He’s a man of many hats.
“I’ve worn many ‘hats’ as the company has grown – implementation, support, training, programming and product management.”
Brian Sweat, President & CEO of Alterity, Inc.
Brian Sweat has been with Alterity since January 2001. In 2014, he became president of the company.
Having a variety of roles in the company over the years, Sweat has an increased appreciation for the many sections that keep the company running while being able to see the components as a unified segment.
“I really love the entire business and enjoy working with all of our teams.”
In our Q&A, Sweat divulges to us changes that are coming to the company, its customers, and everyone in-between, as well as the essentials of leadership, and much more.
Q: When did you start working at Alterity? In what position?
A: I joined the company in January 2001 to provide technical support and help with some programming on a part-time basis.
Q: How did you find out about the job and what intrigued you about it and the company?
A: There was a job listing on the University of Texas at Arlington career site. Most listings were for larger companies and I was excited by the opportunity to work at a small software company.
Q: What other positions in the company have you taken and how did those transitions come about?
A: I’ve “worn many hats” as the company has grown – implementation, support, training, programming and product management. I really love the entire business and enjoy working with all of our teams.
Q: What would you say was the greatest milestone that was achieved during your time as the President of the company?
A: We’ve hit a lot of great milestones over the last six months. The easy answer would be our third quarter financial results – it was my first quarter as president and the best in the history of the company.
However, I am most proud of the new client relations program that focuses on proactive customer service. I am obsessed with customer feedback – learning what we can do to improve our product and service.
Q: What have you learned during your time as President?
A: It doesn’t matter whether you’re an intern or President – the most important thing to focus on every day is providing outstanding customer service. There are many other responsibilities for the leader of a company, but customer service must come first.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a great leader?
A: A great leader builds a culture where the team is continually sharing their ideas and providing feedback – both positive and negative – on the business. A great leader must encourage the team to implement their ideas too.
Q: What will be your personal mission statement for your new role in the company?
A: My personal mission statement is to create and communicate a clear strategy for the company. We have a very large, complicated product for an enormous market. It’s very easy to get distracted from our strategy. My job is to make sure that we remain focused.
Q: What changes in the company will customers be seeing?
A: We have an amazing product and team, but we have not told our story very well. We are refreshing our brand image through updates to the product and marketing. Customers will see a new face of Acctivate in 2015.
Q: What famous quote would best describe the vision/philosophy/mission statement you have for the company?
A: “Good is the enemy of Great” – Jim Collins
Jim explains that you must identify and focus on “what you can be the best in the world at, what you are deeply passionate about, and what best drives your economic or resource engine.” This is what it takes to shift from a good to a truly great organization.
Q: As a leader, how do you go about motivating others?
A: Dan Pink (TED speaker and author) explains that motivation in a business revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
My management style is to encourage people to make their own decisions, as long as they are aligned with the strategy of the business. Autonomy is crucial for innovation.
Dan says that mastery is “the desire to get better and better at something that matters”. I will watch someone work through a problem until they hit that “ah-ha” moment and find a solution. I love the smile on their face when they get it. It is the most rewarding part of my job.
Our purpose is clear. We provide an amazing tool and service to help small businesses succeed. This is the most important motivator for our team.
Q: What do you look forward to each day at work?
A: Solving a problem for a customer in a much better way than they expected.
Q: What do you feel are your strengths? Your most valuable asset?
A: I have a strong sense of seeing the potential end results of a project or initiative. I won’t start a project unless I can envision what success will look like.
My most valuable asset would be the experience gained while traveling on-site to install, train and support clients in the early 2000s.
Q: What personal goals do/will you set?
A: I would like to talk to more customers. My goal is to personally provide a solution for at least one customer every day.
Q: After a long day at work, how do you unwind?
A: My wife (Karla) is a group fitness instructor at 24 Hour Fitness. I started going to her classes over eight years ago. I now attend six or more classes a week – usually strength and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). They’re a great way to relieve stress and get some physical activity – which I need after sitting in an office chair all day.
Q: What is something (professional or personal, relevant or random) you’d like to let us know about you?
A: I had a ponytail in college and waited tables at Olive Garden. It was an amazing experience for me and I met a beautiful waitress who would later become my wife. I still tell a lot of stories from working in the food service industry. It’s a great place to learn customer service skills.