Leadership Lab

Leadership Q&A with Richard Banfield, CEO, Fresh Tilled Soil

Leadership Q&A is a monthly series that shares insight from leaders within Boston's startup community. This month, we spoke to Richard Banfield, Chief Executive Officer of Fresh Tilled Soil.

INTELLIGENT.LY: What was your first job?

Richard: My first job was driving world famous golfers from their hotel to the golf course. Sometimes we’d spend hours just hanging around with them, which was wasted on me because I’m not a golfer. Gary Player, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, and Vijay Singh were just some of the people I would spend time with. But even before that I was running my own t-shirt business.

INTELLIGENT.LY: Share some of your hidden talents?

Richard: I’m a scuba diving dive master and an advanced rescue diver.

INTELLIGENT.LY: What are you most excited about in the Boston tech space?

Richard: The people. Boston’s talent depth is superior to many other regions. With the right people we can get a ton of amazing value delivered.

INTELLIGENT.LY: Talk to us about the importance of mentors and coaches in your professional life. How did these relationships begin?

Richard: Very important. Mentors and coaches have been instrumental in my personal and business life.

INTELLIGENT.LY: What is the best leadership advice you ever received?

Richard: Seems obvious, but leaders need to lead. That means you have to take 100% responsibility of achieving that vision. Total ownership of the work and the outcomes is the only way leaders can get respect from their teams.

INTELLIGENT.LY: What’s the most essential function of your job as a leader?

Richard: Describing the vision and the strategy in a way that’s meaningful and understood. The leader needs to make sure everyone knows, “Why are we doing this? Is this vision something we believe in?”

INTELLIGENT.LY: If you could talk to your past self, when you first became a people leader, what advice would you give yourself?

Richard: “You are way more capable than you give yourself credit for. Stop overthinking your skills and experience and go create what you want to see in the world.”

INTELLIGENT.LY: What advice would you give to first time managers?

Richard: Similar to above, you’ve already got most of what you need to be successful. You don’t need all the answers. You just need curiosity, grit and a little patience. Simply put, ask forgiveness, not permission.

INTELLIGENT.LY: What was the hardest lesson you had to learn as a manager/leader?

Richard: Collaborative teams don’t need to reach consensus to make decisions and move forward. Leaders often find themselves stuck in decision limbo because they are too busy trying to get everyone on board with a new idea or strategy. The leader’s job is to make decisions quickly and effectively. This sometimes means not everyone will agree with the decision. That’s okay.