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Lessons of experience: Tom Myrick (MBA ’79)

Tom Myrick - UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Tom Myrick (MBA ’79)

Tom Myrick (MBA ’79) worked with Bank of America for 18 years as the leader of consumer marketing and in its insurance division before joining the development team at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Myrick shared lessons learned throughout his career and his strategies for driving sustained growth at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 2016 MBA Leadership Day.

Be inquisitive.
It takes time to make something great happen. When you ascend into a leadership position, it’s essential to understand what everyone in your organization is doing. Take time to get out and about. Ask a lot of questions to figure out what people in your organization think about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

Zoom in.
Find the most critical measure that will determine your organization’s success. It’s not always easy to focus on one thing, but having too many priorities scatters resources and lessens a team’s ability to create a lasting impact.

Focus your efforts by identifying the measure that best qualifies the type of growth you want to attain. This could be increasing customer satisfaction, acquiring new customers or increasing revenue – but it can’t be all of these.

Narrowing your focus works. A couple of decades ago, credit card companies were typically focused on number of cards issued. American Express went in a different direction and chose spend per card as its primary metric. This new focus helped the company drive a breakthrough business model built on making money in new ways.

Know your MVPs.
If your company is like most, around 80 percent of your income will come from about 20 percent of your customers. These are your most valuable customers. Learn about them and learn from them.

Create opportunity by researching and identifying the top unmet needs of existing customers with a lower affinity for your organization. Small increases in their retention will have big effects on income, and the cost of retaining your most valuable customers will be much lower than the cost of obtaining new customers with a similar value.

Track your progress.
Once you’ve identified your most critical variables, it’s time to launch your improvement initiatives.
Start by strengthening your team of associates. Assign someone to own each of your improvement initiatives and have them gather work groups. Set up your management routines to track the progress towards the results you want.

At Bank of America, we ended up tracking results in our business with just two brief documents – a one-page score card plotting trends on the primary metric and a spreadsheet showing the status of work on each of our improvement initiatives.

Be patient.
Using this formula to drive sustained growth requires years of consistent and disciplined focus. Find work you love doing in order to feel the joy that comes from building something great with real, lasting value.