We had the good fortune of connecting with Thom Brodeur and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thom, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Cliche as it sounds, most big risks lead to big rewards so I’d say the majority of the decisions I’ve made throughout my career have been pretty big bets. All in, and fully committed. A few times that led to setbacks or things not going as anticipated. And still, I’d have made the decision the same way if given the opportunity to do it again.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Currently I have the privilege of leading two companies – Sky Wellness – one of the fastest growing challenger brands in the CBD category in the US, and N2 Packaging Systems – a leader in the sustainable cannabis packaging industry.
Full transparency I knew absolutely nothing of either of these industries when I was selected to run these companies, and at times I’ve questioned myself throughout the journey. Is this the right course? Is that? I think any good leader does and should question him or herself regularly. I think ‘checking in’ with yourself is one of the most critical things you can do to ensure you don’t fall too in love with your own ideas and lose your ability to be open minded to important pivots or significant shifts in markets.
Leaning into challenges head on has always been my way. I’ve been known throughout my career as the guy who will run toward the problem because I have infinite confidence that a group of smart people with a will and interest to make things better will always find a way to solve problems and extract opportunity from sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. I think that’s been another hallmark of my personal brand and story — finding the path to yes and not being deterred by the path when things are tougher than planned or detour from the original course. I’ve learned – sometimes the hard way – that there are multiple ways to get things done that you want to get done… the leader’s job is to find the best path forward and quickly adjust or adapt if he or she learns something different that informs a better direction or option.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Phoenix. The Greater Phoenix Metro area has been my home for 28 years — my home of choice, where I’ve spent more than half my life on earth. I’ve ‘grown up’ with this area, you could say, and I’ve seen it grow significantly.
For sure we would hit all my favorite restaurants like Maple & Ash, Monarch, Tee Pee for authentic Mexican, Steak44, Elements at Sanctuary [the views…you can’t beat them,] and The Original Pancake House [yeah, I said it ;-)], there’s just something so nostalgic about the ambiance there, and look… the pancakes are crazy good.
Would spend a little time in Old Town Scottsdale restaurant hopping and for sure would visit some of our world-class art galleries in the area. And for the pedestrian thing to do — where I grew up in Northeast Ohio… a field trip for my Mom and me was to the ‘fancy’ malls outside of the town I was raised in. So, of course, we’d have to visit Scottsdale Fashion Square, Kierland, the Biltmore Shopping Center, etc.
And last, but not least, we would have to hang out for an overnight at the Montelucia – my favorite resort in town to just unwind and relax at.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Honestly, every single human being with whom or for whom I’ve worked over the years deserve credit for a few things. Putting up with my crazy ‘idea a minute’ way of thinking, and dealing with my drive to move at speed. I’ve often been told throughout the years that breakneck pace isn’t healthy. What my career has taught me is that if you don’t move swiftly against opportunities or windows; you lose, and I don’t like to lose. So, for everyone who has put up with those two things from me… thank you for your patience. I’m grateful for it. A few specific standouts who I think deserve a lot of credit for shaping the way things have moved for me include GoDaddy, and now PXG founder Bob Parsons. Bob took a very very big chance on me in the early days of GoDaddy and I will never forget him for his faith and confidence. Pretty sure he had much more confidence in me than I had in myself, but I learned from him that pushing people to their excellence is a gift and it should be given freely. And that has been part of my leadership ethos since. Another stand out had little to do with my work life, but my life in general and that is my Mom. Single mother, sergeant in the Air Force, entrepreneur… she was and remains a force. My mom taught me three critical things early in my career. The Golden Rule applies in business as it does in life — treat others as you would LIKE to be treated; the more power you give away the more powerful you are, and if ever you find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with a ruthless person, deal ruthlessly and unapologetically because that’s the language they understand best. I’m grateful that I’ve never had to exercise #3 just yet. I prefer to push people toward the goodness and the kindness in themselves and one another. I think it works best.
Photo cred: Phyllis Lane