An Interview with Rick

Where did the idea for Léman come from?

Actually, the idea for Léman came out of the legacy of the Swiss International Baccalaureate World School Consortium, and Collegio Partners came about because we were looking for ways to foster innovations in education through reengineering, process improvement or capital access.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I usually spend 1 to 2 days traveling per week, meeting investors, talking to the team, checking in on things. Obviously, since we are located across the country, this also includes several Zoom-based team meetings.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Our system is defined by process thinking. We begin with the end objective, break it down and move ahead with backwards planning – that means setting up time-limited, well-defined, small and achievable goals until we reach our end state. We’re really focusing here on progress, not perfection.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The potential to harness and integrate new technologies is the greatest trend. In fact, it might always be the greatest trend. People are innovating constantly, and as an entrepreneur, you need to stay at the forefront of that innovation (of course, while also creating some innovation in your own field as well). You can avoid or ignore that trend at your own peril.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

System thinking is my greatest habit. My background was in economics and programming, and those skill sets have been of immense benefit to my career.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Before you begin, fully process and understand the difference between ‘what you are running from’ and ‘what you are running to.’ If you can do that, you can achieve major success.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That’s a great question. I would have to say that habitual authority defiance and conflict avoidance is often your unenlightened impediment.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Look, if I could recommend one thing, I would have to say this: Don’t own your success or personalize your failure. Well, I suppose that might be two things, but they are intimately related, so I think it’s safe to say that.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Perseverance cures ADD. Keeping on a task, or continuing to apply yourself to a task, is how you stay engaged.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I would have to say the hardest thing I deal with, and also that I’ve seen others deal with, is unenlightened self-interest. I’m not quite sure if I have overcome that, either. But it’s something to consider.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business, not business advice)

If you want to find great business opportunities, you need to understand the difference between ‘penstroke risk’ and ‘penstroke opportunity.’ In other words, the challenges and opportunities that arise from changes in the regulatory environment.

For example, imagine the government institutes a mandate tomorrow that businesses of a certain size need to buy a certain amount of carbon credits, you might start a business helping facilitate the exchange – that’s penstroke opportunity. The penstroke risk there is for the businesses affected by the change, who now need to deal with the fallout brought about by the regulations.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)

I recently bought a worldwide GPS locator the other week, and I hope that will be the best $100 I’ve spent. I had my briefcase stolen the other week, so I am hopeful that in the future I will be able to recover my life more quickly with this locator.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

It has to be Zoom. And that’s still true today, even after the pandemic has passed. It’s just great to stay on track even when you’re across the country.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I like all of Patrick Lencioni’s and Brene Brown’s books on the importance of vulnerability-based leadership.

What is your favorite quote?

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34.