The Monthly Leader Review Volume 1, Issue 2
February 2006


Welcome to the 2nd issue of the Monthly Leader Review. For those of you unfamiliar with the MLR, it is a newsletter that consists of an interview with a leader in the world of business, community and sports. The purpose of the newsletter is to provide practical insights into how today's top leaders motivate, manage and lead themselves, their teams and clients during these fast changing times. Hopefully these insights can assist you in both your personal and professional life.

This month I will be interviewing a friend who I've known for over 22 years. He and I started our careers together just three days apart at Beecham Products (now known as GlaxoSmithkline). With that said, I am happy to introduce this months interview with Jack Kampsen, Vice President Retail Sales, Upromise. Jack's team is responsible for selling Upromise services to food, drug and mass merchandise retailers throughout the US.

For those of you who have not heard of Upromise, it is a service that brings together Americas' leading companies, top investment firms and tax advantages to help families save more for college. To learn more about Upromise, just visit their website at www.Upromise.com

I hope you enjoy the interview.


The February Leader Interview
  • Jack Kampsen, Vice President Retail Sales - Upromise

    Jack Kampsen, Vice President Retail Sales - Upromise

    Steve Gavatorta: What motivates you?

    Jack Kampsen: In business, the competition is always a big motivator for me. I continually scan the competitive landscape to see who may be gaining on me. This keeps me sharp and in tune with my industry. I use this motivation to strive to make my product more beneficial to my partners/clients. Complacency is death, for both your customers, and your own growth. To maximize value for clients and for your own company, you need to be highly motivated to do right by them, because as the old saying goes, "if you don't do it, your competition will.

    On a personal front, my two sons, 9 and 7, keep me motivated. Fear of failure in their eyes as a father, as in business, always helps me keep an edge.

    Steve Gavatorta: How do you motivate your customers to follow your suggestions/recommendations?

    Jack Kampsen: In my experience, customers "buy" quality. If you have a solid product or service, are unquestionably knowledgeable about it and your field, and sell it with passion and conviction, customers will listen. I try to always be respectful of my clients needs, concerns and objectives. Any time you can dovetail your product with your customers goals, you have a much better chance of success. I work to try to get to know my clients on a personal level, or at least find something we both have an interest in. I've found better results when I've been able to relate on both a personal and professional level with a customer. If you know what motivates your customers, and you have a product you can position to address these needs, you will have a much better chance of motivating them to follow your suggestions. Strive to understand your customers and get to know them as much as possible. People buy from people they like and respect.

    Steve Gavatorta: Describe your leadership style?

    Jack Kampsen: I've always tried to lead by example. I am not a micro-manager, but I am hands- on when it comes to working with my sales team. I believe you cannot lead or manage sitting behind a desk. Being in sales, the action is in front of clients. It is the best way I can stay in touch with partners and evaluate the talent and progress of my sales managers. I think this approach leads to more open communication, fairer treatment and a more highly motivated team. If you don't get out and work with your team in the field and in front of clients, how can you possibly evaluate or lead them? Too often, managers get complacent and manage numbers or their email "Inbox", not people.

    Steve Gavatorta: Who do you consider a good leader/role model & why?

    Jack Kampsen: A good leader is someone who has a clear vision, the ability to effectively communicate it, and the plan and passion to make it happen. A good leader conducts him/herself with integrity and consistency, especially in times of adversity. For me, I think sports is a good microcosm to find leaders with these traits. Some role models that fit these traits are Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Vince Lombardi. Others would be Ronald Reagan, Norman Schwarzkopf and Winston Churchill. They all exhibited the traits above and had exemplary character that made them tremendous successes in their fields and why their teams followed them so loyally especially in the face of adversity.

    Steve Gavatorta: During these fast paced times, how do you lead during change and ambiguity?

    Jack Kampsen: I think you have to be comfortable with change. It's going to happen and it's going to happen fast. In my 20 year career, I've experienced dozens of leadership changes, five buyouts and/or mergers, one successful bankruptcy, and a dot-com bust. Leading through times of change and uncertainty is tough. The keys are open, truthful communication of the company's new plan (or whatever the change may be), focusing on the positive, and staying true to all things that make you successful. Your environment may change, and you must adapt to the change, but if you've been successful, you don't have to change who you are.

    Steve Gavatorta: Being an athlete, how do you see that sports helped you in overcoming obstacles?

    Jack Kampsen: A popular sports adage goes, "sports doesn't build character, it reveals it." While I agree character is indeed revealed, especially during times of adversity, I do believe sports build character. This trait, above any, helps anyone overcome obstacles in business. As an athlete, while I certainly wanted to win every game, I didn't. I don't close every sale either, but it is the desire to win the next one, the drive to get better after every failure and the character to not give up that made me fairly successful in both sports and business.

    Steve Gavatorta: Being an athlete, how do you see that sports helped you in the business world?

    Jack Kampsen: Sports is about preparation, practice, dedication, passion, hard work, and competition. All of these traits are invaluable in business. The best way to get a sale, close a deal, build a partnership, or whatever, starts with a burning desire to win. Through sports, I learned the best and only way to win was to out-practice, out- hustle, and out-plan the competition. You also learn through playing sports, especially team sports, how to build relationships. Much of business is relationships -- with clients, employees, vendors, colleagues -- and the better you get along with all of them, the more successful you will be. I am a big fan of sports because it develops all of these traits.

    Thanks for your time!

    Again, for more information and/or to join Upromise, just paste this link into your web browser: http://www.upromise.com

    Hello, I'm Steve Gavatorta & welcome you to the first addition of the Monthly Leader Review. I hope you enjoy the interview and find it helpful. Please feel free to forward it on to others - there is no fee for signing up. For more about me, simply click on the link below.

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