My Best Advice — Gina Perini

My Best Advice — Gina PeriniShe once bicycled 3,000 miles cross-country just for fun. Some would say Somos Chair and CEO Gina Perini has always shown a penchant for the road less traveled. She has steered the company far beyond its original mandate of maintaining the integrity of North America’s toll-free numbers for voice.

Then known as SMS/800, Somos had the security of a government mandate that required little to no change. The path of least resistance would have been to maintain the status quo as a voice-only player. No one would have faulted Gina for just keeping the lights on; however, when she took over as CEO eleven years ago, she saw an industry shift coming and undertook a corporate transformation.

Under Gina’s leadership, the company not only rebranded as Somos but also expanded its services to oversee all numbers in the North American numbering plan and established itself as a key player in toll-free text messaging. Toll-free messaging is now one of the fastest-growing Business Messaging mediums in North America, and Somos is one of the central sources of authoritative ownership data. However, Gina didn’t stop there. Through M&A, she also expanded Somos’s international footprint overnight, making it into a global player. Now, this 2020 E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year shares her best advice to today’s leaders.

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural 2024 entry in a series of guest posts where people from all walks of life share their best advice in times like these. A big thanks to the leaders who volunteered to share their life experiences. Reflection on the past is a deeply personal exercise. The willingness to share it with the world, especially in the written form, is a commendable act of vulnerability. For this alone, they have my deepest gratitude.

My Best Advice

I’ve found that the best lessons come from two very distinct and sometimes opposing places: optimism and failure. But they have much more in common than it may seem at first glance—and are incredibly powerful when used in concert.

When you have optimism, you bet on yourself and your team to make the bold moves. You lead with curiosity, asking the critical questions “What if?” and “Why not?” to push beyond the status quo and challenges. No one will give you the permission, the path, or the roadmap. You need to start from a blank page and imagine what could be and have the fearlessness to go for it.

This is where failure comes in. If you’re not failing, then you’re not innovating. And let’s face it, when things are going well, you can lull yourself into believing that you’ve got it figured out. But when the failures come—and they will come often and sometimes swiftly!—they are golden opportunities to learn and grow. In fact, they often bring growth spurts that accelerate your vision and strategy. Through failure’s valuable lessons, you can take your business beyond what even your most optimistic self could have imagined. 

And these lessons should not just be limited to how we create new innovation and value in our industries; they also relate to how we do it—the kinds of companies we build and the cultures and values we instill in them. As leaders, our most valuable impact is in the culture of the companies we create and the positive impact they can have in the world.

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