In full disclosure, I met Matthew Sosik back in the 1970s – we grew up in the same town and were family friends. My fondest memory is of our families sitting around a big table in Maine eating lobster and steamed clams with our plastic bibs and dripping butter pretty much everywhere. Fast forward 40+ years later, and I relished the opportunity to sit across the table from each other, this time as business leaders – no bibs, no butter.
We started our discussion around college being the place where you really start to differentiate as a person. After the “mosh pit of high school,” those who are willing to work extremely hard to obtain a goal rise to the surface. Matt credits work ethic as a major factor in his early success. His entire family, especially his brother, are “cursed” with a tremendous work ethic as a big part of their Sosik heritage. According to Matt, “There’s much more personal satisfaction from working hard and obtaining challenging goals than from goofing off.” However, anyone who knows Matt, knows he likes to mix in a healthy dose of goofing off wherever he can.
Matt’s journey into banking started by discovering what he didn’t want to do — specifically, a bank examiner for the FDIC. With the knowledge he gained and his abilities as an emerging leader, he became the President of what is now Bank Hometown, at age 26. Over the years, his management style has evolved, but consistently has been averse to micromanagement. He lets people forge ahead, bang around in the weeds and ultimately figure out the solutions to their problems on the other side. One of his attributes is the ability to sense when people are really floundering and provide the support they need while still letting them own the project.
Developing the right culture at the bank starts with integrity – it drives everything else. Matt is not interested in taking shortcuts and believes that the ends are never so important that the means are compromised. Another aspect of the culture is a genuine care for the personal satisfaction of employees. To accomplish this, Matt believes in training and encouraging employees to “manage up” to ensure they have a hand in getting what they need. The most important attribute to fitting in with the culture, however, is to be a little lighthearted. Matt informs interviewees for high-level positions that they need to be able to take their jobs seriously, without taking themselves too seriously.
When I asked Matt which brand best aligns with his personal brand, he said Nike. He explained that his kids would recognize it as “accountability.” He teaches them and his employees that blaming others is unacceptable, “you need to take command of the situation and get a better result for yourself.” He holds himself to the same standard and loves the “just do it” mantra. Considering all that Matt has accomplished, “just do it” seems to fit just right.
To read the full transcipt, click here.
You may also want to read some of my other interviews: