Welcome to The 6 a.m. CFO, where finance chiefs share how they jump-start their days and engage with the tasks that are in front of them.
Today, Principal Financial Group’s Deanna Strable shares how she develops and empowers her team, the value of good intent, and her love of college sports.
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Principal Financial Group
- Principal is a global financial services company that helps individuals and businesses plan, protect, invest, and retire.
- Founded: 1879
- Size: 20,000 employees
- Growth: $17.4 billion annual revenue (as of Dec. 31, 2022)
Weekday wake-up time and the first thing I like to do: Optimal would be a 6 a.m. wake-up, with my first meeting starting at 8 or 8:30 a.m.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out and I need to be at the office to take a 7 a.m. (or earlier) meeting.
Coffee, tea, or other morning beverage choice?: Flavored coffee I make at home with my Keurig.
Workday start time: Between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
How I usually spend the first hour of my day: Catching up on email and news via the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, CNBC, and social media sites.
Time I send out my first email: Typically between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Best advice for writing an effective email: Be concise and to the point.
And if it necessitates a long email, consider whether it’s better to have a meeting to discuss.
First dashboard I review: Market activity, specifically movement in the equity market, foreign exchange, and interest rates.
How I structure my morning meetings: I don’t use a common structure.
Mid-morning snack of choice: I try not to snack in the morning.
INSPIRATION AND LEADERSHIP
Favorite quote or mantra: Assume good intent, which began with my parents who instilled in me the importance of looking for the good in people.
In my professional life, I’ve found that so many office issues flare up when people jump to conclusions rather than assume good intent from the outset.
Favorite leadership lesson: Work yourself out of a job. This forces you to develop and empower others.
I’ve been at Principal for more than 30 years, and I’ve had more than a dozen different roles during my time here. If I’m developing others along the way, then they too are ready for new opportunities as I continue to move throughout the company.
Something important to know about me that you wouldn’t know from my business bio: I’m a huge fan of college sports, especially basketball and football.
I’m usually watching Big Ten teams, with a focus on Northwestern (my alma mater) or the Iowa Hawkeyes (who I grew up watching).
I also follow the Celtics, Cubs, and Vikings, mainly because my son watches them.
What was the last job you did at your company that fell outside your traditional scope of work?: I noticed the lines were long at a recent all-employee happy hour, so I jumped in to help serve drinks.
I really enjoyed it, as it was an easy way to kick off conversations and engage with more people!
Can you share one way in which you have learned to manage work-induced stress: I make sure to build in time for interactions or outings with friends. We enjoy good wine and good food.
As a matter of fact, my husband and I travel with the same three couples every five years to a new wine region we haven’t explored yet.
Favorite number: 8 because I am not happy or productive before 8 a.m.!
Most noteworthy item in my workspace: My candy jar, filled with Hot Tamales or Cherry Sours.
Do you have a pet sitting in your office right now: No, I grew up on a small farm in Iowa and pets were always outside only.
Favorite app on my phone that is not related to business (and why): AnyList — it allows me to share shopping lists and other lists with family members.
When do you take time for learning/reading: Either late at night or while traveling on business.
My go-to books are typically fiction, easy reads that are quick and kind of mindless.