Network Connections



Top Five Questions to Catch up with President Brian

Last year I had the opportunity to interview President Brian Watterson about his life, work, and future. We touched on inspiring employees, his leadership style, and the way in which he wants to always be remembered. I had the chance to catch up with Brian again, and ask him five more questions as we approach the milestone of Network Connections 25th Anniversary.

 How does it feel to have been running this company for 25 years?

NCI wasn’t always great, and I, certainly, wasn’t always great.  In fact, in my early years, you might even say that I was a bit of a schmuck.  I took helm at NCI at a very young age, in my mid-twenties.  I was probably too young to be a business owner. I was clueless.  It was then that I learned the hard consequences of my actions as a leader of a company.  I had guys and their families that counted on us doing jobs and getting paid.  I would not let us fail, and trust me, we came close a few times!   This is probably how I became so obsessive over every little detail regarding NCI, and probably how our brand got started.  Aside from my marriage, NCI has always been the most important thing in my life, and I’m so proud of how it has grown into such an excellent organization.

How has being the President of NCI impacted your life? 

Wow, you know, it was such a struggle in the early years.  There were times when I would watch my friends getting promotions in their jobs, buying nice homes, and starting families.  In my mind, they were moving past me.  I was still the guy in his thirties, barely keeping up with his mortgage, always broke, never having time for a wife or family.  I had a lonely life.  Then three great people, Jeff, Karla, and Gregg, all eventually came to me and joined my merry tribe.  They all made major personal sacrifices to be here, and all of the sudden I no longer felt like I was standing alone holding the rope.  With their help, we’ve grown this little ragtag outfit into a national power, and as they’ve grown into their jobs as vice presidents, I was able to become “presidential”.  Now I’m happily married to an amazing lady in Jessica, I preside over an excellent staff, and we are all starting to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Looking back, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change much if I could.  What a long, strange trip it’s been!

Who’s your favorite Disney Princess?

Ok, this is the oddest interview question I’ve ever fielded.  I loved all the old original Disney movies.  My mom would take us to the matinees on the weekends, long before DVD, Blu-Ray, or streaming.  Yes, Charles Stigelman, there was a time before streaming.  After careful deliberation, I’m going with Sleeping Beauty.  We’ve all felt frozen or stuck in our lives.  Perhaps we feel powerless to help ourselves, and we probably think that we’re in this mess because of circumstances beyond our own doing.  Life will give us opportunities to escape from a situation, but the onus is on us to capitalize on that moment.  We are rarely judged for our troubles, but more so for the manner in which we react to them.

If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Another great question!  So, most of Nickie Nation knows I love my “walk up” songs.  For my relationship with NCI, I’m currently going with “The Gauntlet” by Dropkick Murphys (big surprise).  This will be my walk up song for NCI25, and it’s a song from which I recently shared a line with Jen Rispo.  Jen had just vowed to take over our struggling sales program and finally make it a strength, not a weakness. The line is simple: “stand up and fight, and I’ll stand up with you.”  Every so often I can get overwhelmed, and I just want to lay down in the tall grass and hide from our problems.  It’s often times like this that an NCI teammate will come along and encourage me to get back up and fight.  I hope that Jen reads this, because what she has done took great courage. Thank you, Jen.   

I guess for life in general, it would be “If I Ever Leave this World Alive”, by Flogging Molly.  This song helped Jess and I through a really dark time, so most of its impact on me is private to us.  It’s also a song about the profound power of human relationships, and it tells us that if we live the good life, and do right by others, it should all be alright.

Where do you see NCI going in the NEXT 25 years?

NCI50??  Wow!  Ok, well, I’d hope that Greg, Mike, and I would be retired from the movies by then!  Just kidding, Greg, the script is in the works.  Honestly, for us to be around that far into the future, we would have to get a lot of our younger and/or newer people involved in higher leverage situations.  So, with that said, I would like to see us running a true leadership academy type thing.  Development of our future leaders will pay significant dividends.  I’d like to see us eventually develop regional leadership structures, for example, a core team governing our West Coast operations.  I’m also intrigued by the online and virtual store fronts that we are soon starting up.  Most importantly, I would hope that the same core values and qualities that make us who we are will still be in place, long after I’m gone.

Thank you Brian for your time, and we hope to catch up again soon!

Kristen Pierce and Brian Watterson

Kristen Pierce