Eric Weight’s alarm clock rang at 6 a.m. every morning, no matter the weather, no matter the month, no matter the holiday.
On his front porch sat copies of the Salt Lake Tribune, ready for distribution in his Provo neighborhood. Weight, a trusty thirteen-year-old paper carrier, was responsible for delivering them.
“The Sunday paper was the worst because it was three times as thick because of all the ads,” Weight says. “I would sometimes have to make two trips on my bike because they were so heavy.”
Throwing newspapers while biking—a “lost art,” says Weight—was challenging, but even more daunting? Getting customers to pay. Weight was charged for the newspapers, and if his neighbor-customers didn’t pay up, he was left to foot the bill himself.
To aid in his collection efforts, Weight bought envelopes, stamped his name and address on the front, and delivered them with the newspapers so subscribers could easily mail in their payments. If they were still delinquent, he would send past-due reminders.
“I thought I was pretty innovative, and my approach certainly saved a lot of time going door-to-door,” Weight says. “I definitely learned to communicate clearly with my customers.”
Working as a paper carrier was also a lesson in responsibility. “I couldn’t decide to sleep in or go on vacation without making arrangements. I had to show up every morning,” he says. “There were no excuses.”
After years of delivering the news, Weight took a job sweeping floors at an electrical supply company and worked his way up to managing the company’s computer systems. “That job introduced me to computer systems, and I noticed how computers improved performance,” says Weight, who stayed with the company through high school and college.
Weight’s first two vocations—though they seemed a means to an end at the time—foreshadowed his eventual professional fortes: utilizing technology and managing customers. As head of experience-management consulting at NICE Satmetrix since October 2018, Weight now gathers feedback compiled through technology and designed to understand and improve customer experiences.
“We’re trying to help customers have positive interactions and experiences, as well as help companies provide valuable products and services,” he says. “I have a lot of passion for using technology to understand and enhance principles of marketing.”
Weight’s career, which has spanned more than three decades, was also shaped while he was an information systems undergrad at BYU Marriott in the 1980s and later a master’s student at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, where he earned his MBA in 1993.
“I’m a closet geek,” he quips. “I can wear a suit and tie and love working with senior executives and CEOs, but I also love to geek out on spreadsheets and analyze data.”
Taking Action on Information
Up until COVID-19 hit Utah in early 2020, Weight could be found in a terminal at Salt Lake City International Airport every few weeks, boarding flights to various US cities or Europe. Weight has continued working with his global team even with the abrupt halt in travel.
Customer-experience management—Weight’s professional focus since 2005—was born out of the market research world. “NICE is about understanding customer feedback and, more importantly, taking action,” he explains. “We are looking to change based on what we’re learning—almost in real time—as opposed to conducting scientific studies with market research, which can take months. We’re about impacting experiences as quickly as we can.”
NICE Satmetrix collects information through contact center interactions, online surveys and feedback, recorded conversations, text messaging, and social media. “As society becomes more digital, the way we obtain feedback and act on it is going to continue to evolve as well,” he notes.
This includes gathering information in more conversational formats, something Weight likes to call the no-survey survey: short bursts of interaction through texts or direct messages, including Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. “We’ve got to get away from surveys and interact with people the way they want to be interacted with, through rich, conversational mediums,” he says. “That objective is exciting but challenging.”
Practice What You Preach
Combining the exciting and challenging is not foreign to Weight. As a new missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he found himself in Thailand, smelling unfamiliar odors, observing poverty close-up, and experiencing 100 percent humidity.
“Nothing that I’ve ever done in my life was harder than what I had to do on my mission,” he says.
At that time, missionaries in Thailand weren’t allowed to go door to door, so Weight and his companions spent their time trying to strike up conversations in the streets and praying for referrals. “I was in a culture that was completely opposite to what I was familiar with, and it was humbling to realize how much I had to learn about the world,” he recalls. “I gained so much from the Thai people’s perspective of life and religion. I couldn’t have gained that eye-opening experience any other way.”
Weight credits his time as a missionary—in which he spent seven months serving as a branch president—for cultivating his leadership and presentation skills, traits he has relied upon heavily ever since.
“In grad school, I gave a lot of presentations, and so many people dread those. I was like, ‘Give me the PowerPoint, and I’ll present all day long,’” Weight says. “My classmates wondered how I was so comfortable in front of people, but they didn’t realize I’d been speaking in public at church since I was twelve years old.”
His time in Thailand had other advantages. Working all day, every day, increased Weight’s faith in himself and in his abilities. And another mission bonus? Weight met his wife, Ann Crebs, while serving. The two overlapped in the Missionary Training Center in Provo for a few days; he even translated for her during a meeting held in Thai.
Their paths crossed again in Thailand when they were involved in a street board presentation for a few hours one evening, although they didn’t talk to each other, and they also eventually served in the same area in central Thailand at one point.
