I’m writing this column following the loss of a dear friend and industry leader. Randy Vaughan represented the best our industry had to offer. He was a humble leader who truly brought out the best in those around him and inspired many of us to be better. Those of us who worked with Randy over the past 20 years or more are saddened by his loss but encouraged by his legacy.
In the days following his passing, a string of emails emerged sharing fond stories about Randy and remembering him in ways I only aspire to be remembered myself. I’ve been thinking about the best way to describe Randy Vaughan, and the word that keeps coming to mind is “integrity.” A phrase I learned early in my career has kept me in good stead and was reflected in Randy’s business and personal life: “Never sacrifice a value to achieve a goal.”
I never had a conversation with Randy about his values, but he didn’t need to list them for me to know what they were. He valued honesty—honesty in our dealings with each other, in our words, and in our actions. He valued education. As the years progressed he demonstrated a passion for teaching others, giving them a chance for the success he had experienced. Randy valued fairness. I’m sure he understood, because he surely experienced that life isn’t fair, but he took the time to listen to diverse opinions and strove to be fair when his leadership was called upon. He valued generosity, gave freely, and encouraged others to do the same.
Also, if he said he was going to do something, he did it, and he expected the same from others. Maybe this value stemmed from his days as a musician. Randy was a performer, and performers strive for perfection. They stand out from other performers through excellence and by making the difficult look easy. Randy also enjoyed life. He enjoyed an excellent meal with an excellent wine. He found the time to enjoy these things with his family and close friends. So, I guess you could say he valued balance.
Recently the business and economic environment seems to be bringing out the worst in people. We’re observing competitors clearly sacrificing values to get work. Customers are playing games to take advantage of market conditions to achieve better results for themselves. Those with political power are taking advantage of their positions to accumulate more power at the expense of those they represent. Once reliable businesses are reneging on promises believing they have become too costly to keep.
Yet among all these discouraging examples, there are many like Randy Vaughan. To this end I’ve also noted another trend. During a number of recent conversations with business leaders in our industry I’ve learned of decisions similar to the one our business made last year. That is, to not chase after the ridiculous. Most of us understand the financial metrics of our business and are choosing to say no to unreasonably low-margin jobs even if it results in a smaller company. We value profit because we know it secures our future and the future of our employees. We would prefer to operate as a smaller business for now and be healthy when the economy improves rather than chance loosing the business altogether.
I’m going to think often this year about my friend Randy Vaughan. And when I do I’m going to renew my commitment to living my personal and business life with integrity. I encourage you to do the same.
Mike Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Safeguard Security and Communications. He is a past president and director on the board of the NSCA.
As news of Randy Vaughan’s untimely death at 63 years of age on December 23, 2010 spread throughout the industry, we were commencing work on this issue of SCN. Nearly every person I had to contact for the magazine’s contents was connected to Vaughan, and our correspondence was full of remembrances of a truly wonderful person who had an unforgettable role in our lives.
Vaughan was a charter member of NSCA, and he served on the NSCA Board of Directors from 1997-2008, including a year twoyear term as president beginning in 2005. Additionally, he served as an instructor for NSCA University for more than 12 years, and was named its Educator of the Year in 2007. He also served as chairman of the NSCA Education Committee for a number of years. His greatest accomplishments for NSCA include the creation of NSCA University and the Business & Leadership Conference, and his role as a subject matter expert and content developer for the industry.
Vaughan was president of AE Systems near Norfolk, VA, for 38 years. He served as a consultant to AE Systems for the last three years, maintaining his involvement and training the next generation of systems integrators. He was also serving as the current chairman of the board for CEDIA.
I knew Vaughan for most of my 12-year career with the magazine, and he served as a columnist for SCN while he was president of NSCA. SCN’s writers and I have quoted him in more stories than I can count, and that’s a testament to the amount of time and knowledge he shared with all of us. But he wasn’t just a career guy, Vaughan was always making everyone laugh. And maybe most importantly, he made everyone around him feel remarkable and valued. He had a true appreciation for everybody’s contributions to this business and the world at large. He will be dearly missed.