Joseph ‘Jay’ Hooley on Power Lunches, Stress Management, and More

He's the chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation, a financial-services company that manages $2.3 trillion in assets.

joseph jay hooley state street ceo chairman

Illustration Source Courtesy of State Street

The most important advice I ever got, business or otherwise, was from my father. He instilled in me the value of perseverance. My father never had the opportunity to go to college, but he achieved a great deal. He taught me to always strive for excellence and to push myself to constantly do better. At the same time, he demonstrated the importance of treating everyone with respect and fairness.

Every executive should keep close to employees, clients, and other key stakeholders. That means getting out of the office to meet them and listen to what motivates or frustrates them, hear about the challenges they’re facing and what they need to be successful. Overall, I think listening is one of the most underutilized yet critical skills for leaders.

It’s rare that I have lunch outside the office. You’re more likely to find me at the cafeteria at State Street Financial Center or having lunch in my conference room with a staff member. Dinner is another story, however.

The hardest decisions I’ve made, hands down, are any related to people, particularly ones that resulted in layoffs, which are always very difficult. You have to weigh what’s best for the long-term health and sustainability of the company, but it’s still difficult to make any decision that affects someone’s livelihood. I weigh those decisions very carefully.

The last book I read was The Boys in the Boat, an incredible story of individual perseverance and teamwork by an eight-oared U.S. crew team during the 1936 Olympics.

The best things about leading a company in Boston are access to terrific talent and the benefits of doing business in a collaborative, entrepreneurial environment that’s so conducive to fostering innovation. Boston has many factors working in its favor: world-class academic institutions, vibrant and diverse business sectors and nonprofits, a strong entrepreneurial community, and business-friendly state and local government. Not to mention the greatest sports teams and most passionate fans in the world.

The biggest challenges of leading a company in Boston are the high costs of doing business in one of the country’s most expensive real estate and labor markets, and attracting and retaining top talent while maintaining a competitive cost structure. And, of course, getting to work during a winter storm.

Most people don’t realize the extent to which State Street is a truly global financial-services company, with operations in 30 countries serving clients around the globe. On any given day we’re touching about 11 percent of the global financial system’s total assets. While we’re a global company, Boston is our home and we’re very proud to be celebrating our 225th anniversary next year. Not many companies can claim that longevity, and we’re very proud of the milestone and Boston’s role in our success.

When I’m stressed out, I like to exercise. I’m a big believer that exercise is a great moderator of stress. I make it a priority to start my day with a workout. I find it boosts my energy level all day long and fortifies me to deal with whatever challenges my day might bring.