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What I’ve Learned: John Scribante

Chief Executive Officer, Orion Energy Systems

John Scribante

Of my three children, two of them are adopted—they’re Mayan Indians from Guatemala—they are my older boys. When I traveled to Central America, I saw that some people have life stacked against them.You look at what my adopted sons are doing today as opposed as to what they’d be doing in their home country, and the contrast is amazing.

In running a company, talent is everything—talented people intuitively know what to do. Other than providing basic direction for them, talented people need very little else to deliver spectacular results. I’ve learned to hire 'A' talent who can make sense out of the chaos I create and channel it into meaningful progress.

I had a very disciplined upbringing with very high expectations from my father. He was always teaching me to never be satisfied doing the minimum; take chances, shoot for the stars—always get better and work harder.

I think my mother was one that always helped me appreciate the finer things in life. I don’t necessarily mean that from a wealth perspective, but the little details that make life good. She gave me an appreciation for arts and music—the side of life really grounding you in reality. My mother had the ability to stop and appreciate things that make life a little more interesting—culture, people, humor—those things that make you real.

Managers, especially those who come from large companies, often don’t understand the importance of cash or cash flow. Cash is the hardest thing to acquire, and the easiest to lose. I’ve learned to never turn over the responsibility of cash management to anyone.

My kids have helped keep me grounded [laughs]—they get you to slow down and pay attention to life. My 6-year old will create some contraption out of cardboard and wooden sticks. You realize that’s a great accomplishment for them since they worked all day on it; from my perspective it’s rather simple, but to that child it’s a big accomplishment. It deserves recognition and it’s good to stop and appreciate it.

Focus on your team members’ struggles. I’ve learned that if you spend time tending to people’s problems and clearing the path, they will do great things!

Celebrating wins is a very important part of enduring the pain to get there. Be very, very proud of your accomplishments—celebrate them and build upon them! When you do that, it makes the trouble of getting there all worthwhile.

I think the big thing is surrounding yourself with successful people. They’re not threatened by you and are more willing to bring you up by coaching and training you. I was always coached to surround myself with success, and that has carried me through a lot of challenging times.

As a salesman, I learned opportunity is not where you expect it. No matter how hard you cold call, the biggest deal you’ll ever get will come from a referral or unexpected situation, but unless you were out making the colds calls or sales calls, you would never have been in position to make that big deal. You can’t catch that fly ball unless you’re in the game.

I’ve learned it’s important to be honorable, respectful and decent—it’s about trying to be a fine gentleman and a fine human-being. There’s a lot of crudeness and sloppiness in the world. Those who have that decency are the ones you gotta be proud of.



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