The future is everything to a business! That's according to Patriarch Partners founder Lynn Tilton, one of the most recognizable females on Wall Street.
Most business news TV watchers know Tilton for her impeccable wardrobe and confident-sounding voice. But what has gotten lost in the pursuit of sound-bites through the years is the story that took Tilton from a nationally-ranked high school tennis player to Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) /Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) to buying and fixing distressed companies to fighting off the SEC.
TheStreet: 'When you go into these distressed companies, how do you turn them around?"
Lynn Tilton: "You have to look at your environment... but, most important, as I said, my main focus these days is on product and innovation. Because it used to be that restructuring a broken company was really all about the expenses and the liability side of a balance sheet...
And I used to say you have to put five fingers where the blood is flowing and drive the future with the palm of your other hand because if you just stop the blood, by the time you were finished you were drowning, because you hadn't innovated.
But never before today is innovation more important. Because, the trajectory of change is accelerated exponentially.
So, for me, the most important thing is dreaming the future... In the end, most companies become distressed because their revenues fall.. their products are not competitive. And if i can't leapfrog where others are today, then I can't take this company into the future.
..Our job is to create propensity or growth and that formula is people x plan x process x pace. That means you need the right people in the right places, nothing can replace that...
...When I close my eyes and dream the future, what does this company look like?
But, the innovation revolution is what will be the biggest challenge as we have continued disruptors taking market share and changing how we do business you have to see it very quickly where it is going and jump on the band wagon
I mean five years ago i bought a Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) and moved it into the showroom and took it apart piece by piece and I made a decision at that moment that I believed the autonomous car was going to be the future.
I started moving our products towards that at my automotive company.
And today our biggest products are battery trades and the future of infotainment and advanced driving. So, you have to take bets and you've got to see trends, especially if you are not going to be the major disruptor in an industry."
TheStreet: "Lynn, you took apart a Tesla?"
Lynn Tilton: "Yeah, I mean, I learned my businesses bottom up. Every business I run I have to learn part by part, piece by piece otherwise I can't dream the future.
So, you know I can take a helicopter apart too. but, that's the way I had to learn what the pieces were and where i thought things were going to drive the strategy for that company."