What I’ve Learned: Chris Brown

What I’ve Learned: Chris Brown

Posted 10/23/2015


Chief Executive Officer, Wiedenbach-Brown

Hire smart, enthusiastic people, and let them do the job they were hired to do—I’ve learned to let them make mistakes and let them learn great lessons from their mistakes.

I’ve learned that SSL is both a classically disruptive technology and also a destructive technology. It’s only a matter of time before the MRO lamp business becomes insignificant, or goes away entirely, and some lighting distributors may already be out of business, but just don’t know it yet.

A family business can be tricky and difficult, but also emotionally rewarding and a great source of pride for the family that came before. I also learned that I’d rather work for my kids than have them work for me. While I’m still working for me today, I now have a Nutritionist, a Psychologist, an Acupuncturist and a Pizzaiola to help take care of their old man someday, and maybe even give me a job.

I’ve learned to encourage collaboration, communication, creativity and shared vision.

Some decisions should only be made when they have to be made.

I’ve learned to always try to really know the folks on my team—and to let them get to really know me.

Set aside time to think, just think. I’ve learned to listen to the soft signals and the distant rumbles in my business, and then connect the dots and plan for the future.

Staying relevant to my clients is critical as technology changes, business models change, competition gets tougher, smarter and in some cases desperate. How do I continue to add value, and bring more lighting and energy solutions to my client?

Innovation is critical to survive and thrive— that innovation techniques can be learned.

I’ve learned that passion for my work is good and important—but work is still work and I try to disengage regularly if only for a few hours or maybe even an entire day! Learning to manage my personal and business communication technologies was difficult but critical for life balance. I could always catch up on work, but could never recapture missed family time.

I’ve seen it’s important to ponder things when I first hear about them, things like disintermediation, Power over Ethernet, Amazon Supply, smart lighting integrated into smart systems, 3PL, the (mildly exaggerated!) death of brick and mortar retail, the Internet of Things. In addition, that Apple, Google, Cisco and other tech gorillas are coming to or are already in my lighting business! How do I prepare for more disruption and destruction? And again, how do I stay relevant to my clients?

I’ve learned to try to keep on learning, and to encourage others to keep learning too.

Some of the best memories of my kids are about the kitchen, at the dining room table, cooking together, perfecting pizza, making plans for adventures, and watching them grow up.

I could never have imagined the joys of grandparenthood. Which reminds me—how did I get this old? I never wanted to be this old, or thought I’d be this old, and now I hope to get a whole lot older!


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