We’re incredibly honored to introduce you to Phill Swanson, an incredible leader in innovation at Whirlpool. He’s already offered so much insight as we’ve grown and we’re excited to see what he continues to tackle on his journey, both at Whirlpool and in his personal life!
What was the item or activity you couldn’t live without growing up?
Technology. Literally of any kind. I remember begging my parents for a CD player after seeing it as end-cap item in Sam’s Club. I was seven. This was before anti-skip protection, the player literally came with a platform you would rest it on in the car to prevent “skipping” while driving. And from there I became a perrenial early adopter. I had a mini-disc player. Built my own computer in grade school. Had a first gen iPod. It’s odd, but technology, and the creativity it enables have been the two most constant themes throughout my life.
What is your favorite word or quote?
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut. I love this quote from his novel Mother Night. The central struggle of the main character is of an American Spy pretending to be a German Playwrite and propagandist. Ultimately he is tried for his war crimes as a Nazi propagandist. I think in life and the business world we can become so adept at adapting to different audiences and convinced of our purpose that we lose the ability to reflect on who we really are, and what the purpose of work really is. The truly great leaders understand this quote and constantly challenge their own Hubris.
If you could have one talent you don’t already possess what would it be?
The ability to code. Proficiently. I know enough to break things and understand systems, but I’m not fluent enough develop anything on my own without going insane.
What inspires your innovative side and motivates you to pursue the path you chose?
This is really the only way towards progress. All of the big problems facing our world will be solved by those who are just a bit more curious than those around them. Successful businesses are an outcome. Startup exits are an outcome. The reason, and the why behind this career path are the big problems and the need to solve them.
What was one of the first lessons you learned in business?
Working to delight your employer, and working to delight your customer are not mutually inclusive. And always push the organization to the latter.
Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 19-year-old self?
Learn how to code and invest in Bitcoin…and hold till December 2017.