Show Empathy — A leader who can show compassion will develop a connection with their followers. By showing you care about the project or cause, you are developing your skills toward being an effective leader. Having empathy shows your followers, you can relate to the project or cause on a personal level.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Art Shaikh.

Art Shaikh is the Founder and CEO of CircleIt — a company dedicated to reinventing how families connect, celebrate, and preserve precious memories for future generations.

Established in 2018, CircleIt has developed a first-of-its-kind technology enabling the secure creation and storage of digital memories, customizable cards, and physical gifts to be delivered years — even decades — in the future. CircleIt’s Patented smart technology allows users to schedule future communications so they can share their love and ensure their legacy lives on.

Art previously held senior roles at Salesforce and Dun & Bradstreet, where he has worked with eCommerce and FinTech companies. Helping them connect and service their customers in a whole new way.

Graduating from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Management, Art is passionate about people. His unique leadership style, paired with his ability to get results, has made him a memorable mentor and colleague to many.

Art believes that family comes first and keeps his extended family close to his heart. His personal experience with his father’s passing has been the catalyst for founding CircleIt.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

I am in the middle of a major product release and also launching our crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

I have been lucky to have some great leaders during my career at D&B and Things I learned from them helped me build my own company. I will tell you about one leader and a friend, Sean Sternfeldt. He gave us good directions and trusted his team to execute and do their job to the best of their abilities and gave them the freedom to take risks and try new things. No matter what he had our back. Today I lead my entire team the same way.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

My biggest discovery is that being a founder is very hard, starting something is hard and building a viable company is even harder. So, if you are going to start something be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You will have to pay your dues and go through hard days. If you are true to your vision, the roller coaster ride will be worth it.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

My definition of leadership has not changed over the years. However, I have a greater sense of appreciation for those who are in leadership. This is not for everyone. A leader to me must be open and honest with his team and should have his teams back.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

Revenue forecasts and update calls. We all live in a world where data is continuously changing. If leadership needs an accurate forecast, they can view it in the CRM.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

Live your promise. Share success with the team. Team members should be shareholders in the company so don’t be cheap.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

Get out of business. Just kidding. But change is something that is non-negotiable. If you’re not adaptable, you’re expendable. Leaders expect their teams and customers to change, so they should do the same.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

Be fair and be consistent. Not everyone will love you or understand the day to day pressure we all are under.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?

  1. Become a Team Member First — A team is people that fight for each other not just a bunch of people on a team. It takes time for a team to gel together.
  2. Show Empathy — A leader who can show compassion will develop a connection with their followers. By showing you care about the project or cause, you are developing your skills toward being an effective leader. Having empathy shows your followers, you can relate to the project or cause on a personal level.
  3. Assume Positive Intent — When you take the time and care to understand why your team is making the choices they’re making, you can adjust your approach for tremendous success.
  4. Get Creative — Emerging leaders need to get creative on certain projects. If a project has not elicited the desired outcome in the past, learn to take a new creative approach. Take the initiative to try the new approach, share your vision on the project with others. In business, the new creative approach may bring success to a project becoming a successful venture.
  5. Have Faith in Yourself — No one has all the answers, learn to ask questions. Know your strengths when pursuing a new task. As you begin to develop and succeed, keep a running log book on these successes. The successes are your strengths which can be utilized at a later date. While you develop your strengths, remember to keep your faith & integrity. A person who can show integrity will develop followers. People want to be able to put their trust in the person who is leading them.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

I have great appreciation for Coach Wooden. However, I don’t live by this. In the tech world we live in, it’s not humanly possible to be your masterpiece. We all will have our good days and bad days. We just need to minimize our bad days.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

My legacy will be of one who stayed true to his words, and made a true difference in the lives of those I surround myself with namely my team, family and friends. Given my company’s mission, it’s important to me that my impact will be felt in a positive way years and decades from now.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

They can connect with me on LinkedIn

Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.