Keep investing in your education/training and skill sets so that you can continue to grow and be relevant.
Greg Bishop is an experienced attorney who has devoted the past three decades of his life to managing the legal, compliance, and HR functions for various national and international companies. He has extensive experience in complex litigation, M&A, general corporate matters, licensing, IPO preparation, and information security, as well as corporate and board governance. In 2019, Utah Business Magazine ranked Mr. Bishop as among the “Legal Elite” for in-house lawyers in the State of Utah.
In addition to his Juris Doctor, he has a BA in English Literature and an MBA from Brigham Young University. In addition to legal matters, Mr. Bishop is drawn to Human Resources management, primarily the art of recruiting, training, compensating, and retaining quality employees. He makes it a practice to only hire people for his team who are smarter than him, and enjoys building teams that get the job done and ensure success for the company.
Recently, Mr. Bishop spent ten years as the executive in charge of the legal, compliance, and HR functions of Control4 Corporation, a smart-home automation company that he helped take public in 2013. In addition to his successful professional career, he spent seven years working closely with the Coalition for the Homeless (the largest organization helping the homeless in Washington, DC) and has volunteered with Operation Underground Railroad (an international organization that rescues child sex-trafficking victims).
Located in Park City, Greg and his wife have a passion for traveling, mountain biking, and physical fitness. They strive to share their passion with others, helping them improve their quality of life through their blog, “Not Your Parents Retirement.” Their goal is to empower people in their transition from a career-driven existence to a self-determined life.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work with growing companies to build great legal, HR and compliance teams. The skillset I use has evolved over time, starting with working exclusively as a litigation attorney in large law firms, then transitioning to in-house corporate legal work, and expanding more recently to include the compliance and HR functions. One of the things I love about my career is that my days are anything but typical. Being productive in an ever-changing landscape of legal, HR and compliance issues can be challenging because it is difficult to measure efficiency. But productivity can also be measured by intangibles such as responding to every email quickly (even if only to acknowledge receipt and set response expectations), being present in meetings (ignoring each buzz and chime of your laptop or smartphone), and really listening to what others are saying (rather than thinking about what you will say in response).
How do you bring ideas to life?
Looking for gaps in an organization is a great way to bring new ideas to life. My experience is that there is plenty of room for growth and opportunity if you volunteer to take on an organizational need that is being neglected or ignored. For example, by looking for and then filling organizational gaps, I have greatly expanded my training and experience to include things like information security and big data. The difference between having an idea and bringing an idea to life is often how well that idea fills an existing gap or moves the organization or group to the next level.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Although I am not retired, I am excited about emerging trends among those who have entered the third phase of life. The growing demographic of retired people represents a convergence of three key trends: (1) the average number of people who retire each day in the United States is huge – over 10,000 people; (2) life expectancy continues to rise, meaning that people will be “retired” for much longer than has been the case historically; and (3) on average, retired people have approximately 7.5 hours of available leisure time each day. Combined, these individual trends create a very important mega-trend that creates opportunities for expanding markets in areas such as leisure travel, educational programs and tours, physical fitness and volunteerism. One question that remains to be answered is this: How will a society tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience that this growing demographic represents?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being productive can be based on habits, but in my experience, productivity is best measured by creating an experienced and motivated team. Spending time building strong relationships with your team members may not feel very productive in the short run, but it can pay huge dividends in the long run. My rule of thumb is to hire great people, provide them with opportunities to grow and develop, offer incentives through fair compensation and an exciting career path, and then get out of their way.
What advice would you give your younger self?
