In early May 2016, Steve Clemente joined Primrose Schools as president. In this exclusive Q&A, we got to ask Steve a few questions about his new role, his thoughts on leadership and what he values most in his personal life.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What attracted you to this opportunity with Primrose?
Steve Clemente (SC): There were so many things I immediately admired about Primrose Schools. In particular, I was impressed by the fantastic team of people, the wonderful company culture and the notable success and focus of the organization. To top it all off, I’m a big child at heart, so working for a company that has such a profound impact on children was a natural fit for me.
Additionally, the importance of early education becomes more and more apparent every day. When I learned about this opportunity, I was immediately excited by the possibility of using my skills and expertise – along with my passion for education – to further the work of Primrose Schools at such an important time in the advancement of early education and care.
FC: How would you describe your leadership philosophy?
SC: I believe strongly in servant leadership and surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and represent different points of view. In terms of my personal leadership style, I’m collaborative, accountable and an engaged listener. I’m also always willing to appropriately challenge myself and others to continue to grow and succeed.
FC: You’ve also said you believe innovation is incredibly important – for leadership and in business. Can you share a little bit about that?
SC: Innovation is incredibly important on many levels. As a leader, you have to continue to innovate to extend your lead, and your goal should always be to decrease the size of the objects in your rearview mirror.
When it comes to business, I believe innovation is about making small bets, not going all in. First, take the time to gather facts and data, and then listen to what is being said and what is not being said. Present plans and ideas in a non-emotional way to encourage feedback and differing points of view. Then, you’ll be ready to influence change and truly make an impact.
FC: Were there any experiences from your childhood that helped you develop into the leader you are today?
SC: Absolutely. I learned so many important life lessons by playing sports, including the importance of teamwork, trust, and how to win and lose respectably.
FC: Given your career success, what is the best advice you have for the Franchise Owners in the Primrose Schools system?
SC: Earn your customers’ business every single day. Never take it for granted!
FC: What do you and your family like to do on the weekends?
SC: My favorite way to recharge is spending time with my wife, Lisa, and our two beautiful daughters, Ashley and Anna. Whenever possible, I start by making breakfast for my girls—whatever they want—and then spend the day with them outside, playing games or even shopping.
FC: What are your specific interests, hobbies or volunteer activities?
SC: I love playing golf, hunting, participating in winter sports, vacationing and doing yard work. If it’s an outdoor activity, I’m in! Giving back to the community is also important to me, and I’ve made it a priority to dedicate time to helping St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Junior Achievement, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and local public libraries.
FC: What’s your favorite book?
SC: This changes every few years. Right now, it’s The Outsiders by William N. Thorndike.
FC: What is your favorite movie?
SC: This is dictated by what my children are watching, so right now it’s anything by Disney! My favorite film of all time is probably Pirates of the Caribbean.
FC: Have you done much international travel? If so, what’s your favorite location so far?
SC: I haven’t traveled internationally very much, but my favorite place I’ve visited so far is Italy, which is where my dad’s family is from.
FC: What is your personal motto?
SC: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
FC: Anything else you’d like to share?
SC: In my new role, I’m inspired every day by the important work we do at Primrose Schools to fulfill our vision of forging a brighter future for all children.