We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Benners and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josh, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
Without question that would be The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford. The main character, Bill Palmer, is thrust into a leadership role that he’s knowingly unprepared for and asked to finally solve compounding problems that retired his predecessors and threatened the future of his company. At the time, this is something I related to immensely with even less confidence. Thanks to an incredible mentor, Bill was able to pull off a project that was already way past due and over budget, while revamping the companies approach to IT operations using manufacturing methodologies. The book taught me that “work” is much bigger than retiring individual tasks. We are all apart of a larger product that adds value to something greater than itself, and delivering a quality work product in a timely manner requires thoughtful, flexible, and intentional leadership. Most importantly, though, I learned the necessity of having an exceptional mentor. Ironically, this book taught me to use manufacturing to improve my effectiveness in IT ops yet now I find myself in a manufacturing position using everything I learned from IT ops. It has bizarrely become more relevant and useful as my career progresses.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Like many high school kids I started in retail. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the work I was doing, I did learn that work was something I loved. Most see their first jobs as just a means for some cash until they can go to university and land their fist “real job” upon graduating. I never saw it that way, every day was a stepping stone in my career and I tried to treat it that way. The goal was to be moving forward, never settling, always growing in experience and value. In the back of my mind there was no question that school wasn’t going to be my ticket to opportunity and that I needed to set myself apart with real, tangible, professional achievement. So I worked my way up the best way I knew how, within retail and was a manager before graduating high school. My title at a reputable, national retailer became my degree of sorts. It was gut check when I decided to leave retail and pursue a career in IT, though. I knew that all that work was to award me opportunity, but like kids leaving college most of my prospects were still entry level after years of management. I took an administrative job at a growing IT firm along with a major pay cut and an attitude that if I had ascended once I could do it again. From operations I went into sales, and from there back into management and eventually where I am now. It was certainly not easy, and I imagine most peoples careers are not. Being taken seriously while being so young and without the highest level of formal education has been rocky at time. I used to believe that results completely spoke for themselves, and in retail that’s more so the case. You do a great job for the people that matter and you get rewarded. The corporate world could not be more different. While doing an exceedingly great job and impressing your superiors will always amount to something, it’s what the people around you that work with you and for you that make the biggest impact on your career. Not always just in getting that next promotion or raise, but truly making you better in every way. Relationships are the greatest reward in any successful career, and every person along the way has an impact on your trajectory. Love the people around you, serve them relentlessly, and enjoy your role in their lives.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
DFW is great because in a relatively small area you can have the concentrated culture of a big city with that one-of-a-kind Texas flavor, or the vast open spaces of surrounding areas. When I have friends come to Dallas food & drink is priority and BBQ, Mexican, and Craft Beer are at the top of that list. For BBQ I’d probably head into Bishop Arts and load up on Clod and Ribs, heading straight to Emporium Pies afterward. Literally just close your eyes and point to a pie, it will be incredible. For Mexican I like to mix it up and hit Trinity Groves for Beto & Son, their fried salmon taco’s are amazing and the style is a refreshing change from traditional tex-mex. For beer, don’t waste your time anywhere but the Manhattan Project Beer Co. The beer speaks for itself, but the people and atmosphere cant be beat. In my opinion skip the touristy places and hit the lake for the rest of your time… unless of course the fair is open.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wow that’s a tough one. The cast supporting me through this time in my life has been plentiful and every one of them is so important in very unique ways. Along side of me always since junior high has been my extraordinary wife, Marissa. Remarkable, determined, striking, and fun… she has walked with me through the hardest of times, never giving up when anyone else would have. Gambling on a dumb boy to grow up and lead, succeed, and start a family. My top goals will always center around paying her and our three incredible daughters, Delilah, Eloise, and Cecilia, dividends on their investment in me. My father who risked his reputation to land me a life changing interview, and people like Jeff Stevens, Chris Robbins, JW Roberts, and Chris Bedford who have put an astounding amount of faith in me, invested in my growth, taught me more than I could quantify about being successful in business and at home. If I looked at every step forward over the last decade, there is at least one person there lending me their time, confidence, and wisdom. To all of them I owe a great debt and my most sincere gratitude. My faith has kept me centered, my leaders keep me challenged, my mentors keep me growing, and my family keeps me going.