I met Sue Reinhold years ago and was immediately drawn to her deep insights into honesty and transparency in business and in life. She’s an ethicist and a historian, and she has a deep spiritual practice that carries into her career.
That is why I support this woman’s work.
Sue Reinhold Ph.D. is a social entrepreneur who leads companies and nonprofit agencies in transition. Working with boards and leadership teams, she helps entities through major leadership transitions and to stabilize the platform and pave the way for the next long-term leader.
Her career spans academia to investment management and finance in Fortune 200 companies and her own successful startups and turnarounds. She also teaches about the Jewish Bible and vlogs weekly on the Bible and progressive politics.
Randi Zuckerberg: When will you usually get called in to help companies or nonprofits?
Sue Reinhold: When there is a sentinel event or issue and the platform needs stabilizing or retooling, they have lost a top leader and are forced into a transition period before hiring a new leader, the board knows it needs foundational work on strategic direction but also needs the trains to run on time, or there’s a financial crisis at the entity.
The engagement will be heavily driven by collaboration with the board and leadership, and I can serve as a clearing kind of exec who gets the entity ready for the new long-term leader.
RZ: What drives you most professionally?
SR: First, honesty. It’s a lot easier to learn the hard things if you are straight up with yourself and others.
Second, learning opportunities and being able to leverage what I’ve learned across my career. I’ve been able to master a number of disciplines, which I think has helped me raise my game in every environment I’ve worked in.
Third, collaboration. I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room; I want the best idea in the room. I manage like a coach in many settings. Part of my job is to bring out the best in younger/junior leaders.
RZ: How does ethical and moral responsibility most play a part in corporate strategy?
SR: There is an adage that even a super-religious person can be a “scoundrel inside the bounds of the Bible.” J.P. Morgan was once asked what it took to be a good banker, and he answered, “The fear of God.”
All this to say that strategy is a plan to get you to winning. If you do the right thing — and I know it sounds old-fashioned — you will win the right way. And yes, there is a wrong way to win.
While the mandate to raise shareholder or business owner value is a firm one for a leader in the for-profit world, we became too focused on that as the sole value for business leaders in the past generation. In so doing, we created a whole host of bad outcomes for society, our workforces, our educational system and our customers.
I am a big fan of B corporations, which adopt a stakeholder approach to capitalism and are evaluated on a rigorous set of metrics for social sustainability. My last business was one.
RZ: Out of the many careers you’ve had thus far, which one was your favorite?
SR: Somewhere, in an alternate universe, I’m a college professor. That would have been fun, but I liked the rough-and-tumble of the capital markets a lot, too.
I also loved the one-on-one counseling I was able to do with my clients at my financial advisory firm; very personal, and people are really beautiful when they are vulnerable.
I liked starting up a very successful not-for-profit that’s grown to a point where I am leaving the board in a few months, and I also really enjoyed helping turn one around during the financial crisis.
Of all my careers, I think my favorite one was building a strategy team at a Fortune 200 company. It was a great blend of analysis, leadership, management, brand focus, team building and ability to act to effect change.
But since I’m a college professor somewhere, I still have a book in me, and I am working on that.
— Randi Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a SiriusXM weekly tech business show, Randi Zuckerberg Means Business. Follow her on Twitter: @randizuckerberg or connect with her on Facebook. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.