What I’ve Learned: George BossonPosted 12/22/2014
President, Orgatech Omegalux Architectural Lighting; Chief of Operations, elliptipar; General Manger, LAM Lighting; Founder, a.light
With peace in your heart and mind you bring peace to others. To achieve peace in your heart, forgiving yourself is a good start…forgiving others is a good second step.
I am the oldest of 9 children. So I think a lot of my natural leadership skills came from the position I was in in my family.
The first art class I had was in 7th grade. It was Mr. Snow. I saw things in 3 dimensions, but he helped me learn how to express it.
Imagine what it will be, and set yourself to that vision.
Let your mentors be your guides while they are alive and beyond. Sy Shemitz and Bill Lam were my closest mentors in the lighting industry. Sy taught me about the control of light and Bill taught me about how to use it to enhance people’s experience.
I’ve learned that a good leader must ask oneself three questions: Am I doing all I can to make the people that work for the company satisfied with their work and the company? Am I doing everything I can to assure that our customers are receiving the highest possible quality and service based on what we ‘say’ we offer? Am I doing everything I can to assure a healthy bottom line?
Failures always teach you something. There’s this old political saying, ‘Trust but verify’ [laughs], right? One of the biggest errors I’ve made in my career was to trust some people in an organization that I was leading that the finances that were presented to me were correct. But it turned out that the inventory and the estimation of cost of goods sold in that company were really off—they were a mess. I didn’t find out until we had a CPA do a full-blown audit—and it was discovered that the inventory was overstated by half a million dollars [laughs]. Ever since then, I’ve been very, very cognizant that the books are accurate. It’s from cost of goods sold that all the rest of the financial picture of a company comes, in my estimation.
I’m an open book—I’m very, very candid—I don’t hold anything back.
My marriage to Rose [Rosemarie Allaire], a lighting designer, has been absolutely invaluable to me as I have pursued my lighting career, but I’ve learned one thing in particular—don’t piss her off [laughs]! I’ve also learned that love and marriage does not require a single commitment on your wedding day, but a series of commitments as your married life goes on. The person you married 10, 15, 20 years ago is not the same person today. Today requires new commitment and so does tomorrow and every day afterward.
From my earlier career in the 70’s I was a family therapist. I did crisis counseling for families whose children were at risk. I received some very, very good training. From that training, I learned to put myself into other people’s positions, to understand what people were struggling with—which I think is a feminine characteristic. I have a high level of empathy, and that has been one of my strengths as a leader. On the male side of the equation, I’ve learned I am very much like a scientist. I’m very curious and love the technical aspects of my work.
I’m an amateur astronomer, and as a result of viewing the universe through a telescope, I’ve come to realize there are no boundaries.
I don’t know if I’d call it a failure—it might have contributed to some failures [laughs]—I have a problem with anger, which has gotten me into trouble on numerous occasions [laughs]. I started really working on that about nine years ago, and it led me not to deny my anger, but embrace it. I learned my anger is deeply-seeded in my childhood And in order to harness my anger for positive purposes, I’ve learned to take care of the little boy within me.
One of the things that has made me a success is the combination of the artist in me and the scientist in me.
There is no past…it is past, there is no future…it hasn’t arrived yet. There is now. Be here.
My father was a convert to Catholicism. I was an altar boy as soon as I was old enough to be one, and at one point I decided I would like to be a priest. Years later I was in college and I was helping my father set up a trade show in Springfield, Massachusetts—it was just me and him. He took me aside and said, ‘I’m disappointed you chose not to become a priest. But let me leave you with this—whatever you choose to do in life, don’t just make a buck—make a difference.’ And that has been the guiding principle to everything I’ve ever done in work.