50 Years New!

Be Respectful

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Story: She started with our company in 1968 when she was 17-years-old, and will soon be celebrating a 50 year anniversary, our longest tenured employee. Her parents literally wanted her to stay on the family farm. Instead, she applied one of the most important principles that thriving people do; she respectfully chose to live the life she desired rather than what others wanted for her.

Key Point: Out of consideration for her privacy, I will not share personal details. However, I would like to outline some of her (let’s call her Gloria) lessons from a journey of 50 years:  

  1. Be totally positive, and honestly realistic. Most situations, and almost every day has a bright side if you learn to frame it that way. Who wants to work with negative, cynical people?
  2. Embrace change and learn to love it. Actively seek it out. When you reflect on what change most often involves, it is much better than the status quo. Individuals and organizations have a responsibility to continuously move forward.
  3. Be an intentional, constant learner, continuously adding to your expertise, social/emotional skills, and be fearless in trying new things. This is tied to No. 2 above. Do NOT be complacent and think you’ve “gone as far” as you need to. If you stop, you will be left behind.
  4. Have fun every day. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living. Live the life you want in the present, rather than just hoping for a better state in the future.
  5. Whatever you do, when you put others first, things usually turn out for the best. Learn to keep your ego in check.
  6. If you’re a leader, commit to developing others first and do not make it all about yourself. Gloria’s best leaders have behaved this way.
  7. Have enough room in your life for that “convertible hot car” or something that makes life more fun.
  8. Be humble enough to do what needs to be done to move the organization, or the team forward. During her career Gloria has done everything from janitorial work to sophisticated financial advising. Roll up one’s sleeves and make things happen by taking on tough problems, and keeping the customer first .
  9. Failing at something does not mean one is a failure. Moving forward includes having the courage to get things done, with the understanding that one is going to goof up along the way. Get up, jump in the convertible, and accelerate to the next destination.
  10. When you do the above, 50 years zip by… Like 1968 was just yesterday. And more importantly, you will be driving down a highway that is always going forward. More often than not, the road is one worth taking.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. It is unlikely any of our readers will spend 50 years at one company. Nevertheless, Gloria’s lessons apply to us all. They are retro and modern at the same time. You have likely heard all of Gloria’s advice before. The question to ask yourself is, do you really live/work this way?

Riding with Gloria in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s a reason Millennials seek guidance and advice from people like Gloria. It’s true wisdom that can’t really be achieved from a newage textbook, podcast, or YouTube video. Thanks to her great service and willingness to share valuable insight, we’re lucky enough to get a true education 50 years in the making.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Homegrown Feelings, TRUST & Great Organizations

Accountability Be Accountable Personal leadership

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Story: Last week I sat with nearly 40 people, each of whom run a small business in towns across southern Alberta, Canada. We gathered in a circle, and each participant shared a story about their beautiful little communities. They lovingly described the way people are mostly there for each other, how neighbors TRUST, put each other first, often greet with a hug, and personally connect before any business is transacted. Of course, not everything is perfect in small town life. People know each others’ business, small town politics, etc. Their stories made me a little homesick for these “homegrown” feelings. Coincidentally, I concluded the week visiting one of our smallest bank branches in the wonderful town of Daysland (pop. 824 people), where I also ran into a teammate from my college football days. For 40 years, he was the town pharmacist and proudly showed me around his former store and the world class medical clinic he was generously instrumental in developing for the greater good of the community. This overall experience made me pause… What did it teach me about expectations we might have for aspiring organizations?

Key Point: Great companies and institutions are often like the very best of these outstanding little towns. Yes, people are there for themselves, yet they thrive with meaningful purpose in advancing the community at large.

During the same week, I sat on a panel with the CEO of Edelman Canada, a leading journalist, several other execs, and a host of invited leaders to discuss the results of Edelman’s (world’s largest PR agency) annual Trust Barometer (33k respondents in 28 world markets). The Trust index conclusions are fascinating and concerning. To sum it up, trust is eroding amongst all institutions in most western democracies (a startling drop of 23 points in America). More than ever, especially in Canada, the US and Europe, there is a vacuum inviting business to urgently step up in leadership, while advancing trust amongst ALL stakeholders, not just shareholders. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you’re an executive leader, you must have the courage to create an organization purpose that really matters because living it clearly advances humankind. Additionally, you must create a sense of TRUST throughout the entire organization community and its ecosystem. Decisions about who fairly continues to be a member or not, is part of the hard work in maintaining that trust.
  2. If you’re an organization participant, not just a formal leader, you have a responsibility to be part of creating an environment of trust as well. Each of us is a vital part of the “village.” Ideally, going to work feels somewhat like living in a great little town… We feel at home.

