The right partners

Getting the right mix of leaders at the top of an organization can be crucial to success, and things can change rapidly if the mix isn’t right.

This issue has some examples of both, starting with our cover story about the Gunster law firm. The firm exemplifies what might be termed the right alignment. Gunster went through a revisioning process around the time Chairman George LeMieux and CEO and Managing Shareholder Bill Perry took over leadership.

A lot of law firms try to be a lot of different things, but Gunster decided to focus on growth in Florida as a key part of its strategy. Check that box, because the firm now has 13 offices across the state in all the key markets.

Then, there’s culture. While most companies say customers come first, Gunster’s philosophy is that putting employees first makes them happy and productive, which leads to high rates of customer satisfaction.

Gunster is also aligned in what I would call collegiality. A lot of law firms have an eat-what-you-kill mentality, but Perry and LeMieux say they want to avoid silos and make sure the most capable lawyer on a particular subject is helping the client.

Our article on Xtreme Action Park shows how three investors with different backgrounds came together to start a unique business in South Florida.

There’s real estate and car guy Michael Dezer, technology and serial entrepreneur Aaron Parkinson, and PrimeTime Amusements owner David Goldfarb.

The result is definitely one of those where “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole,” with the success of the first phase of the park being followed by a second phase. There’s a distinct possibility the Xtreme model could be replicated in other locations.

Our CEO Connect subject, Albert Santalo, has had great success but also offers some candid observations on what went wrong.

At one of his companies, he became unhappy with some of the wishes of investors. There was a lack of alignment. “I never saw a pattern of success based on what certain investors were pushing, and I felt like it was against my principles, so I walked away,” Santalo says.

We also talked about alignment at a management meeting for Lifestyle Media Group, which publishes this magazine. Currently, on my reading list is “The Power of Alignment: How Great Companies Stay Centered and Accomplish Extraordinary Things.” Lead author George Labovitz worked with the U.S. Navy to help realign after budget cuts. We’re looking forward to hearing Labovitz speak at an upcoming SFBW “Veterans of Influence” event, so look forward to reading more about alignment in an upcoming issue.

Kevin Gale

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