Roots of Success: Steve Speet
In this Roots of Success series, we continue to explore dimensions and definitions of success. Recently, we talked with Steve Speet, Equiliem’s VP of Marketing, and learned about his view on success and how he sees his role in helping others discover the best in themselves and in each other.
Steve Speet joined Equiliem in May 2021 after helping an IT staffing company grow from a 150-million-dollar company to a 500-million-dollar firm. During his time in IT staffing, Speet developed a habit of approaching challenges by thinking beyond short-term objectives and considering solutions that could accommodate the future state of where the company desired to be. The opportunity to put this strength to work for Equiliem, a company with growth ambitions and whose leaders demonstrated an insatiable thirst for continuous improvement, was a compelling proposition for Speet.
Beginning with the End in Mind
At Equiliem, Speet leads a small team that he challenges to think toward a grander vision. “If your company is at a certain size, and you’re only thinking about how to make things better at the current size, you’re already behind the eight ball,” he said.
Using the analogy of highway construction, he illustrated the importance of down-the-road thinking, “While you’re investing time and energy to add one lane to traffic, why not add three lanes? Being proactive in business can make a difference in reaching big goals; it’s always good to be asking, is this scalable?”
Spending Time Up Front
One thing Speet promotes is defining goals and their measures of success in advance. That applies to defining success itself; he is a champion of the idea of knowing what you want out of your career so you can chart your own course instead of being bounced around by the waves of life. He said, “If you are only reacting to the moment where your career takes you, it’s likely you might feel unfulfilled when you pause and look back.”
Speet said he’s become more conscious about what he wants his legacy to be and in helping others take charge of their own career path. He said, “It’s important to know who you want to be and what is most meaningful to you so that you can enjoy extended long-term success.”
“Getting the best out of a person or a team is different from driving towards getting the most and sucking the life out of someone,” he added.
Speet finds himself carrying this conversation home to his son, who is turning 15 and thinking about his first summer job. “He is weighing his options, and I’m not sure what his decision will be, but I encourage him to be conscious about his choices and what would be the best development opportunity and most meaningful for him.”
One of Speet’s biggest opportunities for self-reflection came when he left his position at a furniture company. He’d steadily moved up the career ladder, racking up significant accomplishments and upping his pride along with it. He was confident he could “write his own ticket” but got an ego check as his job search took longer than he’d anticipated.
Speet also touts the importance of setting his ego aside when making difficult decisions. He said, “It’s easy to fall into the justification trap of saying that I had to do something because of x or y. But that’s not a good approach to decision-making. I’ve learned to remove myself and even set aside company goals at the beginning of the process. That opens the door to see a new perspective and how a decision could impact people.”
He added that asking, “How can we make this work?” can help lead to a better solution than limiting the conversation by justifying a decision. “It doesn’t always work out, but it’s usually worth attempting the conversation,” he said.
Shifting Busy Work to Effective Work
While hard work is the foundation of so many successful people, Speet said that hard work in and of itself does not guarantee success. “At the beginning of my career, I would get to the end of a busy day and not feel fulfilled or like I had achieved the kind of results I wanted. I had to understand the impact of my actions so I could prioritize and focus on intelligent activities. That meant about 50% of the items on my list didn’t get done. It turned out, they were things that did not need to get done!”
Speet said this realization freed up tremendous energy, “My ability to be successful changed dramatically by being more conscious about my actions.”
The pandemic was an event that further solidified Steve’s belief that priorities can supercharge results. He said, “COVID shook people free from the need to debate over getting things done. We saw that with urgency and clear direction, people can act swiftly to accomplish things that would otherwise take months, years, or never get done.”
Instead of striving for “work-life balance,” what makes the most sense to Speet is living a balanced life, with work being a piece of it. He explains that his schedule is going to look different week by week, “Some weeks, work will require more time, other times it’s family. The important thing is to have some time to disconnect completely from work and to keep family commitments.”
Speet’s interests outside of work help him recharge his batteries. Sometimes it’s performing with fellow musicians, and other times it’s his solitary time writing, listening, or playing music. Pickleball fills not only a physical outlet but his desire for camaraderie. He also enjoys a journey across Lake Wylie on his paddleboard when the lake is placid, peaceful, and shared only with the occasional fisherman in the cove. Speet said, “When I do stand-up paddleboarding, it sets my day.”
Speet believes that kindness is the best approach to just about everything and, in the end, takes everyone further. He said that kindness and positivity are not always the norm in business, but it’s a fit for him at Equiliem.
“Equiliem’s quest to do the right thing and constantly seeking better ways to get things done has been constant.” Speet added, “Positive reinforcement, conscious thought and preparation, and thinking about how people prefer to be encouraged tends to not only create faster results but bring sustainability to what you are doing.”
Speet is clear on the legacy he wants to leave. “Success to me is leaving a positive impact that extends well beyond my existence on Earth. I like to initiate a ripple of positivity around whatever I’m engaging with.”
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
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