In my father’s generation, it was not uncommon for people to work for the same company for their entire career. Those days are gone. Today, people need to continue to expand their skill sets and remain relevant by investing in additional training and obtaining a broader range of experience. The advice I would give to my younger self is to keep investing in my education/training and skill sets so that I can continue to grow and be relevant.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s (which currently owns over 400 different companies), made this insightful statement: “Customers do not come first – employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.” I share that core belief, but I often receive pushback about it. For example, when I was running the legal, HR and compliance teams of a public company, I had that quote painted on a wall near my office as an aspirational objective for our company. When the CEO first saw it, he pulled me aside and asked me if Branson really said that. The notion that customers come first is so engrained in our corporate psyche that it is difficult to get others to take a step back and realize that in order to meet the needs of the customer, you first have to meet the needs of the employee who will be directly interacting with that customer. When it comes down to it, your team really should come first.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
When I began my career, it would have been impossible for me to predict the path my career would take over the next 30 years. Indeed, some of what I consider to be my core competencies today didn’t even exist when my career began. The one thing that I have done over and over is to keep investing in myself. Some of those investments (like a 6-month executive class for Chief Information Security Officers) have had an impact on my career path, whereas other investments (like certifying to be a Crossfit instructor) were just for my own personal benefit. Moore’s Law – named after Gordon Moore, who was later CEO of Intel – is based on Mr. Moore’s observation that the capacity of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles about every two years. In my view, there is a similar law that our career capacity must double every decade in order for our skillsets to stay relevant. Our capacity to substantially increase our skills depends on our willingness to invest in our own growth and development.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the technology companies I worked with had some serious customer satisfaction issues with earlier versions of our hardware and software products that were failing early in their lifecycle. The dealers who were selling our products were not as responsive to these customer concerns as they should have been because they were busy chasing the next sale. Our customers were rightfully upset, venting their concerns online and slowing down our sales momentum. To address the problem, we created a “SWAT” team to solve our end-customers issues directly (rather than addressing them through our dealers, who should have resolved their problems). Even though it was the dealer who was responsible for fixing the problems, our end customers did not care – they just wanted our products to work. By being hyper-focused on customer satisfaction, we were able to turn our most outspoken critics into our most vocal cheerleaders. Many of them not only recommended our products to their family and friends, they purchased additional products as well. Growing your business really is a function of making sure you take care of your customers – whatever it takes.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Eight years into my career, I completely changed my legal practice from being a litigation attorney working for a large law firm in Washington, D.C., to being an in-house corporate lawyer working for a global company in New York. The transition was extremely difficult because the skills I had developed over the prior eight years were largely irrelevant in my new role. Because I was completely inexperienced in the world of corporate law, I felt that I was failing as a lawyer and letting down my client/company. One of the other lawyers at the company gave me some advice that I used the rest of my career – when you don’t know what you are doing, ask a lot of questions, take a lot of notes, make a conclusion but run it by someone you trust before moving forward. Over time, you will develop the experience you need and won’t need to run your advice by someone else before proceeding. It’s a bit like the “fake it until you make it” advice that I’ve heard since then, but it is really much more than faking. You don’t just pretend you know what you’re doing – you ask, you listen, you get input, and then you act.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The demographic of retired individuals is growing at a tremendous rate (on average retired people have 7.5 hours of leisure time per day that they need to fill in meaningful and productive ways). Because of the demands of their careers, many older adults neglected taking care of themselves in three specific areas that are key indicators of their ability to be self-sufficient over the long run: (1) muscular strength; (2) cardiovascular endurance; and (3) proper nutrition. Unfortunately, many older adults incorrectly believe that it is too late for them to do anything about these aspects of their personal health. They are wrong. Countless studies and clinical trials have demonstrated that it is never too late to begin taking better care of yourself. Although there are countless gyms and exercise programs that welcome older adults, they are primarily geared to a much younger and more physically active clientele. However, just as women-only gyms have recently filled an important market niche, there is a large opportunity to establish exercise / nutritional centers that are geared to the issues relevant to older adults, who if properly motivated and taught can devote part of their available leisure time toward expanding not just the duration, but the quality of their lives.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently downloaded the Zwift software platform (there is a monthly subscription fee of $10), which is a multi-player online cycling video game that allows users across the world to interact and train with, as well as compete against, other users. Rather than gaming with others using a hand-held controller, however, users train with and compete by riding stationary “smart” trainers in their own homes in one of six virtual worlds on Zwift. These trainers can simulate the gradient of courses, making the ride easier or harder, depending on whether the rider is climbing or descending a hill. Zwift provides a much more realistic and enjoyable experience than simply jumping on a “dumb” stationary trainer and grinding out the miles when the weather makes it impossible to ride outside.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Like many, my initial approach to almost any question or problem is to Google it (sorry, Bing). But Google is just a tool, and discretion must be exercised in interpreting the results received. That said, Google is my go-to approach to get a quick lay of the land so that I can ask the right questions. The old adage that “you don’t know what you don’t know” will still be true, but at least you’ll have a more informed view of just how much there is to what you don’t know.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I strongly recommend “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the New York Times and author of the New York Times bestseller “Smarter Faster Better”. In The Power of Habit, Mr. Duhigg makes a persuasive argument that the key to being successful in almost every aspect of life – whether it is building revolutionary companies and social movements, becoming more productive, raising exceptional children, losing weight or exercising regularly – is understanding just how habits work. Once the scientific underpinnings of habits are explained and understood, they can be leveraged to create the types of positive habits that will allow us to become more successful.
What is your favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou, who insightfully observed: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Over my career, I have learned that if your employees feel valued and trusted, they will move heaven and earth to help you reach your organization’s objectives. Conversely, if they feel disposable and redundant, they will only give you a fraction of their potential.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.