Fast Company

CEO Janitor

Picks from the founder of Wizards of the Coast Inc.

Who: Peter Adkison, mavra@wizards.com

Company: Wizards of the Coast Inc.

Age: 36

Has Held Title For:8 years

Previous Title: Systems analyst, Boeing

Degree: BS, computer science; MBA

How many times have you heard the expression "It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it"? When Peter Adkison says it, he means it. He founded the adventure-game company Wizards of the Coast in his basement in 1990. Today the company's trading-card game, Magic: The Gathering, has more than 5 million players around the world. Although Adkison has moved upstairs to manage the 500 employees at his $100 million company, he still takes his custodial duties very seriously.

How do you balance your executive and custodial duties?

If I do a good job as CEO, then I don't have to be the janitor very often. If I promote the right people and provide them with the right tools, then I don't have to clean up messes afterward.

What's the worst mess you've ever had to clean up?

My biggest challenge is not the occasional mess but the maintenance. We have a lot of highly creative, independent people here, and as the company gets bigger, they tend to drift apart. My job is to keep everyone going in the same direction.

Does the executive janitor live in the basement?

Not exactly, though you could say that I'm on round-the-clock duty!

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