P.S. You may enjoy listening to the Zac Brown song titled “Homegrown.” For me, it captures some of this feeling.

Homegrown in Personal Leadership,

Lorne  

One Millennial View: I completely agree that humans perform best when working in small tribes. That’s kind of what thousands of years of evolution has ingrained in us. There should be as much diversity, opposing views, different backgrounds, various upbringings and experiences as can be in these groups, but common values and purpose are what small towns really thrive on. And that’s what I want in an organization too. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Humbled with Humboldt, and Heartbreak For All

Accountability Be Accountable

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Note: The cartoon above is by Bruce MacKinnon, an award-winning cartoonist with the Halifax Chronicle Herald. It shows a hockey player dressed in the Broncos green and gold slumped over on his skates with the word “Sask” across his back. He is supported by 10 other players dressed in red with the provinces’ short forms on their jerseys.

Story: The Humboldt Broncos tragedy, where 16 coaches, trainers, and players on the junior hockey team’s bus, died in a horrific collision with a semi-trailer truck on April 6, has triggered something extraordinary across an entire country. This heart crunching, soul searing story seems to have painfully touched us all in very personal and profound ways. This week, I was leading one of our sessions on company culture and nearly 40 of us were circled together, ready to kick the meeting off. One of my teammates had gone out the night before and purchased a hockey stick, and on the blade tape wrote #HumboldtStrong. (Someone in the country had started this symbolic gesture of putting hockey sticks out on the front porch as a statement of compassion and care for the team, families and community. I genuinely believe millions hockey sticks will be placed on the front doors of Canadians everywhere). I put the hockey stick in the middle, kind of like at center-ice, and asked for a moment of reflection. Not a dry eye in the house.

Key Point: They say a change in perspective can increase our IQ. Perhaps one shred of good from this mind-numbing wreckage will be a wee change in perspective for some of us. We are grief stricken. To help underscore our national sense of loss, I’ve shared the following excerpt from the editorial board of The Toronto star:

“…It may be that Canadian hearts have never ached together in quite the way they have these last few days for a little hockey town in Saskatchewan and the 15 souls (NB now 16) lost when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a playoff hockey game collided with a transport truck at a Prairie intersection.

For Humboldt, history divided forever in that moment — to time as it was before, and the time after.

And a nation grieved because it knew that the Broncos were us and, but for chance, we and ours were them.

Such horrors are inherently humbling. They show us how fragile even the strongest of bodies are. They make mockery of our plans and, in the lottery of things, our delusions of control.

They remind us, if only for a time, what’s important. And, always, it is love.

If the loss and heartbreak are beyond measuring, it is also the case that this vast country felt very, very small this past weekend…”

Personal Leadership Moves :

  1. Remember that what you experienced at work today, the job you have or you don’t, the career progression you’re on or not, is just NOT that important. Please allow yourself just to humbled by Humboldt just for a moment, even if all too fleeting of time. Wait until next week before you float back into the proverbial rat race. It’s LOVE that counts over all. Fate is often there to make a mockery of our perfectly coiffed plans.
  2. Be present, be grateful, and live the life you deserve to live NOW. Make that small gesture as a lasting tribute to the memory of the people on that bus, their loved ones, and the forever changed community. Please embrace some small goodness from this unspeakable carnage.
  3. And also consider, if you haven’t already, putting a hockey stick on your front porch or balcony to remind you and the rest of us… If for just a while.

Heartbroken in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: With one Twitter or Instagram search, it’s amazing to see the outpour of support for Humboldt from all over the world. Even here in Austin, there are a variety of examples of local Texans lending their participation to the #PutYourSticksOut movement. Keep in mind, this is a city with only one regulation sized hockey rink. It’s primarily football country, and frankly, it’s probably easier to ride a horse or bull around here than organize a hockey game on ice skates. Nevertheless, there is not one of us who can’t feel, fear and be humbled by a tragic crash with a young sports team, just trying to get to a playoff game. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Don’t Forget About the Don’ts!

Accountability Be Accountable

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Story: I was listening to a relatively inexperienced leader explaining why he was having a hard time getting stuff done on major projects. As he outlined the obstacles, it was always somebody else’s fault. After the meeting, I respectfully took him aside and told him NOT to do that. Yes, I also positively suggested what he might say and do instead. However, I explicitly and unapologetically told him what NOT to do and explained the consequences. I believe he appreciated the specific examples and frankness of me saying flat out, “don’t do that and here’s why. And here is a way you might approach the matter to demonstrate you are personally self accountable instead of laying off blame on others.”

