Click to enlarge
January 13, 2010
Face in the crowd: Mike Matte
Samira Rizvi wrote:
By FLORI MEEKS
Being a good leader, Mike Matte said, calls for being an effective teacher.
"I like the saying, ‘Good leaders teach people to follow their lead,’ " he said. " ‘Great leaders teach people to lead themselves.’ "
Matte of Katy has made a career out of teaching people to motivate themselves. Earlier in his career, he moved throughout the country as an executive with ADT Security Systems responsible for helping units within the corporation meet their potential.
Today, Matte is a self-employed keynote speaker, interim CEO and leadership coach known as the Marathon CEO. He applies the wisdom and principles he has gained as a frequent marathon runner to helping clients succeed.
"CEO stands for chief effectiveness officer," Matte said.
Matte, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the military until 1980.
From there, he began his career with ADT Security Systems at its New York City offices in the World Trade Center. At age 27, he was working as a manager and accepting assignments to run struggling company units and turn them around.
When life became stressful, which it frequently did, Matte turned to his longtime love, running, to help ease the tension.
He would go on to run more than 1,200 races, including seven marathons with a Boston qualifying personal best of 2 hours, 48 minutes.
ADT, meanwhile, continued to send him around the country to speak and teach leadership skills. It was the chairman of the company who first started calling him the Marathon CEO.
Matte’s teaching has been based on a concept similar to that of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. "If you effectively learn how to run your life, you’ll be a better mom, a better boss, a better employee, a better everything," he said.
When his company sponsored the London Marathon in the 1990s, he traveled to London as his company’s ambassador and met the late Princess Diana.
"This further cemented my reputation as the Marathon CEO," Matte said.
In 1997, Matte was working as ADT’s southeast president when he learned the company had been purchased by Tyco International, and all five ADT Security presidents were being let go. He was losing his job.
"Whatever happens to us along the marathon, that’s the 10 percent," Matte said. "The 90 percent is how you respond to it."
Through ADT’s outplacement service, Matte got an audition for a national speaking company that led to a 12-month assignment. He continued offering guidance on leadership and dealing with difficult people.
After Fort Worth, he lived in Dallas and then settled in the Houston area in 2006 to help turn around a company on the city’s northwest side. Today, he is speaking full time about marathon leadership.
"The real premise of marathon leadership is we have a choice to run our lives or have our lives run us," Matte said.
Matte encourages his audiences to focus on their strengths and build upon them; to write down their goals and follow through on them; to remain flexible; and to devote time to themselves.
Matte is putting many of his principles in book form with help from writer Sue Howard. He plans to name the finished product, due to be published this year, Running Strong... 26.2 Ways To Run Your Best Life.
Howard, who lives in Montrose, said she has come to respect Matte since they started working together last February. "He’s just extremely dedicated to playing a teaching role in helping people improve their lives and, in turn, help their organizations. He’s very sincere about living life consciously and well."
Matte has taken his own advice about adversity on more than one occasion. During a run in Dallas 1½ years ago, Matte tore his hip muscle while stepping off a curb. During surgery to repair the injury, physicians discovered arthritis in his hip. He received a titanium hip in November 2008.
"I can still run; I’m a 5K guy now," Matte said. His first race was the Thanksgiving Turkey Dash in Katy.
"I’m blessed. You wouldn’t know I had a steel hip unless you were with me in the security line at the airport."
Mike Matte is owner and president of Marathon CEO Leadership.