Daniel Newman leads, and his experience shows it. His bio is extensive, highlighting the leadership roles taken and results achieved. Daniel has started companies, social media ventures, and taught business school classes. To say the least, Daniel has been a busy and engaging Millennial leader. His newest venture is BroadSuite, a specialty consulting and digital marketing agency designed to help brands and businesses be found, seen and heard online.

In between all these activities, Daniel also published a book entitled The Millennial CEO. It was great to catch up with Daniel and ask him several questions to gain insight on his leadership approach and experiences.

Q: When you became CEO at 28 years old, what skills and personal characteristics helped you the most in leading United Visual?

Daniel Newman - Millennial CEODaniel: I was extremely focused on empathy.  When I first got started in business I learned the hard way about humility.  Every success went straight to my head and as I sought to move up in the ranks I received a lot of resistance from certain decision makers because of this.  The great thing was that when it clicked that leadership wasn’t about me, but about truly helping others, the experience I had provided great clarity for me.

Outside of empathy, I think what really helped me to lead was my tenacity. I wanted so badly for myself and those I worked with to accomplish great things.  I woke up every day with this on my mind.  Sadly, I went to bed with this on my mind as well.

Q: How do you describe your leadership philosophy? Has it changed through the years?

Daniel: I would describe my leadership philosophy as Develop and Serve. My goal as a leader is to constantly serve those I work with and help them to grow and become better. I truly believe those that I work for are the organization and the people, not the other way around.

Over the years my leadership has changed as I have gained more confidence in delegating and more specifically empowering those I work with. This has given me more bandwidth to focus on vision, culture and business transformation. It’s a delicate balance to determine how much rope to give your team, but until you start to relinquish control, you get stuck working “In” your business instead of working “On” your business. A delicate, yet important nuance.

Q: Through your entrepreneurial ventures, what are your top three lessons learned?

Daniel: If I had to boil what feels like a thousand lessons down to three, they would be as follows:

  1. Network, Network, Network – This will make even more sense when we talk about number 2, but so much of the success I have had can be attributed to meeting great people, sharing great ideas and building what I like to call collective IP (Intellectual Property). I believe we live in a society where the cream rises faster when we work together rather than as individuals hoarding knowledge and ideas.
  2. Be Respectful – Your network is critical in success. I believe in today’s connected world there is little “Cold” selling and most opportunities come from your network (direct or indirect). I have taken an approach of listening to things that don’t immediately make sense and also being a connector of people. Call it karma chasing or “Do Gooding” but I feel like the best way to get is to give without expectation of reciprocity.
  3. Fail fast and graciously – All of your ideas simply won’t work out. I stuck too long on ideas and instead of small failures; I turned them into big ones. The good news is that I learned a lot from them, but one of the most important learnings has been to fail fast so you can get onto the next thing.

Q: As a Millennial, do you see your generation leading differently than previous generations? If so, in what ways?

Daniel: I have written so much about this. I believe the biggest difference is the integration of technology. Mobile, Social, Cloud and Big Data – the big 4 tech buzz words are what immediately comes to mind.

And more than just the words themselves, it is the desire to put these technologies to use to expand the capabilities of companies – making them more connected, more aware of their customers, and allowing professionals to work anywhere.

I had coffee with the CEO of AppendTo, another Millennial who is leading the revolution of web development via jQuery, and he was telling me how he has fully virtualized his company and how the employee satisfaction via this and other work-life balances he is putting into place has improved performance and client satisfaction.

I have always believed happier employees mean better results, but here is a Millennial putting it in place and getting the results to boot.

Q: In your role as an Adjunct Professor of Management, what energizes you about the students and their perspectives?

Daniel: Since I am amidst growing a new company, I have been on a teaching hiatus for about a year, but I really look forward to going back.

What excites me about teaching MBA students is the opportunity to learn and discuss the real world application of knowledge in the classroom. When I did my MBA, one of my biggest complaints was professors that seemed disconnected from the real world. I felt like I could give what I was looking for by coming into the classroom and bringing a bit of real life to the students. They bring theirs; I bring mine, and together we grow.

Anyone that has taught knows it isn’t about the money, but the return on teaching is so rewarding. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

A special thanks to Daniel Newman for his time and insights. Check out his book, The Millennial CEO, and connect with him on Twitter (@danielnewmanUV).