What’s the difference between commanding nuclear attack submarines and running a website hosting company? Less than you might imagine, according to a man who’s done both. Ron LaSalvia is president, hosting brands, at Burlington-based company Endurance International Group, which offers a wide range of Internet services for small businesses. He says that in both jobs, technology matters, but teamwork matters even more. LaSalvia recently spoke with the Globe’s Hiawatha Bray about the mindset that guided his 24-year naval career, how he applies it to life in the private sector, and about one of his favorite hobbies — trying new diets.
1. LaSalvia is a Philadelphian, the son of a mail carrier and US Navy veteran who followed his father’s advice and went to sea.
“I came to Boston when I was 17 to go to MIT and start my professional career in the Navy. I got a Navy scholarship to MIT that required me to spend four years in the Navy. I found out that being on a nuclear submarine, I just loved it. I loved the combination of technology and people, the close-knit community, and ended up staying for 24 years.”
2. At first, LaSalvia wanted to be a naval aviator. Then he realized he wasn’t the lone hero type.
“I asked to spend my first summer in an aircraft carrier so I could see what it was like to be a pilot. It was really awesome, but it was a little too individualistic for me. My next summer, I decided to ride a submarine, and I was just blown away by the sense of teamwork, by the sense of community. It’s really what I thought I was put on earth to do, once I started doing it.”
3. Endurance runs an international network of companies that provide Web hosting, domain services, and marketing support for small businesses. It sounds mundane compared with commanding submarines. But LaSalvia says he applies the same principles to his current work — aggression and teamwork.
“You’re trying to be the best company you can be. You’ve got competitors in the marketplace you’re trying to beat. It’s having a passion about being great about something, and communicating that to everybody in the organization so they feel the same way. We go out looking for the fight because we want to win.”
4. Some people diet to lose weight. LaSalvia does it for fun.
“I like experimenting with health stuff. I’m really into food and try different diets to see how they affect my body. I did vegan for a while; I did paleo for a while. I try this different stuff. I read a bunch of theories about it and then I go and try it out.”
5. In his spare time, he reads books that suggest ways to become a better manager. In the little downtime that remains, he checks out Netflix videos and cable TV series. Among his favorites: “The Americans,” a show about Soviet KGB agents in the Reagan-era United States.
“What fascinates me, I spent my whole life chasing Russians around the ocean. And I find myself watching that show and rooting for the spies.”Hiawatha Bray can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.