Brad Smith is the president and CEO of Intuit, a leading developer of financial and tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and Quicken. Unlike the stereotype that one might expect of a CEO, Smith has a pleasant and down-to-earth demeanor that stems from his upbringing in a loving family from West Virginia. A self-made man, he has not lost the common touch despite running a company that generates more than $4 billion in annual revenue and was rated one of the “Top 100 Companies to Work For” by Fortune magazine for the past several years. Smith made sure that Intuit was part of the Free File Alliance and has made Turbo Tax free to file your federal tax return online if you make $62,000 or less. He recently shared his thoughts with rolling out after attending the Hope Global Forums 2016 in Atlanta, GA:
How did you determine your career path?
Everything stemmed from the lessons I learned early on from my parents and my education at Marshall University. My West Virginia roots taught me about hard work and authenticity. My parents helped me make the decision between a couple offers after college — they told me to choose a place that fit with my values, where I could surround myself with people smarter than me so I could learn and grow every day, and where my heart would beat the fastest. I also discovered through teaching karate that I loved being in a situation where my success was measured by the growth of the people I worked with — I loved building capability in others. I’ve stayed true to those principles throughout my career. I often get asked, “what choices led me to becoming a CEO?” the honest answer is that I didn’t set out to be a CEO, I set out to experience life, and my choices led me to this point.
Describe three skill sets that are essential to future business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Great question. I talk about my perspective on key characteristics of great leaders in these two LinkedIn posts: Five Keys to Being a Great Leader, Three Secrets to Boundaryless Leadership.
Describe three goal-setting methods you use.
How you spend your time sends a strong signal about what you view as important. I’ve shared three principles I use when determining how to best use my time on LinkedIn. At Intuit, I, along with our employees use a monthly check-in method for goal-setting and tracking. Each month we talk about our personal development goals first, then our business outcome goals, as well as feedback we’ve received. This helps us stay focused, stay engaged and continuously grow.
Why are your products perfect for the young urban entrepreneur?
In today’s fast-paced world where people are constantly on-the-go, they want access to their data in the palm of their hands anytime, anywhere. Intuit products like QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint satisfy that need and are available across mobile and Web to cater to the evolving technology needs of our customers.
Do you have a daily affirmation or principle that motivates you?
Humility: Mankind has many gifts, and I do not view myself as one of them. I seek to learn from others, treat every success and failure as a learning opportunity, and strive to be a better version of myself every day.
What book are you currently reading and why?
One of my many favorite books is called Wisdom for a Young CEO. It’s about a 14-year-old boy, wondering what to do with his life. He began writing to CEOs of major companies to seek their advice on how to be successful in the business world. The heartfelt replies provide inspiring life lessons for anyone.
What was the message that you took away from the Hope Global Forums 2016?
It was an amazing opportunity to participate in an incredible event along with over 3,000 highly engaged delegates who are promoting economic inclusion and making a meaningful impact on this world. While we all come from different places and play a different role in the world, the main message I took away is —– “everyone can make a difference.”