What I’ve Learned: Bob Horner

What I’ve Learned: Bob Horner

Posted 2/23/2017


Director of Public Policy of Illuminating Engineering Society

Growing up, I think my father in particular always talked about being trustworthy and honest with people. He wasn’t a ‘money is everything’ kind of guy. At the same time, it’s a learned trait from my time in the industry. If you see people reacting to your honesty, you respond and decide if that’s the person you truly want to be, even if some people might look on it as a weakness.

Don’t get married too young, because you really don’t know everything. I’d say when you’re too young you don’t know what questions to ask, don’t even know you should be asking questions. Had I known enough to ask, I never would’ve married the person I did at first.

You can’t just wait for the phone to ring—you have to be proactive. I was fairly lucky and always found jobs where people were coming after me, and in 1988 I was contacted by Paul [Pompeo] to interview at my first job with a large company. I’d always had people who were seeking me out, but this time I walked in and it was like, “Who are you?” [laughs] I had to practice for the interview, and there was a lot more anxiety with that than I’d experienced previously.  I learned that I’m not special and shouldn’t be expecting things, but instead needed to do my homework and make sure that I worked to get things done.

All things in moderation. That may not sound very majestic, but it’s something my father taught me that I’ve always tried to live by.

Temper what you say with a little kindness. Give an honest assessment, but if your wife asks how she looks in her dress and you don’t like it, you don’t respond with, “What, are you kidding?”  Be sensitive to other people and their backgrounds. I’m from Brooklyn and my wife is from Iowa, and I know that I have to respond differently to her because I might react one way but she interprets it differently. There are often basic differences in communication, so be sensitive to people’s feelings and the way they interpret what you say.

Integrity is priceless, in business and in your personal life. People will see you as a trusted advisor who’ll give the straight scoop, and not just be some guy trying to get the sale.

No one person can know everything, so if you want to do the best job and achieve the highest goals, then teamwork is necessary. I was in a fraternity in college where we had to work on projects together, and I saw how we all come in with our own skills or thoughts or opinions, and with exposure to a diverse group of people and friends you broaden your horizons and learn from them and can work to achieve something better than you could have alone.

Have you ever noticed that people who are left-handed are always nice people? I’m not left-handed, it’s just an observation I’ve made. Check it out.

In the end, your personal life is more important than your work.  Actively plan to take time out and be with friends.  My mother was always the one that planned events in our family and made sure we had things to do and vacations to go on.  I’ve spent time pursuing my hobbies in addition to work so I have something to look forward to when I retire, and I passed up promotions or opportunities to pursue other jobs because I needed to stay with my kids.  I have no regrets for giving up things to be with my family.  As the saying goes, no one on their death bed says they wish they had worked more.  Try to have a well-rounded life and do things that aren’t work related, because there’s a lot you can learn from that’s not inside your company.


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