American Dream Leadership Series #6: Doug Robinson, LGCY Power

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Growing up playing sports, many of the influencers in my life were coaches. Today I still draw inspiration from successful coaches, including legendary pros like LaVell Edwards and Dabo Swinney, as well as those who dedicate their time to coaching my own kids’ teams.

This week I got to interview Doug Robinson, who is the co-founder and CEO of LGCY Power. Doug and I have become good friends over the years, spending our fall nights together coaching our sons in youth tackle football. Doug also grew up playing sports and studying successful coaches. I have been very impressed with the culture he has built at his company and think other entrepreneurs will find his experiences inspiring.

As a CEO, Doug still draws upon lessons learned from his childhood coaches as he strives to unite a team, leverage individual strengths and talents and achieve success within his company. Doug has more than 12 years of experience building sales teams and he is remarkably adept at leading, inspiring and motivating teams. Under his leadership, LGCY Power has quickly become one of the largest privately held residential solar sales companies in the U.S. Here’s what he had to say about achieving success, leading a team and life as a founder:

What did you want to be when you were a kid, and how has reality matched your expectations?

I wanted to be a doctor. I changed my mind as I entered college and my brother-in-law, who was in medical school, showed me his textbook on prescriptions. It was the thickest, heaviest book I had ever seen, and when he told me he had to memorize every prescription, what it was used for and its side effects, I quickly decided that medicine wasn’t for me. About that time I had a mentor, a professor in Brigham Young University’s MBA program, who told me I had a real aptitude for business and I should look into a business career. I took his advice seriously and the rest is history.

As a kid, I didn’t see all the schooling and work that goes into becoming a doctor; I simply saw the end result. Becoming a business owner is similar. People tend to envision the end result but don’t consider the blood, sweat and tears that go into building a successful business.

What has been the greatest contributing factor to your success?

A relentless work ethic. Growing up playing sports, I would hear people say, “be the first one on the court and the last one off the court.” The same principle of putting in the hard work in order to achieve the best results applies to business as well. I’ve never been the most talented or the smartest, but I am willing to work the hardest.

In college I sold satellite systems door-to-door in Logan, Utah. Winters in Logan are frigid to say the least, but I had goals I wanted to achieve. One in particular was earning enough money to buy a ring and propose to my high school sweetheart. When classes ended for the day, I would go out selling. Often it would be so cold I would sell at one doorstep, walk back to my car and drive to the next house with the heat on full blast. I quickly earned enough money to buy a wedding ring and propose; I also became the company’s highest performing salesperson and was promoted to leadership positions where I helped other sales reps develop the skills to become high performers.

What leader in business do you most admire and try to emulate?

Most of the leaders I relate to are coaches. I find football coaches particularly inspiring, since I played the sport in college.

One of the things I really like to see and study is coaches who come into an organization and achieve a high level of success quickly. As I think of my favorite coaches like Urban Meyer, John Wooden, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Phil Jackson, I see similarities in the ways they capture the attention of their players and get them to buy in to their vision and philosophies. I find it fascinating to study their techniques and then try to implement them or versions of them at LGCY Power.

How would you describe your personal leadership style?

I’m focused on influencing, motivating and trying to help others see their potential. I like to stretch people; encouraging them to be confident about decision-making helps increase their belief in themselves.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career that could apply to folks just getting started?

Trust your gut. Most people never get started or even take a step to getting started. There are so many entrepreneurs that never get an idea off the ground out of fear. I tell people all the time to just do it. Get started and make it happen.

What’s the most useless talent you have?

Blowing bubbles with Bubblicious bubble gum. I’m talking about the kind of bubbles that get really big and when they pop, splatter all over your face. I’m really good at it, but I’ve got to have the right brand of gum. Bubblicious provides the perfect consistency and volume to produce the biggest bubbles.

When you think about the next two years, what keeps you up at night?

I worry about building and maintaining a positive culture. I know disengaged workers have higher absenteeism, more accidents, more errors, lower productivity, lower profitability and lower job growth. I want to train people to sell and be successful, and I also want to make sure each and every team member is engaged and fulfilled in their roles and responsibilities. I think LGCY has been successful in achieving this to date as we’ve been named one of Utah’s fastest growing companies and a Best Place to Work by Utah Business magazine.

What is the best and worst part about being the founder of LGCY?

