We had the good fortune of connecting with John Costello and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My book, Executive Hoodlum, Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean, clearly demonstrates the way my life balance transitioned over the years. As a young man I took far too many risks, mainly due to my own family related anger issues and the fact my father conditioned me to solve conflicts via physical confrontation. When there is a high criminal element in your family, especially while growing up on the streets of Chicago, you adapt to the rough and tumble nature of your environment, or you perish. As a young teen, being poor, and tragically losing your mother and uncle in two separate violent events fueled my anger and resentment. As I grew older, I wanted out. My desire to be wealthy motivated me to pursue higher education and career. To achieve my objective, I knew I had to become more civilized. I attempted to find a balance in creative ways as I matured so my violent tendencies could be kept in check. Sports was my outlet in high school and college. Engaging in physically demanding sports was helpful, but no panacea. Despite grueling training regimens for middle distance track events in high school and even tougher workouts on the college rowing team, all while competing in boxing shows & tournaments (Golden Gloves) in the off-season, periodically my anger would boil over, and I would end up in a street fight.
Even after graduating from college in Southern California and entering the white -collar community, I struggled to conform with this new world I entered. This is likely why after couple successful years in corporate America, I left back to the streets of Chicago and became entangled with the Chicago Outfit. Unfortunately, the balance I was seeking tipped heavily to one side. I must admit, I enjoyed the life- style and it took shocking events, described in great- detail in my book, to convince me this was not the future I wanted.
I moved back California under duress, as the Federal Marshall was pursuing me mainly due to my father’s high- profile misdeeds along with several other organized crime figures. I put my career back on track and again began to move up the corporate latter. Again, while continuing my boxing exploits. I vowed to settle down and regain the balance I lost. I got married at 29 and knew starting a family would help tremendously. Unfortunately, this failed miserably as my wife had severe fertility issue’s we struggled with for nearly a decade. Our subsequent divorce pushed me over the edge once again, although I continued to excel at work, it did not begin to tone down my anger. Regrettably, I began cavorting again with the rougher crowd as the balance tipped to the dark side. It was only a matter of time before things spiraled out of control until good friends talked me off the tightrope.
I was lucky, as I escaped any death and prison time, and went on to become a high-level corporate executive with the guidance of trusted friends and business colleagues. Unfortunately, several of my peers were not so lucky.
I eventually remarried and now the proud father of two sets of twins. Having children changed my perspective 100% and am highly supportive of their education and sports interests. They depend on me so I cannot, and will not, take any more chances.
I finally achieved the balance I was seeking. It took over four decades, but I am appreciative for what I have and what I earned. Nothing comes easy. Writing the book helped reconcile my anger and I have put it to rest. I am a blessed man.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am in my 32nd year of employment at Microchip Technology, (Nasdaq: MCHP) a company offering a comprehensive portfolio of semiconductor and system solutions for communications, defense & security, aerospace and industrial markets. Products include high-performance and radiation-hardened analog mixed-signal integrated circuits, FPGAs, SoCs, Microcontrollers, Microprocessors and ASICs; power management products; timing and synchronization devices and precise time solutions, setting the world’s standard for time; voice processing devices; RF solutions; discrete components; security technologies and scalable anti-tamper products; Power-over-Ethernet ICs and midspans; custom design capabilities and services. Microchip is headquartered in Chandler, AZ with approximately 19,000 employees globally.
My current title is Corporate Vice President of Government Affairs, my responsibilities include developing and implementing strategy to inform and influence congress and agencies within the executive branch of government regarding aerospace & defense related markets and issues. These markets include information assurance, anti-tamper technology, advanced weapons systems and satellite payload applications where security and reliability are paramount. I am responsible for Microchip’s major initiatives involving Government Relations including the acquisition of “Trusted” microelectronics and GPS denial mitigation solutions. I commenced his second two-year- term on the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) Board of Governors. AIA is the premier advocacy group for the aerospace and defense industry.
I suppose what separates me apart from others is where I started. It is certainly the road less traveled and my background is very different than a vast majority of my colleagues in government and industry. How did I get here? That’s an easy question, but a difficult path. Hard work, perseverance, discipline, adaptability and not being afraid to fail, are what got me here, and of course, the grace of God as the odds were not in my favor.
What I want the world to know about my story, well-documented in my book, is if someone like me can be successful, there is nothing that can stop you from doing the same. Being disadvantaged is no excuse for failure. Keep fighting (figuratively), don’t give up, pursue your dream. Hard work prevails.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When things in SoCal were open, I enjoyed visiting Universal City with my kids. There are several restaurants we favor, Vito in Santa Monica, The Social in Santa Clarita, Piccola Trattoria also in Santa Clarita all Orange County and San Diego Beaches, Big Bear. In years gone by I was a frequent guest at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion where I met some very interesting people, some very high profile celebs and other prominent business people (there is a chapter in my book explaining those circumstances) When I am in the DC area I like visiting Shelly’s Back Room (Cigar Bar) – Landini Brother restaurant in Alexandria is also a favorite.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My lovely wife – Janell Costello
James Peterson AKA Jimmy P
Dr. Mark Saginor