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The Stakeholders: Perspectives on Leadership and Excellence. The stakeholders series features seasoned professionals sharing their perspectives on leadership, factors that led to their success, and what drives them to excel in life and career.

Photo of Bob NeveuBob Neveu
Managing Partner at OurPeople
Founder and Former CEO of Certify, Inc.


Bob Neveu is a tech entrepreneur and is currently Investor and Managing Partner at OurPeople, providing work tools and communications for teams.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I like to hire great people, help them establish themselves in their new role, and then get out of their way. While I am willing to get into the weeds, I’m just not a believer in micro-managing employees. Good people will figure it out and add value to your company. Trust them and let them run!

What was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

I have sold two software companies and making the decision to sell and eventually exit the business is by far the most difficult decision I have made. The challenge for me is finding a new owner who is willing to keep and maintain jobs here in Maine. That is first and foremost. Of course, I have done well selling the businesses, but I turned down several offers when the buyer wanted to move the company out of state.

How do you motivate and inspire a team?

One: Money matters, so I try to give all team members a quarterly/annual performance incentive plan. Two: Recognition is huge, but only when it is real and meaningful, so I ask employees to nominate co-workers for recognition and reward. Three: Benefits make a difference. Every year I try to increase the health or social benefits for our team members. I specifically recall a time when we added medical coverage to our health plan for employees struggling with infertility. It was amazing to see how much this positively impacted so many employees. And the number of new babies in the company went off the charts. I am forever grateful to be in a role where I could help make that happen.

What’s one challenge – internal or external – that you’re anticipating and preparing for in the next year?

On a personal note, I sold and exited Certify in January 2020. And while retirement is enjoyable, I miss building and growing a team. So maybe 2023 is the year I return to an operating role. We’ll see.

What advice would you offer someone just starting out in your field?

Any software entrepreneur really needs to understand that “going viral” or being an “overnight success” is just not really how it happens. It takes years, many years, to hone one’s craft, and become a market leader in one’s space. You have to be dedicated to drive the business, day in and day out, for as long as it takes to reach “success.” The rewards can be amazing, but one must truly grind it out to make the journey a multi-million dollar exit.

Do you have any daily practices that help you be your best personal and/or professional self?

I believe strongly in routine, but you have to plan that routine so it’s effective. You also have to be willing to review the routine over time and pivot as needed. It’s important for me to wake up and know exactly what my plan is for the day.

Do you have a personal philosophy or mantra that has been a through line of your career?

If you want to run a business, you need to be all-in with NO exceptions. If you are not all-in, you are all out, and should move on and do something else. I meet entrepreneurs that try to side-hustle their business while running their career. You can do this for the first 3-6 months while you prove the business model, but at some point you need to jump in the deep end and be all-in no matter the temperature of the water.

What so far has been the proudest moment or achievement of your career?

I have achieved many personal success goals, but those are not really the proudest moments of my career. Seeing team members join our company straight out of college, take an entry level role, and grow their careers is really what makes me proud. So many employees have moved onto bigger roles at larger companies and have been wildly successful. And many times, I hear from these former team members who truly appreciate the opportunity and support we provided them to launch their careers.

What’s one book you’ve read that changed your life?

“Tribal Leadership” featuring Zappos and Tony Hsieh.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from a teacher or mentor?

One of my investors became a true mentor and friend over the years. He has always believed in company performance, but he also believes in patience, as it takes time to build successful businesses. That’s been a super valuable concept, to perform with patience.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

All I recall is wanting to be a millionaire. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but that was absolutely my goal.

If you could spend one week vacationing anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I spent one week on a vacation, which brought me back the next year for two weeks. The third year we spent the winter in this vacation spot, and now I have purchased a home and retired with my wife to the Bahamas.

What was the first concert you attended?

Hall ‘n Oats was my first concert. But I wish it was Earth, Wind & Fire.

What was your first job, and what lessons did you learn in that role?

I had over 20 jobs before I turned 20 (not exaggerating). Lawn mowing, paper route, dishwasher, bus boy, etc. But the most engaging and rewarding job I had in my early life was being a lifeguard at the municipal pool where I grew up in Ohio. I went to the swim club every day all summer since I was 10 years old. I went through the swim lessons, I joined the swim team, and I completed my lifeguard courses and then passed the swim test. I got offered a summer job sitting in the lifeguard chair, wearing zinc oxide on my nose, with a whistle around my neck and every young kid literally looking up to me on my 7’ tall chair. Wow – what a head rush for a 15 year old kid in Ohio!

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive today or a historic figure, who would you choose?

Elon Musk. He continues to change and improve the world in a big way. He would be amazing to meet and know.

What’s your favorite place on earth?

I like being warm, on my boat, with great people, anywhere in the world.

What’s one invention you think we would be better off if it didn’t exist?

The combustion engine. If Nikolas Tesla were able to develop his electric motors before Edison launched his gas engine, this planet would be in a much better position.

Sweet or savory?

Sea-salt covered caramel. Both!