I had the pleasure of interviewing our VP of Information Technology the other day for an assignment at work, Dan Stoneman. I’ve known Dan for the past few years but it was nice to have a structured format to learn a little more where he finds his infectious passion.
Here’s a little background about Dan. Growing up he was an athlete. For him, education came secondary to swimming and water polo. He was able to use his physical talents to get a scholarship to Arizona State. While at ASU, he decided to pursue Electrical Engineering because he had a deep curiosity about the way things worked at their very lowest level. He started by building circuit boards and realized you need to program chips to get the most of the boards. Then he realized that to get the most out of the chips you need good software. To have good software you need good people. To have good people you need a good company. To have a good company you need good leadership, etc. Of course he learned some of this after leaving ASU but he saw that even with a good foundation you need to build each layer on top of the next just as strongly. As you go up and up this stack of process, resources, and technology one thing becomes clear: you need a great combination of leadership to motivate employees. Dan has answered that call and relishes his position of mentoring, coaching, managing, and leading.
What lights Dan up?
- Dan is motivated by motivating people.
- Dan believes in his company’s mission statement of making lives better through education.
- Education has a direct effect on one’s individual capabilities which has a positive impact on themselves, their family, and their community.
- Higher education has a direct impact on a person’s ability to generate income.
- Erik Erikson’s theory of Generativity - Erik Erikson believed that a fulfilling life stems from helping the next generation improve. In short, it feels good to help others. Dan enjoys mentoring and coaching others and passing on the knowledge he has.
Dan’s strengths were the main topic of conversation. It took some time to identify his strengths but once he started speaking to them he really opened up. His first strength was emotional intelligence. He spoke to this at length and recommended the following books if any readers out there are interested in exploring the topic further.
Dan’s next strength is the desire to do the right/best thing. Dan prides himself on being able to look at a problem and choose a solution that has the greatest impact for all that it effects. This is not integrity per se but rather a blend of integrity, morality, and a finely tuned decision process.
Dan’s final strength is something that I feel is the key ingredient in any formula of success: hard work. He believes that anyone with a basic capacity to learn and interact with others (e.g. not sociopathic or mentally handicapped) can accomplish anything they set out to do. I remember prior chats with Dan where he went into detail about his early days with the company. He was setting up the foundation of the company (networks, phone system, email, etc.) while also tasked with being the CEO’s personal help desk. It was the 12+ hours days that he put in then that made sure the company could operate and be put in a position to succeed.
When I asked Dan what the next step was he had a great answer, “[he] could go and work as a CIO somewhere else but it wouldn’t be as satisfying as his work at Bridgepoint.” Next on the agenda for Dan is to grow as a manager, leader, mentor, and coach. He will continue to fuel his passion by igniting the passion in others.