Telligent CEO Patrick Brandt leads with modesty and a commitment to community.
By Dick Kuiper
Patrick Brandt, CEO of Telligent, a pioneer of enterprise social and business networking communities, has compiled a proven track record of leading companies through rapid growth.
“At Telligent, we have three themes: customers, culture and community,” Brandt said.
Brandt takes a hands-on approach to engaging customers. “I make myself highly accessible to our customers,” he affirms.
Commenting on culture and community, Brandt noted that he favors attitude over aptitude, surrounding himself with people who are ‘all in’—people with a high ‘care factor.’” He interacts with employees as their coach, critic, challenger and cheerleader.
“My favorite thing about managing people,” Brandt said, “is driving them to be the best they can be. I maintain an environment based on honesty, openness and two-way communication. If people disagree with me, I encourage them to tell me about it. Feedback is the key, whether it be positive or negative.”
Road to Now
Brandt credits his father as a mentor, and in fact the most influential person in his life.
“I was an entrepreneur out of the womb. One bright idea I proposed was to forego college and start a business which would generate a better ROI for me in the long run,” Brandt said. “Rather than dismissing my idea, [my father] told me to draft a business plan that we could review together. Naturally, I concluded that college was the ideal path to take.”
“Me, a success? I’m continually pursuing that. I still have lots to learn and lots to achieve.”
Brandt went on to earn Economics and Finance degrees from Southern Methodist University, poising him for success. Prior to joining Telligent, Brandt was the founder and CEO of Skywire Software, leading the company through organic growth and 11 acquisitions.
Recognizing that past achievements deserve due credit, Brandt looks beyond applicants’ resumes when recruiting new team members and promoting from within. It is not about resting on laurels, he noted, but on actively demonstrating an openness to embracing new challenges.
“You can’t have 11 quarterbacks on a football team.”
He firmly believes in recognizing team members’ strengths and weaknesses—their unique skill sets, backgrounds and personality traits. “You can’t have 11 quarterbacks on a football team.”
The business executive recognizes his own weaknesses as well. “I’m the first one to admit that I’m not perfect,” Brandt said. “I have blind spots just like everyone”.
When asked about his own success, Brant replied, “Me, a success? I’m continually pursuing that. I still have lots to learn and lots to achieve.”
“My willingness to make a complete fool of myself is one thing I’m particularly proud of,” Brandt said, chuckling. “At last year’s customer event, I got up on stage and initiated a FlashMob of the Wobble dance; and looked quite foolish. “
It’s this sort of attitude that can connect a C-level leader like Brandt with his colleagues, as can community service. He serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations focused on promoting education and entrepreneurship. Likewise, he offers Telligent employees paid time off to perform volunteer work, for the good of the community and to establish team camaraderie.
Something “really cool” happens during these projects, Brandt said. “It gives an employee who has a particular skill that I lack the chance to tell me what to do. Now that really puts things in perspective.”
When asked about his proudest accomplishment, Brandt did not skip a beat: “Being a great dad and husband is number one.”
Brandt takes great pride in driving his son to school each day, and chatting with him along the way to stay connected. And giving mom and dad something to look forward to, Brandt and his wife plan a weekly, not-to-be-missed date night.
Dick Kuiper is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, Wash.