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Thank you, Mr. Nies

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get jaded or complacent with things that are really quite cool when you see or work with them every day? It’s the reason Ferris Bueller told us to stop and look around once in a while. It’s why people always tell us to stop and smell the roses.

It is so easy to walk down a hallway depicting more than 40 years of success without seeing it; to be so engrossed in the editing of a speech that you forget to sit back and listen to the main point; to work so closely with one person that you forget that they’re actually a pretty big deal.

Over the past few months I have been given two opportunities to step back and look at my job through the fresh eyes and it has reminded me that both my company and my CEO are inspirational.

Last week, Cincom hosted the 8th Annual University of Cincinnati Spirit of Enterprise Graduate Business Plan Competition. Our international headquarters is overrun by MBA and Ph.D. students for a day and a half as they compete for a $10,000 grand prize and an automatic bid into what is considered the Super Bowl of business plan competitions – the Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly the Moot Corp).Cincom Spirit of Enterprise Group Shot 2012

Cincom employees are involved in almost every aspect of the day and the PR team is available all day to answer questions, film quick videos and more importantly, to show off the company and Cincom CEO Tom Nies to a large group who probably don’t know the ins and outs of how Tom created the company and sustained it throughout the years.

I gave the spiel countless times last week:

Mr. Nies was a salesman at IBM who – after a delayed install where the hardware made it to the customer, but the software didn’t make it until the next day – saw the light that the software could be worth much more than the hardware. When IBM made it clear their focus was the hardware at the time, Nies pioneered an entire new industry. He decided that customers would see so much value in the software Cincom created that they would pay for it while IBM and other larger technology firms were giving it away for free. Forty-four years later, Cincom is still around and Tom Nies has become the longest-serving CEO in the computer industry.

Tom Nies portraitOn paper, that’s a pretty basic story that I’ve heard over and over since I started at Cincom in 2009. But, when seen through the eyes of graduate students seeking to pioneer their own industries or break into new markets with products that they’ve taken from abstract ideas to viable business plans – many with prototypes, customers and angel investors already in place – it’s fascinating.

Tom Nies is a man who led a company into a new industry, who grew that industry and introduced it to European nations, who has weathered recessions, and who continues to provide a strategic vision to Cincom.

The graduate students and guests who visit Cincom during the Spirit of Enterprise are treated to an entire hallway filled with Cincom history laying out the timeline of the company. They are able to tour the building and visit Mr. Nies’ office to see what their visions and ideas might someday grow into. They are able to interact with him and listen to his keynote encouraging them to stand by their dreams and take risks even if everyone thinks they’re crazy – because all entrepreneurs are a little bit crazy. They understand that risk is inherently tied to their ventures and give themselves permission to fail.

I’ve also been involved in the details of Mr. Nies receiving the Carl H. Lindner Award for Outstanding Business Achievement from the University of Cincinnati. Throughout the buildup to the March 1 event I’ve been meeting with Mr. Nies and combing the archives of our history to provide a videographer with photos, videos and anecdotes.

What has struck me the most during this entire process is how humble Mr. Nies is. Each and every time we’ve discussed the award he has turned it around and said that the only reason that he is receiving any recognition of this caliber is because of his outstanding employees who have helped him foster and grow the company to what it is today. He says that he would be nothing without the rest of the Cincomers and is eternally grateful to all of the employees who have given their time and talents to Cincom.

Tom Nies and Ronal ReaganWhile that’s true, it’s also important to point out that Cincom and its employees benefit from his leadership and dedication daily. We grow in our roles because he has fostered an environment that keeps Cincom running remarkably like a start-up. He allows us the opportunity to think for ourselves, and challenge the status quo. We’re encouraged to try new things and bring new ideas to the table. Most importantly, we’re given the freedom to fail as long as what we are pursuing is well-presented and competently executed.

Tom Nies is the reason that we’re afforded those luxuries in our jobs – because it is a luxury to be able to explore, learn and grow our skills – and Tom Nies and his vision are the reason Cincom has outlasted many competitors while holding its own against power players in the software industry.

There aren’t many men who have been deemed the “epitome of entrepreneurial spirit in American business” by a President, recognized by the Smithsonian as a “pioneer of the software industry,” and thanked for bringing the software industry to Europe by a British Prime Minister. So, the Outstanding Business Achievement Award that Mr. Nies will accept tonight is incredibly well-deserved.

Since he has spent weeks thanking all of us for our contributions that have paved the way for him to receive this award, I want to thank him. For building an industry, for sustaining a company, for fostering a work environment that is engaging and intrapreneurial, and for allowing us the freedom to fail.

Because, after all, my job is pretty awesome.

Post By Liz Harter (70 Posts)

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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About the Author

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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