John Gallo, BNP Paribas’ Global Head of Sales and Co-Head of Global Markets
Americas, still jots down notes in a spiral-bound notebook. While he worries that that
might make him appear hopelessly analog in a digital world, the opposite is actually
true: He is brimming with ideas, forever powering forward, forever on the cutting edge of building businesses.
Many of those ideas have allowed him to build a very notable 25-year career in finance.
Early on he became the youngest managing director in the 150-year-plus history of
Lehman Brothers and since then he has held executive positions at Citigroup and
Deutsche Bank, in addition to BNP Paribas.
Along the way, he has served on a number
of corporate and philanthropic boards, while gaining renown for his expertise in financial
products, management and markets.
He boils down the secrets to his success as follows:
Be All In
Whatever career you choose, whether in finance or something else, you need to be
passionate and excited by it. You have to enjoy what you’re doing, take an interest in it
and be willing to be challenged. Most likely you will be spending more time in your
profession than anything else in your life — more than family, hobbies etc.
You need to be zealous about it or else it will be too difficult to operate at the level of intensity and commitment to be successful.
Whether you are building your own company or a career, it takes a significant commitment if you hope to rise through the levels to make a significant impact. You have to be all in.
Do More Than Your Homework
In school you are taught to complete your assigned homework. In business doing the
assignment is not enough. Whatever project, task or assignment you are working on,
you need to find ways to do better or more than expected. This is how you get noticed
and get ahead.
Whatever the expectations, you should deliver more, whether you are dealing with a boss, client, customer or colleague. There is no substitute for doing thorough work and always striving to exceed expectations.
Entrepreneur Grant Cardone, author of “The 10x Rule,” put it best when he said the
following: “The goal should be to shock, not simply exceed expectations. Leave copying, competing and comparing to others — shock expectations and gain immediate altitude above the rest.”
Take Calculated Risks
After John Gallo had begun to establish himself but was still relatively new to finance,
he recommended that his firm do a large trade. Those above him in the hierarchy balked, certain that it was a bad idea.
In fact, they went so far as to threaten him with
dismissal, if the deal turned out to be as bad as it appeared to them. He had done significant analysis and was confident there was a high probability of success, so he insisted on going through with the transaction. As it turned out, it made the firm a substantial amount of money.
Risks are a necessary part of doing business, though the “calculated” part should never
be forgotten, as it is essential to do “more than your homework” before taking a risk and
ensuring a good risk/reward profile.
If the risk/reward profile is not favorable no matter how much work you have done, cut your losses and move on. If it is, don’t be afraid to take some risks.
Learn From Your Mistakes/Failure.
This is the one that John Gallo is constantly trying to drill into his three children’s heads.
Failures and mistakes happen all the time and are nothing more than learning opportunities. Without them, success is impossible. They serve as stepping stones toward bigger and better things if you pick yourself up, examine what went wrong, learn from them, try not to repeat them and move on.
No matter how bad or embarrassed you might feel at the moment, you have to look past
and move forward. There are going to be times you will feel awful about a dumb mistake
or a big failure. They happen. This is when you have to step up.
He has nonetheless seen many many careers derailed by mistakes or failures, whether
it is the inability to close a deal or earn a promotion or something as drastic as a
dismissal or the company’s bankruptcy. Terrible as they might seem at the moment,
these are all learning experiences that should be utilized to make your next step
stronger and smarter.
Too often, however, those who find themselves in these situations compound their mistake by not responding in a positive way. As an example, consider John Gallo’s approach after one of his co-workers assumed a senior position at a new firm, and Gallo followed after him, only to learn that the new company had some deep-seated issues that proved too difficult to overcome.
Realizing his mistake and definitely set back, he moved on to another firm. It is far better, in Gallo’s estimation, to step back from the misstep, examine what went wrong, and think about what you could do better the next time. Then you pick yourself up and move on.
There needs to be resilience and resolve, but more than anything else, there needs to be positive self-examination. That is the surest way to grow and improve, and a lesson that can be learned at any age.
ABL: Always be Learning
No matter how experienced you are, you always need to be learning and improving your
skills. John Gallo tries to learn new things/skills every day.
Clearly you need to learn from your failures/mistakes as above, but also your successes and everything in between — every meeting, client interaction, what went well, what could have been done better, what you should do differently the next time. Learning needs to be constant.
Surround Yourself with Great People
While we live in the most dynamic time with technology/scientific advancement, John
Gallo has learned that people are still the greatest asset, by far. It is his belief that an organization should always endeavor to hire the most talented people it can find — that managers should hire people who are better than them and have skills they don’t have.
In a similar vein, he believes that when looking for a job it is important to find a business
where you believe the people are most impressive and willing to invest in you. No
matter if you are CEO or just starting out, the people you surround yourself with will
make or break your success.
You need to be challenged and pushed, and you always need to be learning. Your colleagues, managers and employees will be the ones who will help you in this regard.