Integrity and Leadership: Kelly Perdew, CEO of TargetClose; and Zing Shaw, SVP, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Edelman

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and conduct their business with integrity.  It is through leading with integrity that talented individuals find a foundation for success.

Today’s guests are Kelly Perdew, CEO of TargetClose; and Zing Shaw, SVP, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, and Head of Southeast & Southwest Human Resources at Edelman.  To hear the entire show, click here.

Both of these individuals are highly impressive and handle their business with integrity.  Today’s guests – whether a veteran and past winner of The Apprentice or the head of HR for the nation’s largest PR firm – offer rich, specific lessons learned on leading with integrity, intent, inclusion and close connection with staff of all sizes.

KELLY PERDEW integrity

Perdew is an author, veteran, CEO, investor, MBA, and a past winner of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” He is currently the CEO of the startup TargetClose, a conversion optimization platform. Perdew is also a veteran, having attended West Point and served as a military intelligence officer. He has also earned a JD and an MBA.

As a startup founder, Perdew emphasizes a “high level of attention to our clients is front and center”. He has a team of technologists and a fantastic co-founder. The culture is “very much about keeping passion, excitement, a changing-the-world type of attitude about everything that we’re working on.” 

Perdew has actually been building companies for years, and was a winning contestant on Season 2 of the television series, The Apprentice.  Following his win, he worked with Donald Trump for about a year. From his time working alongside Trump, Perdew learned valuable business lessons, but the one that stands out is “impeccability.” This is Trump’s term for always focusing on “trying to deliver the best.” Perdew learned the key element for Trump was “maintaining a level of quality in everything that he touched.”

Perdew also serves as an angel investor in 20 early-stage companies. He says, when you are acting with impeccability, “it rubs off on people.” He stresses how impeccability can be evident in a company’s performance. “When someone on your team is performing at a high level, it gets everyone else to step up their game.”

Over the Wall

That said, he believes “Integrity is the most important leadership characteristic. Bad news doesn’t get better with time; it’s in everyone’s best interest to deliver it early.” When discussing the term “fail fast” – meaning to admit failure early and move on, Perdew admits, it’s not his favorite term.  He believes the “most successful entrepreneurs find a way over, under or through the wall” since complete failure is not usually an option. 

Perdew seeks out key qualities in startups in which he invests:

  • The team must be smart, hardworking and successful.
  • The team must be open and able to listen. “The idea that they don’t know everything” and “are open to feedback” is key.

The Commander’s Intent

Despite all his success, Perdew says that challenges are inevitable and not every venture goes smoothly, but for him, maintaining integrity in leadership is key. He operates according to the military term, “The Commander’s Intent,” which means that if you should find yourself completely alone in the battlefield, everyone understands the commander’s intent and should know what to do to accomplish the mission at hand. This leadership philosophy eliminates micromanagement and empowers all people in the organization.  When integrity is at the core of leadership, things can and will get done.

What are You Reading?

Perdew is reading “The Advantage by Patrick M. Lencioni about the difference between good companies and great companies. He is also reading “The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank, a book about the lean movement. He also authored, Take Command: 10 Leadership Principles Learned in the Military And Put To Work For Donald Trump,” which focuses on leadership principles necessary for success in both business and life.

How Can People Connect with You? Via, LinkedIn or Twitter @kperdew

ZING SHAW integrity

Shaw is SVP, Diversity & Inclusion Officer; Head of Southeast & Southwest Human Resources at Edelman

Shaw began her career in HR about 15 years ago at Essence Magazine, and has been working in HR ever since. She went on to work in sports entertainment for the Yankees, and later for the NFL, where she focused on employee relations and talent development. 

Shaw has been with Edelman, the oldest and largest U.S. PR firm, for 4.5 years. In the U.S., they employ 2400 and operate 14 offices. At Edelman, the biggest difference Shaw sees compared to her prior roles is that there are more stakeholders with multiple brands; organization is essential.

The Culture Committee

Culture is critical to your organization’s success.  According to Shaw, Edelman “believes in a healthy and friendly culture… an environment where everyone can be successful.” In fact, Edelman developed a culture committee “…comprised of people from around the globe, with different specialties, age, race, gender, sexual orientation.”

Because people spend so much time away from home, the company wants to “ensure everyone is having an amazing experience in the workplace… aligned with the company’s goals”. Edelman puts their focus on a great culture because with the long hours people put in, they believe “it’s got to be fun, it’s got to be exciting, it’s got to be innovative” for everyone involved.

When it comes to culture, diversity and inclusion are at the top of her list of priorities — from employees and prospects to clients.  Shaw explains, “Diversity and inclusion are the secret sauce in the recipe to success in any organization.” 

Communicate through Actions

The company also believes in integrity through transparency. They use a variety of channels to communicate, from intranet to email, and blog posts to Twitter.  They communicate often and using varied methods to ensure everyone stays informed. Shaw is adamant, however, that the company communicate through its actions as well as words.  This type of integrity helps to ensure the company is holding true to its focus and ideals.

To uphold this, Shaw is constantly in touch with the employees of Edelman and is committed to staying informed and leading with integrity. She believes any company can always do better. “Even if you are number one, there is always room to improve,” Shaw comments. This is especially true in the PR field, where new, hungry players are growing in size and awareness.

Father & Teacher

Shaw’s father was a professor who influenced her with his love for books and taught her to strive for greater knowledge and an understanding of others.

What are You Reading?

Shaw is reading “The Medici Effectby Frans Johansson about how experts from one field can bring concepts to another to solve problems, encouraging non-linear thinking.

How Can People Connect with You? Via or on Twitter @zingshaw.

Remember, do what you love, lead with integrity….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date:  September 23, 2014