The following is a conversation between local business executive Mike Ott and Jeff Prouty at The Prouty Project. It’s part of an occasional opinion series on BringMeTheNews.com, in partnership with Prouty, featuring insights from business leaders.
Prouty recently caught up with Mike Ott, President of The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, which is the U.S. Bank Wealth Management unit serving clients with $3 million or more in net worth.In his role, which is a recent promotion, Ott has responsibility for 1,200 people in large metropolitan markets around the country.
Prouty: What are your big goals in your role?
Ott: I want to honor and perpetuate the great culture we have created over the past four years within The Private Client Reserve. For me, it all starts with people. Mission first, people always. I want to build a team with dignity, respect, compassion, and understanding. I also want to grow the business in a nationally structured, locally rendered way. I believe we have “landed on the moon.” Now we need to “colonize the moon,” by expanding our reach in the local markets where we operate.
You graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and continue to serve as a colonel in the Air Force Reserves. How has your military experience helped to shape your leadership approach?
Military service helps develop servant leaders. I’ve developed my leadership approach around the three concepts of integrity, positive attitude and drive. I work hard to make sure there is no ambiguity around the mission. I tend to trust people right out of the gate — that’s the way I am — and that approach has worked well for me.
As a family man — married with 3 kids — how do you juggle all your commitments?
It ebbs and flows.We do a lot of unique marketing events with clients and their families and prospective clients around the country. I like to include my family in some of those events, and it’s very special to have my kids participate. I also work on my personal fitness, to keep my head clear and my body strong.
What do you do for fun to help you stay fresh and energetic?
I am passionate about the Air Force Reserves. I don’t golf.I read history. I also tinker around the house (and then I call someone in to fix what I messed up).
As a leader, what has been your biggest failure, and your greatest learning from that failure?
As a young officer in the military, I had a couple opportunities where I was “tapped on the shoulder,” and I turned them down. I didn’t have the aspirational thinking that might have given me a sense for where these opportunities could lead. In hindsight, I probably should have taken those opportunities. My learning for the future is that if “tapped,” I will take the opportunity.I try to embed that sentiment in my discussions with my emerging leaders throughout The Private Client Reserve.
Do you have any rhythms or rituals that are a part of your leadership approach with The Private Client Reserve?
I have three in my prism:
Consistent communication around people, partners, clients and our growth strategy. With the right messaging, chemistry, and activities our business will grow.
I want to continually connect with our folks in the 27 markets we serve, foster the building/enhancement of my leaders’ relationships with their teams and help them populate our teams with the best in the business!
I do not take myself too seriously. I want to make work fun, have fun. I want everyone on our team to have a confident competence, backed by humility. It isn’t about critical fault-finding, but rather how can we keep learning from one another.
Anything that keeps you awake at night?
Not really. I’m focused on being a good father and a good husband. Concerning business, I constantly ask myself, “Am I taking good enough care of the team?” I believe that if I honor the process, and stay focused on the right activities embedded within our strategies, good things will happen.
The last time we talked you were advising the Pentagon on a special project. Any wisdom you can share from that experience?
Like business, the military has resource allocation challenges around manpower, time and money. That serves as a good reminder for me to stay focused on our people and our clients.
Anything else you’d like to share that might be thought-provoking or inspiring for BringMeTheNews readers?
I get up, without an alarm clock, every day at 5:20 a.m. I’m excited to be leading The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, and I continue to be inspired by the culture that we have created.
More about Mike
Mike is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and he earned an M.B.A. from Boston College. A colonel in the U.S. AirForce Reserve, Mike served 6.5 years in active duty and continues to serve with the Minnesota National Guard and at the Pentagon as anadviser for cyber operations and innovation. A strong advocate for veterans and their families within U.S. Bank, Mike was instrumental in helping U.S.Bank win the coveted Freedom Award in 2013, the highest honor given to employers in recognition of a company’s commitment to supportingNational Guard and Reserve employees. In addition to his service, Mike is also very active in the community. He serves on the Board of Directors forChildren’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the Falcon Foundation, and AirSpace Minnesota. He also serves as a Trustee for the MinneapolisInstitute of Arts.
Jeff Prouty founded the Prouty Project in 1987 after seven years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Minneapolis and New York City. He specializes in working with senior management teams and boards of directors on strategic planning and team issues.