Stupid Leadership Traps #2:
Managing vs. Leading
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future. – William Wordsworth
Profit is not about the money. This is leadership redefined.
Read the transcripts at hughballoupodcast.com
You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
This is a curious debate. Many in academia use management as the title for business leadership programs. For example, a well-known large university in my town offers a degree in management in the business school and allows for a minor in leadership, which is under the college of life sciences and agriculture. Fortunately, the professor leading that program understands leadership and knows how to apply it in a practical way. I don’t feel that a degree in management qualifies a person to lead an organization, a team, or a project. Its basis is in other areas.
As Stephen Covey points out, we manage time and lead people…we manage money and lead people…we manage project implementation and lead people…we manage things and lead people. There is a distinct difference.
Managing people fits an autocratic leadership style and not a transformational leadership style. It can be a form of overfunctioning. Top down leadership that is autocratic minimizes the synergy of the team.
Here’s a simple chart of my thoughts on the differences:
|Concern||Helps others to be right||Being right|
|Horizon||Short-Term within Long-Term||Short-Term|
|Creates||Leaders on teams||Puppets|
|Rules||Uses principles||Uses rules|
|Pathway||Creates new||Uses existing|
|Persona||Focus on vision and values||Focus on self|
As you see, there is a significant difference in these two paradigms.
Effective leadership requires healthy self-esteem, confidence, and constantly evolving skills.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM
(c) 2016 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.
Stupid Leadership Traps #1:
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
Conducting High Performance Meetings Is Like Conducting a Symphony Orchestra
Conducting a mediocre rehearsal sets the stage for a mediocre performance. A skilled orchestra or choir conductor knows that creating an excellent performance begins with creating an excellent rehearsal – every note has integrity.
Corporate leaders conduct boring, unproductive meetings and expect excellent results despite the poor rehearsal. There is not difference in a corporate meeting or a symphony rehearsal. It’s Hugh leadership principle #3: Rehearse for Success. This principle is true for all we do in leadership!
When the conductor steps on the podium to conduct a meeting (rehearsal) with an orchestra, he or she is thoroughly prepared for success. Not only are the outcomes in mind, but also the process to get there has been completely planned.
With Hugh’s 10 tips for conduction high performance meetings you will equipped to transform your corporate culture to the DNA of excellence that is embedded in every great symphony orchestra around the world.
1.Clearly state the purpose for the meeting.
Don’t hold a meeting unless there is a reason. Know why you are holding a meeting and tell others why. Give a definition of the expected output of the meeting. Never, every use an agenda for a meeting! “Agenda” implies activity. “Deliverables” implies and drives for results. Articulate the meeting objectives as clearly stated deliverables or some other term that communicates completion of specific objectives.
2. Review the entire flow for the session at the beginning
Explain what will happen and when it will happen in this meeting. Help people understand where the meeting is going and how the group will bet there. This will help each participant be fully present for each part of the meeting and to trust the process. Explain what type of discussion is needed (brainstorming, sorting, prioritizing, etc.) at each point in the meeting and define how those concepts will work. Explain how decisions will be made.
3. Plan the meeting thoroughly
Begin with the deliverables, that is, know what you want to walk away with at the end of the meeting. Express the deliverables using specific, measurable outcomes. When planning the meeting, allow twice the meeting time for your planning process. In order to get the best results a commitment to the best planning is necessary. Yes, that’s a 2:1 ratio. Spend twice the time planning the meeting to get the best results from your team. You have good people. Give them the context for getting their best thinking skills and for making the best decisions.
Here’s another important planning principle: only plan for 65% of the available time. Some items will take more time than planned. Be efficient with your time and respect the time of others! You will get their best participation.
Outline every part of the meeting in your planning guide. Define how much time it will take to introduce the deliverables and give an overview of the meeting. Define how much time it will take to brainstorm, sort and refine. Do not leave out any part of the process.
Prepare visuals for the meeting. Record the input of the group on chart pads, storyboard cards, white boards or some other media that everyone can constantly review as they make decisions. Define where the group input is needed and where it is not. Explain the difference.
4. Identify the leader/moderator/facilitator of the meeting
One person must control the flow of the meeting. One person must facilitate to insure that the group stays on task and nobody dominates all the discussions or decisions. The facilitator also ensures that the meeting addresses all the deliverables as promised and involves everyone in the process.
5. Begin and end on time
Know how long the meeting will take, pace the meeting and end on time as promised. Keep faith with the participants. Begin on the exact time specified even if everyone is not present. Do not penalize those who have arrived on time. If you communicate that you are not keeping your word as a leader with something as simple as a starting time, then how will your work be trusted in more important matters. Assign a priority for items in the session. Know which items to drop or postpone if the meeting is more complex than expected and begins to take longer than planned. Consider announcing “exact” starting times (not 3:00, but 3:02). Try it, it works!
6. Design ways to prompt input from each attendee
If people have been asked or required to attend a meeting, then expect them to participate. Participating will validate each person’s part in the process and ultimately to the outcome. This principle will give each person ownership of the outcome. Give everyone an opportunity to “opt-in” for assignments then they own it.
7. Create a group list of “norms” for process together
If the group meets on an ongoing basis or on a regular schedule, then it might be a good idea to develop a set of operational guidelines for how the group process works and how decisions will be made. (We agree to arrive on time, we agree to be prepared with assignments, etc.)
8. Record the group’s information where all can see
Writing down ideas gives validation to the ideas contributed. A visual record will also remind the group of the data generated keeping data visible for making better decisions. Record ideas and concepts exactly as stated. Do not interpret or put in your “two cents worth.” Record first, judge or sort later – this is especially important when the material is sensitive, challenging or complex.
9. Stay in control of the meeting
If a participant hijacks the meeting, take it back, gently. Do not allow any participant to ramble or give speeches that are unnecessary or lengthy. The facilitator must remain in control of the process and take it back from time to time.
10. Do not adjourn without setting accountability standards
If actions are needed, assign responsibility and a completion date for each item. Good ideas will only materialize into results when they are a part of an action plan. Agree on the next step(s) or next meeting date before ending the meeting. As people are invited to attend the meeting they should be instructed to bring their calendars. This is one reason why. Affirm the participants and their contributions. Review the list of deliverables to validate your success. Celebrate!
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the podcast:
This session is about empowering teams. It’s the first one in a series of sessions I am going to call “Stupid Things that Leaders Do that Compromise Progress, Compromise Results, and Ultimately Compromise Our Income and Our Profits.” I want to give you my ten tips in this session. These ten tips will empower you to engage and motivate your team so they are now a higher performing team.
As you know, I spent 40 years working as a musical conductor. I never saw a musical conductor use an agenda for a rehearsal. We are going to talk about format. We are going to talk about strategies. We are going to talk about reverse paradigms. The number one reverse paradigm is never use an agenda for a meeting. It’s the absolute death of productivity. I am going to talk about that as we go down Hugh’s ten tips for conducting power-packed meetings.
If you find one thing in this list and you can implement one thing, it will make a difference in your team performance. People hate meetings. When I am presenting workshops or keynotes, I will ask people to weigh in by answering the question, “How many people have attended a boring, unproductive meeting?” People will raise their hands and laugh about it. Then I ask, “How many people actually conducted one of those meetings? You’ve attended one. Have you also conducted one?” Fewer people’s hands go up because fewer people are willing to admit it.
We all lead bad meetings. We can all improve our team engagement. The #1 team killer is bad, unproductive, poor meetings. It is a downer. We think we know how to run meetings until we start doing it. We ask people, “Could we do things better?” People would say, “Yes.” So we want to say, “Yes, I know how to run meetings. It’s a non-starter. I will do it. Thank you very much.” What are you thinking? You are probably going to fly a plane and you don’t need to take flying lessons.
Let me get into the meat of this. Hugh’s ten tips. I have run meetings for over 30 years. People hire me to run meetings. I never use an agenda.
Point #1 is purpose. You need to have a purpose for this meeting. Otherwise, don’t have a meeting. Outline what you are going to do in the meeting, not activity, but results. You are going to specify deliverables. It is a very different paradigm for agenda. Agenda is activity. Deliverables are results. The results are the impact of what you have done. We start out by defining our deliverables for this session. You send them 24-48 hours ahead, and they have begun thinking about it. They are engaged from the point they receive your reminder. I even go as far as not to call them meetings; I call them a planning session, an evaluating session, a brainstorming session. See what I’m doing?
The purpose of the meeting is also what kind of meeting it is. We call people to a meeting, and we don’t tell them what kind of meeting it is. Are we being productive? Yes. Are we together? Yes. We are using our best thinking skills. We don’t micro-manage people, and we don’t tell people what to do. Leaders ask good questions. Leaders ask others on the team to step up to their level of leadership. Transformational leadership is about building leaders on teams. At the core of that is what we do together, this thing we call a meeting. It is the most dysfunctional thing I know. In any organization, your purpose is what you are going to accomplish. Define the purpose of this session. Send it out to people, and commit to this set of deliverables.
1) Never ever use an agenda. Specify your outcomes. Send it to people ahead of time. They come fully ready to think about those results. The number one word is purpose. What is the purpose of this gathering?
2) Review. Look at what you said you will do. You sent it out ahead of time, you called people to the meeting, you look at what you said you were going to do, so review that.
Let me give you an example of a deliverable as opposed to an agenda item. An agenda item would be an activity. For instance, we are going to talk about marketing. Okay. So what? A deliverable would be we are going to define the top five marketing strategies that will increase our sales by 25% and our bottom-line profit by 30% in the next twelve months. A deliverable is a specific, quantifiable outcome. We look at that deliverable, and we say, “We are going to get there by brainstorming, sorting the options, grouping the options, looking at priorities, and then developing a plan from our brainstorming.” We have let people know we are going to have a very specific process, and we let them know that we are going to walk out of here accomplishing this, this, and this. I easily think three deliverables are plenty; it depends on how much work needs to go into each of these modules.
This leads us to #3. Point #1 is purpose. Point #2 is review. Point #3 is plan. Plan from the back forwards. Covey said in his Seven Habits of Highly Successful People to begin with the end in mind. You define what you are going to walk away with, which you have done with your deliverables. Now you plan backwards. How long will it take you to do the brainstorming on these options for the five top marketing strategies? You will brainstorm more. You will cluster them, group them, decide that these ideas go together, and get a much stronger idea. You think, We have to brainstorm, cluster them, decide which ones are doable, assign a priority to them, and then we have to assign a champion to them. Each one of those takes a bit of time. So it’s important for you to think about how much time it’s going to take. You plan the meeting backwards.
In purpose, it was use deliverables, not an agenda. #2 is look at the process and define what kind of meeting it is. #3 is plan. Plan only 2/3 of the time. For a 90-minute meeting, you plan 60 minutes of activity because it will take longer. If you end up earlier, you dismiss earlier, then you accomplish your deliverables earlier and nobody will be angry. People will be happy. Some people might be uncomfortable because they are used to the paradigm of work expanding to fill the time alive. I don’t subscribe to that. Define the outcome. Plan from the back forwards.
A musical conductor spends two hours for every hour of rehearsal planning. Why? Because you have really good people, you are probably paying them money, or they are very high-level volunteers in your charity or church, but they are important people. You have important work. If you don’t plan it, you won’t get the best results. Honor the people. Honor the vision. Honor the organization. Do your duty, and plan.
#4 is lead the meeting. You have said what you are going to do. Here is another tip. Say what you’re not going to do. If you are going to define the top five marketing strategies, what you can’t do is define the details of each one. You will define a strategy. You will assign a champion. You will set a deadline for them to come back the following week, whenever you are going to meet again, with the details of the plan for the rest of the group to massage. We need a plan. We don’t do it in one sitting. We define those strategies, and then we say that we are not going to get into the weeds because groups will get into the weeds.
So lead the meeting. Make sure that you always keep people on track toward the deliverables on the topic.
Here is a tip here. If somebody wants to get off topic, set up a place that you call “Parking lot.” Somebody has an idea that isn’t what you are doing right now, is not part of your flow, or is not a deliverable that you have agreed upon in advance, then write it under the parking lot. Honor the idea. Grab it. Then say, “We will find a time to deal with it later.” You want to decide if it is valuable to pursue or dismiss it later. But do not get interrupted. That is what the leader does. You facilitate what you are supposed to do and keep people from going where they are not supposed to go. It doesn’t mean we are mean; it means we are firm and direct and ask people to honor what we are doing today. It will up your productivity, it will energize your team when you’re done, and they will say, “When is the next one?”
Purpose is one. Review is two. Plan is three. Lead the meeting is four. #5 is begin on time. When you say you are going to start, it is important that you start. How many times have we been to meetings where somebody is missing and the leader says, “We are going to wait for so-and-so here.” We are going to wait for somebody who has not honored us by being on time and disregard those people who were on time? No. Start on time.
Here is a tip for this section. If you have a meeting around 2 pm and it goes to 3:30, announce that the meeting will start at 2:01. It’s the 2:01 meeting. You’ve gone away from a general time of 2:00 into a specific time of 2:01. People will show up just to see if you are going to do it. Ah, they are going to dare you. You say it is going to go from 2:01 to 3:27. You have planned it, and you know you can get it done. Your job is to start and end on time. Be prompt. Encourage promptness.
You actually are in this process teaching leaders to function at a higher level. Every musical ensemble in the world, the better they are, the more they rehearse for every single performance. It’s key that we stay at the edge of our game. It’s key that we in music develop ensemble. My company SynerVision is the combination of the words “synergy” and “vision.” We develop synergy through having this common vision. We as leaders create the space for people to build as an ensemble of excellence on our committee, our board, our staff. We empower people because we honor them as people, and we respect them and their time. Even if we are paying them, we want to give them something worthy to do rather than respecting everybody’s time. So the third one is start on time and end on time; do not set meetings at the hour or the half hour.
#6 is prompt. You have everyone there. You have selected people on the team because they have expertise, they have perspective, they have responsibility. There is a reason these people are sitting in these seats around the table. Make sure everybody participates in the variety of ways that can be done. Those people who are like me can think on top of their brain, who are extroverts and are very outgoing, will give you their opinion. Other people are deep thinkers; they are going to think about it before they run their mouth. They will consider the options. They will listen very carefully to what is going on. It’s a huge mistake not to ask that person to weigh on on a perspective, an idea, a decision. We want to make sure everybody contributes so everybody feels honored and creates the strategy, the plan, and the idea. Everybody is a part of it, and that way, everybody owns it. You really can’t afford for anybody to sit out and say, “I didn’t weigh in on that. It wasn’t my idea. It was somebody else’s idea.” That is not very effective leadership, and it certainly is not leadership you want to support.
Think of the triangle player in the percussion section in the back of the orchestra. There could be a score where they stand there and count 137 bars of rest, and then they play at precisely the correct time because they were paying attention. When they play, it has impact because you can hear it over the rest of the orchestra. Everybody plays a role. Everybody has an important note to play. Your job as leader is to make sure you bring out the best in everybody, which means you don’t talk too much. You have two ears and one mouth. I think God’s wisdom was evident there.
#7 is to create norms. We all know how it should go; we all know how things ought to be. We need to decide together how we are going to work together to find norms, to find a team covenant. We have a project team. We are going to be working three months on a project. How will we work together? You ask people to think about when you were in another group that didn’t work so well.
What will you do to make sure this group is a high-functioning team? You ask people to write a statement down on a piece of paper and turn it in. I promise are the first two words. What do you promise? You will get things like: I promise to be on time; I promise to listen to others before expressing my opinion; I promise not to criticize until I understand the intent; I promise not to have separate meetings about what we do with the group and try to create triangles with what we have come together as the plan. Things like that will surface. In conversation, we transform the “I promise” statements to the “We promise” statements. You create this culture of high-performing individuals, and we are really creating policy and procedure principles that guide our decision-making and our functioning. It really creates an open and honest engagement.
#7 is norms. It is defining what you promise. Ask them to do it. They will hold you accountable, which is a good thing. They will hold each other accountable. That way, the leader no longer has to be the mommy or the daddy to hold everybody accountable. The group will do it itself, and it starts right here.
#8 is record. We remember 10% of what we hear, I understand from educators. We remember 20% of what we see. When you combine the two, it raises it above 65% at least. If there is a kinesthetic, experiential part of it, it raises the learning much higher. We say things, and we expect people to remember things. But they don’t. It’s 10% retention. We write it up there, and they might remember, as it is 20%. Put them together. Talk about it, and write it.
I use storyboards, a report board with a sticky surface and paper. We look at the board. We talk, we write, we experience each other, and we have conversations. We actually integrate the planning and the performance piece, just like a musical rehearsal. We build the team during the planning process. We are actually shaping the DNA of the culture. I call this the new architecture of engagement.
How do we raise the bar? We model new behavior, and we ask people to step in the space of high functioning. We stop and correct things when they need to be corrected without attacking people. Direct, honest communication. If somebody is going to the weeds and not honoring the no-details-off-limits for this, we’re defining what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do. What we do is deliverables. What we don’t do is off limits. What we don’t do this time we might do next time or some subsequent session where we come together.
Record the group’s information. It is especially important when you are brainstorming to record it exactly as stated. Don’t interpret it; record it exactly as stated. Tell people that we will have a discernment time because a lot of ideas that go up won’t be good or useful. There may be good ideas that lead to a useful idea. Record it where people can see.
#9 is control. We want to stay in control of the meeting. There will be people around the table who have not spent time planning and don’t understand how much you are going to get done in a short period of time, and they will say, “We should be doing this.” No, this is my meeting. This is what we are doing. Thank you for the idea. We are staying on track with this. The tip is: We agree from the beginning on the deliverables and tell people you are going to keep everyone focused on these deliverables and the process you have outlined.
The very last thing you will do is a communication plan and an evaluation of the session. They have no way how much time you have spent to make sure they save time. Just say, “We will have a chance to evaluate at the end. If it’s a good idea, we will consider it next time.” Be sure to thank them for their idea.
