As vice president and general manager of EMC Corporation, Vance Checketts has a wealth of experience in leadership. Under his leadership, local operations have exceeded expectations for growth and delivery of real value for EMC and their customers.
In his lecture to the engineering and technology students, delivered Feb. 27, Checketts offered the 10 most important lessons he has learned up to this point in his life. These lessons not only apply to a leadership setting, but they help improve the quality of one’s personal life, he said.
- Shortcut = Lie
“There is no such thing as a shortcut.” While traveling in Africa, Checketts climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and suffered the negative consequences, such as frostbite on his feet, when he took what he thought would be a short cut.
- No plan = Pain
“Failing to plan is planning to fail. I always have a plan, but the question is how well is the plan thought out and executed.” While he and his wife pursued an aggressive plan to purchase an expensive home, they planned for many things but did not plan for the dot-com bubble to burst. Shortly after they purchased the home they had to move because they could no longer afford it.
- Flexibility = Survival
“Being flexible is critical for survival because you must be able to change…things are changing at a tremendous pace,” he said.
- Faith = Success
“When I took a pay cut to work for a startup, it took a lot of faith. When you put your faith in things that are true and eternal, that is when success comes. Success can’t always be measured by the number of zeroes at the end of your salary or the price of your home.”
- Women = Peace
“Through all of the stressful things I just talked about, having a woman at my side brought me a lot of peace and joy. We have a responsibility to make sure that women are treated with respect and given a voice. We need to stop not only the macro-aggression but the micro-aggression that happens every day."
- People = Possibilities
“People present so many possibilities… especially when you can look someone in the eyes and see them for who they really are instead of what they wear or where they come from.”
- Family = Focus
“There is nothing that focuses me more on what’s important than my family, yet I need regular reminders of this.” Checketts offered the scripture Moses 1:39 as the ultimate focus statement. He said, “This is the Lord’s focus. What is our focus?”
- Focus = Power
“When you have focus it gives you power.” He gave the example of a water dam. Just by focusing the water, the dam creates an immense amount of power.
- Nature = More Peace
“When we understand the power of nature and why God put it here on this planet I think we will experience peace.” Checketts explained that a specific mountain near his home is a place he goes to find peace in times of trial and in times of happiness.
- Money = Distraction
“You’ve heard that I have at points in my career measured my worth and success by the number of zeroes at the end of things. Money shouldn’t be an issue to sustain life, but if money becomes the focus then performance goes down. Don’t get carried away measuring the success of what you do in terms of dollars and cents.”
After delivering his 10 life lessons, Checketts offered an eleventh point, his definition of leadership.
He said true leadership is setting a good example by living faithfully, staying focused on what matters, being honest, being humble and doing your part.
This lecture was given as part of the Weidman Center for Global Leadership Lecture Series.
Photo provided by Vance Checketts