For me, the best part is seeing the impact on people’s lives—both our employees and our customers. I’m most excited about the opportunity to impact people, the local community and the world. I believe we are all far more capable than we allow ourselves to believe.

The worst part is the cultural changes that must occur in order for the business to reach its full potential. There are times where skill sets of employees don’t match the needs of the business, and a change has to be made in order for us to continue growing. These changes are the most difficult and gut-wrenching.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

There are two pieces of advice I consider to be the best I’ve ever received. The first was from Paul Winowski, the president of Sunrun. He said success often comes down to three things: talent, tenacity and timing. I knew when I was evaluating the solar market, the timing couldn’t be better. The market is primed for long-term, sustained success with low market penetration and high consumer demand. The only real question was could we execute well. Thankfully, we have been able to build a team of talented and tenacious professionals ready to take advantage of this burgeoning market.

The second piece of sound advice I received was from Les McGwire. He said, “dollars follow value.” Early in my career when it was all about money, I wasn’t nearly as satisfied. Once I learned to focus on adding value, specifically helping others grow in their careers and achieve greater success, things fell into place, and I was able to experience true success and fulfillment.

How do you see solar energy’s role in the future of humanity?

As I look back over the last 150 years of energy production and consumption in the world, nothing’s changed. The process is the same; burn stuff and then send it more than 1,000 miles away to be consumed. When you think about the sun shining on a solar panel and producing power, it changes all of that. I believe solar technology will continue to improve, drive costs down and make the way we currently consume power a thing of the past.

Which small business do you frequent the most?

Swig, a local drive-by soda shop. I’m particularly fond of their Diet Dr. Pepper Raspberry Boba. It’s the nectar of the Gods.

What activity or activities (outside of work) do you always make time for?

I enjoy sports, the outdoors and spending time with my family and friends. I grew up playing a number of sports including football in college at Brigham Young University – Idaho and Snow College. Now that I have a family, I enjoy working with and coaching my kids, including my son’s baseball team. We recently competed in a tournament in Cooperstown, New York, home of the baseball Hall of Fame. While we competed hard, we only won one game; but we emphasized good sportsmanship and were proud of the way we competed as a team.

Last but not least, pineapple on pizza: yes or no?

Yes.

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Growing up playing sports, many of the influencers in my life were coaches. Today I still draw inspiration from successful coaches, including legendary pros like LaVell Edwards and Dabo Swinney, as well as those who dedicate their time to coaching my own kids’ teams.

This week I got to interview Doug Robinson, who is the co-founder and CEO of LGCY Power. Doug and I have become good friends over the years, spending our fall nights together coaching our sons in youth tackle football. Doug also grew up playing sports and studying successful coaches. I have been very impressed with the culture he has built at his company and think other entrepreneurs will find his experiences inspiring.

As a CEO, Doug still draws upon lessons learned from his childhood coaches as he strives to unite a team, leverage individual strengths and talents and achieve success within his company. Doug has more than 12 years of experience building sales teams and he is remarkably adept at leading, inspiring and motivating teams. Under his leadership, LGCY Power has quickly become one of the largest privately held residential solar sales companies in the U.S. Here’s what he had to say about achieving success, leading a team and life as a founder:

What did you want to be when you were a kid, and how has reality matched your expectations?

I wanted to be a doctor. I changed my mind as I entered college and my brother-in-law, who was in medical school, showed me his textbook on prescriptions. It was the thickest, heaviest book I had ever seen, and when he told me he had to memorize every prescription, what it was used for and its side effects, I quickly decided that medicine wasn’t for me. About that time I had a mentor, a professor in Brigham Young University’s MBA program, who told me I had a real aptitude for business and I should look into a business career. I took his advice seriously and the rest is history.

As a kid, I didn’t see all the schooling and work that goes into becoming a doctor; I simply saw the end result. Becoming a business owner is similar. People tend to envision the end result but don’t consider the blood, sweat and tears that go into building a successful business.

What has been the greatest contributing factor to your success?

A relentless work ethic. Growing up playing sports, I would hear people say, “be the first one on the court and the last one off the court.” The same principle of putting in the hard work in order to achieve the best results applies to business as well. I’ve never been the most talented or the smartest, but I am willing to work the hardest.

