Fast fact: Waitsman has successfully launched three retail agencies in Northwest Arkansas over the past 25 years. Six years ago, he established OneStone Solutions Group.
Which skills do you think are most important when it comes to leadership? Leadership is less about having specific skills and more about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Early in my career, I admired certain business leaders and would try to take on their personality or leadership style. I found myself struggling to lead well. With experience, I learned that leading while being true to who I am resulted in my true gifts and talents coming to life.
Do you think artificial intelligence (AI) can take jobs in your industry? Yes, it can, and in some places, it will happen. However, my experience tells me it’s less about taking jobs away and more about changing some roles. AI allows us to get a lot more work done faster, which gives our team more time to leverage their minds to study and grow the business and less time used up by busy work. We are integrating AI into our business but have not seen a negative effect on our hiring rate, nor has it cost anyone their job. I believe we have a choice to either use AI to improve the depth and quality of our services while growing jobs, or we can reduce jobs by leveraging AI and temporarily growing profits. Investing in AI is enhancing our investment in people, not reducing it.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why? Kirk Herbstreit so I could lead the “College GameDay” show on a fall Saturday morning amidst screaming fans on a college campus.
How significant to you is developing a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) culture within your organization? Extremely important. This year we invested in ongoing DEI training. We have moved from an organization that sought out “like-minded” individuals, to celebrating our diversity and appreciating our differences. It has dramatically changed our culture. People perform better when they know they belong and know they can be who they are at work. This is a journey our company has embraced. I’m thankful our team is using our learnings to change the way we interact with one another. We believe our inclusive attitude toward diversity makes our company a better place to work.
What are your thoughts on working from home? This is a great benefit for most people despite needing time in the office for collaboration and teamwork which is simply not the same on a Zoom call. The challenge as a leader is balancing what’s best for the business and for your people. Our team would say this benefit is extremely important, so our organization makes the balance work in order to maintain this flexibility.
If you had $1 million to give, what would you support? Over the years, I have learned the value of a thriving local public school system. It is the foundation of a healthy community. We moved here 25 years ago and raised three children in Fayetteville Public Schools, and they are all excelling as college students and young professionals. They would each tell you that their education prepared them well and encouraged them to pursue their ambitions. The public schools across our region have the power to impact the trajectories of all children who walk through their doors. I’m thankful for the many others over the years who have made sure our schools remain exceptional through their donations.
What is the best business advice someone has ever given you? Culture must be lived out, and it evolves over time. It takes years to build a great culture and days to tear it down. If you want a great one, then as a leader, don’t allow it to be about you.
What’s your favorite movie or television show? I love watching “The Bachelor” because it allows me to have fun and bonding conversations with my (early 20s) daughters — not to mention it gives me an edge at the office lunch table. #bachelornation