As an entrepreneur, Clay Mathile has had a pretty successful career. After joining pet food company Iams to take over management in 1970, Mathile helped sales grow by 2000% in a decade, from $500,000 to $10 million, before buying the company from its founder. Furthermore, as the man in charge, the entrepreneur turned Iams into a business so successful that it attracted a hefty offer of $2.3 billion, which he took in 1999.
From this, it's safe to say that Clay Mathile did something right during his entrepreneurial run. The businessman, though, also admits that he did a lot of things wrong.
"You need to have a lot of failures before you find the right formula," Mathile is quoted as saying in the Dayton Business Journal. "I've got a lot of reasons to be humble because I've made a lot of mistakes."
One of the lessons that Ohio's second richest man learned on his way to building his empire was how to mange an approach to acquiring control over a company. Mathile is a man who is no stranger to dedication -- he is well known as having worked 12 to 16 hours a day -- but the entrepreneur admits that indulging in the type of spirit that leads businessmen and women to become overbearing can amount to unnecessary exhaustion.
Speaking in a Forbes feature with business partner Joni Fedders, Mathile said, "that's where CEOs get burned out, is when they continue to monitor activities and they don't build a system with controls in place to monitor the results. Give them the up front expectations as she says, evaluate this on a regular basis, make corrections where those corrections are needed, but in the meantime trust people that they're going to do the right things for the right reasons."
As your company grows, Mathile advises you against being an obsessive boss that either tries to do everything or maintains control over the way everything is done. Instead, the billionaire says
“You need to let go instead of holding on so tightly,” Mathile says in his new book "Run Your Business, Don't Let It Run You." "This is a big shift, a shift in how you think of your role as the business owner and leader ... More important, it's a shift in how you behave, in what you get up in the morning and do each day.”
Mathias notes the fact that he had many mentors to help him on his money-making way. Now, at the age of 72, he is passing on those same lessons and more through Aileron, the entrepreneurship institution that he runs along with Fedders, who serves as president.
"It's a pleasure and it's a privilege to help business owners, help people who have their capital, all their capital at risk, to improve society, to create jobs, and to do good things for this community and country," Mathile says in a video shot by Aileron. "If you think about what one job does, the self-esteem it creates, those are special things and we have to keep this dream alive."
And, though he could be enjoying the benefits of his success in lavish retirement, Mathias says helping young tech entrepreneurs is his true passion.
“Most of the people I respect worked their entire life," Mathile says in Entrepreneur. "They never stopped working and doing the things they loved to do, so I am doing the thing I love to do, which is helping entrepreneurs."
Photo courtesy Fox Business