In college I sold satellite systems door-to-door in Logan, Utah. Winters in Logan are frigid to say the least, but I had goals I wanted to achieve. One in particular was earning enough money to buy a ring and propose to my high school sweetheart. When classes ended for the day, I would go out selling. Often it would be so cold I would sell at one doorstep, walk back to my car and drive to the next house with the heat on full blast. I quickly earned enough money to buy a wedding ring and propose; I also became the company’s highest performing salesperson and was promoted to leadership positions where I helped other sales reps develop the skills to become high performers.

What leader in business do you most admire and try to emulate?

Most of the leaders I relate to are coaches. I find football coaches particularly inspiring, since I played the sport in college.

One of the things I really like to see and study is coaches who come into an organization and achieve a high level of success quickly. As I think of my favorite coaches like Urban Meyer, John Wooden, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Phil Jackson, I see similarities in the ways they capture the attention of their players and get them to buy in to their vision and philosophies. I find it fascinating to study their techniques and then try to implement them or versions of them at LGCY Power.

How would you describe your personal leadership style?

I’m focused on influencing, motivating and trying to help others see their potential. I like to stretch people; encouraging them to be confident about decision-making helps increase their belief in themselves.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career that could apply to folks just getting started?

Trust your gut. Most people never get started or even take a step to getting started. There are so many entrepreneurs that never get an idea off the ground out of fear. I tell people all the time to just do it. Get started and make it happen.

What’s the most useless talent you have?

Blowing bubbles with Bubblicious bubble gum. I’m talking about the kind of bubbles that get really big and when they pop, splatter all over your face. I’m really good at it, but I’ve got to have the right brand of gum. Bubblicious provides the perfect consistency and volume to produce the biggest bubbles.

When you think about the next two years, what keeps you up at night?

I worry about building and maintaining a positive culture. I know disengaged workers have higher absenteeism, more accidents, more errors, lower productivity, lower profitability and lower job growth. I want to train people to sell and be successful, and I also want to make sure each and every team member is engaged and fulfilled in their roles and responsibilities. I think LGCY has been successful in achieving this to date as we’ve been named one of Utah’s fastest growing companies and a Best Place to Work by Utah Business magazine.

What is the best and worst part about being the founder of LGCY?

For me, the best part is seeing the impact on people’s lives—both our employees and our customers. I’m most excited about the opportunity to impact people, the local community and the world. I believe we are all far more capable than we allow ourselves to believe.

The worst part is the cultural changes that must occur in order for the business to reach its full potential. There are times where skill sets of employees don’t match the needs of the business, and a change has to be made in order for us to continue growing. These changes are the most difficult and gut-wrenching.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

There are two pieces of advice I consider to be the best I’ve ever received. The first was from Paul Winowski, the president of Sunrun. He said success often comes down to three things: talent, tenacity and timing. I knew when I was evaluating the solar market, the timing couldn’t be better. The market is primed for long-term, sustained success with low market penetration and high consumer demand. The only real question was could we execute well. Thankfully, we have been able to build a team of talented and tenacious professionals ready to take advantage of this burgeoning market.

The second piece of sound advice I received was from Les McGwire. He said, “dollars follow value.” Early in my career when it was all about money, I wasn’t nearly as satisfied. Once I learned to focus on adding value, specifically helping others grow in their careers and achieve greater success, things fell into place, and I was able to experience true success and fulfillment.

How do you see solar energy’s role in the future of humanity?

As I look back over the last 150 years of energy production and consumption in the world, nothing’s changed. The process is the same; burn stuff and then send it more than 1,000 miles away to be consumed. When you think about the sun shining on a solar panel and producing power, it changes all of that. I believe solar technology will continue to improve, drive costs down and make the way we currently consume power a thing of the past.

Which small business do you frequent the most?

Swig, a local drive-by soda shop. I’m particularly fond of their Diet Dr. Pepper Raspberry Boba. It’s the nectar of the Gods.

What activity or activities (outside of work) do you always make time for?

I enjoy sports, the outdoors and spending time with my family and friends. I grew up playing a number of sports including football in college at Brigham Young University – Idaho and Snow College. Now that I have a family, I enjoy working with and coaching my kids, including my son’s baseball team. We recently competed in a tournament in Cooperstown, New York, home of the baseball Hall of Fame. While we competed hard, we only won one game; but we emphasized good sportsmanship and were proud of the way we competed as a team.

Last but not least, pineapple on pizza: yes or no?

Yes.