For­mer QA’s com­mis­sioner ex­plores lead­er­ship

Kent County News - - REAL & ESTATE BUSINESS - By KRIS­TIAN JAIME [email protected]­

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.

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