Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview with Chris Meroff CEO of DCX Community, a seasoned entrepreneur and a leading figure in the world of business and leadership. In this candid conversation, we delve deep into the heart of resilient leadership and the transformative journey of a CEO who has navigated the tumultuous waters of entrepreneurship, emerging not just successful but enriched with invaluable insights.
Chris Meroff’s story is a testament to the power of resilience, visionary thinking, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence. As we embark on this exploration, we discover the critical role adversity plays in shaping leaders, and how, through embracing challenges, they can lead their teams and organizations to unprecedented heights.
In this interview, Meroff shares his experiences in building and leading businesses, reflecting on significant challenges that shaped his approach to leadership. He provides an intimate view of his personal growth and transformation, emphasizing the importance of vulnerability, humility, and fostering a strong, resilient team.
Meroff’s journey offers a wealth of lessons and advice for CEOs and aspiring leaders seeking to thrive amidst uncertainty and steer their organizations towards sustained success. Join us in this enlightening conversation as we uncover the strategies, insights, and wisdom of Chris Meroff, the Valiant CEO.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Chris Meroff: My parents started a business in Maine in 1996 after 20 years in their respective careers. They offered me a job as a 22-year-old kid with little to no direction in life.
I learned the business quickly and thoroughly since I didn’t have many options without a college degree. After spending 15 years working for my folks, I made the leap to launch out on my own in a new territory, Texas. Same business, but a different market.
By 2017 I had grown my business from nothing to over 20 million in annual revenue with over 10 million in EBITA. I had gone from 12th in the market to 1st, from 4 employees to over 100. I exited the business in 2023 for just under 100 million. I spend most of my time mentoring leaders on their journey to success without sacrificing their souls.
Can you share a time when your business faced a significant challenge? How did you navigate through it?
Chris Meroff: My business was completely reliant on government regulation, so there were several times when proposed legislation or regulation would have had severe consequences.
One such instance was a legislative vote on Medicaid Block Grants. I pulled together my leadership team, and we spent the day reviewing all options if passed. In the face of fear and anxiety, we decided to put our minds to work on productive vision rather than drowning in uncertainty.
How has a failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Chris Meroff: Four years after starting my business, I had hit most of my metrics for success. Unfortunately, it had come at a cost. My failure was baked into my definition of leadership. I thought I needed to be a strong, confident problem solver who could single-handedly manage any crisis.
This mentality built a successful business but left me feeling lonely and isolated. In my loneliness, I became paranoid and depressed. I realized that I was in a prison of my own making. I didn’t understand that I needed to let people in and see my humanity.
I needed to be vulnerable. As I dared to focus on loving and serving my employees toward their fulfillment, my already successful business exploded beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
How do you build a resilient team? What qualities do you look for in your team members?
Chris Meroff: Building a resilient team starts with humility. My humility to understand my weaknesses, then surrounding myself with people who fill those gaps. As this team becomes knitted together in humility and trust, they learn to depend on each other‘s greatness.
This team fundamentally understands that these soft skills (their greatness) are not threatening to each other member. They believe in a growth mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. As crisis and hardship inevitably hit our organization, the fabric of trust could more easily absorb those blows.
How do you maintain your personal resilience during tough times?
Chris Meroff: Vulnerability. I’ve learned to be honest with my team on how I’m feeling when times get tough. I’ve adopted a couple of statements that really help me convey this to my team. “I don’t know.”
Admitting this is very freeing. It’s hard to confess, but when I do, people show up in great ways. They realize that I don’t have all the answers and that they need to contribute in order to solve the problem. “I need your help.”
This is a more personal plea for help. I thought my job was to help my team, not ask them for help, but when I started using this statement, my people’s eyes would light up! They could help me! They could rise up and take the lead.
What strategies do you use to manage stress and maintain focus during a crisis?
Chris Meroff: Time management is so critical in a crisis. Realizing that the most important task is the next one. It’s so easy to get way ahead of ourselves.
Planning out the next two, three or six months. Worrying about things I can’t control. Focus on today, this next meeting. It’s calming to put my mind to work on the task at hand. Think small, aim small.
How do you communicate with your team during a crisis?
Chris Meroff: Face to face whenever possible. The eyes are the windows to the soul. They need to see your confidence in them, and you need to know how they are handling the stress.
The other really important communication strategy is transparency. They need to know what you know. “What if I don’t know what’s happening?” Well, tell them that. People need certainty, so communicate exactly what you know and don’t know. Keeping people in the dark doesn’t give them a chance to rise up.
What advice would you give to other CEOs on building resilience in their organizations?
Chris Meroff: Resilience is born from adversity. Not all adversity is earth-shattering. I would create adversity for my teams by constantly challenging the status quo. Innovation outside of a crisis is so important because it’s like a muscle. It needs to be exercised or it atrophies.
When your organization is flexing the muscle of innovation on a regular basis, setbacks will be small and temporary. I would start every leadership team meeting with one simple question: “If I started a competing business tomorrow, what would I do to beat us?”. Invent, innovate, and never settle yesterday’s victories.
How do you prepare your business for potential future crises?
Chris Meroff: Keep the organization’s purpose visible in every meeting. Keep everyone focused where we are heading and why. Purpose is your banner that everyone rallies to.
If they can’t see the banner, they will get lost in a crisis. I spend at least 50% of my time casting vision towards our purpose. You can’t over communicate where we are heading and how to identify a finish line.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leadership in times of crisis?
Chris Meroff: I’m great at crisis management. I handle crises like a boss, really, I do. In fact, it’s like a drug! I get such a high from the adrenaline of a crisis. Unfortunately, there are always more crises than I’m equipped to handle on my own.
I learned that I need to trade my addiction to crisis management for the greatness in others. I will always be the bottleneck in our organization unless I trust, train and support others through crisis. Give away the glory, and let the organization thrive.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Chris Meroff for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Chris Meroff or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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