As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Thadeus Parkland.
Thadeus Parkland retired from the pharmaceutical manufacturing world in April 2018 after serving as Director of Business Development for a contract manufacturing company in Dallas, Tx. His 15-year tenure in the pharmaceutical industry included business development, financial planning, operations, and quality. His experience within client services and manufacturing developed a broad perspective allowing for quick business analysis and decisions. Identifying categorical deficiencies impacting business growth, the acquired strategies provided insight for short and long term goals. Assessing the “big picture”, he applied solutions with a deliberate step-by-step plan and a hands-on, emotionally neutral approach for growth. This structure has proven a successful career path throughout his work life.
Prior to serving the health care industry, he served as General Manager of a hair and skin care manufacturing company. The venture was a win-win for both Thadeus and the company; their successes included launching five haircare lines for major US market-based brands during his tenure. Averaging one market launch per year from development through market distribution. This opportunity as GM allowed for the development of a BD platform, which has served him well.
In addition to consulting and motivational speaking, an affinity to help people succeed in life keeps him occupied. Along with these activities, Thadeus focuses on capital investments while exploring his passion for writing. His many accomplishments include having served as chairman of worship services for a local ecumenical organization, board of directors for the Turtle Creek Chorale, and Chairman of the Board for the J. B. Ferguson Memorial Foundation. He recently formed Parkland1 Entertainment Group with its subsidiaries: P1 Press publishing, P1 Photography, and P1Productions.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Unaware, until about two years ago, I live my life in constant discovery mode. I have always been keen on understanding how things work. What impact does the smallest cog in the wheel have and what happens if we remove it. While this has been an annoyance to many, it drove me to grow and learn each and every day. A boyfriend was said to me, “You and your damn questions!” He considered it to be a nuisance and yet some 25 years later he still calls me up for advice for what he doesn’t understand. I liv for being intrigued and engaged in the things that surround me. After writing my first novel and struggling to get it published, I became aware of the need in the artistic community. Many were struggling to grow their business/platform; with that realization I started Parkland1 Entertainment Group to assist those struggling to get their works in the public eye. It took about a year to truly define the business segments and how we would support others. The publishing arm, P1Press, is growing the fastest at the moment but I am thrilled to see activity in each segment.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Industry continues to move away from traditional models in favor of profit over people — my moment was realizing I could help people establish their business models and brands. A model that would benefit both employee and company, for them and us.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Setting up websites and creating a loop that wouldn’t allow me to alter the website. All I could do was laugh and then start over from scratch! The take away was be careful about taking on too much. When you are boot strapped for cash, you may think “I can do that”, and you very well may be capable but be sure to measure the time cost and professional outlook before trying to do it all yourself. In my book, 8 Things To Know To Launch A Product (P1Press), the first thing I tell people is that no one does it all on their own.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
As I mentioned earlier, the start of the business came after I hit multiple hurdles launching books. I soon realized the current model for new comers into the business area is short sighted and self serving. We must focus on helping start ups know the potential pitfalls in front of them. Not everyone has the luxury of earning an MBA or even go to college for the matter, I want to help these people avoid behaviors that may kill their business.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
Constant communication and documentation: Two things I always tell my staff: First, a commitment without a due date is just a conversation, and second, if you can’t communicate your plan in writing, you haven’t thoroughly thought it out. Verbal and written skills are paramount for providing clarity both internally and externally. For every business there are two customers for the management team; internal (employees) and external (paying customers).
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
To quote Dory, “Just keep swimming.” There are going to be challenges when you own a business — it’s part of the fun. In the long run, as long as no one dies or is seriously hurt, the challenge is a blip on the business timeline.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Being a seasoned business person, the biggest challenge that repeatedly occurred was getting the word out there. Finding avenues to let people know what we were doing and how we could help them. Social media can be defeating — my experience has been that most on social media are moving their personal agenda forward and are not really paying attention to what’s going on around them. Joining the LGBT Chamber of Commerce in my city was a huge help — like minded people working towards a common goal kept me focused to move forward.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
We are growing at a slower pace than I would like, but every sale we make is a step in the right direction. A culture that is straight forward and open to conversation has kept the business going. Being able to have the hard conversations face to face, and not via emails, has provided a safe space for both company and clients.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Be truthful
A client had a contract that was very much in their favor. When it was time to renew the contract, it was discovered a member of the C-Team had secretly altered some pricing in our favor. By being upfront about it and owning the activity, the customer openly renewed their contract, with caution of course. They might have never found the alteration but I wasn’t willing to gain a reputation of being a liar or a cheat.
2. Be trustworthy
This falls in with number 1. Say what you mean and do what you say. Following the same vein of number one, the customer knew they could trust us to be truthful and always do the right thing.
3. Honor the people who work for you
People are going to make mistakes — if they know you honor them as a person, they will be more willing to bring up issues of concern. A huge lesson was, unintentionally, learned by my team with my handling of the executive who altered the contact. The intent to gain profitability was explained the perpetrator after the fact. There was no screaming or ranting on my part, simple explanation of the fact that the company reputation was the most important thing to me. Along with the explanation was clarity should an incident occur a second time, they would be released from their position. When word of this reached the teams, they responded with a freedom to ask for guidance when they weren’t sure what direction to go. They also learned that the rules were the same from the top down — there were no special favors because of a title.
4. Don’t give up on people just because they falter
To alter the thread a little from the first question, I had a line worker who was struggling with personal issues. It was impacting their performance to a point where termination was the next step. I sat down with the manager and asked for clarity around the poor performance. The response was simple, when they were at work, the employee did excellent work. The concern was absenteeism and tardiness. I directed the manager to dig into the issue of why the team member was consistently late or missing work. The report back was a wake up call to the manager. The employee had recently lost his significant other and was now a single parent. He was struggling to take care of his child and be a sole provider. This was a wake up call for the manager to never judge someone on the surface. My response to the manager was a simple question; how did they not know about this life changing event?
5. Love what you are doing!
Wake up everyday being excited about what opportunities are in front of you. Every challenge is an opportunity for growth. Yes, that sound trite and the stresses of life and work can wear you down, but even in the worst of times, you have to want to go to work and drive your team forward. You will notice my answers always point to the people who make the business move forward — Everyone in a leadership position has to acknowledge their brilliance is not what keeps the company moving forward — without people cleaning the bathrooms and answering the phones, the business would not run. Yes, their leadership is critical but if you don’t have a team, who are you going to lead?
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
The CEO from my last company. He taught me these values and showed me the true meaning of leadership. The most humble man I ever met as well as an incredible leader. Early on in my career with him, when I was a baseline manager, he saw me struggle and took the effort to guide me and teach me. His subtle pushing moved me forward, let me to the position of business development director.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would alter the process for immigration. We treat immigration as if it’s a bad thing. I am third generation french in the US, if it weren’t for my grand parents coming to America, I wouldn’t be here. As a country, we need to develop a path that is easy to obtain citizenship. Like some European countries, a person can register and work for five years and have the opportunity to become a citizen or permanent resident. We must stop the degrading of people looking for a better life and provide them the opportunity to earn it.
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