing the right people into the conversation around an idea and asking for input on making an idea better, the idea typically evolves. In my experience, the more diversity of those involved in “owning it” and leading the execution of an idea, the better potential it has. When people feel like they truly have “ownership” in an idea, the idea comes to life.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The lightning speed of technological changes is very exciting. It’s an opportunity for all organizations to embrace technology to decide how to compete at a higher level and gain efficiencies. I believe that blending state-of-the-art technology with great human talent, the singularity concept, is what makes organizations more competitive.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
We live in an era of information overload, particularly with emails. By dedicating some time each day to deal with the onslaught of email, organizing, prioritizing, and then trying to analyze and respond in one viewing, whenever possible has really helped me be more productive.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Coming from a very modest upbringing, I had to put myself through college. One of the jobs that helped me achieve this was cleaning and waxing the floors late nights at a grocery store chain. I worked with some amazing people; hard working and they were definitely people-focused. A key learning was the importance of treating people with respect, no matter what role they play on a team or in an organization.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would identify more mentors earlier in my career, specifically, people from diverse backgrounds who had different measures of success.
What is one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Network, Network, Network. I have been very fortunate to have built an extensive network of people from very diverse backgrounds. Many have become friends and that is invaluable.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow as a person in business? Please explain how?
My Mom gave me advice when I was in high school, she said: “Work hard, be positive, and learn something new every day.” I try to live by this. During my career, I’ve had experience deficits and skill set gaps, but by working hard and leveraging resources I was able to close these. Turn on the news and we often see the focus is a negative one. I avoid that mindset whenever possible by focusing on the positive, aiming to inspire others, continually seeking the silver lining in every situation, which has given me a far better and happier life. Lastly, I’ve tried to learn something new every day. I embrace change, as our world is evolving constantly, and I strive to continue my development.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
On the personal side, my Mom raised five kids on her own while working full-time as a nurse. A number of years ago, she shared with me that the only reason she was able to get her nursing degree was due to a scholarship. This inspired my wife and I to create a fully endowed scholarship for Nursing Majors at Millikin University, honoring both of our moms, who each had exemplary nursing careers. Going forward, I am committed to continually funding this scholarship because it will perpetually help students with financial needs achieve their dream of becoming a nurse, which is such an important cornerstone in our society.
On the business side, I believe that we only achieve success because there are a number of great people who help us along the way. I recently took some colleagues out to a nice dinner as a gesture of thanks for their support. We live in an underappreciated society and this was a very small token of my appreciation, which went a long way.
What is one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Definitely “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. This is a book that anyone can read at any point in his or her career, but is particularly helpful after taking on a new role as it provides a fantastic blue print and guide of the areas to focus on.
- What I have found is by bringing the right people into the conversation around an idea and asking for input on making an idea better, the idea typically evolves.
- My Mom gave me advice when I was in high school, she said: “Work hard, be positive, and learn something new every day.”
- I would identify more mentors earlier in my career, specifically, people from diverse backgrounds who had different measures of success.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.