I have the fortunate opportunity to assist a lot of my clients with their hiring. I believe it is critical to get the “right people on the team” and to make sure you have a cultural fit with the organization. One of the things I look out for as a “red flag” is when I come across job candidates who have inflated egos or otherwise think they are better than others for some reason. To me, respect for your co-workers and customers is a must for a well-functioning organization. There is no room for arrogance and disrespect in the workplace; unfortunately, it is far too common. Most of the successful leaders I have interviewed have a sense of humility and respect for others. They are likeable and people want to follow them or do business with them. I recently re-read Dale Carnegie’s classic book How to Win Friends & Influence People, which provides a great overview of how to build great relationships in life.
Will Pace, owner of Circle Seven Outpost & Provisions, learned these lessons of winning friends and influencing people early on in life. Pace, a native of Monticello, grew up watching his father, Dr. Brantley Pace, serve patients throughout the area. Pace shared, “My father was a ‘country doctor’ and taught me the value of hard work and how to do a little bit of everything.” In high school, Pace worked at a local hardware store that taught him many life lessons. He noted, “My experience at the hardware store taught me about the ‘down home’ principle of relating to all types of customers – to treat both the business CEO and the guy buying corn the same way.”
Pace, a Belhaven graduate, further learned about treating people right and customer service while working at the Skip Barber Racing School. He served as a lead instructor and test driver for the prestigious racing school. He and his co-workers would lead groups of 50-70 people every weekend on how to become better racers. His customers were usually twice his age and very independent and successful.His experience there taught him how to deal with all types of people. Pace said, “I had the privilege of working with celebrities, green berets and the overall-wearing farmer — this was a very important lesson. Everyone at the school had the same purpose that particular weekend, learn how to become a better driver.”
Pace took his diverse experience and combined it with his passion for the outdoors and hunting to launch Circle Seven in 2007. Through his retail store in Madison and online storefront, Pace is serving clients around the country and making lots of friends along the way. He shared, “My business philosophy is to treat every customer with dignity and respect, and help them to leave as a satisfied customer from Circle Seven.” By treating people with sincerity and genuine respect Pace has developed strong friendships with co-workers, suppliers, and his customers.
He emphasized, “I believe that a person’s biggest asset is being a genuinely caring friend.”
While we live in a digital age, Pace prefers face-to-face communication whenever possible. He understands that much of our communication is non-verbal, and we lose that through email and text. He advises young leaders to develop their people skills and learn how to communicate effectively. In a “Twitter” world, this is a refreshing perspective. Pace’s principles are sound and have allowed him to build a thriving business.
We all need a reminder now and then of the importance of being a good listener and friend and to always treat each other with respect.
Up Close With Will Pace
Title: Founder, Circle Seven Outpost & Provisions
First Job: “I worked for a local hardware store in Monticello, MS.”
Favorite Books: Best Guns (Michael McIntosh)
Proudest Moment as a Leader: Being a husband and a father.
Hobbies/Interests: Shooting sports
Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.