[This post is part of a series on Mentors and Heroes]
Harry Max is an independent management consultant and executive coach for a variety of startups and major brands. Previously he was a Principal Consultant at Rubicon Consulting. In 1994, he co-founded Virtual Vineyards (wine.com). Follow him on Twitter @harrymax.
Harry Max’s mentor is…
Brian “Fitz” Fitzgerald, Entrepreneur
How long have you known each other and how did you first meet?
I’ve known Fitz for about 10 years now. I met him through one of my Public Mind investors while he was still SVP of World Wide Operations for Intuit. Brian attended one of my board meetings as an observer. Afterward, he took me to a bar, bought a round of Macallan 25, pulled out his checkbook and invested in our early vision of demand aggregation, now more commonly known as “crowd sourcing.”
How would you describe how you relate to your mentor?
I’d have to characterize the relationship as complex. At times, I’m an apprentice. Other times, I’m a peer. Part of what works is that Brian doesn’t put people into boxes. And, even though some people might perceive him as an “old salt,” his amazing energy, commitment to bringing out the best in people, and supporting what they’re trying to accomplish shines through brightly.
How formal or structured is the mentorship? Does Brian know you consider him a mentor?
Fitz probably doesn’t realize that I consider him a mentor. I can imagine he thinks that we’re just friends who share a common philosophy about how visions get built, and how value gets created and exchanged.
What is one piece of advice your mentor gave you that has stuck with you the most?
Actually, there are two pieces of “advice” that continue to reverberate through my daily interactions. The first is that “Business *is* people.” On some level, I always knew that. But Brian’s words really brought it home to me. The other, as overly simplistic as it might sound is that business boils down to the following things: Making money, saving money, avoiding unnecessary costs, hiring and retaining excellent people, achieving business goals, take care of ALL your stakeholders, and (above all else) provide products and servcies of real and lasting value to customers.
What else do you want the world to know about your mentor?
Brian Fitzgerald is one of two or three people for whom I’d drop everything to follow into battle.
Thank you Harry for sharing your mentor with us!
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