Fun for CEOs: Relentless pressure

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Philip Rinaldi explains that Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the former Sunocco refinery, unveils its new oil-by-rail yard and high-speed unloading of railcars carrying 160,000 barrels a day of crude from North Dakota, October 2, 2013. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )

What does it take to be an executive? Frankly, Philip Rinaldi's answer was boring, until he began to elaborate during our Leadership Agenda interview, published in Monday's Inquirer.

"Thank God I was born with a good attitude," he said.  (That was the boring part -- I was worried that a sermon was about to follow. It didn't, thank God.) Rinaldi heads Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the company that runs the former Sunoco Inc. refinery in South Philadelphia.

"If you are going to be a CEO in today’s world, you are dealing with a 100 different issues all the time," he continued. "They are snapping at your heels, biting you in the back and it’s relentless and if that kind of relentless pressure bothers you and gets to you, and if you take it personally, it'll really eat you up. People who are going to succeed in these kind of jobs are going to be people who find that not to be a problem at all, but find it an enormous amount of fun.

"You’ve got to enjoy dealing with crisis after crisis, problem after problem, spending a few minutes making a good decision after sometimes just fragmented information. Somehow you have to think, `Wow, this is what I really like to do. This is really great. My day is never boring.’ If you have that attitude, it’s wonderful. If you have the attitude, `Oh my God, you have to stop the world, so I can get off. Can’t we have two days of quiet, so I can make all my [desk] piles neat and square – you are going to drive yourself nuts."

Click here to read my recent story about Rinaldi being honored by the his company's union workers, members of Local 10-1 of the United Steelworkers and here and here for my blog posts elaborating on it.

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