The Rungs of Learning with Eddie Pasatiempo, One of the Most Connected People on the Planet
Eddie Pasatiempo has 4,200 Facebook friends because he likes people. His blend of business consultancy, former tech executive, past NCAA athlete and University Washington hall of famer and nonprofit board member puts him in a wide variety of circles resulting in an exponential network.
Read on to find out more about how Eddie ended up this way and what advice he has for others looking to grow their network.
Before we get into your learning journey, tell me a bit about what you do today.
I am the managing director of a boutique management consulting firm called E78 Partners. I joined the company about a year and a half ago. I spent my whole career in tech and had semi-retired but I still wanted to work and stay engaged. I started my own consulting business and was helping companies doing random things (capital raising, revenue generation, positioning for sale) when a colleague I had known for 20 years asked me to join his firm. They got acquired and then I became partner in the new firm. I help run and grown the business across all industries.
You are a true blooded University of Washington alumni as a former varsity athlete and are in the UW Hall of Fame. What about your time at the UW shaped how you show up today? Are there key learnings from your time there that have stood timeless?
I owe a tremendous debt to UW. It really set up my future and shaped my life for a number of reasons.
Thinking back to those days, it reminds me of the five stages of life happiness: discovery (your teens and twenties), pursuit, balance, meaning and savoring. That discovery phase at UW was really rich for me. Before then, I didn’t know what wealth was and I spent a lot of time with people of color there which I never had before.
I boil the impact of UW on me down to three elements: campus life, athletic and academic rigor. In terms of campus life, I lived in a dorm my freshman year and joined a fraternity and then lived off campus in my senior year. The fraternity experience really shaped me because when you surround yourself with good people, good things happen.
Academically (I graduated with a degree in communications), I really got engaged and learned that whatever you do, you get what you put in. I met with professors that took an interest in me which I reinvested that interest in being really curious. They’d have outside experts come in and speak that were models for me. That was the first time I’d engaged with professionals, and I did really well at school so that was rewarding.
Lastly, athletics were a very important part of my time at UW. I played varsity baseball all four years and I was on a full ride scholarship. What I learned there as a starter player in my freshman year is that mentorship important. When the upperclassmen took me under their wing, that’s where I learned that leadership and caring for your team is important through their coaching.
That combination of things (campus life, academics and athletics) teed me up for the professional world and got me my first job out of college with IBM.
You have a rich history as a nonprofit board member and trustee. What are some of the learning opportunities you've gotten from these roles that are distinct from your business experience?
I don’t see a big difference between the two in terms of running an organization. You still need strategic skills, operational skills and interpersonal skills. The only area that you have to navigate is the passion the staff and people have around the mission or purpose and when it collides with business imperatives and challenges. Sometimes those come into conflict and you have to think about how you prioritize and make decisions for the greater good. An example would be that you don’t have the budget to do the right thing so you might have to cut something out. It takes discipline and courage to take those kinds of risks.
I do think these days boards need to be thoughtful about taking risks. That’s the difference between being mission driven focused and purpose driven focused. You need to be purpose driven focused to help you navigate that and that’s increasing in board governance.
Why did you decide to leave corporate America for consulting? What have been some of your biggest learnings with this transition?
There’s a framework I use often around the four zones of learning: coasting zone, comfort zone, challenge zone (what you haven’t done before) and the creative zone (what you haven’t thought of before).
After IBM, I was in the technology sector and was at a software company that I helped sell to a Fortune 500 company. The founders left and the company that bought them (Thompson Reuters) asked me to stay to run it. I did that for ten years and we grew it pretty nicely. As we got bigger, I got in the coasting zone which is like quiet quitting – I wasn’t challenged and there’s nothing I could do because I was tapped out. That’s when I realized I couldn’t do it anymore and I retired but I still needed to be in the challenge zone.
I was asking myself what I wanted to do that I haven’t done before so I decided to work with companies at different stages as their advisor and started my own consulting practice.
You are the master networker and have more Facebook friends than anyone I know. What does this mean to you and what can others learn from you in this space?
I get that a lot and I don’t even look at it as networking.
I grew up being outgoing because I moved a lot – I went to four junior highs and four different high schools. Then, when I was at IBM, I moved eleven times in my sixteen years there and four of those moves were overseas in four different countries.
Moving a lot, you don’t know anybody when you go to a new spot so either you hole up in your shell alone or you go out and meet people. It’s not so much a motivation to network but a way of life and part of my persona. The affinity of meeting interesting people is really important to me.
I once read about the Dunbar index where this British guy who did this study about how many people you can have in your network. His findings were that the average person can have been 150-250 people in their network. These are people that you know well – when you email or call them you get a response back. I think that number is pretty high when you think about everyday life.
But in terms of how I network, I use a Venn diagram with circles of influence. Growing up, it’s usually school, church and extracurricular activities when you’re younger. As you get older and maybe have kids and now it’s work, church and where your kids go to school. And you look at other interests you have, you start building all these circles and who do you connect with in those circles. It turns out I have a diverse set of interests, I play in those circles and within those I develop relationships.
People tend to overestimate the relationship and underestimate the amount of time and commitment it takes to invest in them. I try to have levels of relationships – level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 4. I try to get to a level 2 because there’s not enough time to get to level 3s and 4s with everybody. You need to make deposits in the relationship, or you don’t get a return. So, if you want to make a meaningful connection, you need to invest in it.
What are you focusing you learning on these days?
One of them is mental health and behavioral health, an area that is relevant to our community. The other is learning from people that I’m around on the different boards I’m on. I just joined the board of P.A.W.S. (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) and there are a couple of people on there that have very different kind of thinking from me.