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Interview with Zac Stafford - Regional VP of Workday

When it comes to building more grit, I think it's important to learn and study from people that have embodied the principles of grit in their life.  What I admire about Zac's story is his relentless pursuit of becoming the best version of himself that he can possibly be.  Professionally, he has climbed the corporate ranks and is now one of the youngest Vice Presidents of Workday - a billion dollar software company with almost 11,000 employees and recently ranked #5 on the Fortune 100 best companies to work for.  He manages over 100 sales people and leaders and consistently has the top team in the entire company.  Personally, Zac and I have known each other for 23 years and have been very close friends from that time even to this day.  We were fraternity brothers and roommates in college, we sold books door to door in New Mexico as well as western Iowa, we backpacked through 13 countries in 8 weeks together after college, were groomsmen in each others weddings, and he came and stayed with my wife and I while we were living in New Zealand.  Even though we live in different states now, we both attend an annual retreat with 20 of our other college friends and Zac and I regularly meet up when he is near Jacksonville or St. Simons Island.  So it's safe to say that I know him well and can validate that these principles he will share today are part of his DNA.  Back in college, Zac profoundly impacted my life by helping me understand the importance and value of international travel.  We had a deal that if he came and sold books door to door with me that I would backpack through Europe with him.  And the trip to Europe expanded my mind, experiences, and ability to navigate the unknown in ways that I could have never have learned otherwise.  Learning to 'be' and not always 'do' was the most mentally and emotionally unshackling experience of my life up to that point and helped veer the trajectory of my life in a totally different path.  So I will always be grateful to Zac for impacting my life in such a positive way.

But a bit on his more formal background before we dive into our audio interview, Zac is a proud graduate of The University of Georgia and holds a BBA in International Business with a minor in Spanish.  During his time in Athens, Zac studied abroad in Spain, sold books door to door with The Southwestern Company, and was heavily involved on campus.

In returning from school, Zac embarked on his sales career at Paychex, Inc. where he assisted small business owners with payroll and HR solutions to help entrepreneurs build a foundation for their business.  After that stint, he was promoted to lead the Southeast team where he helped teach and train account executives for the next few years in ways to help small businesses all over Georgia.  He was involved in assisting over 8,000 small businesses in his time at Paychex.

During this time, he also was successful in building a small real estate company in SV Investments out of Smyrna, Georgia. 

In 2011, Zac found a growing Silicon Valley startup in Workday.  They had 200 customers and the backing of many of the top investors and PE firms in the world.  Zac accepted an account executive position and found success for the next two years.  There he assisted larger organizations with finance/human resource solutions (ERP) all over the Southeast. The organization went public and has experienced major growth over the past seven years.  From there, he was promoted to lead the Southeast team and then again to lead the customer team for America.  His organization is 100+ people strong and they manage $200m+ in business per year. 

From a business leadership perspective, Zac focuses three principals for success.

1.    Focus on helping people achieve their goals.  Employees, peers, customers, etc.  The more people you help the more success you will have. 

2.    Empower all around to live life in a gratuitous fashion as the ripple effects of thanks can completely alter the world for good.

3.    Control the controllables as there are very few things in life that we are in control of; however, those that are like attitude, work ethic, organization, and our reactions can make the person.

Zac is married to his wife Amy of nine years and he has a son (9) in Barron and a feisty daughter (8) in Finley Mae.  They own a small farm in Milton, Georgia where they are involved in church, community, and philanthropies.  When not working, Zac enjoys travel, outdoors, fishing, and gardening. Without further ado, here is the interview with Zac and I: Pictured below:  Zac and his wife Amy and 2 kids Finley Mae (8) and Barron (9) Also picture below:  Some 'evidence' of our summer of 2001 Euro trip including but not limited to Stonehenge, ice climbing and skiing in Austria, Rome, canyoning in Switzerland, golf at St. Andrews in Scotland, sky diving over the Swiss Alps, Guiness brewery in Dublin, chunnel from London to Paris, swimming in the Blue Grotto in Capri, 'las ramblas' in Barcelona, beer gardens in Munich, time in Amsterdam, and we met Prince Charles in his dorm room in St. Andrews

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