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Mohawk CEO keeps the answers simple

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in Profiles in Leadership

Gain a competitive advantage by keeping things simple.

That’s the lesson of Mohawk Industries CEO Jeff Lorberbaum, who starts with plain speaking, without buzzwords or complicated jargon.

When asked why his carpet mill entered the carpet-padding business, Lorberbaum says, “We needed to fill up the darn trucks and cover part of the overhead.”

He also recognizes simple truths in sales. “In our business,” he says, “the consumer doesn’t just say, ‘I like this. Give it to me.’ There’s a salesperson in between who controls the choices. These salespeople don’t want any problems, so they promote the products that they have the least problems with.”

Finally, Lorberbaum believes in simple answers.

“Most people get confused with the complexities,” he says. “They are encumbered by stuff that won’t let them move forward. I start with a blank sheet of paper, write down what I’d like the process to look like, and create the ‘perfect’ solution.” Then he sees how close he can get—maybe 70%, “and that’s a dramatic improvement. Oversimplify it.”

— Adapted from Hit the Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders, Jason Jennings, Portfolio.

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