Chief Client Development Officer
Gus Thompson fits right in as the Hallmark Business Connections' Chief Client Development Officer. His “clients-first” thinking guides all our business development. With his entrepreneurial spirit, Gus directs his team to work with clients’ brand, assets and objectives to facilitate successful programs and outcomes.
Gus’s approach hinges on three tenets: 1. Go higher. 2. Provide provocative insights.
3. Prescribe highly actionable next steps. “We have to be clicking on all three to do our job right.”
Gus puts the customer’s objectives at the center of all decisions.
What business accomplishment are you most proud of?
The connections I’ve made. My professional network is over 25 years old. Building and nurturing it comes naturally--not for any intentional gain, but because it’s the right thing to do. I like to call it keeping square with the universe.
My toughest relationships often end up becoming my best friends. A co-worker and seasoned New Yorker once told me to go back to South Dakota. When I said I didn’t come from there, he said, “See! Even they don’t want you.” Bad start, but a relationship I worked on. We stayed in touch even after I left NYC. It means a lot when my former colleagues are happy to act as my references.
What was the best advice you ever got about business?
“With success or title comes responsibility, not privilege.” Those words of wisdom came from a former WWII naval commander who had the dangerous job of towing ships through the rough seas surrounding the Aleutian Islands.
When I worked for him, he was 65 and owned the town’s auto dealership. I washed the cars. Despite his position, wealth and achievement, my boss was still the first one in, last one out. He did any task to get things done and done right--the tough jobs, the dirty jobs. I owe him a lot for his authentic brand of leadership. It’s something I always try to emulate and infuse into my team.
Why are you passionate about your job, Hallmark or this industry?
We help businesses handle their people component. It accounts for 90% of their expenses and 100% of their success.
The employees at Hallmark Business Connections are positive and engaged. We believe in what we do. We’re a good balance of IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence).
What gives you insight into industry trends?
My job keeps me focused on paying attention to behavior. It’s the heart of marketing and fundamental to business success. At my first job in a hardware store, I learned I wasn’t there to sell things. I was there to solve people’s problems so listening is key.
Ever since I came to Hallmark Business Connections, I’ve made it a practice to listen to customer calls. If I get interrupted and can’t hear the entire conversation, I’ll loop back to hear how things went. I really want to understand our customers’ challenges. What drives their success? My team is here to help clients reach their objectives.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for businesses today?
I think it’s getting harder for businesses to communicate their point of differentiation and have it resonate with customers. It can’t be all about costs and pricing. Companies have to define who they are and demonstrate how they deliver real value to their customers.
When I approach these types of problems, I like to use a 2x2 matrix framework. For me, it’s an indispensable tool for dealing with dynamic, complex issues. The 2x2 puts problems in context and lets me vet the factors without overthinking them. In the end it uncovers what actions will yield the highest impact.
What can you share about your personal life?
I aim for a work/life balance and keeping things simple. For a guy whose career took him across the globe, I’m a natural-born homebody, happiest when I’m in a 5-square block area around my house--doing yard work, walking with my wife, driving the kids around town, taking care of the dog.