As conductors, we never interrupt another conductor. Even if we think we have a better idea, we never do that. You want to build that sort of etiquette into your team and build an accountability where you can talk about it afterwards, not during this momentum and not having to explain your process to someone who was not there and did not put in the hours you did to plan. Let people know that there will be a sorting period, a brainstorm, and a time to throw out the bad ideas later. Then they will feel free to throw up really stupid ideas, which will lead you to really good ideas. Non-linear thinking is creative thinking.
#9 is control. Stay in control. You want to make sure you don’t let anybody hijack the meeting. You want to make sure that nobody runs down a rabbit trail. You can just hold up your hand, point to the off limits, and say, “Nope, this is what we are doing now. We can capture that and put it in the parking lot.”
The tip here is don’t get anxious. Don’t raise your voice. Confront means with your front. Speak to the person with respect. Thank them and tell them what they are doing instead. “This is a process I have designed.” Use the word “design.” You have designed planning sessions. You have designed the brainstorming session.
Last one is accountability. We have all been to meetings where everyone has great ideas, and no one ever says, “Who is going to do it?” The assumption there is you are going to do it. No. You are not going to do it.
As a matter of fact, when you do an action plan, I always have an action plan up and ready. It says, “Action Item.” In the first column is what you do: to develop, to create, to implement, to plan, to define.
Then the next column is: Who is the champion? Who will do it? It’s the responsible person.
Third column is when will they do it? Here is where we begin teaching people that we don’t do all the work in the meetings. We make group decisions. We evaluate. We look at the work we have done. We plan the next set of deliverables.
What you are planning now is the deliverables for the next session. What are the deliverables for attracting more clients with our five strategies for marketing? One of them could be to define the details for each of those five. You can have five champions who are supposed to come back with the details of how they will be implemented. When they come back and report, each of them will report, and everybody on the team will decide to make a few changes, which means they have owned it. Then we start eliminating the silos of different departments of different job descriptions. Don’t adjourn the meeting without having a set of deliverables or an action plan. What is the action plan? Who is the champion? When is it going to be done? That is the deliverables for the meeting from the next meeting.
Also, your accountability communication plan. Is there somebody not sitting in the room who needs to know about one of our decisions?? What is the specific message? Who needs to hear the message? Who will tell them? It is very critical to think about people who are not in the room. There are things they need to know. We take this for granted, and then people say, “I wish I had only known.” Being intentional about your communication plan will save a lot of people a lot of time and preserve relationships.
Finally, evaluation. Let’s talk about today’s session. Let’s just grab a few ideas. Your last five minutes should be a debrief. What are some things that went well? Write those down because you don’t want to change any of those; those are things you want to keep.
Second column is: What needs changing? What do we need to do differently? What do we need to stop doing?
Third column: new things to consider. What did we not do that we maybe ought to do?
This is Hugh Ballou. Conducting power-packed meetings will change the productivity of your team and your culture. You can do this week after week. It gives you the flash meetings to check on if people did what they said they were going to do.
The other big dysfunction in companies is the annual evaluation. We are going to wait a year before we tell people how they are doing? With this scenario, every time you come together, you know how people are doing. You as the leader have the chance to mentor people, to coach them into a higher-performing functionality or standard.
There is a question and answer thing on your page. You want to be sure that you ask questions if there are any. Here is one: “Hey, Joe, how can I get those boards?” Get those at any office supply. Elmer’s has these black report boards made of foam core and are tri-fold. Get the black board, take it outside, and get some repositionable spray mount. Spray it horizontally, let it dry, spray it diagonally, let it dry. Use regular printer paper and cut it in half. Give people big markers. There are chart pad markers you can get at the office supply. Chart pad markers do not bleed through. They are big, they are bold, they can be printed on by anyone. It is an active involved process where people are working together. Get those supplies.
How can I find out more? You can go to synervision.us. There is a whole report there on conducting power-packed meetings.
This is Hugh Ballou, the transformational leadership strategist saying thank you for joining me. I hope you have power-packed meetings.
Leadership Interview with
Dr. Jeff Magee
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
Hugh: Greetings, this is Hugh Ballou. My guest today is Dr. Jeff Magee. Jeff Magee has been a long-time friend and business associate. What kind of companies do you work with?
Jeff: You and I are so much in sync; that is what this little play was on the opening. I have been blessed. For 30 years, I grew up in corporate America, transitioning into sales positions and management positions and ownership positions of a couple companies, from small entrepreneurial businesses—$10, 15, 20 million—up to billion-dollar clients. Today, I work with companies such as Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Anheuser-Busch, Harley Davidson, and other large corporations to major government entities. I work with large government organizations. I am adjutant generals of multiple state army and national guards, as well as in the association market. I work with CPAs, EAs, and tax attorneys. Every year, they have to have roughly 40 continuing education credit hours to keep their license, and we have over 2,000 hours of accredited content in that space as well. A lot in the profit, nonprofit, small business, to large business. Across the spectrum, but where we focused in is not in a specific industry, which is oftentimes what people would do. I focus on an intellectual skillset that regardless of if you are a nonprofit employee or the executive director, or if you are a profit-based business, we look at engagement skills to make you more effective as a leader. That is our space.
Hugh: That is why you are on this podcast. Our audience is social entrepreneurs. They might be running a charity, they might be clergy, or they might be running a small business. We as social entrepreneurs are doing something different. I find that a lot of leaders in any kind of organization, but especially these small organizations, are challenged with creating revenue. This whole theme is converting your passion into profit. All of us are challenged because we get in the way as leaders. What is the biggest barrier that leaders create to generating revenue?
Jeff: Great question. There are several ways to address that. One of the ways we address that is through the Nonprofit Performance Magazine, which Hugh is co-publisher of, to the Professional Performance Magazine suite of publications. In working with phenomenal leaders that I have done interviews with and who have written articles for our magazine over the last 20 years, there is an answer to that question. In looking at it as a performance psychologist and doing the leadership work, whether that’s coaching high performers, politicians, celebrities, athletes, entertainers, business senior executives, senior level military officers, to the new social entrepreneur network and framework that we have as a lexicon today, any of those worlds I live in, it’s really the same answer. It’s important for me to set that up to answer your question: what is critically important for that leader today?
One of the things I talk about in all of my last four graduate management textbooks is business, no matter what the business you are in, comes down to five factors. All of my writings, teachings, leadership work, and coaching always is coming back to these five factors. I come into a high-performance organization, and you look at those organizations and start to do the diagnostics of the matrix as to what is leaving them to be successful. You will find certain variables are never negotiable; they are always there. By going to a dysfunctional organization, a dysfunctional leader(s), those things that are leading to dysfunctionality are always very specifically going to be one of five factors. The magic sauce for me, what I recognize, whether I am dealing with a peak performance individual or organization, five things are make-or-breaks, non-negotiable. We are always looking for ways to enhance and accelerate those five. If I walk into an organization that has lost some of their luster, it is going to be because of one of these five, so we have to identify which one it is, and then back up to see what the things are that create it, support it, and manifest it so you can get back to the one that is missing.
If I listen to a parent talk about a challenge they are having with one of their children or how their family is not as bonded as it used to be, it is also from a personal family therapy perspective one of the same five factors. I keep alluding to these five because I recognize the five do not change any time. So I will give you those five, and then I will answer the one that I think is the most important of all five.
What makes or breaks a successful nonprofit, profit, entrepreneur, or whatever your capacity is is number one, strategy. Strategy is where everything starts. What is your strategic intent? What is your strategy? What is your game plan? Strategy can have lots of names at the elementary level. It is your mission statement, your values, and your vision; all of those factors go into what your strategy is.
When I go into work with a military leader, one of the things that a military leader provides me is their strategic intent. It is their document where they write down their strategic intentions and what they are all about, what I am about, what I will tolerate, what I will not tolerate, and what I want to do with the organization. Imagine you and I are numbers two and three in the organization. Our boss hands us that document. We know strategically exactly where we should be going every day. Therefore, everyone in our orbit around us will know anything else that comes down the pike, and the rest support the strategy.
Hugh: I find in any kind of organization there is A) a whole lot of people that don’t have that document and B) people who have that document but don’t use it.
Jeff: That is huge. You can go on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and read a book called The Managerial Leadership Bible. It’s the revised edition, and it’s a white-cover book. Whether you buy it as a college textbook and read it from the perspective of an academic and are looking at the Q&A throughout the book, or are just buying it as a practitioner, so forget the Q&A and just read the content, you will see what we are talking about right here with examples from real businesses.
Hugh: And the author?
Jeff: The author would be me, Jeff Magee. I will do a shameless plug anywhere.
The reason that is important is because we are talking about this right here. A lot of businesses will have strategy, a mission statement, and values, but they don’t live them on a daily basis. That is what creates trauma with the HR world. That is why you have turnover. That is why people buy in and take ownership of workplaces. I can dissect any business knowing how to start a business, having run successful businesses, having sold successful businesses, having worked with phenomenal leaders all over the globe and learning from them, and having done phenomenal interviews with successful businesspeople in the Performance Magazine suite for 20 years.
One of my fascinations is American Indian heritage, so in every issue I do an interview with a tribal chief, as they are an operating-in-principle CEO. We always have a Fortune 500 C-suite write an article. We have New York Times best-selling authors. We have someone from a different generational set, be it a baby boomer, Generation X, or a millennial. Phenomenal personalities, but when you look at any of them, you strip back the Aha-wowness of whomever that personality is and see if they are successful. You may not have to buy into the segmentation of where they work or live, but if they are successful in that space, you will recognize they have a strategy and a game plan. Their strategy drives every initiative.
In a nonprofit or a church for example, your strategy will drive every initiative you should be doing. It will tell you every initiative that while it might sound great and serve a purpose, it doesn’t serve your purpose, and you shouldn’t be doing that.
The other problem with nonprofits is they are predicated on the HR factor of volunteers. You have a small permanent staff and a staff of potentially zero that is paid. So it’s a volunteer environment. If your volunteers are spread too thin because you are strategically trying to do way too much, you dilute your abilities, and then what will happen is you will always be in too exhausted of a run to be successful, you will always have turnover of your volunteers, and you will be dependent on the same one or three people every single time. Eventually, they will get exhausted and leave. So strategy sets everything. And you are right. It’s amazing.
A couple years ago, I was in Florida. AICPA, which is a governing and accrediting authority for CPAs, was having an emergency conference because they were realizing a tremendous problem in America with major publicly traded firms dealing with integrity and ethics and implosions and all of this peppering and spiking and doctoring of accounting books. So the managing senior partner of the top 100 CPA firms in America would be the same in a normal business as a CEO. At that conference, I gave everyone a little handheld control the size of your smartphone, and I would ask a question on the screen in the front of the room, and they would click in their answer. Within 60 seconds, we would have a composite score for the whole room.
It was interesting because we were talking about them because again, major accounting firms have consulting arms. Those consulting arms work with your nonprofits and businesses all over the globe. Part of what this practice is about is to help make sure those organizations are set up from day one strategically where they focus in on the game plan. What was interesting is it was a high number. It doesn’t matter what it was because the trend is what was important for what I am sharing. It was like 90ish% of all of them who when asked the question, “How many of you have a strategic plan, a mission statement?” said yes. Of your client organizations, how many of them have strategic plans, mission statements, etc.? They clicked in again at high numbers. That is a huge wow. What is important is the second answer, not that.
As a performance psychologist, I know about the game of manipulating people. If you are a parent, you know about manipulation; all of your kids have figured this out. But when I say manipulation, I don’t mean it in a negative standpoint. If you go into a high school college science lab, we are always manipulating ingredients and compounds to get desired outcomes. There is a positive connotation. When we talk about management and leadership issues and HR, when we talk about manipulating, there is always a negative connotation, so take the negative out.
I have learned the art and science of asking questions. We already know that a high number have a strategy, and their clients have strategies. They see the value of the strategy. Later, the question was, “How many of you actually follow and benchmark key decisions and actions and programming and hiring and termination off of those game plans?” It was amazing. The numbers were nonexistent; 20-30% of them said yes.
Succession planning. You are getting ready to retire. We know you are going to retire at the beginning of next year. How far in advance do we go back to our strategic plans and our succession plans and make sure we are cultivating and grooming the next person to take over internally, or doing the outreach program to find someone new? What is amazing is about 30ish days before you are leaving is when we go into panic mode and start executing all of these strategies. But if you had looked at the strategy months, years, decades ago, it would have been better.
The point of number one is that strategy is going to make or break you. Most don’t have a strategy, and those who do don’t follow it, which is why they are not successful.
Hugh: That is the fundamental principle of leadership when I teach. We are perfectly aligned. The number one principle is strategy; it’s your foundation.
Jeff: Bingo. When you and I started talking years ago, when we were looking at your business and how you wanted to accelerate it and focus it, it was like let’s talk about you and I. That is what I coached you on. I said that you could go in profit, nonprofit, secular, church, etc., all over the place, but if you really want to be successful, you have to focus strategically on where your business is going to go based upon who you are. Your basically 50ish years on this planet has been around the nonprofit world and the Evangelical church secular world; therefore, you need to focus in on that space so you won’t have to worry about competing with me in the corporate world where all the Jeff Magees are because I have a ton of competition, the majority of which suck. I am doing a lot of damage control from them. You have to keep in mind that a lot of people are really good at the way they dress or the way they look or the way they sound; their marketing materials are great. They can sell you. But when you lift up that hood, there is no engine underneath that hood. It is regurgitation of someone else’s practices. That is the big problem in this world.
Hugh: It is huge.
Jeff: Suc, no K. It’s one of the key things I talk about. On the lapel pin on all of my suits is a pin in the shape of a key. It talks about how attitudes are the key to your success. If you take the first three letters of “success,” you get the word “suc.” Most people don’t have success in their lives because they suck. So we teach a lot of techniques. It is a good little anchor to hit, critically important to success. That is one strategy.
If I want to have success, strategy is going to drive all of our operational systems and procedures and protocols. Do I need this software system? Do I use this system? Do I use this computer program or not? What are the systems? What are the operational protocols? The reason people sometimes resist the operational changes in your organization is they don’t see how that goes to the strategic intent of what your organization is about. If you program that this is where you are going, then they see that it is competing or diluting or taking them off track. Operational systems.
If people in a nonprofit have a job of getting new members, or they are supposed to be out raising funds; in the profit-based world, whomever’s job it is to make sales, what I have found is that the operational systems that most organizations have gather too much data, too much analytics. Oftentimes what people do is when they are lazy and want to suck for a living, they want to create slides of analytics to justify why they are so busy not doing anything you strategically need them to do, but why they are so busy. The person who is in job of getting money or members, the person whose job it is to sell your products or services, there are only four pieces of operational analytics you need. If you have those, it will tell you if you are on track for your strategy or not. These analytics will help you with the next three things you need in your business. I won’t give you what those four analytics are; you will have to hire us to figure that out because we spent millions of dollars to figure those four out. Guaranteed that you take your director of membership development and put a fire under their butt. This is how you take your director of sales and light a fire under their butt.
My premise is that most everyone in a nonprofit world and in a profit world whose job it is to make sales or generate revenue streams is working at about 25% of their capacity. The good news is that in the last 20 years in the United States especially, we have created cultures and climates and attitudes where minimum performance gets maximum paychecks. As soon as someone knows that minimum performance is what everyone does, then they will start negotiating with you to be even more pathetic than they were yesterday to get a paycheck.
Hugh: We are social entrepreneurs. We are doing things differently. These are all fundamental leadership decisions. You have to have a strategy, and the systems are the implementation of that.
Jeff: You need operational systems. Take my last tirade. But if you are starting a business or if you have a small organization that you are trying to ramp up, you have to have the operational systems that make you accountable on a daily basis to make sure you are doing the right things at the right time with the maximum ROI, as well as everyone around you. That is the thing that gets the small start-up people in trouble is that they get busy doing all of the things that seem to be more fun, and you are putting off the key ingredients to success that you are not doing.
Hugh: Actually, people who have been in business for a while, too. Just to be clear, we are teaching nonprofits not to think of nonprofit as a philosophy; it’s a tax classification.
Jeff: That’s all it is.
Hugh: Using business principles in its charity to generate revenue because otherwise we are not going to make our mission. Number one, the foundation is strategy. Number two, you rehearse by having good systems.
Jeff: As a certified board executive, and a lot of people that work with your organizations at a board level are not certified board executives, so as a certified board executive, what Hugh just said is exactly what I have learned to be critical in a profit and a nonprofit world. I have been on a lot of profit boards and nonprofit boards. Nonprofit is a profit-based business. I hate to pop your bubble, but it is a tax classification as you said. Even as a nonprofit, if you don’t generate donations or revenue somehow, you will not be in that nonprofit business to do whatever the goodness of the cause that you are committed to is. When you don’t think of yourself as needing to generate an ROI, you need to leave whatever it is you are doing because you become an employee as your mindset.
Third, strategy drives ops, and ops drives all the tactical behaviors that you need to do on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, and quarter-by-quarter basis to have a successful year. Most everyone fixates on #3. They are not doing the things I need them to do. That is a tactical behavior. They are not doing the right way. Tactical behavior. They are not working smart enough. Tactical behavior. They are doing the wrong thing at the right time. That is a tactical behavior. People are dropping the ball. That is a tactical behavior.
When people bring me in and start talking about the behaviors that are not happening, I go back to #2 and ask if they have an operating system to hold them accountable. Do you have an operational system that trains the members of the board effectively to make sure we have people doing the right things the right way? Or back up, do we even have a strategy that says we embrace ongoing education? Does our strategy say we embrace being the best we can be and we are going to support our people and create a culture and environment for our people to be the best we can be? All of these key planks ebb and flow together, and if you start looking at the diagnostic and say you don’t see where the problem is, you go to the step before it to say what do we do to create the program? That’s how you fix this stuff.
Hugh: So #3 is…
Jeff: Tactical behaviors.
Hugh: I find a lot of people start there. They are only executing tactics, and they have so many tactics they cancel each other out. There is no system or strategy, so you are not working within this framework of a strategy.
Jeff: You can apply that to social commentary. In front of groups, I like to use examples that are very relevant and have a lot of emotion around them so I can shock you and wake you up. Even though it might be dangerous, tough crap, I’m going there. I use examples that people can turn on the news and see it right there on the nightly news every night, no matter your political views.
Look at what the causes that people are marching or picketing or protesting or talking about are. Everybody starts at #3. They are bitching because someone is doing what they don’t want them to do, or they are bitching and protesting because someone is not doing what they want them to do. I come back and say, “Let’s look at your behavior.” Are your behaviors actually manifesting and perpetuating the negative stereotypes that you are trying to fight against because if they are, you have to change your behaviors? How do you operationally hold yourself—there is a news flash—and the others accountable? All of that will only happen if you have a strategy. What are you trying to accomplish?
Keep in mind most organizations in America today have tactical behaviors that are designed to keep everyone at unrest, to create noise, to create destruction, to create confusion, to create distraction. Almost every organization. I won’t mention the National Education Association (NEA) as an example. Too easy of a target. There are phenomenal educators. I have worked with them. There are phenomenal teachers. I have worked with them. There are phenomenal administrators, superintendents, and principals around the United States. I have worked with them.
But if you look at the statistics, pick a state in 2016, Georgia as an example. 1/3 of all public schools were failing so badly they were not even on the chart of being suc; they were that much worse. 1/3 of the kids in the Georgia schools were not graduating from high school. The NEA should be at the forefront of saying every superintendent, every principal, every administrator, and every teacher who is not doing something to make it a positive environment should be immediately terminated. We don’t care about your ten years in the system. We should be a union that is only going to protect those cutting-edge social entrepreneurs that are actually going to educate and hold people accountable. If you’re not up for that, you are fired. You suck as a teacher, goodbye. You suck as an administrator, goodbye.
That is only part of it. You have to have a strategy for greatness. Then you need to have a strategy that holds parents accountable and a community accountable. Your kid should basically be in school between eight and four in the afternoon. When they are on the streets, the community should be engaged. It shouldn’t be a truant officer. The community should be engaged and asking them why they are not in school. The churches should be accountable. You should be holding people accountable to educate them. Every parent should know at the end of every single day when their child goes to bed what they did in school today, and if they had any homework. If not, why do you not have homework? That is the way it was when I grew up a few decades ago.
Today, when I hear people talking about kids not in school, they are flunking or dropping out, and parents are just letting this happen, that’s wrong. You have to hold the parents accountable. I just walked you back from one problem where everyone bitches and blames the teacher, which is not always the fact. But what is the system we are using? What is the strategy? We should have no kid in America that graduates twelfth grade that is not smart. That used to be an agreement with our public marketplace. You could get a high school degree, and strategically the businessplace knew that if you were a high school graduate, you were smart and educated, you could speak coherent English, you could write a coherent sentence, you knew basic math, you knew basic science, and you had a good work ethic. I could hire you for any sort of a job and you could have a good living the rest of your life without ever having to go to a trade school, a community college, or a four-year degree and more. But today, the reason people have to go to college is because they are idiots at grade twelve. College isn’t helping.
We break all this stuff down because no one looks at the strategy behind things. The easiest place to get people’s emotions in an uproar is point three, tactical behavior. Again, when I see someone saying that black lives matter, blue lives matter, red lives matter, I don’t give a crap, pick a color, that is the big thing in 2016 to distract you away from the real issue. People should get $15 an hour or they should get $8 an hour. Take any topic in 2016 because what I am talking about is evergreen. This conversation is not just time-dated to 2016, but those are the hot issues this year. Whether a woman should be elected president or a man, it doesn’t matter. Do they have strategically to be successful? Have they had failures? Because if you are successful, you are going to have tons of failures. Again, you can apply this model to anything.
Hugh: You can. I am listening to you talking about pointing fingers for instance. That part of it, people aren’t doing what they are supposed to do what I want them to do, so we as leaders set up the problem because we didn’t have the strategies in place. We want to blame other people for a problem we caused.
Jeff: The easiest thing to blame is to blame someone else. The easiest way to say that I have done nothing wrong is to blame someone else. Oh, it’s some foreign leader that is trying to do me down as a politician and help the other person. That is the biggest line of BS ever. What happens when you fixate on just three is that people will get so emotionally involved in a topic that we have no clue about strategy and operations, and that is what we keep perpetuating our problems about in our nonprofit world.
Yes, I have just taken some highly political problems that we are using, but remember I prefaced with saying I am going to use these to get you to think. Do you have facts and data to back up your conclusions? Do you have facts and data to back up your opinion? Because a lot of people do not. We live in a rhetoric world based upon sound bites. But what backs up where you are going?
This interplay we are having here for your benefit is this is also the reality of every organization. We get distracted every day on social commentary. What is going on with a sporting team? What is going on with violence? What is going on with terrorism? What is going on with politics? Who gives a crap what the Kardashians did this week? It is an entire family of zero talent that they are making hundreds of million dollars by recrafting that stupid is the new deal. But that is the reality where we live. And nonprofits are the same thing. And businesses are the same thing.
We have to get focused on what we have just done for five minutes should be back to almost zero of what you do on a daily basis. But these are examples of your business and your nonprofit, but in your business, you have political conversations like the one we had here. You have highly emotional issues between one person’s opinion versus another that distracts you from what you should be doing so you have the wrong behaviors on a daily basis, you are turning people off behaviorally because a lot of times this conversation has nothing to do with your strategy. If we had a nonprofit and our strategy was to create civil discourse and confusion in the marketplace, I just gave you a whole lot of clues as to what would be in our strategy. See where we’re going?
Hugh: Strategy gives you focus. My acronym for focus is Free Of Clutter and Unnecessary Stuff. You just spoke to how we get distracted.
Jeff: I just gave five minutes of clutter.
Hugh: We major in minor things. The main thing is the main thing. Strategy is number one. Operations is two. Tactics is three.
Jeff: You have that. Those three may not be necessarily new to you. If you have a graduate degree in business, finance, management, or leadership, if you have been to professional development groups and organizations—forget your college background or none—you have probably heard the first three things we just gave you.
Hugh: Or if you have studied SynerVision Leadership materials.
Jeff: There you go. Or my stuff as well.
Four and five is what really make and break the first three. Some people can song and dance the first three, but four is the discipline to execute effectively. That old statement of “practice makes perfection” is a flawed statement. Practice does not make perfection because if you are practicing the wrong behaviors and strategies, you are practicing because you are hanging around losers, then you will be proficient in all the negatives.
If you look at this person, that is exactly what I do; let’s look at their resume. Everyone has a flaw. I am not about to be pious and say that I am perfect or anyone else is. What you have to recognize is if people learn from their flaws. That’s fine. But if someone is a hypocrite, I won’t mention in essence a major political figure, Jesse Jackson, who is counseling Bill Clinton on his infidelity. At the exact same time, Jesse Jackson is fathering children with his secretary and he then uses money to move her to California. Then we have a problem with our discipline.
That is a highly emotional example, and I am sure I am going to stress someone out. But I am not stressing anyone out if you have integrity. I stress you out if you have no integrity. Whoa, I just challenged you. Integrity comes out of strategy. You go, “Wait a minute. I like some of the things Jesse Jackson is about, but you know what? There is a moral problem that someone is going to say they are the moral authority and they are morally bankrupt.” These examples I am using are highly emotionally charged on purpose because you may never watch another webcast here, but if you are watching this one and I am getting through to you by using some shock factor statements, then I am causing you to think. I don’t know what your cause is, but if your cause is to help make other lives better, are you doing it genuinely or because you have an ulterior motive? Are you genuinely doing it so you can sustain it tomorrow, or are you doing it today, and then people find out you are flawed, and then they are going to run and not want to be around you? These are important elements. Discipline for what you do comes out of your strategy. If you think strategically that no one is going to hold you accountable, that is why you can have flawed behavior and the discipline to do things that I would call not integrous.
Let’s take it back down to your level as an organization. Do your members or employees have the discipline to do what you need them to execute? If they do, if they understand behavior, and you have operational systems to hold them accountable, and they understand strategically what it all means, then it flows together.
Hugh: Four is discipline?
Jeff: Discipline. One of the problems you will have as an entrepreneurial solo practitioner or a small-business start-up, nonprofit-based or profit-based, or if you are starting up a new church or whatever your business angle is going to be: When you start something and you are committed—that is three—because you believe in two and one, then as you start up, you will have the discipline to be up before the sun is up every morning and you are working on meaningful things. You will be working when the sun goes down at night on meaningful things, but the reason a lot of times people don’t have the discipline to execute, or at least execute as hard as you are, is they are short-term participants. They want to make a ton of money, or they want to get a ton of accolades; that is when they will give you something.
Example: politicians. Most politicians, in my experience of 25 years, because in our magazine, we always have a federal or a major state politician writing on different issues. Whether it is a federal senator or a Congressman, whether it’s a governor, whether it’s one of the secretaries on the cabinet for the President, or a president—I have had the last three presidents write for my magazine, the last four first ladies, etc.—but when I find a politician that is disingenuous with the four things I just gave you, they are all accessible when running for office and accessible after the election because if they are, they are genuine with all five of these words that I am giving to you. But what I have found with most politicians is it is really hard to get ahold of most of them to write an article on success or a nonpartisan Q&A for my magazines once they have been elected for the first year or two. It’s not because they are busy; it’s because they don’t give a crap. That is your reality bubble. A politician who has been elected for years and years and years, and your marketplace sucks, your economy sucks, your neighborhoods are run down, your schools are not delivering, and there is no opportunity for prosperity, yet you keep reelecting that same politician, you are stupid. They are brilliant because they have a strategy about how to game you to get you to believe they care about you. So it stuns me sometimes around the United States that we have career politicians. The reasons I want your schools to be good is because students become young adults who become voters, and if you are educated, they will not be reelected. If you have a brain, you can catch BS a mile away.
Hugh: As the discipline piece comes in, there is an integrity piece and a focus piece. I am going to remind listeners that the whole view of this is how leadership impacts the bottom line. These are all noise, and we create confusion, which costs money.
Jeff: When you have people in your nonprofit, business, or community, and they don’t have the discipline to do what you need them to do for that piece of your business enterprise, they don’t have the right behaviors. You have not given them the SOPs. You haven’t given them the procedures. You haven’t given them the mindset, which means your operational systems are not there for people to follow and flow the right way, which means you are disconnected from your strategy. Any of these tirades, case studies, or examples we give to you, you can see exactly where you plug it in, but once you know where you plug it, you go to the step before it to see what is or is not happening that has caused that problem. In our society, we see where that problem is and fixate on it without going back and changing it.
The reason our K-12 schools are failing our students, which means they are failing the businessplace because news flash: most schools in the 1980’s stopped teaching the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers because if you know those three things, you know that those three things give us the understanding of what our nation is about. When people don’t understand that, they can plug in what they want to tell you what our country is about. Our country was created for three reasons, which is exactly you are here. Everything else came second.
One is capitalism. That little Boston Tea Party. Taxation without representation. We were not allowed to do our business; we were being mandated on what we can or cannot do. Capitalism is what drives everything on the planet. Margaret Thatcher had a phenomenal line many years ago about socialism: the problem with socialism is that eventually you will run out of everyone else’s money. If your nonprofit has a socialist mindset, you will cease to exist because you will run out of people who can give you money because no one is making money, and you will eventually be dead. Capitalism.
Second was freedom to represent ourselves and the legacy to elect people. Same thing in a nonprofit. If you are the only one that is doing everything, you better be willing to carry the weight forever or you will get in trouble, but if you can create an organization that can create its own future leaders, then your organization will have a legacy that can go on forever and have representation.
Third was freedom of religion. Read Thomas Jefferson’s letters to Thomas Locke when he was floatin’ on a boat back to England. He said, “Hey, I heard there is another religion,” after the United States was already created, “called Islam, and they read some book called the Qur’an. I have never heard about it. Can you bring me a book back?” Again, we were created as a Christian society. I hate to pop your bubbles, kids, but read some documents and you will see the word “God” everywhere. It doesn’t mean we are not for anything else, but you have to understand what we are all about to keep yourself solid.
I am using highly emotional examples on purpose because what most people do with what I have just given them is jump off to the last section of discipline in terms of discipline and behavior and start having a huge rhetoric-based conversation on “Oh, Dr. Magee, you’re wrong.” But no. I didn’t say we can’t be anything else, but anything else has to be congruent with those three things. Your business, your nonprofit: what is your strategic intent? Everything you do should be congruent with it. Your operations should be keeping people accountable. Number three is your behaviors. Four is discipline.
And five is the juice that makes everything, which goes back to your very first question. You asked the question: What have I found that is most important in business? I am going to go with five. But you can’t have five without the first four. Five is accountability. That is what everyone in the world dislikes, whether it’s pure accountability, you and I holding each other accountable; whether it’s personal accountability; whether it’s organizational accountability; whether it’s 360 accountability systems; whether it’s customer-driven accountability to us. We don’t have accountability systems.
So I fly Delta Airlines a lot, over 100 flights every year because my office is typically where you are. Whether I like flying or not, I am going to be on a plane. I like Delta; there is no negative to this story. I love Delta. But the problems with businesses becoming so big that they own huge market shares is that they forget these five, and they actually start to create their own demise over time. You could be Delta Airlines. You could have all the awards for being great, and a lot of that data is very misleading. If I give a survey as the Diamond Flyer, the highest level that Delta has, and I get an e-survey after every single flight, that is an accountability mechanism. But that is not what happens.
I almost always get a survey after a flight. When their analytics end, they know that that flight was probably pretty good. The flight left on time, arrived on time, and I get a pop-up survey. Now they are getting skewed data as to how good they are if they didn’t give it to a third party like JD Power that says, “You’re the best in the industry.”
Versus if I have a crappy flight, do they send me a survey to find out what views I had on that crappy flight so they can see what specifically the problem was so they can see if they can fix it or not? That’s accountability. I never get those. At the time I am recording this, in the last 48 hours, I was on four Delta Airlines flights. Of those four, two were great, and two sucked. Interesting. I got back last night at 10:00. Today I turned my computer on at 4:30. I had a survey on the flight last night. I have yet to get a survey for the flight I had 48 hours ago.
Again, accountability. It doesn’t do you anything good as a nonprofit leader if all you are looking for are smiley faces. It’s misleading. I used to get surveys from an audience of 100, 1,000, 10,000, doesn’t matter. Let’s use 100 as an easy number. I could have 99 surveys back with smiley faces and one that says “You weren’t that good,” and that one would get me distracted. But it took me a long time to realize, Wait a second, I don’t want 100 of those surveys because the people in my audience are not my customer. They are my indirect customer. A business owner brings in me for a reason, so he/she are my customer. I want to survey them on the front side: What do you want me to accomplish? While I’m there, I can check in. Am I on track? When I leave, what did I accomplish? If they loved me, it doesn’t matter what someone in the audience said because I learned a long time ago that I am being brought in to say and do things with the audience that is politically incorrect for the boss to be able to do. A lot of times, bosses have some great members in their organizations, and they have a large percentage of mediocre people, but they also have a large percentage of nightmares.
Keep in mind: JD Power does research, and so does Gallup. Gallup has a phenomenal survey that impacts your organization. You will see how it impacts your strategy, your operational systems, your tactical behaviors, your discipline, and your accountability mechanism. What they say when they look at any organization, roughly 56% of every organization are disengaged today. They are complacent; they are followers. We have to find ways to engage them, and that is what leadership is all about.
Once you find out why someone is disengaged through interviews or on the job, you will see how to do a better job at promoting and trying to hire and advertise to get new people to come to your organization. 56% are disengaged and complacent.
15% are actively disengaged. That is what is stunning. Today on payrolls in organizations and in nonprofits, 15% of your people could be actively there every day trying to find a way to sabotage your business.
Only 29% are engaged. Yesterday, I am in the Houston airport, and I am in the food court looking for something to eat. One restaurant has five employees standing there. Of the five, only one was truly working. The other four were moping along at such a pathetic pace. They are pathetic because let me go back to one. Their strategy of their leadership team at the restaurant (they are corporate) to engage people to give them a way to make money, to give them a fun and engaging way to do the job is not there because those people were absolutely dead. They were dead people walking. Operational: do they have a way to hold people accountable? We gotta get it going. No, dead people walking. Behaviorally: were they doing things to impress me? No, dead people standing. You are making a hamburger, folks. This is not hard work. This shouldn’t take you ten minutes to make one burger with five people back there.
I look at the next restaurant. It had nine people there. The last one had too much staff. Wait a minute, the line was moving quickly, everyone was going there, and it was not a Chipotle, but it was a Chipotle-style restaurant where you added up each ingredient. They were making tons of money because all nine of them were having fun and were dressed in their uniforms.
Hugh: There is the bottom line. Function leads to profit. These are all key leadership positions. You know my 40 years’ experience as a musical conductor. Every one of these is a strong leadership principle. It is a functional part of our system. We can reframe all of these things for music in the nonprofit or corporate workspace. Without the discipline piece that is huge and commitment, you can’t be excellent.
Jeff: That’s it. The examples I have used today as I recap were not any one example to throw someone under the bus. They were first-person experiences. The NEA is an organization where roughly 56% of the members, teachers, educators, administrators of the National Education Association are mediocre. 15% are worthless, pathetic. Only 29% are doing their job. Apply that to your local school or school district. I have worked with superintendents of major school districts in America where when they came in, it was like I just explained, and we created an environment with the five steps I just gave you to take their school districts to be #1 in their state and top ten in the country before those superintendents retired.
Politics, we have talked about today. I have worked with governors and senators and federal political leaders at the state level. Every one that I have worked with who are successful get everything I have just said. The ones that truly, if you look at their resume and legacy, they are damaging their constituents, but because they look pretty, they play the diversity card, no one holds them accountable. And you can’t do that. I have minority politicians who are incredibly successful because they don’t hide behind the diversity card. They just recognize that I didn’t choose this body; God put me in the body I have. What counts is what you do with that body and the DNA you have inside of you. Keep in mind Benjamin Franklin’s classic statement. You cannot in essence ever lose if you think of his philosophy and advice: The person who empties their purse into their head will never be bankrupt. I want to judge you not by what is on the outside of the vessel, but what is on the inside.
We talked about education and politics, and we talked about your own business. You can use those big examples on the nightly news to see what works, and you can stand in front of the mirror to see how you can advocate for them on a daily basis. If you are in the nonprofit world or the profit world, it comes down to the same thing. At the end of the day, you will thrive, and then you will survive if you do these five. You will not thrive, and you will barely survive if you are not doing these five. That is what leadership comes down to.
Think about it. Anyone can be a manager. Management is simply about the function of the HOW: How to do things. In science, labs teach monkeys how to functionally do things. Anyone can be a manager. Leadership is a different element. Leadership is the art and science of understanding the five things we just gave you and the myriad of subpoints to the five things. Leaders can write the resumes of their key constituents. Leaders can write the resume of their key employees or nonprofit members or volunteers. Leaders can write the resume of their first-line executives going on down to the second and third bench. Leaders can write resumes. Managers cannot. I have never been proven wrong in 30 years.
Hugh: Bingo. Jeff Magee. Great wisdom. You have learned it from school, you have learned it in the marketplace, and you have taught yourself to grow past the systems. That Gallup poll you were referring to about disengagement and active disengagement is key, but that is in corporate America. In the charity world, it’s probably more like 90%.
Jeff: I have been on nonprofit boards, and I have been a member of not-for-profits. You are exactly right. If I come in as a member and I am first on-boarded, engaged, mentored, sponsored, advocated for, whatever word your organization uses, if my first connectivity is with that 29% who are engaged, then you are bringing me in and I am more likely to want to come back to the next meeting. If my first experience is with the 56% who are just sitting there, if the first 56 people who are engaged are positive, you will have all positive energy. If the first people who engage the 56%-ers are those people, then nothing happens. If the first people who engage 56%-ers are that 15%, then you have a lot of people bitching in the background. If I come into your nonprofit and sit there for the first meeting and my strategy aligns with your strategy, this is why I showed up, but the first things I see are not going to your strategy, that is why sometimes it is hard to get us to come back to your second or third meetings.
As a professional, I am a member of a lot of trade associations to keep my own certifications. Within those, I will go to a chapter meeting. If that meeting is not pushing me or growing me or developing me, then the leadership typically are 56%-ers, it is attracting 56%-ers, and I don’t go back, yet they are going, “Why are we not getting the great people in our community to join our organization?” There is your clue.
Don’t create an organization designed to only benefit the 56%-ers unless that is who you are. Some organizations are about how to help mediocre people stay mediocre. If that is what you are about, then you’re good.
Hugh: Unfortunately we often lack these five principles. You want to get the magazine at nonprofitperformance.org. If you are looking at the video, there are links to Professional Performance 360 Magazine, but thank you for today. We want to engage you in the community in conversation, so thank you for being here today.
As we are departing, you have done a masterful summary and presentation. What is one tip you want to leave leaders that they can start right now in making a difference?
Jeff: Great question. Again, this is philosophical, religious, good DNA, taught in Sunday school, taught as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout. I would answer that with one of the comments I sometimes use when in front of a group. What drives you? What is your philosophy, your view, your religion? One of my religious threads—the religion according to Jeff—is we were not put on this planet to be takers; we were put on this planet to be contributors. Every day, you and I and Hugh and everyone else should contribute something meaningful to the planet. If you cannot contribute something meaningful to the planet, you should be asked to step off the planet. That is how I challenge you. What can you do that is meaningful, whether it is starting something, helping something, going out of your way to reach someone, redoing something? What can you do that is meaningful?
If I was answering that more specifically as a leader, I have lots of answers at jeffreymagee.com. You can check me and Hugh out. Our magazines are parallel. There are lots of specifics, but I will just leave you at that macro.
When you go to bed, is there anything meaningful you did to help another person or another cause? If you are in a leadership position at a company to make your nonprofit or profit-based business stronger tomorrow than it was today so that the people who are showing up tomorrow will have the ability to do something meaningful themselves and receive the paychecks they are working for? Meaningful. Quit talking about low-level rhetoric. No longer allow the politicians in your neighborhood or your head to engage you on low-level crap. Your business should not be engaged in lower-level crap. What is the big stuff?
Hugh: Make a difference starting now. No matter where you are in any organization, you will influence people all around you. Jeff Magee, you are brilliant. Thank you for being here.
Jeff: Thank you for what you do out there as well. Make it meaningful and make it another great day.
Jeff Magee’s credentials are significant. He is a Certified Speaking Professional, a Certified Management Consultant, and a Certified Professional Direct Marketer. He has been recognized as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” (TOYA) by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce, and twice selected to represent the United States at the World Congress as a Leadership Speaker (Cannes, France and Vienna, Austria). A three-term President of the Oklahoma Speakers Association and twice awarded their Professional Speaker Member of the Year, today, the Chapter’s outstanding member of the year is awarded the “Jeff Magee Member of the Year Award.” Jeff served for four years as an appointed Civil Service Commissioner (Judge) for the City/County of Tulsa Oklahoma.
Many of the Fortune 100 firms today use Jeff for Performance Execution® in the areas of managerial-leadership effectiveness, human capital performance, and sales training and coaching. He has also been invited to keynote at many major associations in America and to speak at West Point Military Academy on leadership.
Jeff is publisher of Professional Performance 360 Magazine and, with Hugh Ballou, is co-publisher of Nonprofit Professional Performance 360 Magazine.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
We learn, then we digest that learning, finally we discern the appropriate application of the learning.
– Hugh Ballou
Leading is Applied Wisdom
I’ve just finished presenting to groups this week in 5 separate groups. Some of the presentations were keynotes. Some of them were workshops or lessons. The common thread was leaders wanting to gain wisdom. Some were leading from middle management and others were CEOs. Many were early stage or startup enterprise ventures.
I commend people for wanting to gain knowledge. Knowledge precedes understanding which precedes wisdom. Wisdom is gained over time with experience. Failure is a learning opportunity only if the failure is unpacked, understood, and crystalized into applicable thinking.
All too often, visionaries attempt to start up a company or charity without the necessary experience or mentorship. All too often the visionary is not a leader and invites failure without gaining the wisdom for true discernment.
There are many right answers, however finding the next right answer for a particular situation is elusive when attempting to make decisions in a vacuum.
Inventors, authors, coaches, brilliant thought leaders have the ability to change lives and create better communities. Those skills are not the same skills needed for laughing and sustaining a healthy, profitable enterprise.
John Maxwell says that collaboration is multiplication. I say that collaborations are discernment where wisdom is multiplied.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Cal Turner, Jr.:
The Legacy of Dollar General
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
This is interview #6 in the legacy series. In this podcast Orchestrating Success: Converting Passion to Profit, we think of profit in results other than money. This one includes money, ultimate success, and being very vulnerable and transparent and including the team in the planning, in the energy field. This is quite the fascinating interview. Over many years of knowing Cal Turner, every time I speak with him, there are some amazing things that come out in the conversation. For me, listening to Cal Turner is a major paradigm shift. This is a very meaningful interview with my dear friend and his story about the legacy that he was responsible for creating with this business called Dollar General. Listen to this, and see how you think orchestrating success converts wisdom to results. This is passion to profit, and profit has many facets. Enjoy this interview.
Hugh: This is Hugh Ballou. Welcome to this session. My special guest today is my dear friend Cal Turner. I have known Cal Turner for probably about ten years, and every time I talk to Cal, he makes me think because he makes profound statements. Cal Turner was president and CEO of Dollar General and took it public. Cal has very astute observations about leadership. Cal, welcome to this interview today. Thank you for being my guest.
Cal: Thank you, Hugh. Being here is wonderful.
Hugh: The topic is sustainability and creating legacy. Before we get there, talk about your leadership in Dollar General. You told me a little story about you going to your managers and saying you got this position because you are the son of the founder. You asked them to play into the space. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you approach leadership.
Cal: Leadership may start with the leader establishing himself with his supposed followers. I wanted them to know that I intended to share the leadership agenda with them. I tried to make me real as a person with them by poking fun at myself. I am here because I am the boss’s son, and that is not good, is it? Boss spelled backwards is double SOB. No one cares for the boss, but what about the boss’s son? That must be worse. Clearly, if we are all to succeed, I need your help. You understand this business enterprise. You experience all of the problems and opportunities faced by this business enterprise and have creativity that we need to have in order to move forward together. I need your help. By the way, you have my commitment that success will be shared. If you really come on board and are a part of this, success will be shared.
That’s pretty much it. Was it a poignant or pregnant pause?
Hugh: I was reflecting on the summary you had given me when you first shared that. Leadership is about defining one’s gaps and finding competent people to fill those gaps. You also went on to tell me that you were very transparent. If you hadn’t been, it would have been a different and negative dynamic.
Cal: Indeed, it is about defining the gaps and establishing partnerships to do something about them. I needed first to establish a strategic inquiry in our company. I needed everyone to be interested in exploring together our gaps. Now, first, I thought I needed to admit my gaps. I did that by this boss’s son discussion I would have for their hearing. I am here because I am the boss’s son. I have tried to do most of the jobs in this company that all of you do and have discovered that I am good at none of them. But that gives me a sense of awe in my respect for your ability to do them. Not only do I respect your ability to do them, but I also respect your opinion about the problems, how they happen in the first place, and the ability of all of us to come together to fix problems for the benefit of all of us. I’d like for us to go at that. We have to be honest first. We as a company need not to tell the boss what the boss wants to hear. The boss, if he is a leader, really wants your iteration of the truth. What is the truth as you see it? I hope for us to have relationships where you feel free to disclose that. You are not playing the political game of trying to figure out the boss so you know what to tell the boss that will be what he/she wants.
Hugh: You and I were talking as we were preparing for this interview about the writing of Richard Rohr. Richard has been talking recently about the true self and the false self. What you just described is in essence what that is. The true self, as Paul says in the Bible, is speak the truth and love. What you modeled is what is reflected in the culture.
As you remember, I spent 40 years as a musical conductor. The orchestra choir very much models the conductor. I write about that in the corporate culture. You set the bar right there for that honesty. It’s the way that you acted. We can really say anything we want. If we don’t respond with integrity and authenticity and model and practice what we preach, the culture is going to come back. You said to me as a post-script to that: If I hadn’t admitted and been transparent about those gaps, they would prove to me that I have those gaps. I wasn’t being honest with them. You nipped that in the bud by being direct right away.
Cal: That was my modeling the dealing with truth that I was trying to do that I hoped they would consider for themselves and their work and their lives.
Hugh: Part of sustainability, we are talking about leaving a legacy. You went on from that to the work you are now doing with the Turner Family Foundation.
Cal: Yes, the Cal Turner Family Foundation.
Hugh: So we are talking about legacy. Underpinning that is sustainability. How do we create a model that is sustainable? Speak to the leadership piece of that, if you will please.
Cal: I think the key word in your question is “we.” Is that an honest “we,” or is that an “I” in disguise? How do I do that? if you are honest in asking the question “How do we do this?” then you are more likely on your way to creating the sustainability and legacy you seek. It’s not about the leader. In fact, I believe leadership certainly in the Richard Rohr sense also would more likely be defined as followership. It is whom you follow that defines your leadership. Legacy and sustainability are perhaps largely about my not being here someday. Maybe I as a leader should consider diminishing my role and expanding theirs in order to provide for that future event of my absence.
Hugh: You had on something in the last part you talked about: It’s not me. Autocratic and charismatic leadership is about me. Transformational leadership as a system is about the vision and elevating leaders within that culture. I define that with clients I work with, whether it’s a business, charity, or a church, as creating a new architecture of culture and how we function together and how we approach the sustainability. That is impacted by the leader, or it is squelched by the leader.
I just finished a one-day empowerment and leadership symposium in 19 cities. I have ten more on the books coming up. Nashville is not on my radar yet, but I hope it will be at some point. I find at the beginning of each of these, it is designed to give people systems, and to me, leadership is a system and a culture as well as a skill to lead that culture. I ask people at the beginning of each one, “What are the issues you want to make sure we deal with today?” Number one across all of them is leader burnout. Number two is bored and volunteer under-functioning. Number three is lack of sufficient recurring revenue to accomplish their vision and mission. Speak to those. I believe those are all subsets of leadership, the leader. We set those up as a leader, don’t we?
Cal: I believe we do. That is a lot to unpack, Hugh. Hugh, you devil, that is a lot. Leader burnout. Well, when we were talking about the leader acknowledges that it is not about me, he has to explore what he/she means by that. So in order to minimize me, we have to understand what I am. I have to understand what I am and who I am. But if I am a leader, I largely have to define whose I am. I am more empowered to get on with its not being about me, and the less it is about me, I think the less likely there is to be burnout.
Hugh: Love it.
Cal: I don’t want it to be about me. I have always wanted my values to unite the thinking and effort of all of us because I want them to be shared values. The leader should largely talk about values and what is important to all of us that we can get excited together about. That is a good antidote for burnout. If we are all propelled by the same motor, then that motor doesn’t burn out as much as it might. We can help each other to take care of it, too.
What we aspire to do was to say first of all, we are going to do our strategic planning, we are going to try to define a mission and a vision. We can’t do that, can we, if we don’t talk about the values that are important to all of us and what are those values? Let’s state them as a group so that we can understand them together and use them as issues come up in our work to help us to take care of the culture of this organization. These values are what will do that.
We finally resolved on a two-word mission statement, which was beautiful in that everybody could remember it. Two-word mission statement: Serving others. That differentiates you from the largest constituency of all, which seeks to serve self, seeks to serve that company, seeks to serve that government entity, whatever. It’s about others. What is our greatest contribution to them? It didn’t say service, which implies you do it and go on to something else. It’s about serving. It should motivate us every day of our lives to figure out that day’s agenda of serving others.
It was those two words that really got our company going. You can spot the person who is amenable, governable by serving others. When someone is in it for themselves, it doesn’t take you too long to know that you don’t have strategic commonality with that person. You need strategic commonality of your leader and his/her persons. You don’t have people as a leader; you have persons. Everybody is unique, everybody is one of a kind. You can be enriched by diversity. Sometimes you feel damned by it. But you need it.
Hugh: That’s awesome. That’s pretty profound. One of the things I have noticed ever since I have known you is that you are a very active listener, both with your ears and with your eyes. That to me is a primary leadership skill. You listen, and then you think, and then you respond. I can imagine a situation with you talking to your managers, and you are listening and acting based on their response. That is really a skillset that more leaders ought to employ: active listening both aurally and visually. What do you think?
Cal: That is the crux of the leadership dynamic, whether you can listen to others, whether you can listen to yourself. Listening is so much more than just waiting your turn to speak. What are you doing in the time before speaking? Are you thinking about what you are going to say, or are you trying hard to take in what the other person said and what he/she might mean by that? Could both of you perhaps pursue that question that is in the background of words used by the other person? What is the question? What is that question? I am fascinated by questions, especially when they lead to answers by others who would implement the answer.
Cal: That’s what you are trying to do as a leader. You are trying to listen to your persons into better questions.
Hugh: I love it.
Cal: Excuse my vernacular. But I certainly do not consider myself a repository of answers but a suppository of questions. Questions that get the flow going, questions that challenge. I am challenged by the questions of life. Any leader should help others to explore that challenge. In the life of this organization, what is our organization about? What are our real opportunities? What would you feel good about our doing for the customer together? What is the greatest need of the customer, the meaning of which would ring our chime? What is that? Whatever enterprise we are in, we are a unique organization, so we don’t have to model ourselves after the competition. What if we aspired to define the customer pool on our unique creativity? What would we feel most fulfilled about if we could meet that need of the customer? The more you help each other to experience fulfillment, the less you are burned out. It comes from others. There may be burnout for someone like me who might be trying to do too much myself. But relax, Cal, you’re not God. You’re not even the god of this organization, even if you are the boss’s son.
Hugh: The principle you are describing to me is collaborative culture. I find that a whole lot of leaders, especially clergy, don’t know how to do that. There is a control piece, and there is an insecurity piece. The dynamic that you described, which I love, is I am not the answer man, I am the question person. That way you are teaching people to think. If you answer all of the questions, that is over-functioning. We talked about Murray Bowen’s work; the antithesis to that is under-functioning. If you are teaching people all the questions, then you are teaching them that they have to come to you for the answers. You are putting yourself in that bottleneck, so we have created that burnout and, by our lack of effective leadership, dependency and an under-functioning staff, board, or group of volunteers in the culture. We actually set up the problems by not doing the kinds of things that you are inviting people to think about doing. Am I tracking with you?
Cal: You are indeed.
Hugh: Are there some other ways that leaders get in the way? I tell leaders to do their vision and mission, write their objectives and tasks, and then empower people and get out of the way.
Hugh: it’s hard for people to do though.
Cal: That is profound, and it isn’t that easy to do. I think you can get out of the way of other people if you try to get over yourself a little bit.
Hugh: That’s big. I love it.
Cal: Get over yourself. Get excited about helping your people. If you have the reputation of wanting to help them, then they might ask how they need to be helped, and they might ask deeper questions of what is needed here. If they know you seek to serve the customer, and as a leader you want to serve them as the way of eventually serving the customer, then you are throwing the ball back into their court.
I had already said I respect how you will play the ball. What you do, I am amazed at because I have tried to do it and I am not good at it. You are. I respect that. What are your issues? How can we explore the next best answer step to it? Sometimes we try to figure out the whole problem when if we had the right leadership culture, we could figure out the next best step in route to the achievement of our vision. What is the next thing to do? We don’t have to get all the way to the answer today, but what gets us working toward an answer together? Could we perhaps share milestones together so that we can all see how we can help each other to move along better together? We used to do all of our planning on the run. We do our planning, and we would all understand where we were starting. We all would have a sense of the eventual end and success we seek. We’d understand where we were starting and where we all hoped eventually to end. We were going to come together to take steps together that will move us along the pathway better. We are going to have to learn as we go. You can’t figure everything out now. There is stuff that is going to happen. You need to be honest with each other about what the stuff is so you can help each other.
Hugh, you have heard me talk about the change in mindset of my father’s generation and the business and mine as to guilt and blame when something would go wrong. My father would say, “Who did that?” and I would say, “I am not going to tell you.” He would say, “Do you know?” and I would say, “Yes.” “Well, tell me.” “I am not going to tell you.” We don’t ask that question anymore. Our question is not about who, but our question would be about what. What happened? Who needs to come together to fix it? That is a major shift. Richard Rohr’s concept of nonduality I think largely moves the blame. At least, it helps people to come together more creatively to respond to problems and issues, and other things than asking the question of “Who?” You are going to draw the line in the sand between you and the other person.
Hugh: It’s a step.
Cal: When you look at the world through that filter, you are amazed. We define human potential by its packaging. You are a conservative or a liberal. You are a rich dude or a poor struggling somebody or other. Everyone is the child of God who wants to be part of something that matters. The leader helps that to happen.
Hugh: That is a great statement. As we are approaching the landing strip here, I want to focus for a minute and get your thoughts on how leadership impacts the revenue. When I work with 501(c)(3) organizations, I encourage them to think of the word “nonprofit” as a tax classification, not a philosophy of operations.
Cal: That’s good.
Hugh: I work with a lot of start-up or early-stage entrepreneurs or charities. They think money is going to fix everything. I say, “Money is a magnifier. If you don’t have systems, it is going to magnify what is wrong and create the negative effects.” Focusing on money is not the answer. As you and I have talked about over the years, it is a result of really good systems and serving your customer. There are results that bring in the blessing of revenue so you can do more of it.
Leaders are in the way. We block this thing of happening that feeds us. It’s like we build a car but we haven’t put gas in it, so we can’t go anywhere. Speak about the leader role in enabling or blocking that to happen.
Cal: Blocking what?
Cal: Money is never the problem where strategic need is being met by persons who buy into the same vision. The money doesn’t lead; it follows. It doesn’t answer; it results from persons coming together to work on the answer. It’s more of a score card than it is a success attainment. It will happen if you and your people are united and you really are doing something that makes a difference together. How do you generalize about money? That is kind of hard to do. But I guess that is my best shot.
Hugh: You have made it hard, too. You have been successful and have employed the leadership principles. I experience leaders, and I am not exempt from getting in the way. They get in the way of the mission and vision; they get in the way of creating sustainable revenue. There are a lot of reasons that people get in the way. What you gave our listeners there is very astute.
As we are leaving this interview…
Cal: Hugh, let me interrupt. One comment on that. I have heard people say, “Where there is no money, there is no mission.” Perhaps where there is no mission, there is no money. You are talking about what isn’t there. Money is not there. But the money is absent because the mission is absent. That creates the absence of the money. A mission is something that inspires others to achieve. It meets a real need that tugs at your heart and your pocketbook will follow.
Hugh: That statement is reported in not as direct a way in the writing of Napoleon Hill, who interviewed all these capitalists in his era. The Carnegies, Rockefellers, Edison, Emerson, Ford, Wanamaker, and other presidents. They had a definiteness of purpose; that is your mission. They had a group around them that brought something good to the world. Looking back, some of them were heavy-handed with that, but they also surrounded themselves with like-minded people who wanted to change things. So that is consistent. He lists attributes of wealth, and money is the last one. He made a point to say money is the last one.
Cal: I might alter the words a little bit from “like-minded people” to “like-missioned.”
Hugh: Very good. I welcome that edit.
I meet lots of people. I had conversations with 100 entrepreneurs last week, as I was at a business growth conference called CEO Space. I had interviews with 100 people, and there was not a bad vision or a bad idea of what their mission ought to be. They didn’t have it as clear, but they had passion for something that would change people’s lives. They didn’t have a structure underneath it. I think the law of averages is 3% of the people will actually do something about it. For those people who have a germ of an idea, who have a vision, but haven’t put the pieces together yet, what advice would you have for those people, who have a passion of making a difference in people’s lives? What would you say to them as a leader? What would be your advice to them?
Cal: I hope it’s not your passion for them. I hope it’s their passion for themselves that you help them achieve. I may have a higher mission and purpose in mind for you, Hugh Ballou, than you have. But we are not on board yet for your accomplishing anything. What is your highest purpose that I can help you to achieve?
Hugh: You don’t need a lot of words to make impact. I love that. Cal Turner, I interviewed you years ago for a book, and you got so excited that you decided to write your own book. You wrote it with Howard Olds. What was the name of that book?
Cal: Led to Follow. A leader is one who is led.
Hugh: It’s a brilliant book. You sent me a copy when it was published. I believe people can find it on Amazon?
Cal: I think so.
Hugh: Cal Turner, Howard Olds. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I am grateful for our friendship and all that I have learned over the years. Thank you so much for today’s interview.
Cal: Thank you, Hugh. I enjoy our chewing on the questions together.
Hugh: Me too. Thank you so much.
Cal Turner received his B.A., cum laude, from Vanderbilt University in 1962. Following his graduation from Vanderbilt, Mr. Turner served for more than three years as an officer in the United States Navy. In December 1965, he began his career at Dollar General, the company founded by his father and grandfather in 1939. He succeeded his father as president in 1977 and as chairman in 1988. At the time of his retirement in 2003, Dollar General had grown into a New York Stock Exchange retailer with more than 6,000 stores in 27 states and annual sales in excess of $6 billion.
Mr. Turner has served on the boards of a number of civic and charitable organizations, including the Easter Seal Society of Tennessee, Inc., Leadership Nashville, the PENCIL Foundation and the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. From 2000 – 2001 he was president of the Board of Governors of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a past chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky, a current member of the Board of Trustees of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville and present Chairman of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.
In 1988, Mr. Turner accepted the Presidential Award for Private Sector Initiatives from President Ronald Regan at a White House ceremony. In 1991, the Sales and Marketing Executives of Nashville recognized Mr. Turner with the Summit Award for his excellence in management. He received the Silver Hope Chest Award in 1992, an honor presented annually by the Middle Tennessee chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 1994, he was honored as Nashvillian of the Year by the Easter Seal Society of Tennessee. In 1997, he received the Alexis de Tocqueville Society Volunteer of the Year Award from the United Way of Middle Tennessee, and, in 1998, he received the Vanderbilt Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2002, Meharry Medical College presented Mr. Turner with the school’s prestigious Salt Wagon Award, given for acts of kindness and commitment to Meharry Medical College and its mission.
Cal Turner’s commitment to the Methodist Church has been a lifelong personal ministry of faith. The Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church inducted Mr. Turner into the Fellows of the Society of John Wesley in 2001, for distinguished service to local church mission and ministry. In 2002, Mr. Turner was award the Stanley S. Kresge Award by the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation for his commitment to higher education.
He and his wife Margaret are the parents of Cal Turner, III, who, with his wife Hope, are the parents of Cal Turner, IV, Alex Turner and Will Turner.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
The Legacy of
Make a Wish Foundation
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
Hugh: This is Hugh Ballou, and my guest today is Frank Shankwitz. Frank Shankwitz and I have crossed paths a number of times over the last couple of years, and this is the first time we have really had an in-depth conversation. I have heard you talk at different places, Frank, and I want you to share some of your background. Welcome to this interview today, Frank.
Frank: Thank you.
Hugh: You are known as the founder of Make-A-Wish Foundation. Before we go to that story, give some background about yourself. Is it true that you were a police officer?
Frank: Yes, I had done 42 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. I started off as a highway patrol car officer, and when they started the motorcycle program, I started riding motorcycles with the highway patrol for the next 11 years. Following that, I was promoted to detective and worked in narcotics, sex crimes, political corruption, and eventually homicide, where I spent the majority of my career. I just recently retired with 42 years of service.
Hugh: That is pretty outstanding. You said just recently. How many years ago?
Frank: Just a year and a half ago. I just finished my last homicide case. I carried it over; we got a conviction on a lady and put her in prison for life.
Hugh: I guess it’s not a good idea to kill people for a number of reasons.
You had a vision. How did this idea for Make-A-Wish Foundation come about?
Frank: I have to back up just a little bit. Through my police career, when I was riding motorcycles, the television show CHiPs became very popular, especially with the young children. I was on a squad, and we worked the whole state of Arizona. We had a ten-man squad. A two-man team would be in one town for two weeks and then move to another town for two weeks, wherever they needed us for the big events going on in the state, especially the tourist spots like the Grand Canyon, Sedona, the Old Creek Canyon up in the mountains. The children, as we were riding into these towns, thought we looked like the guys on CHiPs. We did train with the men from the California Highway Patrol initially. It was a great PR tool. We got permission during slow times to go to local grade schools and talk to the children about bicycle safety, which they couldn’t care less about, but they had fun on the motorcycles. It was a great PR tool.
In 1978, I was involved in a high-speed chase over by the California-Arizona border with a drunk driver, and another drunk driver ran a stop sign. I hit him broadsided at 80 miles an hour, and I was killed at the scene. You say, “Well, you’re talkin’. How could that be?” But I was pronounced dead. My partner couldn’t bring me back. An off-duty emergency room nurse from California stopped by and asked permission to work on me. For the next four minutes, she kept performing CPR and heart massage and in fact brought me back to life. It took six months to recover from that accident, but I kept thinking, Why was I spared? Any police officer would ask that. Why was I spared? Is there a mission for me in life?
In 1980, I received a phone call from a fellow officer who said he had just met a little boy named Chris. Chris was seven years old, and he had leukemia with only a couple weeks to live. His heroes were Paunch and John from CHiPs. Chris told the family members and this detective, “When I grow up, I want to be a motorcycle officer just like Paunch and John on CHiPs.” The family asked if there was anything that he could do that would cheer this little boy up. Ron Cox the detective knew that I had worked with children and called me, saying, “We are going to set up a special date for Chris with his doctors, his mother, and our commanders. We are going to fly him from this hospital in Scottsdale, AZ to our state police headquarters in Phoenix. When we land, can you be there with your motorcycle? I know you have worked with children before. You look just like the CHiPs guys.” I said yes, and I had no idea what to expect. This little boy had been on IVs. An interesting thing was he knew he was going to die in a matter of weeks. I couldn’t imagine what the hell was going to happen. I thought paramedics were going to have to help the boy.
Instead a pair of red sneakers popped out the helicopter door. A little boy just ran out the door smiling: “Hi, my name is Chris.” He gives me a high five. “Can I get on your motorcycle?” He was fascinated with the whole thing. He had watched CHiPs so much that he in fact knew every button and switch on that motorcycle. This is the siren, this is the red lights, this is the warning lights. It was so funny how he knew everything on that.
I kept watching this little boy thinking, Here is this little boy. He is seven years old, terminal leukemia, knows he has only a couple weeks to live, and he is running around like a typical seven-year-old. Right then I started thinking, What else could we do for this little boy? He went on that day to become the first and only honorary highway patrol officer in the history of the Arizona Highway Patrol, complete with his own badge and certificate making him a full police officer. He got to go home that night instead of back to the hospital. His doctor is with him, and he said, “I don’t understand. His vitals are so good. Let him go back to his comfort zone.” But we knew the highway patrolman needed a uniform, which are all custom-made. We went to the local uniform shop and said, “We have this little boy. He is about this wide and this tall. Can you make a uniform for Chris?” Two ladies spent all night making a custom children’s uniform for Chris.
The next day, I led a procession of motorcycles and highway patrol cars to his home. The neighbors were all wondering what was going on. Chris came running out, and we presented him with his uniform. This little boy was ecstatic. He runs in, changes right away, and comes strutting out with his uniform and his Smoky Bear hat that we gave him. He is proud as can be. He came over to me and said, “I want to be a motorcycle officer. How can I do that?” He is fascinated by the wings on my uniform. I started teasing him a little bit and telling him about the training. I said, “It’s a shame you don’t have a motorcycle, Chris. We’d test you out here with traffic cones in the driveway.” Chris was a step ahead of me. He runs in the house and comes riding out on a little battery-operated motorcycle that his mother had gotten for him in place of a wheelchair. Soon enough, he even had on aviator sunglasses like the motorcycle officers wear, and he went through this test. He came back and asked if he passed. I said that he did. He asked, “When can I get my wings?” “Those are special-ordered also. I will order those right away, and they will probably take a day or two.”
Chris again got to stay home that day. The doctor came over to the house and said, “I don’t understand, but again, his vitals are good.” I ordered the motorcycle wings, and I picked them up the next day. I also got a call that Chris was in the hospital in a coma, probably not going to survive the day. I went to the hospital, and his uniform was hanging right by his bed. Just as I pinned on the motorcycle wings, Chris came out of the coma. He looks at me, he looks at his uniform, he has a big smile on his face, and he asks, “Am I an official motorcycle officer now?” I said, “Yes, you are, Chris.” I handed him his uniform, and he is touching the wings, giggling a little bit. He shows it to his mother. A couple hours later, he passed away.
I always like to think those wings helped carry him to heaven. We had learned Chris was going to be buried in Illinois in a little town in Kewanee. I asked if I could go back and give him a full police funeral. We had lost a fellow officer as far as they were concerned. Myself and another officer went back and gave him a full police funeral. We were joined by Illinois State Police, county and city police, and Chris was buried in uniform. His gravestone reads, “Chris, Arizona Trooper.”
But flying home, I just started thinking, This little boy had a wish, and we made it happen. Why can’t we do that for other children? That is when the idea was born at 36,000 feet of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Hugh: Amazing story. It brings tears to my eyes. You know how to tell a story, and you have told it before.
This wouldn’t have happened if you had not done something. This whole series of interviews is about creating a legacy, but it is within a series called Orchestrating Success. From my background as a conductor, we make things happen as leaders, but you made things happen in your context. It is not a musical context, but it is orchestrating success because you acted on that idea that you had. My summary of what makes a leader is that leaders get things done, know or figure out how things get done, and influence others. In that story, you illuminated all three of those. You got it done, influenced a huge amount of people, and started this foundation, which is really a movement to honor those children who have a wish who are terminally ill.
I am remembering as you tell the story that I had a camera store in St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of my friends came to me and said, “We are part of Make-A-Wish. There is a child dying who wanted to be a photographer.” We made that happen. There was no question about whether we wanted to do it. We just wanted to know when. It is a powerful, compelling story.
The other part of this series is passion to profits. We tend to think of profits only as money, but there are other ways people benefit from this. Make-A-Wish has generated some revenue in order to do good things. What went on from there? You established this idea. I gather you were involved with this initiative from the beginning while you had this full-time job with the police, right?
Frank: Yes. I had an idea and made it work, but it took a lot of people to make it work. The most difficult thing in the beginning was finding people who believed in the same idea. Several of the officers and people who were involved with meeting Chris thought it was never going to work. It took about two months to find four other people because in order to establish with the Arizona Corporation Commission, you need a five-member board with a president, a vice president, and three other board members. To find those other four people was a difficult task. When I found those four other people, the question was how to start a foundation.
As you said, I am a full-time police officer. I am working the 40+-hour work week since my job is usually a 60-hour week vocation. This is before the days of Internet. I took a lot of off-duty time in the library researching on how to start a nonprofit, but we finally figured it out. I had a friend that is an attorney, which is not an oxymoron. Attorneys can be friends. He helped me put it together. Another friend who is a CPA helped me put it together. It only took me six months to receive our 501(c)(3).
From the beginning, I wanted to base the foundation on accountability, integrity, and transparency. One of the big things I wanted to make sure of was that none of the board members received any type of salary, including myself, who was the first president and CEO. I wanted to make sure that every dollar that was donated went direct to the mission. That was one of the biggest things that the press and the media picked up on. Here is a foundation where they are not thinking about how to make a profit, but rather everything is going direct to the mission.
Hugh: It is directing the profit to the purpose really. In a nonprofit, you don’t distribute the profit to the shareholders because you don’t have any. It’s really a tax-exempt charity. The word “nonprofit” is really a lie. You generated profit, but you generate profit for the cause. As I am hearing you, your overhead was pretty low. Instead of salaries, those monies went to the cause.
In your story there, I can’t tell you how many people give up because they can’t find people easily who agree with their idea. There is a tenacity there that makes it work. Everybody has an idea. Only three out of 100 people will do anything about the idea. Out of those 3%, 90% of them fail because they are not persistent enough to actually follow through and not let other people rob them of their dream. You had people tell you it wouldn’t work, but you knew it was going to work. What made you say I am going to stick with it? There was a conviction inside of you that drove you to complete this.
Frank: You and I have a mutual friend, and I just learned a word from him a few years ago. Greg Reid is a beautiful friend. The term is stickability. I had never heard of that before, but apparently that was a thing. I had learned during the putting of the foundation together in Phoenix—and they had a children’s hospital—how many other children there were with leukemia. In the 1980’s, leukemia was a death sentence for the children. Fortunately, today about 70% of the children are surviving this type of disease. I just said, “There are other children out there. We need to have them have their wish made.” Unfortunately, starting the foundation was all about terminality, and the children did not survive.
Hugh: I’m well aware of that. Research has been very effective with leukemia. It’s now a 70% survival rate?
Frank: A 70% survival rate with the majority of cancers that are life-threatening illnesses. When we changed the mission, the national board members came up with a great idea about 20 years ago saying, “Let’s change our mission from terminal to life-threatening,” because through the graces of God and modern medicine, more and more children were surviving. It was a great decision for the current management of the Make-A-Wish Foundation because that way they could impact a lot more children granting a lot more wishes.
Hugh: I also hear that a good leadership principle is developing a consensus with your team, and your board was your team there. This is quite a story. What we are doing is featuring people who have started a legacy. This Make-A-Wish Foundation will supersede you for who knows how long; it will go on indefinitely because it is an idea that you have transformed into an institution, which has sustainability. Are there chapters of Make-A-Wish around the world?
