This month we’re celebrating our CEO Dan Ponder’s 35th Francoversary. Dan started at Franco on April 15, 1985. As the youngest member of the management team at the time, Dan never could have imagined he would spend the next 35 years of his career at Franco.
He’s seen Detroit, Franco and the communications industry transform over the past three decades. His strong leadership has truly shaped our culture into what it is today, and we are so grateful for his passion and leadership.
Here are Dan’s five greatest lessons learned throughout 35 years at Franco:
Change means growth.
In 1985, Detroit was on the brink of a resurgence. The city was vibrant, and there was no lack of inspiration. Now more than ever, Detroit has grit, and those who are lucky enough to work in the heart of the city find inspiration wherever they turn.
Dan has learned over the years that times of change and adversity are when people can grow the most. Dan says he’s recognized that with change comes opportunity, and many times changes in his career turned out to be good for him. He learned that if you can step up for the occasion, face problems head on and recognize your own ability you will undoubtably grow from the experience.
It’s okay to re-invent yourself.
One of Franco’s core values is forward motion, and Dan encourages others to embrace change and look for opportunities to grow and evolve. Dan came from an accounting background and described himself as introverted early in his career. Over the years in the industry, Dan evolved personally and professionally, becoming a strong businessman and a marketing and communications professional.
As a young professional Dan felt the pressure of competition and had the natural inclination of wanting to “go it alone.” In later years he realized the importance and impact of a team environment and now leads a company with a heavy focus on collaboration.
You cannot go wrong if you stick to your core values and surround yourself with good people.
Early in his career, Dan found himself surrounded by people who valued competition. Competition can be motivating, but it can also prevent a team from being able to truly operate as one.
When Dan became the majority shareholder at Franco, he emphasized and focused on creating a strong team culture within the organization. Franco’s team has become stronger by celebrating individuals and their respective strengths and leaning on each other in areas of weakness. Dan cites being surrounded by employees, clients and community leaders that are not only the best in their respective fields, but also good people, as one of the reasons for staying at Franco for 35 years.
Dan says success comes from truly listening to your clients, employees and colleagues. After listening to them, based on your understanding of the true need or true issue, you then should apply your expertise and come up with a thoughtful solution.
There are many ways to solve a problem, but you need to pick one and stick with it.
In this industry, problems are to be expected. How you respond to those problems is what sets you apart as an expert in the field. Dan says it is important to critically analyze your problem, come up with a solution and stick with that solution. He says if you think it through and you come up with a strategy, give it a fair shot and see it through. If you know it’s a good strategy and you are persistent with it, you will be successful.
Franco would not be the agency it is today without Dan Ponder. Dan, we thank you for leading us with confidence, kindness and integrity. Congratulations on 35 wonderful years!
Tina Kozak is Franco’s president. Connect with her on Twitter at @tinakozak.