HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP?
Patrick Sheffers: Leadership is the act of driving a committed mission, and continuously delivering positively to better a group or organization.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION THAT YOU CAN MAKE AS A LEADER IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Patrick: The biggest and most important decision I make every day is to remain positive. You can’t always control what comes at you, but you can control how you react. Staying positive helps me focus and be efficient. It also affects the people around you and allows you to lead through example.
WHAT IS ONE MISTAKE YOU OFTEN SEE OTHER LEADERS MAKING?
Patrick: I have seen leaders who do not pay particular attention to emotional intelligence really damage the trust that people have in them. One of the most harmful things you can do as a leader is to lose control of yourself.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE CREATIVE THINKING WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Patrick: Being inclusive is key. Creative thinking comes from all different levels and being inclusive allows more diverse ideas to come in. You also can’t just sit back and listen to ideas without sometimes challenging them to encourage a deeper level of thinking. That’s how truly great ideas are born.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Patrick: I have found that it’s not always about the hours you work. You really have to be efficient and effective, paying attention to the quality of work you are doing. When it comes to striking a balance, I always prioritize. I believe that the most important thing is knowing your priorities and keeping them in alignment. For me, my family will always come first, followed by my physical and mental health. When I come back to the office after spending quality time with my wife, I am a lot more focused, productive, and happy to be there.
WHAT RESOURCES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS WORKING TO BECOME A BETTER LEADER?
Patrick: Commuting to work can be one of the most stressful things for an American, especially if you live in a bigger city. I used to try to swerve in and out of traffic to get there maybe two minutes faster, but now I have been using that time to listen to podcasts, particularly ones on the power of positivity. That way, I can set aside some time every day and just learn how to better myself.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Patrick: The number one thing I would say is, “be adventurous.” Whether it’s traveling or trying new food, I think that always being open to new experiences is something that drives growth. I would have liked to explore different disciplines like creative writing to spawn some sort of divergent thinking early on. But the most important thing I would do is take more opportunities to travel. I think I may have learned more while traveling that I did in some of my college classes.
WHAT’S THE LAST NEW THING YOU LEARNED OR EXPERIENCED?
Patrick: I learn new things every day, but the most significant development in my life has been marriage. My wife and I have been married for a year, and I have learned more in one year about how to care for other people, communicate with others, and how to be a thoughtful person than I have in my entire life.
WHICH TEACHER HAD THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT?
Patrick: My sixth-grade homeroom teacher was crucial in my development as an individual. She would always ask, “How did you get that answer?” She made me realize that it’s not just about getting the right answer—what’s more important is the thought process that goes into deriving that answer. In other words, the process is more important than the result. She also taught me to own up to my mistakes. I was a typical rambunctious middle-schooler, and she taught me that when you do something stupid, you can’t lie or blame your way out of the consequences. Today, I admire leaders the most when they have the integrity to take responsibility for their mistakes.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPACTFUL BOOK YOU READ AS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT?
Patrick: From a very young age, I always loved math classes. Later, in high school, that led me to read many different historical books that told the stories of financial collapses. I always knew that I would end up doing something with math, but reading those books drove me to take my passion in a specific direction. After that, I started taking economics and accounting classes that really prepared me for my future.