Former QA’s commissioner explores leadership
CENTREVILLE — Paul Comfort, former CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration, has collected the numerous lessons from more than 30 years of public service in his latest book.
“Full Throttle: Living Life to the Max with No Regrets” is a collection of stories from his time as a public official on the Eastern Shore and later at the helm of the nation’s 11th largest transit system. He also includes stories from other notable public transportation officials across the country and their wisdom gained through managing human capital and logistics.
“It’s been a year in the making and it’s a leadership selfhelp book,” Comfort said. “It’s based on my 30 years in gov- ernment, mainly in transportation. It has at least eight other transportation CEOs, and it’s an inside look at the public transportation business.”
The autobiographical stories from each of the participants reflects a point where a firm decision led to a business lesson. While some the anecdotal stories illustrate a successful outcome, they also describe moments of failure and lessons learned thereafter.
The book aims to illuminate CEO thinking and how it led to rising to the top of often demanding and complicated hierarchies. As an example, First Transit, arguably the nation’s largest transportation company, discussed how its CEO had to decide on accepting a promotion in lieu of its stipulations.
“These stories help the reader because they show how these (business leaders) got around obstacles,” Comfort said. “You’re learning from people who made it to the top with what to do and what not to do. The illustrations are transportation-related, but the messages can apply to anyone. It’s very much about the character you have and giving it your all.”
Comfort said the reality of public service is often thankless work with many hours devoted to changes with many moving parts. Yet he also said his drive for it has not diminished over the years. The key for Comfort is getting involved for the right reason.
Comfort alluded to roots with a father who was a minister who instilled public service as a way of life. While it seems difficult to condense such a prolific career into a seemingly concise book, the process started with isolating poignant stories from a career that started as transportation coordinator for Queen Anne’s County, then progressed to separate stints as county administrator for both Queen Anne’s County and Charles County.
His time on the Eastern Shore also included serving on the Queen Anne’s County Board of County Commissioners in 2014.
“What I see in big corporations and governments is people putting their head down and not making waves just trying to make it to retirement,” Comfort said. “I don’t think that’s a way to live and (people) can’t be afraid of living full throttle. You have to be willing to make decisions that impact lives and you have get out of that mindset.”
Comfort also covers failed bids for public office, but tells of positive outcomes that followed. Another theme he wanted included in the book was importance of humility in the face of obvious victories.
The husband and father of six now works as the vice president of business development at the Trapeze Group.
He said there is still more to be included in future books.
“Full Throttle: Living Life to the Max with No Regrets” can be purchased on Amazon. It also is available as an e-book.
Paul Comfort, former CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration and the vice president of business development at the Trapeze Group, recently released a book about the lessons in leadership and business.