Key Point: I wonder if we have become so concerned about being so positive and nice that we have gone soft on the “don’ts.” Yes, I know we want to catch people doing things right instead of wrong, and all that well-intended encouragement. Yet the positive “do’s” often become clearer when accompanied by the additional insight supplied by a “don’t.” As a trivial example, “clean up and buss your dishes” might also need an explicit “don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; rinse and put them in the dishwasher.” It’s obvious, you say? I don’t think so. For some, people cleaning up dishes and putting them in the sink, more than meets the “do.” Yet additional clarity sometimes comes with the “don’t.” “Be more specific on the ‘do’,” you say. Perhaps… Yet, the most efficient and impactful communication might come from the “don’t”. Outlining don’ts doesn’t necessarily mean one is negative, unless that is the only mantra. Lonesome “don’ts” can rapidly drain our energy.

We have 10 explicitly stated values outlined, and we call them our 10 ATBs. They are stated in positive terms like ATB No. 3, which is “Think Yes First.” To have people understand this completely, we tell stories that illustrate what behavior demonstrates this action. We also find stories that demonstrate thinking “no” first, and this better frames up the full value statement. It’s old fashioned “do’s and don’ts” that bookend a more complete understanding. When I watch great sports or music coaches, they balance both. When we engage people respectfully and they understand that our intentions are being fueled by helping them advance, they normally relish a healthy balance of “do’s” and “don’ts.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be more positive than negative. However, recognize that calling out a “don’t” is legitimate, and may be the best way to achieve a more clear understanding.
  2. If you are on the receiving end of a “don’t,” say a genuine “thank you” for the feedback and then look at it more objectively. Don’t be so thin skinned that when you hear a”don’t,” it bothers you. You don’t have to score an “A” in everything. This is easier said than done.

Accepting the value of “don’t” in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is specifically helpful for my perma-positive generation who just plain LOVES being triggered by everything, and likes to believe they can do no wrong. In reality, there are plenty of rights and wrongs, and do’s and don’ts. It’s our duty to learn these things. If we don’t recognize this, we’re simply lying to ourselves. Sometimes a little gut-check and a “don’t” is exactly what we need to improve.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Pick Up the Trash!

Be Respectful Respect

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Story: John Wooden, UCLA’s former men’s basketball coach, is arguably the most legendary hall of famer in the NCAA. One amazing thing about Wooden was his reputation for humility. He was already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player, and had an amazing run as a coach (10 National Championships, seven in a row). And what did he do daily? Picked up the trash in the locker room. Why? It was the right thing to do, and modeled the behavior he expected from his players.

Key Point: “Muscle humility”, a term coined by Daniel Coyle, author of the recently released The Culture Code, tells story after story outlining how service driven leaders literally and figuratively pick up the trash as a way of setting the tone for all. A few examples:

  1. There are stories of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who would literally pick up discarded fast food trash every night from the street gutters near a McDonald’s franchise. 
  2. The famous rugby team, The New Zealand All Blacks, have a team value called ”sweeping the Sheds.” The leaders do the menial work, cleaning the locker room and modeling the ethic of togetherness and oneness. (Btw the All Blacks simple but straightforward hiring policy: “NO Dickheads”).  
  3. At the company I work for, we expect each other to clean up after ourselves when we have meetings. Why would we want to have someone else do that for us? 
  4. As part of the interview process for new recruits, some organizations provide an opportunity for prospects to demonstrate how thoughtful and mindful they are about others, by observing how they dispose of what they used post coffee/lunch.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Great and imperfect leaders serve others and recognize it is a privilege to do so. The idea that “Leaders Eat Last” is not an empty metaphor. Rather, as underscored in Simon Sinek’s book of the same title, it is a core value. Be one of those leaders! Be one of those team members!
  2. Picking up the trash frames up the idea that no job is too menial or dirty for any position or title. If you were the CEO of a bank, walked into an area where the ATM machines were housed, and saw the place was a mess, what would you do? I know and have seen what a great CEO does. He cleans up the area. People tell stories of ATB Financial’s CEO Dave Mowat doing just that.

Muscle humility in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I was thinking the other day, one of my least favorite things I’ll hear a co-worker say is, “well, that’s not my job.” 1. Duh. Everyone knows what your job responsibilities usually entail. 2. I’m not suggesting a marketing intern should step in for the legal or accounting team, but that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s usually a small favor to just make things run smoother. Like shutting down a teammate’s computer at the end of the day for them because they forgot. Sometimes “trash” is also just loose ends here and there… One day, you’ll leave a loose end too, and it’s cool if your fellow trash-picker-uppers have your back. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis