Gary L. Mussell
Call (805) 523-7830
|I have managed perhaps a dozen major projects for companies over the past ten years, taking the assigned goals and turning them into reality by controlling cost, time, and quality and creating happy customers at the end of the journey. These projects have varied in size and scope, from the 18-month and $1.5 million project that required 50 hires to compare the quality of ink jet and laser printer cartridges for Quality Logic to the $5 million implementation of new Sales and Marketing software in seven countries at the Intel MCD Division. Each project had its challenges but I enjoyed them all, especially since they came in on time and under budget. Some of the tools used were MS Project's critical path analysis and MS Excel, whose Pivot Tables and charts proved invaluable when measuring progress. I must confess the entire process of planning the work and budget, hiring just enough staff, getting them trained and scheduled correctly, measuring the quality of the work using data analysis, then writing the final reports each had its specific challenges, but in each case I built terrific teams who came through with excellence.|
Corporate Director, Trustee, President
I have served on the Boards of eight local corporations over the past two decades, in various capacities from Director to President. Some of the highlights, in chronological order:
LAAHU - The Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters. I served first as its Program Chair where I organized learned the ropes and brought in monthly speakers. Then I organized two very large trade shows (see below) that brought in thousands of attendees, vendors, and speakers from around the country. I then was elected Vice President, and finally President as membership grew to over a thousand and it became the largest and most successful such trade association of its kind in the country. I testified several times before legislative committees in Sacramento, steering two bills through to the Governor's desk. After my 2-year term, I helped organize the state organization, CAHU. I wrote their Articles of Incorporation and By-laws, and guided them throught the incorporation and tax-exemption process.
CMS SOFTWARE SYSTEMS - I joined this company as its VP of Marketing and Communications, which meant my department was in charge of all creating and distributing all promotional materials, training workshops, all advertising, leading the trade show booth teams, and making presentations to large insurance companies anxious to buy our client management software for their agents. (Mutual Benefit Life had me script and star in a 5-hour video training progem, described on my Insyructional Design web page.) The trick was to run the department so it made a profit and was not a drain on the company budget, as is often the case with marketing in other companies. I spent more time in airports and Holiday Inns than in my office, and I think we made a major impact on how agents did their business.
ASTD - After I sold my insurance practice and became a corporate trainer, I joined my regional chapter of ASTD, and the leadership process repeated itself. I served as ts Programs Chair, VP of Finance, and Executive Vice President. I also organized two of its trade shows that drew national press because it focused on retraining office workers in the new technologies. These events put the organzation on a sound financial footing. My employer at the time refused to approve me becoming the groups president because of the time requirements, otherwise I would have held that position also.
SCNA - I was one of the founders of this non-profit public benefit corporation and served as its first president and CEO for several years. I led a 7-person Board of Directors, all unpaid volunteers, elected annually by the membership. The easy party was establishing the vision, writing a business plan, and setting priorities. The hard part in the early days was the marketing, solicitations of donations, and creating a corporate culture that would survive its entrepreneurial founders. I also led them through the maze of government forms to get incorporated, and a tax-exempt status from the IRS. Both its web site (which I designed) and its monthly newsletter have won several awards in its industry.
Trade Show Management
Remembering Mr. Hankins
During my career I have been a self-employed entreprenuer, mid-level manager, and president of a corporation. But some of the best advice I ever learned came from Mr. James Hankins, my first store manager.
For the first eight years of my professional life I worked my way through college at JC Penney in Canoga Park, California. In those days, Penneys was challenging Sears with a full range of departments from appliances and furniture to housewares and sporting goods.
I worked in many departments, from Toys to Menswear to Ladies Foundations. I recommend everyone work in Toys during Christmas at least once, but I digress. My favorite corner of the store contained sporting goods and hardware, where I worked myself up from lowly clerk to department head over the course of three years. I learned to mix paint, drill bowling balls, and string tennis rackets. None of these specific skills proved useful later in life.
Mr. Hankins took a liking to me, and he went out of his way to mentor me on the essentials of business success. The essentials: (a) always remember you are here to earn a profit, (2) stay focused on what you do well, and (3) treat your fellow employees and your customers with mutual respect. He also made me promise to always make the best decisions I could, and don't be afraid to make a mistake.
One of the more important piece of advice he ever taught was when he said, "When a person comes into hardware asking for a three-quarter inch drill bit, what they really want is a three-quarter inch hole. The drill bit is only a means to that end. Our job is to provide all that is required for the customer to satisfy the goal." This meant listening - really listening - before offering a solution. What the customer really needs may not be what he/she is asking for. The customer is always right, except when he isn't. Amen to that!
I still carry his lessons inside me 40 years later. Thanks, Mr. Hankins.
Click here for Lessons Learned from Living a Corporate Life
Favorite Business Authors
Here is a bibliography of business books I still reference from time to time. I recommend them to anyone starting out into the business world, as an employee, consultant, or entrepreneur. Listed alphabetically:
Bowling Alone, Robert D Putman, (2000), Simon & Shuster
e-Learning and the Science of Instruction, Ruth C. Clark and Richard E. Mayer, (2003), John Wiley & Sons
How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life Allan Lakin, (1972), Signet Books
In Search of Excellence, by Thomas J. Peters and zRobert H. Waterman, Jr (1982) Warner Books
Making Ethical Decisions by Michael Josephson, (2002) Character Counts, Inc. publisher
Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, by Peter J Drucker, (1974) Harper & Row
Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices, (1992), Harper-Collins Publishers
Megatrends, John Naisbitt (1982) Warner Books
The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman, (2005), Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books