About Patrick McCreesh
I am the co-founder and Managing Principal of Simatree, a lecturer at George Mason University and Georgetown University, and an author of the recent book, Stuck: How to Win at Business by Understanding Loss.
You can find me online at:
Why Did You Become an Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, Etc. in the First Place?
To bet on our team and take risk. I had been in the business of consulting for 15 years. I wanted to find a way to maximize the benefit for the people around me. Large companies do a wonderful job of training and creating the right space for learning and growth, but it can be hard to share in the growth when you are in a large corporation. I felt that in a new entity, a few partners could create an opportunity for a small group to share in the collective wealth. Likewise, larger companies (especially publicly-traded companies) have a fiduciary responsibility to minimize risk to shareholders and maximize the upside. That is not always consistent with the kind of risk-taking I could see in an entrepreneurial space.
How Do You Deal With Fear?
Fear is a natural emotion. It creates drive and makes the entrepreneurial spirit stronger. When you sit in a large company, you know you are safe. You know you can’t fail. When you create a new business – you know you can fail. Most fail. So, the fear is real and constant. It fluctuates everyday between the belief you will be a success and the fear you have already failed. For me, I had to learn to minimize the highs and keep the lows from dipping too low. The best way for me to do this was to learn to see how every opportunity would succeed and know how it could fail. It is a form of stoicism, which is hard for someone that is generally optimistic, but it was important to keep things in balance.
How Do You Deal With Rejection?
By balancing the expectations of highs and lows, it really helps me deal with rejection because I have already determined the best ways to move on from losing a piece of work or having a client walk away from us. Of course, there are always surprises, but there are fewer when you start to think that way.
What’s the Name of Your Company? What Exactly Does Your Company Do, How Do You Help People?
Simatree is a Strategy, Analytics, and Technology consulting practice that works with Fortune 500 and Federal Government clients. We bring a transformational mindset to the development of data analytics and technology solutions for our clients. This means we design solutions to yield the maximum adoption from users either in the organization or as customers.
Name One of the Biggest Challenges You Have Faced and How Did You Overcome It?
I struggled leaving behind the resources and infrastructure of a large firm to build a startup. A lot of times people think of startups as having all the fun, but when you are an executive at a large firm you have a lot of resources at your disposal. Going to start something new means walking away from a lot of support. Suddenly one day you look around for someone to hand the work to and they are not there. It is like re-learning how to be an all-hands-on-deck intern again. I faced the challenge by just changing my hold mindset. I told myself every morning that no one will care about the company as much as I will no matter how long it exists, so I need to show it every day. That changed the way I show up at work and it probably got me and the company through the pandemic.
What Piece of Advice Do You Wish Someone Had Given You at the Start of Your Career?
Your first job does not matter as much as you think. Everyone makes a big deal out of their first job, but it is not going to define you. The goal should be to get a set of skills that will serve you in whatever you think might come next. The odds are that your goals at 21 might shift a little over time, so take the job where you can learn the most.
Who Are Your Biggest Influences and People You Admire and Why?
My parents were a huge influence in my life. My father worked at a large insurance company for over 40 years. I watched him go from employee to leader running programs, but he never changed his style or who he was as a person. My mother worked nights as a nurse and she could have easily taken an administrative role many times in her career, but she loved her bedside work. She had a passion for her patients and providing hands on care. Dad worked all day, mom worked all night, and we only had a few hours together as a family, but we made the time count. They showed me what it was to genuine and authentic while having work-life balance. As an entrepreneur, I have made different choices about work-life balance, but that’s who I am and my parents have always been supportive of my decisions as long as I am being authentic.
Name a Person Who Helped You Along the Way?
Many people have helped me grow as the person I am and build the company we have built. My early professional mentors included some exceptional leaders who showed me how to operate and grow in an ambiguous environment, including Matthew Nugen and Anna Greenberg. As I personally grew as a management consultant, I had exceptional support from leaders at Booz Allen Hamilton including Angela Zutavern and Ezmeralda Khalil. When we formed Simatree, we had amazing financial and advisory support from family members who served as an initial advisory board including Kevin and Tom McCreesh. Recently, Simatree was acquired into a holding company, where we continue to get support and guidance from wonderful people, including John Hahn, Steve Denton, Bill Nay, Karman Chan, and Sapana Nanuwa.
What Do You See as Your Greatest Success in Life, So Far?
Building a company of purpose that makes my family proud. When we started Simatree, we believed that we could operate a different kind of consultancy in the marketplace. We could be highly collaborative, build an ecosystem of partners, make our clients’ mission our mission, and still grow a successful company. This entire approach requires taking risks, being personally vulnerable, while holding people, partners, and even clients accountable when they fail to meet obligations. It is not easy, but I think we are building that kind of company, where people see more than a bottom line. They see our values front and center.
What Book Would You Recommend and Why?
I love Barbara Kellerman’s book Bad Leadership. It provides such a simple framework and wonderful case studies to understand how leaders can and do misbehave in their roles and why. Additionally, I have to mention my latest book – Stuck – with my co-author Victoria Grady, which describes how the brain sits at the heart of our decision-making and keeps us from being able to move forward on life and business changes.
What’s a Personal Self-Talk, Mantra, Affirmation or Self-Belief That Contributes to Your Success?
You’re as good as anyone, but better than no one.