Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Fall 2011

Voice: Two-Ears, One-Mouth Principle Makes Good Rule

By Jeff Clark

What are some of the guiding principles that anchor your leadership philosophy?

Some years ago I identified some guiding principles present in my life that had been very useful up to that point and served to be extremely useful from that point forward. I call them the “Rules I Live By.” They are:

  • Honesty and integrity provide the framework for all decisions.
  • There is not a job, client, or business worth the price of moral sacrifice or the compromise of personal values.
  • Be a listener. Remember the two ears, one mouth principle. Listen twice as much as you talk.
  • Gain perspective by wearing another’s shoes and walking another’s path.
  • Good men learn from their own mistakes, wise men learn from others’ mistakes.
  • There are few, if any, plateaus but many wonderful vistas along the way which is usually a steep difficult trail.
  • There is always someone smarter and better. Someone will always build a better mousetrap.
  • There are few, if any, get rich quick schemes or overnight successes. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Manage by goals and objectives. Empower and incentivize others to succeed.
  • Measure your success by how you feel about others and how they feel about you. At the end of the day, all you take with you is what is in your heart and all you leave behind is how people feel about you.

What advice do you have for our students as they set out to become leaders in their communities and their companies?

While there are many, two principles have served me well in my career. As I began my career, I worked hard to ensure I understood what was required of me and how these “puzzle pieces” fit together not just for my part but what the entire “big picture” was to look like. This yielded great autonomy for me because my work became objective and strategically oriented as I built technical expertise in my area and continued to understand how it fit into the “big picture”. As I built and ran my own companies and began to interface with clients and investment managers, a second principle became very, very important to me. Dr. Covey states it as “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood” and in my simple rules I denote it as the two ears, one mouth rule. I found I didn’t need to really invent any new wheels but just learn from others’ experience and wisdom.

What does “Dare Mighty Things” mean to you?

Two things: First, make a positive difference in others’ lives whether with your family, internal or external clients, or your peers by always being part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Second, dare to walk an extremely high ethical road and then all the rest will work out. It won’t be easy at times and there may be economic consequences but, by doing so, you never have to manage anything but truth and reality and will live with internal peace and tranquility