I think if you have a passion, that's what gives you an edge.
You took the Vertafore job last fall after eight and a half years at Intuit. Why take this job?
My father worked as an insurance agent. I witnessed each day the noble work he did selling commercial and personal lines insurance. I took this role because it pulled at my heartstrings. I thought maybe this is just life coming full circle. Secondly, I looked at the technology in the insurance sector and saw an opportunity to make an impact by developing technological solutions that facilitate better connection between carriers and their agency partners.
Tell me about Vertafore.
Our mission at Vertafore is to bring the insurance industry, and all its distribution channels, the proven technology we are known for and access to the latest in mobile, analytics/business intelligence and cloud technologies. We have almost $400 million in annual revenue, with 1,300 employees and 12 offices in the United States and one in London. We have three main lines of business—agency management systems, carrier solutions, and compliance, licensing and Web publishing.
You were born and reared in Munich. How did you find your way to the United States?
When I was 10, my father took me with him on one of his business trips to New York City. Going into New York, seeing all that glass and steel, I thought to myself: This is the land of the future. This is where I want to live.
You recently became a United States citizen. Congratulations.
Thank you! I worked on it for 20 years. It’s quite a process. I have an American wife and three children with American passports.
So have you given up soccer for American football?
(Laughs) I have not. I’m a raving San Francisco 49ers fan, which makes my life as a football fan in Seattle interesting. But I also get up Saturday mornings to watch German soccer games on TV. On Sunday afternoons I watch my NFL football.
For a guy who came to America 20 years ago, you’ve lived in a lot of places—Tulsa, Boston, Silicon Valley and now Seattle. Do you have a favorite?
I do like the mountains and the ocean. From my condo in downtown Seattle I can look out on Puget Sound and the snow-capped mountains behind it. I had a similar love for the landscape in San Francisco. And I don’t believe the Midwest is a place you fly over. You understand why America is the world’s biggest superpower when you spend time in the Midwest. As a teenager, I was an exchange student in a suburb of Detroit. That’s when I fell in love with America.
Who have been your most influential business mentors?
The biggest influences are both former CEOs of the company I left last year, Intuit. The current CEO, Brad Smith, exudes the qualities of a leader who has preserved all of his humility. And the former CEO, Steve Bennett, taught me how to prioritize the critical few priorities a business leader must cater toward.
How would the people you work with describe your management style?
People would say I’m approachable. Some people would say I have infectious energy. I’m definitely a team player. They would also say I’m not very patient. I don’t think that’s an uncommon trait among people who have these kinds of leadership roles.
What are your goals for Vertafore?
My philosophy in business is serving our three key stakeholders, and I plan to emphasize each one at Vertafore. First and foremost, we focus on our customers because the primary goal of every great company should be to delight its customers. The second set of stakeholders is our employees. If we’re able to attract, maintain and motivate the best employees possible, they will do everything they can to assist in delighting customers. The third set of stakeholders is our shareholders, and if we are able to take care of those first two stakeholders, shareholder goals most likely will also be met.
Tell me about Vertafore Cares, the nonprofit group you’re founding.
I take a lot of pride not only in the work our employees do but also in the great human beings they are. We raised more than $20,000 for the American Red Cross in honor of the victims of the mudslide in Oso, which is about 45 miles from our headquarters in Bothell, Washington. This effort demonstrates our employees’ generosity. I want to nurture that culture, and Vertafore Cares is one way of doing that.
Last question: What gives you your leader’s edge?
I have insatiable energy. I’m here at work at 6:30 or 7:00, and I go home 12 hours later. I enjoy every minute of it. I think if you have a passion, that’s what gives you an edge.
The Lintner File
Hometown: Munich, Germany
Family: Wife, Gayle (married 26 years); children: Angelika, Jacqueline and Gabriel
Last book read: Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Think, Work and Live (Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books) by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
Boat: 27-foot Cobalt