Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A CEO who's worked as everything from an undercover agent to Liz Taylor's bodyguard shares what he's learned from a long and varied career

Bill Clough, CEO of CUI Global

There are people who who've worn many hats over the course of their careers. And then there's CEO of CUI Global Bill Clough.

He's led tactical law enforcement teams. He's flown around the world many times as a federal air marshal. He's worked as a bodyguard for Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. He's even argued a case before the Supreme Court.

Then, in 2011, he took the helm at CUI Global, when the publicly traded power and energy company was struggling.

Clough told Business Insider that his range of past experiences have influenced how he operates in his latest role.

"I deal with people a little differently than most purely business people do, because I've worked with people under very different, very trying circumstances, and sometimes in life-or-death situations," he told Business Insider.

Here are six lessons Clough learned across his varied career:

SEE ALSO: Everything Hollywood gets right and wrong about going undercover, according to a former DEA agent

Stay flexible

As a child, Clough hoped to become an airline pilot like his father. He learned to fly young, earning his pilot's license before his driver's license.

"I focused my career on becoming a pilot," Clough said. "Went into the Coast Guard and spent time in the Coast Guard Reserve. I came out and was fully prepared to become a pilot."

However, his timing was off.

"At the same time, hundreds of other guys were coming out of Vietnam with thousands of hours of jet time, who also wanted to be pilots," he said. "And I didn't have that jet time."

Piloting was out of the question in such a competitive market, but Clough quickly came up with a backup option. During his time in the Coast Guard, he'd developed an affinity for law enforcement. Instead of clinging to his original plan, he tested at a number of different police departments and ended up getting hired by one in Northern California.

Hone your leadership skills

During his career in law enforcement, Clough worked on robbery, homicide, K9 squads, narcotics, and even joined one of the first SWAT teams in the country.

He said that working with "very elite, small units that were quite motivated and good at what they did" honed his leadership abilities.

"They're very structured, they're very enthusiastic, they're very driven to do well, and when you focus that in a way that's positive for everyone you can really make a difference," he said. "When you're in a tactical situation, I can't be worried you doing what you need to do. If I need to worry about you, I don't need you. I don't want you here because you will get both of us injured or killed."

He said that the same wisdom also applies to business.

"If I can't trust you to do what I need you to do, then I don't need you," he said. "Because then, what am I doing? What I'm doing is trying to do my own job and trying to do your job as well. And I can't do that."

Get your priorities straight

On June 14, 1985, terrorists from Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad Organization hijacked TWA Flight 847. The incident helped spur US President Ronald Reagan to resurrect the largely defunct Federal Air Marshal Service.

Clough applied for the job, due to his tactical background. He was able to fly around the world, but the role came with a downside — the enormous amount of time spent away from his wife and young children.

"My wife said, 'Frankly, I didn't buy into this. You're traveling for six months, I don't know where you are, it's dangerous,'" he said. "And the long and the short of it was, I made a decision at that point to focus back on the family and change careers."

At that point, Clough decided that he wanted to pursue a legal career, and ended up enrolling in UC Hastings College of the Law.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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