Lessons for business and life from my dad, Paul Shimp
By Mickey Shimp, President of Mix Talent
I was recently a guest on CEOs You Should Know, a great podcast hosted by Brandon “Boxer” Nasby on iHeartMedia Columbus. (If you haven’t listened yet and want to learn more about me and Mix, check it out here.)
Early in my conversation with Boxer, we started talking about my dad, Paul Shimp, who, like me, was a people-person who made his career in the people business. My dad came from nothing, but he was an entrepreneur. He worked hard to build a successful small business.
Dad was an incredibly important influence on my life and I watched him struggle through and overcome some immense challenges as a small business owner – including a couple of bankruptcies. At the time, I didn’t realize how much I was learning from my dad about life, business, and how to treat people, or how those lessons would shape me into the leader I am today.
Boxer asked me what kinds of advice Dad gave me and my siblings, which turned into a great conversation about how we built Mix Talent and continue to maintain our culture. In one of his most impactful lessons, my dad taught me that being successful isn’t rocket science. In fact, he said there were only five steps to being successful, and they’re incredibly simple and easy to follow. Maybe too easy.
5 (simple) keys to success
- Show up
- Show up on time
- Do your job, not somebody else’s
And if you wanted to be a stand out and maybe run the place someday,
5. Show up 15 minutes early
My first reaction to this list? That sounds like the dumbest, simplest thing I have ever heard. However, as I’ve gotten older, gained more experience, met more people, and partnered with more companies, I’ve seen that success really can be that simple. Let me explain.
Showing up (on time) isn't just about appointments
Showing up and showing up on time seemed fairly self-explanatory at first, but it turned out to be more complicated and nuanced as time went on.
For example, at Mix, one of our Mix O/S core values is Solve, which tells us to look for practical, effective answers to difficult problems. When our clients need help, we are quick to respond, even if that means expanding or modifying our existing offerings to meet their needs. In other words, when they need us, we show up – on time.
Thrive in ambiguity
We aren’t going to have answers to every question and things will change quickly. Trust those around you and roll with it.
Do what you think is right
Make the decision you would want someone else to make if you were on the other side of the table.
Use your best judgment
We hire adults and empower them to make good decisions.
Tackle new problems
Find inefficiencies, new problems to solve, or novel ways of solving old problems.
Our Mix team looks to proactively recognize trends in the market and anticipate changes that will impact our clients’ businesses. In this way, we are able to show up the proverbial 15 minutes before our clients need us, providing even greater value than they expected. That makes a real difference.
But showing up also means being fully present in your work. It means being there for your teammates and in our case, your candidates and clients. This comes back to another core value in our Mix O/S – Care – which instructs us to be great teammates, to take care of ourselves and each other, and to be dependable.
Connect to your Why
Know why you are doing what you are doing.
Build new capabilities
Learn how to be awesome at new things that help our clients and the company.
Be efficient, but don’t take shortcuts
Find ways to continue to get better at what you do.
Take care of yourself, your family, and your community.
This is a large part of Mix’s culture but, like many things, it can be a challenge to maintain during difficult times (e.g. COVID, inflation, economic uncertainty). These are the moments when we need to show up for each other every day and I am always so impressed by how our Mix team demonstrates care.
Learning the secret to "work " is hard
When my dad listed “work” as a key to success in your career, I thought it was a joke. Of course you had to work at your job. But I learned that there was an implied “hard” behind that “work.”
The adage, “if something is worth doing it is worth doing well,” is really what my Dad meant. If you take a job, you should give it your best effort all the time. You should be someone that others can count on to get the work done and to the best of your ability.
In my career there have been roles that I did not love and ones that were amazing. But every job has taught me something: a skill, a lesson, or an experience that made me a better teammate, leader or manager.
In our Mix O/S, Deliver is about providing more than expected. It is about doing good work that people remember, being someone people want to work with, and making our clients look good by being someone they can trust to get the job done well.
Make your clients look good
The clients we work with trust us…and trust is not owned – rent is due every day.
Do good work that people remember
Good work gets work.
Create honest followership
Be someone people want to work with.
Provide more than what is expected
Do the little things that mean something to people – make the extra call, send the handwritten note. Good things come to those who pick up the phone and get on the plane.
Always live up to your commitments, do your best and when possible, exceed expectations. That is what my dad was talking about.
Knowing when to lead by . . . getting out of the way
As I got further into my career, I realized my Dad’s advice about doing my job and not somebody else’s wasn’t just about me. It was about believing in others by giving them the space to do their work and investing in their success – because that builds trust. It builds up their confidence in themselves, in their own abilities, and in you. And, when done right, it helps your business grow by creating capacity and output that cannot be accomplished if you don’t divide and conquer.
In our Mix O/S, it’s what we call a Win-Win.
Invest in others’ success
When we care about others first, good things happen.
Listen – really listen – to what people are saying
When we do new things, it is because we have listened to what our customers want.
Be a great teammate
Have each others’ backs and be dependable.
Do the work
This is an effort business – put into it what you expect to get out of it.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen that if you want to build a strong, vibrant culture, it can only be done when everyone has an important role to play, we work as a team, and when we trust each other fully. During challenging times, like the pandemic or the current economic environment, it’s easy to question how we would be able to maintain and evolve our positive culture.
It turns out that the answer was to continue to show up, to do so on time, to work hard, and to do our jobs – not each other’s.
We recently celebrated Mix Talent’s 5th birthday and as I reflect on our incredible team and what they continue to accomplish – it’s now more clear to me than ever that my Dad knew what he was talking about the whole time.
About the Author
President of Mix Talent
Mickey has over 25 years’ experience with service providers in the pharmaceutical and life science space. Beginning his career in the consumer products sector with clients such as Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s and Nabisco, Shimp joined healthcare and life sciences recruiter Taylor Strategy Partners (TSP) in 1993 and was promoted to President in 2008. As President of TSP, he was instrumental in the development of clinical and commercial businesses and built long-term strategic partnerships with leading pharmaceutical clients. TSP was sold to Syneos Health in 2017 and Shimp joined Mix Talent in 2020.
As an entrepreneur, Shimp always asks how something can be done differently or better, and doesn’t settle for conventional thinking being good enough. He loves the challenge of people not believing in him – that his goals are too high or too outside the traditional ways – and he thrives on an underdog mentality. Shimp is best known for helping others be the best they can be, no matter if they are clients and colleagues or friends and family. He believes that being a part of a team means caring for one another, empowering people to do what they do best, and supporting them with the tools to do it.