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From the Battlefield to the Boardroom, A Founder’s Story with Daniel Comparetto

Daniel Comparetto, From navigating the hostile and extreme environment of a combat zone in Afghanistan with his teams of Marines to advising C-suite level leaders with some of their most pressing challenges. He believes in a client and team-first mentality. He is constantly focusing on how he can be an enabler and performance maximizer, impediment remover, and force multiplier for everyone that he comes in contact with. With over a decade of experience leading teams at some of the world’s highest-performing organizations, Daniel is hyper-focused on pairing that experience with the talent and drive that his teams provide in order to deliver an experience of excellence.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I grew up in Winchester, VA, and served in the Marine Corps after joining in 2009. I operated in the Asia Pacific region for most of my time. This experience was tremendously impactful and fundamental to who I am today. When I wasn’t shooting, I was operating heavy equipment in either a constructive or destructive manner, both building out and demolishing infrastructure.
I was also heavily involved in logistical support for the various outposts all throughout southern Afghanistan. These experiences created the foundation for my leadership abilities today. I have been fortunate to obtain great formal education – an MBA from Indiana University, a degree in finance from George Mason University, and I currently serve as a Strategy & Operations leader at Deloitte.
I previously worked at MITRE, 3M, & Lockheed Martin in various internal finance and strategy leadership roles. My whole adult life and career to date have been predicated on not only learning how to survive in new and high-stakes environments but also thriving in those environments through rapid acclimation and extreme focus on impact potential. On the personal side, I am married to a Nordic princess who goes by Kayla and we have two children, Isaiah – currently 8 y/o and Bella – currently 5 y/o. We are actively involved in their sports, gymnastics, and dance activities.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
Quite simply I started on the entrepreneurial path because I wanted more freedom and ultimately more control over my life due to the financial benefits associated with entrepreneurial success. I am fundamental that there are really only two basic avenues to build wealth in this country and they are through real estate and/or business ownership. I ultimately chose to begin my journey on the business ownership path. There have been two very influential mentors in my life that have helped develop me into the person that I am today.
The most influential leader that I am most grateful for is one of my senior leaders from the Marine Corps. He really leaned into my development when I was at a very influential stage of my leadership journey. Naturally, I had been exposed to leaders to that point but they all had very similar characteristics and leadership styles. Very much authoritarian and commanding types. Through this other leader’s guidance, I learned that there is another way to lead and it is much more effective and impactful. This leader was quiet. They focused on building relationships with multiple stakeholders and operated behind the scenes instead of making a show out in the open.
They played the long game and we’re constantly prepared. He taught me that no matter what the standard was, to hold yourself to a higher one. I learned that the greatest way to impact others is through leadership and that leadership is not a right, it is a privilege. He may have been a “Quiet Leader” but he has been the most influential and impactful leader that I have met to date.
Another important mentor in my life shared the below concept with me about two years ago when I was at a pivotal point in my career and life and it has forever changed the way I think and operate. “Become undeniable. Become so good at what you do and provide so much value to anyone that you come into contact with that it will be impossible for you to fail and not dominate whatever thing it is that you are pursuing in life. Every time that you have a negative feeling or you have negative thoughts about other people, immediately identify that and shift your focus to yourself and begin taking action on something that builds you up, makes you better, and moves you closer to your goals and dreams. Become so good and legendary that it does not matter what anyone else thinks about you from a negative perspective.”
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?

Great leaders don’t reach the height of success without facing major challenges and crises. From my experience, I have seen that most leaders are better because of their experiences of weathering storms throughout their careers. A great leader will rise to the top in difficult times when tough decisions need to be made and decisive action must be taken. These are five of the most important areas that a Leader needs to focus on in order to lead effectively during turbulent times.

1) Culture

  • Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard, and the brutal facts are confronted. It does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights.
  • Do people feel comfortable sharing ideas?
  • Is there transparency?
  • Do people understand what our goals are?
  • Do people feel like they are part of something?
  • A fundamental and important truth to take to heart: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders

    2) Vision

  • How do you get the rest of the team to see and buy into the vision?
  • This reminds me of a quote from John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
  • The value that a leader brings to an organization in a crisis is that they are able to take a vision and turn it into an executable plan.
  • The biggest competitive advantage for your organization is long-term thinking with a broad view of how different systems in the world are going to come together. One of the notable aspects of compound growth is that the furthest out years are the most important. In a world where almost no one takes a truly long-term view, the market richly rewards those who do.

    3) Execution

  • In order for a leader to execute, they need to ensure that they are holding their teams accountable, upholding standards, and actively coaching their team.
  • The dichotomy that needs to be balanced here revolves around being aggressive with action, but patient with results.
  • Be the Leader that provides resources for the organization (Financial Capital, Human Resources, etc.)

    4) Strategy

  • A good leader does not get bogged down in the minutia of a tactical problem at the expense of strategic success. If you are down in the weeds planning the details with your team, you will have the same perspective as them, which adds little value. But if you let them plan the details, it allows them to own their piece of the plan. And it allows you to stand back and see everything from a different perspective, which adds tremendous value. You can then see the plan from a greater distance, a higher altitude, and you will see more. As a result, you will catch mistakes and discover aspects of the plan that need to be tightened up, which enables you to look like a tactical genius, just because you have a broader view.

    5) Details & Data

  • Leaders need to learn how to separate their data, their logic, from their opinion.
  • The more precisely you define the problem, the more easily you can find a solution. I feel bad” can have a million causes. I didn’t sleep much last night and I haven’t exercised in a week” has a very straightforward answer.
  • People who excel tend to obsess over the details. People who struggle also tend to obsess over the details. The difference is what details they focus on. Minutiae vs polish. Most things don’t matter—but when it does, you want your team to get the details right.
  • Always remember that the best Leaders appear to be doing the least while moving the business forward – the better the Leader, the more subtle the adjustments, and the smoother the progress.
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