Weight was eager to see Ann upon her return home. “After she gave her homecoming talk, I hung out at her house for a long time. I wanted to spend time with her,” he says. “She didn’t want to date, but she was happy to hang out with me because I was a mission friend.”
Friendship led to dating, and eight months later the two married. Today they have five children, ranging in age from twenty to thirty-two: Erica, Jake, Chase, Whitney, and Jared.
Weight’s decision to attend BYU followed family loyalties. His father, David, was a BYU psychology professor who taught for thirty-four years. “I thought I’d follow suit,” Weight says. “I took a psychology class and an economics class my first semester, but economics made more sense to me.”
Weight began looking at econ and other business-related fields before he settled on studying information systems, which seemed to be an ideal fit for his interests. “I didn’t see myself working in economics, but it is such an important part of business,” he says. “My experience at the electrical supply store clued me in to the excitement of business and computers, and it all kind of aligned.”
After graduating in 1988, Weight worked for a software development company for a few years. “I managed programmers even though I’d never written a line of code in my life,” he says. “The skills I learned from BYU Marriott allowed me to do that.”
Weight also credits his BYU education with preparing him for his MBA. “The level of competition was higher at BYU Marriott because there were so many driven people,” says Weight, who applied to Kelley because his wife’s cousin (a Ford recruiter) praised the school. “I was able to focus on my soft business skills at Indiana because I learned so much in my undergrad program.”
With an MBA in his pocket, Weight took a business consulting manager position in Detroit at Deloitte Consulting, which had a strong recruiting presence at Indiana University. Not long into his job, however, Weight felt he should pursue another path.
“I saw the family life of partners at the consulting firm, and that’s not what I wanted,” says Weight, who had three young children, including a newborn, at the time. “While I was only at Deloitte for two years, I was with the most accomplished business leaders of my career, and I gained incredible insights that have formed the basis for my management and business philosophies ever since. I think of it as my practical MBA.”
From Learning to Teaching
Weight’s leap of faith landed him back in Utah at Novell, followed closely by a move to Blain Olsen White Gurr Advertising, a company his friend helped start.
While he was pondering the decision to switch companies, he found himself golfing with his dad one afternoon. “Dad, I’m thinking about leaving Novell and working with my friend to run an advertising firm,” Weight said.
His dad replied, “The only thing lower than advertising people are used-car salesmen. Are you sure you want to get into that field?”
Weight and his dad laughed about that exchange more than once over the years. Despite his father’s advice, Weight switched to the agency in 1996, spending more than eight years there. He was intrigued by the opportunity to be a partner and excited that most of the clients were technology companies.
In 2005, Weight accepted an adjunct teaching position at BYU Marriott. Being around students was energizing, and Weight worked to ensure his promotions management class was relevant to what students could expect in the workforce. “I was so impressed with the students,” Weight adds.
Gary Rhoads, a BYU Marriott emeritus professor of marketing and entrepreneurship, noticed Weight’s penchant for practical. “Eric is very applied; it was important for him to teach content in an applied setting and share how theories are actually used in companies,” says Rhoads, who met Weight when Weight was working at the ad agency and encouraged him to apply for the adjunct position. “He’s empathetic toward students and genuine. He says what he feels, and you feel what he says.”
Weight reluctantly stopped teaching in 2010 to serve as his home ward bishop.
As a leader and manager, Weight has embraced an enabling style of management. “I work to set clear objectives and expectations while allowing people to grow and be creative,” he explains.
Weight subscribes to the adage that you should hire people who are smarter than you. “Don’t feel intimidated,” he says. “You don’t need all of the answers, you just need to work collaboratively and complement each other.”
Avoiding micromanagement is one of the attributes Weight says he values most. “It all comes down to hiring fully formed adults who can work on their own,” he says. “My job isn’t to tell my team how to do their jobs; it’s to remove road blocks or help navigate around them.”
Another prevalent philosophy Weight espouses is hiring “wigglers”—a term he and David Blan, a partner at the ad agency, coined. “A wiggler is someone who doesn’t accept the status quo,” he explains. “They challenge you and bring up things you hadn’t thought of.”
Weight now reads the news electronically, but he hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned from his paper-route days. He credits experiences gained from being a paper carrier, a missionary, young professional, and customer guru for shaping him into who he’s become. “Obviously you have to make lots of mistakes in life and in business to become better,” he says. “If you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’re never going to improve.”
Aligning life goals with career goals, he continues, puts people where they want to be. “I’ve been blessed with plenty of opportunities,” he says. “You don’t always expect all of the little twists and turns you take in your career, but they always mean something.”
Written by Emily Edmonds
Photography by Bradley Slade
About the Author
Emily Edmonds never had a paper route, but she did study journalism and mass communications at BYU—and played Paperboy on the Nintendo at her friend’s house in elementary school. She currently plays with her three young daughters and works part-time at Salt Lake Community College, and as a freelance writer.