The role of a Communication Leader in an organization comprises multiple jobs such as corporate communications, leadership communications, reputation management, internal communications, and counselling top administrators in decision-making processes. The job profile is closely connected with C-suite executives, and accountable in driving the overall business success.
Meet Walter Paley, VP of Communications for SafeLogic. He is responsible for strategy, content, marketing, and outreach. His prior experience included several start-ups and companies in growth stages, including Nukona (acquired by Symantec) and Bitzer (acquired by Oracle).
In an interview with Insights Success, Walter disclosed his journey, challenges and what he learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring.
Below are highlights of the interview:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming an innovative business leader.
I took a non-traditional path, to be sure. My parents did not earn degrees and were entrepreneurs, so that combination of nature and nurture led me to blaze my own trail to college at UC San Diego and found myself doing things differently than my peers – front-loading my course load, nearly reaching graduation in just three years, trying to life-hack before that term existed!
That mindset, avoiding the “way it’s always been done”, served me well as I helped several startup companies get off the ground with marketing and awareness campaigns that diverged from the norm. When I joined Ray Potter for the branding and launch of SafeLogic, it was a great fit and I’m happy to still be here today.
Describe the company and its extensive solutions/services which address all the needs of its customers.
SafeLogic addresses the hurdle of FIPS 140 validation for encryption. It is a compliance initiative mandated by the U.S. federal government and carries relevance in many other verticals, including finance, healthcare, and utilities. SafeLogic simplifies and accelerates the process by providing cryptographic modules that have already satisfied all testing requirements, so customers can inherit our capabilities and certification in less than 8 weeks, instead of doing it from scratch over 18+ long and painful months!
What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring?
I gravitate towards reading books about, or – even better – memoirs written by notable leaders and entrepreneurs. My hope is always to get just one significant take-away. More would be a bonus, but I aim to drill down to one major point.
For example, Phil “Buck” Knight’s ‘Shoe Dog’ memoir about the early days of Nike was surprisingly candid about his failure to communicate with one of his most valuable allies. Knight allowed his colleague’s enthusiasm to wilt by not responding with encouragement, even when specifically prompted. It’s difficult to build a company, and it’s even more difficult when you’re alienating even the most energetic teammates. Collaboration and communication are crucial to growth, and while Knight succeeded despite this mistake, I strive to avoid it altogether.
Have you drawn professional inspiration from other business leaders? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.
I recently dove into Edward Burns’ book ‘Independent Ed’. He’s not a classic entrepreneur, as you would recognize him from acting in movies such as ‘Confidence’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, but I found his point of view as a director and independent filmmaker to be extremely compelling. Burns walks the narrow and difficult path of an artist, balancing creativity with commercialization. He was willing to scrape by, shooting short films in his free time, just so he could explore the artistry… but it’s a lot easier when you have the financial backing to make it your full-time job to write and create. He operates in a vastly different world from mine, but I found it very inspiring and found many parallels.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
The old adage that one works to live, not lives to work. It is not easy to remember that a commitment to excellence extends to family, friends, and self, but it’s important to be opportunistic and take advantage of any time you can take. Personally, I find it extremely energizing to capture daylight hours, so a walk-through nature with my family in the afternoon between work calls really fires me up to finish the day strong.
What would you tell emerging business leaders who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
Emerging leaders and students finishing their degrees should seek to know themselves. Recognizing your own strengths will be a huge advantage when you’re identifying the next steps in your career, whether it’s weighing offers from a huge corporation against a small boutique firm or different types of roles and responsibilities. Finding the right fit to challenge yourself and grow is not easy, so take the time to learn about where you thrive.
What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?
I would like to understand international markets at a sophisticated level, in the context of pursuing ways to open new opportunities. The cultural differences are much more than just a language barrier, but I believe that with more exposure, I will find ways to strategically integrate solutions across international borders.
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