After being born into a broken and dysfunctional home, Sharn Piper was supposedly destined for a life of drugs, gangs and eventually prison. After being expelled from three different schools and being told by teachers and his own Father that he would grow up to be nothing, Sharn almost fell into that exact fate. However, through resilience and a couple of key conversations with certain people, he was inspired to not let his past define his future.
Fast forward to business life in Auckland, Sharn has had some major setbacks and failures. But following suit to his turbulent childhood, he managed to prosper and come out the other side better, more experienced and even more resilient. Now, after the successful start-up and running of his company, Ruption, Sharn is now chief executive of sales, media and marketing agency, Attain NZ (yours truly) – his second successful business which he has established along with three other directors whom he co-owns and co-leads.
In terms of reputation, Sharn’s personal battles and his strong reputation for bouncing back and being positive has carried through to his business ventures – and is now something that clients know him for. Sharn wants to achieve the best outcomes for his clients, which he’s able to do by establishing and building trust quickly, and able to attract great talent for the team (we say this modestly of course).
Much like a lot of great leaders, servant leadership is the style that seems to be behind some of the best and most successful companies. It’s obvious that Sharn too, naturally strives for servant leadership by putting the team’s needs ahead of his own. This enables individuals to feel empowered and places them in the best position to get those wins collectively as a team.
Sharn’s leadership philosophy is based around a few key ideas. He’s big on acknowledging other people’s perspectives, giving them the support they need to meet their work and personal goals, and also allowing them to be involved in higher decisions where appropriate. Building a sense of community among staff is key to a flourishing team that Sharn feels gets great results for clients and a great corporate reputation in general.
It doesn’t all come naturally though. Even Sharn has had to consciously make an effort to ensure his standards don’t slip.
Here’s a couple of things he does to enhance his leadership and personal reputation:
1. Sharn bites his tongue – literally. When he’s wanting to quickly answer a question or respond to an interruption in the office, he says he’s learnt that it’s best to hold off from reacting straight away. Instead, he tries to consider the other persons perspective, understand their situation as to why they may have disturbed him or disagreed with something.
2. He sips water. Another strange one. Sharn’s reasoning is that sipping on water throughout a meeting can prevent any reactive chat, and it’s a good reminder for him to listen (it’s hard to talk with something in your mouth).
3. Meditating and exercising daily. Doing these things on the daily help to keep him grounded and sane. He also believes it reduces stress that can cause negative reactions to situations – particularly in the workplace.
4. Lastly, Sharn is an avid reader. He tends to be drawn to leadership and psychology books as his materials of choice. There’s a saying that ‘knowledge is power’ – this very much rings true for Sharn as he’s got the inside on absolutely everything. Either that or he’s a know-it-all.
Sharn’s leadership is truly inspiring, considering what he has been through and where he has come from. It goes to show that life really is what you make it and sometimes, despite hardship, we can choose how our life pans out and who we want to be.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333