Mitch Black | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Mitch Black


MOBI is an Indianapolis-based software company that creates mobile enterprise platform solutions. Its Mobility Management Platform centralizes, comprehends and controls mobility programs by integrating with wireless carriers, EMMs, corporate IT systems and more. MOBI also offers ancillary services that help organizations deploy, support and decommission mobile devices.

The Mistake:

I would do things that were more popular, as opposed to the right thing for the business.

One of the things I felt like early on, especially when I was in executive management earlier in my career.

[Making] personnel decisions early on, like when there is restructuring or reorganization, is somewhat commonplace in larger organizations. There are certain people that have been in the organization for a very long time, and ... you kept them based on who they were, not how they produce.

And you were influenced by others; it was politically correct to potentially keep someone you know in a particular position, as opposed to making a change that you had to end up making a few years down the road anyway.

I think there are other ones just in terms of not going against the grain.

I'm thinking more even from a strategic perspective of where maybe there are certain geographies or certain lines of businesses that you're trying to drive within an organization that may not necessarily be shared by everyone but truly is the right thing for the business. And sitting back and then watching the market change in front of you when you could have taken advantage of that opportunity, once again based on your expertise and your gut on something. 

 I was influenced either by peers or my superiors on making decisions that were more popular, but not good for the business.

The Lesson:

There's a lot of politics in larger companies when it comes to personnel, especially, and other decisions that may be considered provocative, where I did not go with my gut or what I thought was right. I was influenced either by peers or my superiors on making decisions that were more popular, but not good for the business.

In the long run, that always came back to bite me. So that's one of the things that I learned a long time ago: Trusting in your gut and your instinct more often than not is right.

I'm in a smaller company now. We have 350 employees, about 150 customers. Our company only started in 2010.

I think now I leverage my convictions. I guess I use my convictions much more effectively.

Not that I still don't get counsel and input from different parties. I just don't allow what I think to be the political side of things or the popular side of things cloud what I think are the best decisions for all 350 employees that we have, plus our investors. And I would say I do that very much on a consistent basis.


Follow MOBI on Twitter at @MOBIwm.

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