Frank: Yes, there are now 62 national chapters and 36 international chapters on five continents. During our first year, we told our board members that someday we were going to be national and international. They all laughed at me, but I think I had the last laugh on that one.
Hugh: I commend you for that. Leaders are people of influence, and you influenced that to happen just by your power and your presence and your stickability. Greg Reid does an event in San Diego, but he is moving it to Los Angeles and calling it Secret Knock 2.0. This is where people gather. I was just listening to a podcast this morning by Ken Courtright, and Ken is in this legacy series with you. He was quoting Greg Reid and talking about Secret Knock, and he talks about you on occasion. People who are people of influence know each other. You and I have connected at Income Store live events and also at CEO Space a number of times with Berny Dohrmann, who is also interviewed in this series.
You were doing some interesting things in this part of your career. You and I have been around for a few years, and I am a fan of continuing to make a difference in the world, like Bob Proctor says. I saw him speak recently, and he said that he doesn’t have the word “retire” In his vocabulary. When he was 77, a few years ago, he was asked when he was going to slow down. He said, “I am 77, and I have to speed up. I have more to do.” You and I are in another phase. I am in my third career. I had my career as a merchant and as a conductor for 40 years. The last ten years I have been working as a leadership strategist, helping people launch their ideas and build strong teams and build strong organizations because they build their skillset. I commend you for your journey and not only for your wisdom but also your commitment to that passion. The way it has profited people is not monetarily so much—I’m sure the Make-A-Wish has generated money to continue doing its work—but the profit is people have benefited in many ways. I was trying to find a different word there.
You are in a new phase. I heard a rumor that there is a book and a movie coming out. How about talking about those?
Frank: I’m so fortunate. Again, this is my fourth career. My first career was in the Air Force. My second was at Motorola. My third was a police officer for 42 years. When you retire, what do you do? There are not a lot of jobs for an ex-homicide detective. I met Greg Reid five years ago, who started me on a whole new career path with speaking. Because of that, which led to Hollywood calling to say that they wanted to do a movie on my life, the movie Wish Man is now in pre-production. The screenplay has been finalized and approved. We are starting pre-production in November of this year with actual filming starting April 2017. I am pretty excited about all of that. I am flattered and humbled that they want to do this, but they have kept me involved the whole way. And I have had a lot of fun doing that.
A book titled Wish Man is coming out. It is a personal journey of mine from five years old to what helped me create the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That will be released in September 2016.
Hugh: That’s a great honor, Frank.
Frank: Very flattering and very humbled by it. Yet it’s fun. They have kept me involved the whole way. In fact, we just got permission to film near my hometown area of Prescott, AZ in the mountains. The people in the local town has bent over backwards for the production company to make this happen. It is a full-length motion picture.
Hugh: That’s amazing. Are you going to remember your friends when you get to be rich and famous?
Frank: I do have a starring role in a ballroom scene; I am sweeping the floor in the background. That is my movie career right there.
Hugh: Have they cast the movie yet?
Frank: Casting begins in November of 2016. We are looking at several people. Some nice names in there, but it’s all hush-hush right now.
Hugh: I’m sure. You wouldn’t want to jinx it if you knew anyway.
Let’s go back to this journey, which is pretty profound. That story is an amazing story. If you were to define what was so important about your leadership in this initiative, what was the leadership decision that you showed in this process?
Frank: That’s a hard one. I realize that in later years, I was more of a dictator than a leader with our board members. We had so many flung-out ideas, but I demanded that we continue the mission we had established on. It must have been right because our original charter and by-laws are still in effect today 36 years later. One of the biggest decisions I think we made is that nobody was being paid; we are all novices in this. It was a grassroots effort. We decided we had to start hiring professionals in the nonprofit world. As Greg Reid says, you hire the experts, and none of us are the experts. I was very good in my police career. Another person was very good in their career. But we were not experts in nonprofit. We first started to pay a salary when we hired those experts. I think that was a super decision because look at where the leaders have taken Make-A-Wish Foundation today. It’s one of the top children’s charities in the world for that matter.
Hugh: It is. Certainly there are very few people, if any, who have not at least heard of Make-A-Wish Foundation. You can say you were a dictator. I would say you were committed to the vision and the principles behind that, and you were not yielding to those principles. That is a strong leadership position, to be grounded in principles that are so important. Because you did that, look at what you just said. It is still in place today with that vision also in place. That is astounding. Were there times along the way that you wanted to give up?
Frank: Yes, of course. I can’t tell you how many times. I was working full-time as a police officer, and because of the money we need initially—fortunately police officers can get a lot of off-duty work in security and bodyguards—I took all of the jobs that I could to put my personal money into the foundation. I’m working 70-80 hours a week, and I would say, “I can’t do this anymore.” One of our board members, our hospital liaison would say, “Frank, we have just identified another child. We need to give this wish to them.” That would give me the energy to keep it going.
Hugh: Love it. If you pay attention to those signals, they are important. I think paying attention is what you did. You demonstrated that you were alert when they came.
Frank, you obviously surrounded yourself with competent people, maybe even people who are better than you, so this thing went where you wanted it to go.
Frank: Definitely. We hired the experts, people that knew the nonprofit industry, people who had the training and the background, and they also had that great big rolodex. That is something we always look for in establishing not only our following presidents and CEOS but also our board members: that rolodex they could contact.
Hugh: That is a key point: Surround yourself with competent people that have the contacts. Be very clear on what your ask is. You have generated the profit for this nonprofit, but it’s the profit that is the fuel that runs this motorcycle, which is the engine that provides for these children. This has been a very inspiring story.
As we draw this interview to a close, is there a parting thought that you have for people who have an idea, who have downloaded a vision from somewhere, who have been given this calling to do something? Is there a tip or a challenge or an ending wish that you would give these people who have this idea?
Frank: Never give up on it. Like I mentioned in Greg Reid’s words, stickability. Stick with what you want. Keep researching. Don’t give up. I don’t know how many people say, “I had a dream, but I just didn’t follow through.” Why didn’t you follow through? It takes time. There is no such thing as failure really. I am not just pushing the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a charity; there are 1.2 million nonprofits in the United States, and I encourage anybody who wants to get involved in a nonprofit to research charitynavigator.org. They are the watchdog for all nonprofits. They will tell you where the money is actually going. Is it going to the mission or some CEO’s pocket?
My closing thing is I like to say that anybody can be a hero. Being a hero means you can somehow give back to the community. It doesn’t have to be in dollars. It can be in time or any kind of donations or just in support. Everyone can be a hero.
Hugh: Frank Shankwitz, knowing you is a gift, and you are indeed a gift to all of humankind. Thank you for not giving up on that passion.
Frank: Thank you, Hugh.
Frank Shankwitz, along with his wife Kitty and several others, founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1980, with Shankwitz being the first President/CEO. Thirty-four years later, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has grown to 64 chapters in the United States, 36 International chapters, covering 5 continents, and has granted over 300,000 wishes worldwide, with a wish being granted somewhere in the world on an average of every 38 minutes. Shankwitz continues to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a Wish Ambassador and key-note speaker at fund-raising event for chapters throughout the United States, as well as a former board member of the Arizona chapter.
Shankwitz and his wife Kitty are still volunteers and wish-granters for the foundation.
In 2004, Shankwitz received The President’s Call To Service Award from President George W. Bush for service and civic participation, and recognition and appreciation for commitment to strengthen our Nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.
Shankwitz received the Tempe, Arizona Sister Cities “Making A World of Difference” award.
In 2010, Shankwitz was featured in Brad Meltzer’s book, “Heroes For My Son”, identified as one of the 52 people who have made a difference in the world.
Shankwitz has been featured in USA Weekend Magazine, The Huffington Post, and other publications.
Shankwitz has one book released, co-authored with Rachelle Sparks, “Once Upon A Wish.” Shankwitz has also been featured in Greg Reid’s, “Universal Wish” and Lisa Heidinger’s, “Wishes In Flight”.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
My Brother Elvis
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
The My Brother Elvis Foundation is a new charity that will increase awareness, provide support, and fight the battle against the massive crisis of prescription drug abuse.
Founded by David E. Stanley, stepbrother to Elvis Presley, the My Brother Elvis Foundation has been established in honor of the philanthropic spirit that Elvis showed David in supporting others in need during the 17 years he spent with him.
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Hugh: This is Hugh Ballou. Today, I am interviewing David Stanley. David, you and I have known each other about ten years.
David: It has been a while. How are you doing today?
Hugh: I’m doing great. I interviewed you years ago, in 2007, for my book Transforming Power about your leadership skills and putting a team together to do a movie. Your themes have been around your brother, Elvis. You are launching an initiative called “My Brother Elvis.” Give us a little background on who you are, your relationship with Elvis, and why this vision is so important to you and to others.
David: Let me start off by saying I am excited about the new foundation called My Brother Elvis Foundation, which is a charity designed to educate and support and fight against the drug abuse problems that we have in America today. Some may ask why I would want to do that and what that has to do with Elvis. I spent seventeen years with Elvis Presley beginning in 1960 when my mother divorced my father and remarried Vernon Presley, Elvis’s father. I became Elvis’s stepbrother and moved into Graceland in 1960, and I lived there for seventeen years. This was a great experience. Elvis was a wonderful human being. He took me into his family. He really raised me. He was my father figure, my mentor, the person I looked up to. It was unusual to be driven to school in a pink Cadillac every day; I got a lot of attention for being Elvis’s brother. It was a very cool lifestyle.
In 1972, I went to work for Elvis as his personal bodyguard. Working for Elvis meant being part of his entourage, traveling with him everywhere. I went on tours with him, to movie studios. Wherever he went, I went. When I toured with Elvis, I saw a chink in the armor. Elvis had a drug problem. He started off taking a couple pills to help him sleep. That number went from two to four, four to six, six to eight, and by the late ‘70s, Elvis had a very serious drug addiction problem. Unfortunately, we lost Elvis to a drug overdose on August 16, 1977. I was there. I walked into his bedroom to discover his lifeless body.
While this is a very brief interview, it’s hard to discuss all of this in detail. That’s why I wrote a book called My Brother Elvis: The Final Years, which is about the final five years of my life with Elvis on the road and the things we are discussing right now. I wrote this book to tell this story about Elvis’s tragedy.
Growing up with Elvis, he was such a giver. He was always giving to charities, giving his time and money. He kept writing checks to different charities throughout the world. That was his ultimate gift. I thought about my life. I was brought up this way. I saw the tragedies of what drugs can do firsthand, and now I am telling his story. Elvis’s death does not have to be in vain. Sure, it was a tragedy. Sure, he was a wonderful, loving person, a wonderful father, and a great big brother. He was the king of rock and roll. But the tragedies and realities of the human side of Elvis Presley cost him his life. I said to myself, “I can write this book and share this story. I’m not going to do a tell-all. But I want to communicate that if it can happen to Elvis, it can happen to anyone.” Therefore, I wrote the book. As a result of writing the book, I created the Elvis Foundation, naming the charity after Elvis in the spirit of Elvis’s giving because he was the ultimate giver. It also connects it to that if it can happen to the King of Rock and Roll, it can happen to anyone.
I know that’s a mouthful early this morning. That’s what we’re doing, that’s who I am, and that’s what motivated me.
Hugh: That’s a great story, that you’re motivated by that. What is the purpose of this foundation? Why do we need this foundation?
David: I think that we’re living in a society of drug abuse at the highest level. 78 people die a day from prescription drug abuse. 15 million are affected by it every single year. 9% of the teen deaths in America are from prescription drug abuse. It’s not just teens, but it’s adults as well. I grew up in a rock and roll society; I’m from the entertainment world. My whole life was growing up with Elvis Presley in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, touring with him and being around rock and roll bands. We lost Elvis, which was a tragedy. We lost Michael Jackson, which was another tragedy. That was a carbon copy of Elvis’s death: prescription medication. Most recently, we lost Prince. I thought to myself, Two kings and a prince: What can we learn from these tragic deaths? Superstars, phenomenal individuals who went down the path of addiction that cost them their lives. What can we learn from this? Through the celebrity-type background that I have, I can draw attention to this epidemic issue of prescription drug abuse on America today. It’s not just America, but it’s throughout the world.
The purpose of it is to draw attention to the issue, to raise awareness. The other thing is to support foundations that are existent that provide treatment for drug abuse. And sustaining the level of consciousness about it. This is a serious issue. This is a serious problem that is plaguing America today, and throughout the world. The U.S. is the biggest problem. The opiates that are out there and all the prescription drug medications kill people daily. It’s a way to draw people to the situation through the celebrity of Elvis Presley. Everybody knows who Elvis is. It’s important that people read this book and hear my message. I’m not putting Elvis Presley down. I’m not saying he was a gun-totin’ drug addict. Elvis had a very serious drug problem that cost him his life. People remember that. They remember the great Elvis and say, “Look at the great tragedies of the losses of Michael and Elvis and Whitney Houston and Prince and countless others.” People are affected by this every single day. I created the foundation as an awareness support for people to wake up and fight back so we can save a lot of lives.
Hugh: Why you? Why are you called to this?
David: I believe that God gives us all a gift. I am a believer; I am not ashamed of my faith. God gave me the gift of communication. I think God put me in the Graceland mansion for a reason, for a platform to be able to communicate my message. It’s one thing to be related to Elvis Presley and another to say what that was like. It’s one thing to tell them, but it’s another to talk about the tragedies that cost him and what it almost cost me. Addiction was taking control of my life. I overcame that, and I was blessed to overcome it. I think we’re all gifted. I think my gift of being related to Elvis Presley opened the door, and then God gave me the gift of communication to be able to share it with authority, with passion, with purpose, motivated by the fact that I could help save a life. When I cradled Elvis Presley in my arms on August 16, 1977, along with others on the day he died, I had a wake-up call. His death was my resurrection. His passing was my wake-up call, and I woke up from addiction. I had my faith and was able to overcome what killed him. But I will never forget the loss, the pain, the suffering of loss of a guy who had picked me up seventeen years ago and said, “Welcome to my family.” You’ve heard me speak. You have been in my functions, I have been in yours, we have worked together many times. I am always talking about how I don’t talk about Elvis Presley unless I can communicate a positive message. The positive message unfortunately lies in the tragedy of his death. I’m not taking away from the greatness of who he was by talking about the tragedy of his loss. God picked me. This is my ministry. This is who I am.
Hugh: That’s a profound statement. You said it’s the My Brother Elvis Foundation.
David: That’s correct.
Hugh: If people wanted to support this vision that you have, if they wanted to join as a donor or a sponsor or provide grants for you, where could they find My Brother Elvis?
David: Mybrotherelvisfoundation.org. We’re a new organization. We are building this from the very beginning, coming out with my book next month on the 16th of August, which will draw awareness to us. This foundation is in the process of being created. They can donate a tax-deductible donation at www.mybrotherelvisfoundation.org. They can also get a copy of my book if they give a certain amount of money. There is a limited edition of my book called The Founding Member Limited Edition. The bottom line is it takes money to get a message out there. We can all do something. We can help out a family in need. We can walk down the street and share our faith. We can always be there. Using the power of today’s media and the celebrity of one of the biggest rock and roll icons ever, we are going to be able to reach a lot of people. People can help us. We are challenging people. I am not ashamed to ask for money. This is a tax-deductible gift to help start this foundation and communicate our objectives to the world of prescription drug abuse. We need to help these people. Anything from $10 to $20 to $35 to $1,000 to $25,000. Companies, organizations, structures can contact us for major donations. People across the street can be a part of this. We can save lives. This is about saving lives. Somebody asked me the other day, “Are you honoring Elvis?” I’ll always honor Elvis. I’ll always love Elvis. At the end of the day, this is not about honoring anyone. This is about saving lives. This is about touching people’s lives and saving lives.
Hugh: Speaking of Elvis, you know things about Elvis that nobody else knows. You’ve said to me a few times that Elvis was a giver. He wrote checks to support people. That’s an important part of this legacy, too, isn’t it?
David: It goes back to what we discussed at the beginning. I was brought up with a giver. Elvis Presley was the king of rock and roll. He did 33 movies. He had countless records sold. He had platinum records, gold records. He is the undisputed king of rock and roll, and probably the most popular rock icon ever. But his thing was giving. That is what we were talking about. If you see somebody walking down the street, you might give him a buck, but Elvis would give him a job, buy him a car, put his kid in college. Elvis would go to St. Jude’s hospital and give out teddy bears and perform concerts for the kids. Writing checks to them all the time. God gives gifts to everyone. Elvis had the gift of music, of melody in his heart. His heart had music. But his main gift was giving. Elvis always said, “The main reason I have anything is to give it.” In the spirit of that giving, I was brought up to give. This is my way to honor him from that perspective of giving. What I have learned from him, I want to share with other people. He taught the importance of giving. When David Stanley is dead and gone, the news will talk about the youngest stepbrother of Elvis Presley. I’d rather say that the youngest stepbrother of Elvis Presley leaves the legacy of the My Brother Elvis Foundation to reach and help prescription drug abusers throughout the United States and the world. It’s a legacy to leave behind for my children, and long after my children’s children are gone, we are in the spirit of giving to people who can’t help themselves, to others who are lost in a needle or a bottle or a pill or the abuse of self-prescribed prescription medication. We have to reach.
Hugh: As we are wrapping up here, I want to talk about David Stanley the leader. A lot of people have ideas. Only 3% of the population acts on those ideas, and 97% of those people are not successful. What I know about this project so far—let’s just declare that you and I are going to be working together on building it out. Part of your wisdom in leadership is identifying what your skills are and what your gaps are. Bringing in people who know how to fill those gaps is a strong leadership trait, as is transparency. You are very clear that you don’t know everything. You are also very clear that you are going to bring people in around you—with a board, with advisors, with staff—to run this organization with your vision very clearly articulated by you. I have heard you present a number of times. You are very gifted at articulating your vision. Speak about the work we are going to do in building this sustainable organization. We are going to do strategy. We are going to build the right board and the right team. Where do you fit, and what is your primary leadership focus in making sure this thing goes where your vision sees it to be?
David: I believe every great thing is started by a vision. Once you get a vision given by God, it’s going to happen. I am the visionary, seeing what it can do and what it will do. I am also the spokesperson driven by passion and purpose to make sure it does happen. By delegating to Hugh Ballou, my strategic team, my board of directors, my lawyers, everybody involved has a part that makes this the reality. My part is I am the spokesperson. I am not an expert in addiction. Yesterday, I met with an individual who has been an addiction specialist for over 30 years. He is an attorney. He has written books on it and done thousands of interventions. He did one that you will be meeting and in conference with later this week, somebody that will be a part of what we are doing. He is very aware of your part, very aware of the part I want him to have. Within the structure of us communicating right now, we can already see that we are putting the pieces together. You are the expert in strategy, in taking this thing from the page to the stage, from the mind to the marketplace. My job as the communicator is to lay the groundwork so that people such as you and the attorneys I will be working with can build up. Delegation is key. Too many people that fail have such egos. Their ego suppresses their results. They need to have an ego for success instead of an ego of success. They need to embrace the reality that they have a part, which they then need to take and turn into that reality. They delegate the other portions of that to individuals. They are transparent. They are authentic. Nobody knows everything, but everybody knows something. If you don’t know it, somebody else probably does. I don’t know strategic planning like you do. That is why you are on board. I don’t know treatment specialists personally; that’s why I need them. That is why I have worked with attorneys and other individuals in this specific field in order to turn this vision into a reality to reach millions of people.
Hugh: That was the essence of the story in Transforming Power. You put together a team of people to do the movie around your vision. As a concluding piece, when you speak on a stage, you have this very powerful story at the end around “Dream the impossible dream.” You stepped up to Elvis and said, “Elvis, I need your attention for this boy.” Give us a capsule about that story. You’re dreaming an impossible dream here, which you’re going to pull off. I have no doubt. For people who haven’t heard that story, give us a snapshot of that.
David: I’m glad you asked that. I worked with Elvis for the last five years of his life; I was at over 1,000 concerts. We were at a concert in Boston, Massachusetts playing the Boston Garden. I walked out on stage before the concert. Everybody was getting seated, settling down. I walk out on the stage before all concerts to check the height of the stage, make sure security was in place. If Elvis did a concert, 500 young ladies would rush the stage, and then 500 old ladies would rush the stage. It was an event. Elvis was the historical event of the evening everywhere he went. I was checkin’ all of this out. When I came off stage that night, I noticed the challenged section on the left. Elvis always made sure that the left side was the physically or mentally challenged section, that there was always a section for them. That spoke volumes of Elvis right there, that that section was always provided. I saw a guy sitting in his wheelchair. He was quadriplegic, and his arms and legs were turned in. He was drooling, and his parents were behind him, obviously excited to see the show. The boy was holding a frame in his hand, one of those Office Depot frames. I looked closer and noticed it was the lyrics to a song called “Dream the Impossible Dream,” which is another phenomenal song. “Dream the impossible, To follow that star, This is my quest, No matter how hopeless, No matter how far, I will reach the unreachable star.” Phenomenal song. I thought how odd it was to have those lyrics. At the end of those lyrics was a handwritten signature that said, “My impossible dream is to meet Elvis Presley.” I can make dreams come true in this case. When you can make a dream come true, you do. I am Elvis’s brother. I had full access to the backstage area to meet Elvis. I said to him, “Son, you’re coming with me.”
His parents asked, “Where are you going?”
I said, “I’ll take care of him.” I rolled him backstage, took him to Elvis’s dressing room, and asked the police to keep an eye on him for a second. I walked into Elvis’s dressing room, and he was getting ready for the concert.
He asked me, “What is it?”
I said, “I want you to meet somebody.”
He said, “David, this is not the time. I have a show in five minutes.”
I said, “Take a minute.”
He said, “Okay, this better be good.”
I rolled the guy in. Elvis saw him, fell on his knees, dropped his head on his lap, and began to cry. He was so overwhelmed that this crippled, broken man wanted to meet him. Elvis was so overwhelmed by it. The guy took his broken hand and said, “Elvis, I love you.” He still had the frame in his hand, which Elvis did not see yet.
Finally, after six or seven minutes, I said, “Boss, you have a show to do.”
He stood up, still crying, and wiped the tears from his eyes. He said, “Take care of my boy. Make sure he has the best seat in the house.”
I said, “You got it, boss.” I rolled the guy out and sat him next to the stage. Elvis came out on stage. 500 young ladies rushed the stage. Two minutes later, 500 old ladies rushed the stage. The historical event was doing what it did best: entertaining the people. The boy was overwhelmed with excitement. I said to the conductor, Joe, “Dream the impossible dream.” Mind you, Elvis had not seen the lyrics. He had not seen what the guy’s frame said. He was dealing with the guy. So they break into the song. Toward the end of the song, I looked at a buddy of mine and said, “Help me out.” We lifted the wheelchair onto the corner of the stage. Elvis saw him out of the corner of his eye and walked over, singing the lyrics to him. It was a phenomenal moment. The guy was lighting up, so excited. It was a beautiful thing to see. Suddenly, Elvis sang that last note, dropped on one knee, and the guy pushed the frame out at Elvis. Elvis took the frame from the guy. The song was over. All of the spotlights went to black except for one on the boy and one on Elvis. In a concert with Elvis Presley, there was never not a standing ovation after a song. That night, there was no standing ovation; the only thing you could hear was the teardrops dropping on the concrete floor of the Boston Gardens. That is the impossible dream. That was the most unbelievable thing I would ever see in my life. I tell people that today, that I saw Elvis make that boy’s dream come true. It was one of the most incredible moments. People say to me, “What is your dream, and what is keeping it from coming true?” With that story, in the spirit of giving, I created the My Brother Elvis Foundation to help people reach their impossible dreams, to reach their unreachable stars, and to turn their lives around and let them know that they are loved by God, by the people. There is much more to life than addiction and self-destruction.
Hugh: David Stanley, amazing. Thank you for sharing your stories today.
David: Thank you, Hugh. I am looking forward to working with you. For those who will read this article, thank you for reading it. Go to mybrotherelvisfoundation.org, and give, give, give. You can help us reach them.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
Ken Courtright is the founder of Today’s Growth Consultant, a two-time Inc. 5000 designee with revenues that have doubled in each of the last 5 years. Started in 1992, the company is now an international, multimillion-dollar enterprise. TGC has worked with over 3,300 companies in 49 states.
Ken is the author of the upcoming book Guerilla Marketing Today, part of the best-selling Guerilla Marketing series, and best-selling author of Online Income: Navigating the Internet Minefield and co-author with Brian Tracy of Against The Grain. He is currently working on his next book Trust Trumps Everything: Why Your Digital Footprint Determines Your Income. He’s a popular speaker for business and academic groups.
As a regularly requested guest on business growth Ken has been interviewed by WGN in Chicago, The Daily Herald, The Biography Channel, A&E and USA Today, among others.
In 2012 Today’s Growth Consultant launched “Income Store” which helps individuals, companies and private equity firms buy revenue-generating websites at two times earnings.
He lives with his wife, Kerri, and their three children outside of Chicago.
Here’s the podcast:
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Hugh: Ken, what does legacy mean to you, and how are you creating legacy?
Ken: Kerri and I have spoken of legacy since day one, since 1992, before children. We were talking about getting into business, creating at least a very strong revenue stream. In the mid-to-late ‘90s, it switched to a desire for multiple revenue streams. Then it became vocal, and we even did a dream board of it in 2006 to where we wanted to ensure that our children started on our shoulders. What I mean by that is we don’t want to spoil our kids. As a matter of fact, our second oldest and our youngest—we have four kids—are at coding camp this summer. They were learning Python and other coding languages. Our oldest daughter, she is 18, just spent ten days at our corporate office in Pennsylvania studying under our chief marketing officer and one of our creative directors so she can work part-time for us when she goes off to college.
Our view is we had some very difficult times in 1999 financially. To put it lightly, we couldn’t wait to be broke. We were in such debt. We were in such a financial situation. We couldn’t wait just to have no money, to not owe people. What we wanted to do was: How do we raise four children in a way where we don’t spoil them; we don’t give them too much; they work for what they get; they have a complete respect for money, time, work, and effort; but at the same time, when they hit young adulthood, they are physically standing on our shoulders with a different vantage point? I don’t want them pulling cones at Dairy Queen, not that that’s bad. I want them getting a different vision, and I want them to be able to hit the ground running financially.
At a very young age, we started teaching them about savings accounts, just like how my dad between 16 and 18 years old brainwashed me that I will not have a credit card, I will pay my home off in five years, and I will buy used cars until I can afford a new car. I lived exactly the lifestyle of my father. We had 17 years in a one-bathroom home with multiple children. We delayed gratification, where the rest of my friends were driving fancy cars and living in massive homes. Today, we have the fancy cars and the massive home on a private ski lake. But because we delayed gratification for so long, our children understand how we did it, why we did it, and more importantly, when we did it. We did it in our 40’s. We didn’t go out and buy a massive home in our upper 20’s to mid 30’s when we could have. We absolutely could have, but we taught our kids through example what it means in this very difficult society of keeping up with the Jones’s to delay gratification. That gets us to legacy.
We also started a business that has evolved overtime that allows my wife and me well over 100 different revenue streams that are all independent of each other. If one or three or ten revenue streams go down, they will not affect our lifestyle or our income. We decided in 2009 to diversify our income and our legacy by helping other people create revenue streams through web properties. Whether you are a private equity fund, an individual, or a business, we might be in partnership with you on a website.
It’s all built in a company that is willable to my kids and grandkids. When it is time to pass this thing on, my one daughter is going to Pepperdine for Business Administration with a minor in Marketing. My second daughter just got out of coding camp and can’t wait to go into writing and programming, which our company needs at a high level. All of our kids are physically pursuing paths with a current want—and we have not asked them—to come in and take over this company. But the key is even if they didn’t want to, and I could just will something to them, we have a portfolio that will run a billion eyeballs in 2017. That will give our kids a traffic pattern, eyeballs, a platform for whatever business they want to start, and more importantly, a revenue stream that will provide them options.
You and I both know, Hugh, that money has nothing to do with people. Money is an inanimate object. If you were a good person before money, you’re a good person with money. If you’re a bad person before money, you are a bad person with money. The odds of your character changing because of a positive or a lack of money, I’ve never seen it personally. What Kerri and I wanted to do was help the kids avoid the trauma we faced in our early years in business of lacking capital and that traumatic event for a year and a half where we almost lost everything. We want to be there for them and give them a legacy that they can respect and grow further.
Hugh: That’s amazing. One of the things that we don’t do well in charities is establish a succession process. What you described is a succession process is your legacy for your company. Thinking of charities and legacy, you support a number of charities in a number of ways. Part of your legacy is helping charities be more successful. Talk about that a little bit.
Ken: As you well know, we support SynerVision and your organization. I think we are at seven organizations that receive 5% of our gross revenue, not net revenue. 5% of gross monthly revenues that come in get dispersed between seven organizations.
My wife’s and my church is the biggest recipient; they are building a very large addition. It’s actually three times larger than the current church that they are building onto the church. We actually had our church on payroll for three years. We physically have God on payroll at $600 a week for no other reason than why not? That does not count as one of the seven. We are a big believer in Malachi 3:8 that says, “You have to give him back the first fruits.” That is the only time in that best-selling book where he says, “Test me on this.” I have definitely tested God on that. I believe we are seeing the results of that as we have hit the Inc. 5000 list three of the last four years. In our early days, we doubled our gross revenues five out of seven years in the early years. Outside of those couple lean years in the middle where I diversified so wide in so many businesses without management, we have been consistently growing. I do believe there is a lot to be said for corporate tithing and dealing with worthy causes because I believe that is why we are on this planet.
Hugh: We did a podcast earlier where you talked about companies asking the legacy question. Could you reframe the legacy question inside of a church or a charity? What is the legacy question that these organizations need to be asking so they don’t go out of business? My church is a Methodist church. Currently they are losing 1,200 members a week. That is typical of most mainline churches. They are not asking the legacy question of what they need to do to maintain our members.
Ken: First things first, you have to understand that a charity or any type of organization is a business. It doesn’t have to be a for-profit business, but it certainly is a revenue-generating entity. Parishioners who tithe and parishioners who buy different books and equipment from churches like CDs and coffee, they are supporting that church. It is a revenue stream any way we slice it.
Let’s get to the fundamentals. The legacy question was built to counter what is called entropy. The definition of entropy says anything manmade or God-made was built to go from order to disorder. It’s built to break down. A business is breaking down; our body is breaking down. Everything is breaking down at all times. It is our job as leaders of businesses, which charities are, to be asking the legacy question, which is the counter to entropy.
The legacy question says: What can we do nights and weekends that doesn’t cost us any extra time or resources that could bring in a secondary source of revenue to our organization? A church for example. Many churches do bake sales or kids’ camps. They come up with 5-20 things throughout the year to raise or supplement income, one of the reasons being they themselves as a church support smaller churches or organizations overseas. For themselves and what I will call “their children,” they want to protect these entities. They are coming up with what I call one-off revenue streams.
For a church or a charity, if they simply shifted the mindset from the bake sale or the kid’s camp and go away from a one-time event to creating something that provides a monthly revenue stream. For a big church, I don’t know why I don’t see big churches getting with what I call the floating pastors who love to go from church to church just to give sermons. I don’t know why they don’t capture some of that information, some of those sermon notes into a think tank, like a Lynda.com. Lynda.com just got sold to LinkedIn for a billion and a half. All Lynda did was turn to the teachers of the world and the universities and ask, “Will you donate to me ten minutes to two hours to ten hours of the greatest video you have of the greatest teaching points of your classroom or institution?” Whether it’s Notre Dame or a mom and pop teacher in Milwaukee, she got all of these great videos donated, and then she simply charges the world what used to be $9 a month and $29 a month for the monthly rates to access the greatest teaching tutorials of the world. She just aggregated great content.
I don’t know why churches and organizations, even the Cub Scouts or the Girl Scouts have these great speakers come in and talk to the kids. Why don’t they record them, transcribe them, and then create some form of 100% monthly contributions getting donated to this church getting put to use and create a second passive revenue stream because that would be what is called an S-curve, or a response to the legacy question? That could be done three times a year. You would pick your head up in ten years, and that church has 30 additional monthly revenue streams that support their church and their expenses and allow that church to grow and then provide the necessary changes that need to take place so those 1,200 parishioners don’t leave every week. Does that make sense?
Hugh: Absolutely. In the podcast we just did, we talked about leaders who dealt with the situation. You hit it head-on. I find a lot of charities are hoping it’s going to change. They have one source of revenue, and you can’t create a legacy if your one source of revenue, which is mostly donors, dries up. Certainly donor money is up and down. Define the legacy question. Be clear so a pastor or a non-profit executive director understands how to frame that.
Ken: For a back-up, I have a 20-25 minute podcast. It was the first episode on Today’s Growth: Growing Business Today. That is the technical name of the podcast. Go to iTunes and type in “Ken Courtright.” There is a podcast that describes in detail what I am going to give you in 60 seconds.
The legacy question, which comes from Jack Welch, the CEO of GE Capital in its greatest growth spurt, says this: What can we do nights and weekends to add a secondary revenue stream to our main source of income? Jack Welch is presupposing that every family, every business, and every charity, which is a business, has a main source of income. We will call that the 9-5 income. So the legacy question says: What can we do 5-9, meaning in our off hours, that doesn’t cost any extra money or time, no extra equipment or expenses, with the creative energies we have to build a second residual repeating revenue stream? Initially, it’s to take the pressure off the main revenue stream. But once you do three or four or five of these, you realize Holy mackerel! One of these has just become bigger than our main source of income. What you do is every couple years, you stack another two to five revenue streams. In the business world this is called the research and development department. You just continually keep stacking as what is now mandatory at every major corporation. There is not a single Fortune 500 company today that does not have a research and development department that is currently spending money knowing it is not going to come back. It gets wasted and exhausted in the pursuit of the next decade’s revenue stream. If major corporations have to have the R&D division, why don’t households or charities have R&D divisions? It doesn’t make sense to me. Again, what you don’t know, you don’t know. That is the legacy question.
Hugh: Do you want to do a summary before we quit here?
Ken: The summary is: The first step of all success for business, a charity, and a household is to stop lying to yourself. As soon as you stop lying to yourself that things are good, things are going to maintain, things are going to continue, the reality is 100% of main sources of income fail. 100% of them. Not most, not half, but 100%. Whatever the main source of income is in that charity, at some point it will fail. If you take a church, that body of parishioners today is not going to be the body in 65 years. They will all die. So the reality is, as the world changes, every organization has got to say to themselves, “Okay, what are we going to do when, not if, our main source of income fails? What is our next source of income?” If they are not asking that question, they are lying to themselves. That’s my summary.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Get it on the iTunes store HERE
Get it on Stitcher HERE
Leadership is Redefining “Profit” see my post HERE
CEO Space was founded by Bernhard Dohrmann, a fifth-generation San Franciscan and expert in income acceleration training. “Berny”, as he is known, is featured in the acclaimed movie, “Tapping the Source,” and is the subject of a movie that is being made about his life.
The author of Diamond Heart, Money Magic, and Super Achievers, he is also the inventor of Super Teaching™, an accelerator learning hardware that enhances whole brain activity and supercharges a person’s ability to learn and retain information.
Berny’s Super Teaching™ technology has been studied at universities and is installed in public schools and colleges across the country. Super Teaching™ is also utilized at CEO Space to help provide MBA-level training to the membership.
Here’s the podcast:
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Hugh: This is Hugh Ballou, and my guest for this session is my long-time friend, mentor, and colleague, Berny Dohrmann, who is sitting in Tampa, Florida. Berny has a legacy with CEO Space. Over the last ten years, it has impacted my life massively. I’d like to interview Berny today and let him share about the visionary leaders who have impacted his life, those legendary leaders from the past, and the legacy that Berny is leaving that will impact the world. He impacts world cultures: business leaders and non-profit leaders. Berny, you have impacted me massively, so welcome to this interview.
Berny: Thank you so much, Hugh. I am so proud of you and what you are doing with your legacy to the world. Watching you do it is amazing. Universities, institutions, churches, and major organizations are lucky to get transformational leadership when you bring it on board.
Hugh: I have earned my chops. I have certainly made all the mistakes. With all my years working in the church and leaders with massive power from companies as well as clergy, I have learned what works and what does not work.
You grew up experiencing some legendary leaders that left legacies. You have shared some of that with me over the years. Set the stage for what your dad did and some of the people he brought into your house over the years.
Berny: Dad got his training in human potential development in the Navy during World War II. He retired as a commander and got involved with Dr. Edward Deming, training the major companies of the world after the war. When Deming put together the model with Japan and rebuilding Japan, Dad collaborated with him. On his own, Dad did Korea. Just like Deming was working in Japan, Dad was doing after the Korean War with Samsung, and those companies on higher forms of organizing us into better performance. He did that all his life.
He also founded the human potential industry in the 1940’s. He started working during the early years with Michael Murphy at Esalen, which was a pioneer; and with Clement Stone of Positive Mental Attitude. He developed a lot of the material for that, and then he moved into the nature of his leading it. He became the course developer for a program called Mind Dynamics. At that time, back in the ‘60s, doing $100 million a year in human potential classes that was open to the public. Everybody came to that product: the thought leaders that were alive at the time. John Gallagher, president of PepsiCo; Walt Disney, Disney just opening and becoming a dream come true. My dad coached him when the park was opening and after and did a lot of work for Disney. He worked with Martin Luther King and Jack Kennedy; I pitched my first baseball game when Kennedy was a senator. He sought out my father’s council about running. Zig Ziglar got his first job at my dad’s firm when he was 22 and started speaking there. Earl Nightingale, Og Mandino. The greats of the past.
In my work, carrying on his business, I have trained the largest companies in the world from AT&T to Zellerbach. I have done Human Potential training myself, CEO Space being the largest entrepreneurial institution in the world. It is ranked by Forbes year after year as the meeting a business owner cannot afford to miss in the world today. To get the highest ranking of all the opportunities out there is not easy. That is a legacy in itself. I have trained John Assaraf of The Secret to Ron Zeller who just graduated as the lead trainer of Landmark. Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Mark Hansen, Harv Eker, Adam Markel, the thought leaders of today—I don’t think there is one I can think of across the field that I haven’t sat with and given counsel to and loved and supported. The legends that you love like Brian Tracy and others are in my life where I give them counsel whenever I cross their path. I try to build their businesses up. I have inherited the thought leadership mantel. As you know, my work is about cooperation as an organizational theory versus competition as an organizational theory. Competition is a failed model, and those companies that use it are truly abusing their stakeholders and shareholders for their future.
Hugh: Let’s capture your dad’s name.
Berny: Alan G. Dohrmann was how he was known in the business. You can still Google search him. I run across people who were trained by him, and they are just in tears over the gratitude of his contribution to their businesses or lives.
Hugh: You mentioned Clement Stone. In that chain of people he influenced, was Napoleon Hill one of those?
Berny: Napoleon Hill worked for my dad’s company until he died. He was coached by Dad from the 1950’s. My first memory of him was at four years old on his lap. In our house, because he had stayed for quite a while with us, he was Uncle Nappy. He guided us. He was great with children. He was a very dignified, removed man. As all great men that are out in the world and have a public persona, if you are living with them, you see the other part. My dad was seen as a giant in human potential with what he could offload mentally in conversations when people came to see him, but those who knew Dad well, his humor was his glue—people remember how funny he was. Napoleon Hill was particularly funny, but in a dry, sarcastic, intellectual way. When I got to be older, I really appreciated his humor a lot more. Dad, he would always be laughing and having such fun while doing very serious work in human potential.
Hugh: Near you across the state is Disneyworld. Disney certainly changed the whole makeup of that part of the country, and his legacy is profound. Near me is the Napoleon Hill Center in West Virginia. Napoleon Hill certainly influenced Tony Robbins and a bunch of those other thought leaders from his work Think and Grow Rich. His concepts of the law of attraction and laws of success were so profound. You grew up experiencing these people in person. What about them impacted your life? And your dad, how did he impact your life? What gave you the vision, the passion, the momentum, the wisdom to build a legacy for yourself?
Berny: When you are young and are raised with access to these thought leaders, you are children. You are in his life as a child with eight other children. You are treated as a child. When I was 15 and my dad took me down to the march in Alabama, then I became a man. My rite of passage was being smashed in the face, yelled and screamed at, and put in juvenile delinquency. I did not understand the civil rights movement, having played with black children in San Francisco. We did not have prejudice there. I did not understand it. When I got to the South, then I understood it. My dad wanted me to understand it. Those are the lessons that grow you, the experiences. Then I knew who this uncle Martin was. I knew who this man that had come over to the house was. I knew who he was then. I did not get it. Even when we started the march, I thought it would be a great day, and that we would be in the news. From the standpoint of these lessons, as I got older, I had more guidance from these thought leaders. They certainly shaped me as a boy.
My dad was extraordinary. My dad was of an era where we had conversation and formal dinners as a family rather than watch television. We went on this hike on the Fourth of July every year; we never missed that hike together. We brought our kids, his grandkids. Even when he was ill at the end, the last thing he wanted to do was one last hike. His traditions, to be with his family as the head of it, guide his family, and give his principles and values, he always had time for us. He spent lots of time in our development. Looking back, I would say we were his testimony. He wanted to show that if he could take brains that did not have bad software and put extraordinary software in those brains, then all nine of those children would demonstrate lives of extraordinary contribution. I have done 140 countries as an investment banker economist and then CEO Space, influencing millions, and all eight of my brothers and sisters have contributions of worthy note. He has created not one average child, but extraordinary children, all of them. We all love each other. We have no sibling rivalries. We all miss our parents. We have such an extraordinary family that we get confused when we see that others don’t.
Hugh: Now that is a legacy.
Berny: He was the greatest dad I could ever hope to even write about. My book is about how perfection can be had. It is really a book for relationship, parenting, men and women, lifestyles of home. It’s his stories to his children that he really told us. They were extraordinary. You have heard many of them. They are quite lingering and impactful once you have read them or have had them told to you.
Hugh: One of your profound gifts, out of many, is storytelling. You tell your father’s stories, and they are the learning lessons, the object lessons, the experiential learning that he gave you growing up. When I hear you interview somebody, you have this vision that comes out of nowhere. You have this amazing ability to forecast things that people don’t even know they have the ability to do. I was one of those. I came in ten years ago.
Berny: When you talk about vision and planning, I think that’s my 22 years on Wall Street. You have to remember I am an investment banker economist by education and background. I was chairman of an international, global, publicly traded, major investment banking house that operated all over the world. I was a student. I was not big like Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. I did not have the capital those people had; they had billions in the bank. We had a lot of money, but we were not that big. As you watch a company come in to New York, they would frame what the potential of their future is time and time again in a wagon wheel of all the different industries over 22 years, you see from where any business is, what it takes financially to stage it and step it and move it into the next phases of its life. I like to frame up those blueprints because to get that kind of information takes 250,000 or so if you pay Wall Street underwriters to give it to you. They really frame it up. If you want Price Waterhouse to do a feasibility study for you, they will do a great job. When you get a retired chairman of an institution in Wall Street who can help guide you, those are the greatest coaches.
Mentors make millions. A coach gives you their expertise and performs work for you. It’s a fair exchange of fees. You get that work done, and hopefully the quality you wanted and the time frame you wanted. A mentor transforms the skill to you. You are not dependent on them. You are able to do what you need to do yourself because they enriched you. The coach to some degree is filling up your glass, which is 85% full, and you want to go to overflow with a beautiful new talent. A mentor gives you a much bigger vase. You get a bigger container, and they give you a bigger vessel. Your skills are exponentially magnified. When you get one of the great mentors living in the world—and that is true for me, too, for anyone—it is the greatest gift that can ever cross your path.
If you are a mentor, and I hope I am, and you are giving back without charging anyone, that is my legacy. I have the ability to give back today. I call it learn, earn, and then you have an obligation to return. It’s not just money. Invest in entrepreneurialism. Have your children mandate that they have to be paid based on the successful returns they are making on the money. You will make your children. You will build them. That legacy plan. I see these wealthy players and their beautiful lifestyles. I say, “Where have you created another you?” If you have not created a duplication of yourself by mentoring someone coming up behind you to your level, then you owe the world your mentorship. Give 15% of your lifetime until you create at least a handful of clones where your mentorship gave them the empowerment to give back to the world at your level.
Hugh: Bingo. You have hit on a major thing. All of our audience are social entrepreneurs. They are impacting the world with their visions. They might lead a business or a charity, or they might be clergy. This series of interviews is putting business principles into those organizations, whether they are an entrepreneur running a business or a charity. We still need good solid business principles. You have hit on a key point of establishing a succession plan. We don’t know how long we are on this earth, so we need to create a vision that is sustainable.
I commend you. If you ask ten people about CEO Space, you would get ten, maybe eleven different descriptions. It’s a movement. It’s an energy field. It’s a business growth conference. For me, it’s a place where people gather that are worthy. I meet some amazing people there. Berny, you have put a legacy in place already. It is a place where people gather who matter and who want to continue this cooperative capitalism because they believe in it and know it works. Recently, you had a family tragedy, so you did the opening, but then you and September had to leave the first day of this event. It ran really well because you had put the systems in place. One of my definitions of a good leader is the organization runs just as well whether they are there or not because you built a system.
Berny: On Friday, the most important part of the conference in which we graduate our members and have our final weekend events, I want you to know that I will be on a cruise ship with my children going to Alaska. I am leaving Friday because I know you and the rest of the board will be able to replace me and run it just as smoothly as you always do. Get ready. You’re doing graduation. You will have fun with it.
Hugh: I’ve said that to you many times. You are so giving that it is hard for you to accept the thanks. I want to thank you. You have meant a lot to me and have shaped my life and my career. The visionary part of this is very profound. There is not a person in this culture that would not give anything to support this because we love you and believe in it. You are a giving person. That set the standard. Charities and churches ought to be like this. The first thing I was told was “Don’t ask for anything.” It reverses the whole culture.
Berny: There is one virus on human consciousness, and it creates all toxic symptoms. All of your relationship issues, all of your parenting issues, all of your organizational issues. Your company either goes with competitive organization or cooperative organization. Once you move to cooperative organization theory—and my book Redemption: The Cooperation Revolution tells you how to do it if you want to do it in your home space, your work space, or your faith space, so you can do it in any context on any basis—the more you get competition out, the more that you have heaven on Earth in wherever that space is that becomes cooperative. Work on that because you can never get rid of a virus if you have it. I have whole sections in my book for faith leaders, saying that it has to start in churches and be an example of what we stand for so the world can see it.
Hugh: Let’s go back to vision a moment. Your book is Redemption. I remember sitting a few feet from Martin Luther King in Atlanta, and he has a dream.
Berny: If you heard my uncle Martin more than one time, you will remember how early he was in talking about cooperation. He is the one who kept saying the famous saying my father and I talk about. I can remember my father leaning over the table. It is one of my big memories. In 1959, he was very young then, they both were, and my father said, “Martin, this really stuck with this young boy. You can never remove darkness with more darkness. You have to bring in light and illumination to remove the darkness.” That became a big theme Martin used in his cooperation. You don’t look back.
Berny: I won’t cooperate with you, Hugh, and you won’t cooperate with me unless we hold the highest forms of personal integrity.
Berny: In heaven, you have to have integrity; there is no absence of integrity. We have to bring heaven to earth. We are bringing heaven to earth by not expecting integrity. We are told competition is good and competition is from God. If I have a legacy, it is to tell you that competitive capitalism is a corrupt and horrifically horrible system. Communism and socialism are worse if it is even possible.
What we need is cooperative capitalism, where we have full reporting, full accountability, full auditing, rules, and checks and balance. There are no secrets in the financial system, and it is fair globally. One set of global rules for how we operate. I have asked for the G100 to have an economic constitution in the digital world, to come together over three years for all nations to adopt. We have a fair platform to regulate speculation and a cooperative economic system with cooperative capitalism and fair ownership. We will get rid of our ups and downs. We will get rid of world war because we put cooperation of the Holy Spirit into our economic system instead of the wrong side of the force in our economic system, which is dog-eat-dog capitalism. Capitalism is terrible and awful. You should not have consolidation where 1% owns more than 99%. Any system that does that is elitism. It is bad for humans. Humans should make a lot of money when they bring great things to society, but they should truncate; after that, it should go back into society into roads, highways, and dams, things that make all society better. To have unlimited wealth consolidate into individual hands is not an economic system that has a future. Competition is always a form of insanity. Any competitive brain that thinks it’s good to the extent they are so virus-infected you cannot remove the virus, they are insane. Competition is insane.
Hugh: I have heard you say that competitive capitalism was greed, and socialism/communism was about power. What you are a prophet for is a new way of doing things—cooperative capitalism—which is very collaborative. Early on, you mentioned transformational leadership. What you are a champion for is the vision, which is what transformational leadership is. It is not about you; it is about the vision. You equip people in the culture. That is a summary of what transformational leadership is. It’s about the vision, it’s about getting the best out of people, and it’s about setting high standards. Berny, ultimately culture is a result and a reflection of us. Look at CEO Space. It is a reflection of giving, your personality, your gift, your vision. You created an energy field that exists.
Berny: I created an economic example of cooperative capitalism. You have seen miracles where a second-grade school teacher ends up with a $500 million merger acquisition with Airborne, the allergy/cold medication. You have seen companies like Two Truck in a Box where a guitar player is in 40,000 retail stores. You have seen a music teacher in all the Walmarts in the United States. You have seen miracles happen, and fast. When Karl Marx was alive, he hated that capitalism created wage slaves where everybody was just over broke and never had full partnership in any system. There was not an ability to fairly distribute wealth, and too many were starving to death and poor. Too many years later, we have that, and it is worse than his communism. He created competitive bureaucracy, and that is even worse than competitive capitalism.
A movement affects a few. A revolution affects the many. How do we have a revolution, which we started over 30 years ago with CEO Space, where the economists, the university professors, the leaders that will shape the future could come in with enough weight, over 30 years of continuing to put new software in this brain, where they could see it? It was not a book. It was put in place where they felt it, they did it, they brought it back and used it. We showed the world cooperative capitalism. Now we are getting weight in 140 countries to change the world. I am being brought in increasingly to change national agendas, national thought perspective, economic development in nations. I have a team I have put together, and I am being sought after by presidents and heads of state to accelerate greatly their economic development upward. Economic development of nations is the next part of CEO Space’s life.
Hugh: Great. As we draw this to a conclusion, there are several themes here. When I work with people, I help them focus in on their ability to implement because ideas are just ideas. If we don’t do it, it isn’t going to happen. I have this summary, which you may not agree with. Leaders are three things to me. They get things done, they figure out how things get done, and leaders are fundamentally a person of influence. I would say all of those apply to you. You have certainly influenced a massive amount of people in lots of ways that you have talked about and lots of ways that you haven’t. As we leave this, we have these people that are listening to this that have a great vision. What would you say to them as leaders to go from vision to execution?
Berny: One, it all sums up in one sentence: Weak plans, weak teams, and resources to execute. You develop strong plans, strong teams, and resources to execute. That usually takes two to three mentors. Two, and you’re through. Three, and you’re free. Mentors help you get the strong plans, strong teams, and resources to execute.
Next to that, my father used to tell us all great stories. One of them was he had us around a fireplace in Lake Tahoe on a snowy day. He said, “Children, do you know the difference between a super-achiever and a dreamer?” We had different ideas. He said, “Let me tell you the lesson.”
The dreamer children have accepted God’s capital, which is inspiration. God’s bank account has a withdrawal without a deposit. He has unlimited inspirational deposits for you. You get these inspirations in your life, and you don’t act on them and make them real on the Earth. God wanted you to. They come to you all throughout your life without stopping. The dreamer goes to their grave with all their dreams and all of God’s inspiration, which they squandered all of their life. Their real regret at the end of life is they didn’t do their dreams, which is what God gave them to do in the first place.
The super-achiever, who did their dreams and has no regret at the end at all, is a person who has found out how to finance their dreams. The distance is this small, but they gained the mentorship and the skillsets. When you have God’s capital, you still have to print it, put it on a website, do things with people through a computer and through a cell phone and through things that cost money. You have to take airplane trips and book hotel rooms. You have to finance your dream all the way through. That is part of the resources to execute. A super-achiever has learned about capitalism and how to get the ability to get resources so they can execute developing any division of a mature company. They know how to do it. Those that are just starting out, when they learn it, they become unstoppable. That is true in the not-for-profit space and every space. I wish you all to move from dreamer to super-achiever because my father would insist on it.
Hugh: Berny Dohrmann, chairman and founder of CEO Space, you are a profound person of influence and legacy builder. I am grateful for this time.
Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future. – William Wordsworth
Here’s what I found online when I asked for a definition of “Profit”:
Simple Definition of profit
: to get an advantage or benefit from something
: to be an advantage to (someone) : to help (someone)
: to earn or get money by or from something
Are You Focused on Money or Results?
Traditionally leaders, especially social entrepreneurs running a business, charity, or religious institution, are driven by passion and purpose. Many want to “save the dolphins” without building an infrastructure to accomplish their worthy mission…that’s focusing on passion.
Many entrepreneurs are in business to achieve financial gain…that’s focusing on money.
Successful leaders have a balanced approach to success. They provide value to others and receive income as a result of the value given.
Looking through this lens of balance allows a leader to review the classics, such as Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and learn something very different…it’s not about money. Even Hill stated that financial wealth is at the bottom of his list of the attributes of wealth because it was the least important of the traits.
In James Allen’s classic, “As a Man Thinketh,” he noted that we don’t attract what we need, we attract what we are.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist