July Lessons 9: Dance Like No One’s Looking!

Abundance Contribution Teamwork

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Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: Those of you who have read my book, The Character Triangle, likely know this story. For folks that haven’t, it’s relevant to my last days at ATB Financial.

I started my career as a 21-year-old coach/phys ed/English teacher at an elementary/Jr. high school in Edmonton, Alberta in 1971. When I arrived, the school was average at best. Four years later, based on the exceptional teamwork of faculty, students and parents, it blossomed into an exceptional school. The morale and academic/athletic results achieved in such a short time period were remarkable. It was a genuine cultural transformation. I left in 1975 to do graduate work, and on my last day at the school, I was treated to the most memorable goodbye. As the touching tributes concluded, 400 crazy kids stood on their chairs, applauded my contributions until the principal finally wrapped things up. I sat on the stage and cried my eyes out uncontrollably. I realize, while I was the beneficiary, we were ALL applauding each other for what we had created. That very experience changed my life.

Key Point: Most people genuinely love to really dance, physically and metaphorically. They want to let go without caring if anyone is looking. Of course, they need music that inspires them to get up and move, an inviting dance floor, others to dance beside and the freedom/safety to let completely go. When a group experiences that recipe, something magical happens.

So fast forward to 2018, to acknowledge my retirement from ATB, a most wonderful group of ATBers (led by Stephanie Horne), brings in a 70-person choir to use music as a way to thank me. In the middle of culture day and 140 new hires, this incredible choir belts out one song after another, and the musical “thank you” feels like a “chair stand.” And once again, decades later, the tears wouldn’t let go. In perfect foreshadowing from decades earlier, I fully understand that while I’m blessed to be a focal point, the celebration is about ALL of us and what we have accomplished together over six and a half years of my tenure. I can tell you without exaggeration, ATB is on the global stage with the greatest of organizations. It took 80 years, and we did it together. We are measurably one of the best companies in the world.

One fun characteristic of the various groups that I’ve lead over the decades, is that we have enjoyed great music and dancing at every stop I’ve been on. Dancing as a team sets the stage for feeling what it’s like when people are dancing to the same music , moving in a uniquely distinctive way while creating magical harmony as a group. Truly something transformative happens. Dancing together at work is hardly a well-promoted or researched strategy. Yet, I know it lets people FEEL what it’s like to be all-in. And, you need to feel the dance to transcend it. Just dance! You’re worth it!

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Find a place to work where you can fully let go and dance your ass off. If it’s too much to expect physically, then at least know you can experience the metaphorical notion of it.
  2. Leave it all on the floor. Dance till you need tissues to wipe your brow, and eventually your tears.

And today, July 31, 2018, I step off the ATB dance floor, leaving the next song for others. How glorious it will be. Thank you for the incredible dance, and the gift of being able to leave both my sweat and tears on that floor!

P.S., the picture above is Emilia, our soon to be 4-year-old granddaughter. The ability to let go and just dance is fully resident in all of us. Go Millie!!

Dancing my ass off in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I mean, how can I not take another opportunity to embed the greatest on-screen dancing to grace the silver screen? Make sure to pick up some moves from the only on-going gag on LorneRubis.com. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

July Lessons 7: Serving Gelato is a Winner

Abundance Accountability Respect

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Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: I just had a chance to serve Gelato to teammates today, as a way of saying goodbye and thanks. It was really fun. It reminded me of other times in different organizations when I used to spontaneously walk around and pass out ice cream bars to people. The response from such a small gesture always amazed me. What a way to say, “I see you, I appreciate you, I know you’re working hard, and what do you want to tell me?” Two hours spent, and a great investment overall. Why don’t I do this more often?

Key Point: Review your schedule this past week. Please think about how many events in your calendar created more value than an “ice cream walk.” I bet the “ice cream walk” would have trumped 50 percent of other appointments in your daily routine. 

The reasons why I don’t do “ice cream walks” more often are varied. The main one though, is that I don’t put intention behind the act. I get caught up in too many so-called “important” things, including responding far too often to someone else’s agenda. It shocks me what people make a priority over connecting, thanking, and having fun with those that work for, or with us. The other day an executive from outside the company asked me how I could possibly spend a full day with new hires. Huh? What could be more important than ensuring people who are rookies deeply understand the company’s purpose and values?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Make an “ice cream walk,” or facsimile thereof, part of your leadership routine. Once a week or month, do something that puts you in full personal connection with your team. Make it genuine and informal. Have fun. Perhaps make it a signature of your leadership.
  2. Have the courage to make the people connection stuff the real priority in your schedule.

Ice cream walks in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: If you’ve ever followed a company you appreciate on Instagram, it’s common to see these type of events light up their Instagram stories (along with their employees’ who participate). Something as simple as an ice cream walk is a sweet way to keep things from melting down.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Giving My Team Nothin’ But C’s!

Abundance Accountability Respect

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Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: By the time you read this blog, I will have shared my last formal insights with about 30 of the top leaders in our company. While my last day before “retirement” at ATB Financial is not until July 31, this is my final opportunity, in person, to leave some leadership thoughts for them to reflect on. So, I’m going to give them all nothin’ but “C”s. Hopefully they might remember a few, and find them of value and consideration.

Key Point: “My dear colleagues, whom I genuinely love and respect. I first and foremost want to thank you for the privilege to lead by your side. You have been my heroes. I hope that you will indulge me as I share my best possible wishes as you individually and collectively lead ATB to even more extraordinary results. If I had the ability to give you all superpowers, I would give you all massive doses of C’s. Here they are:

No. 1. CARE.

I wish you the gift of infinitive abundance so you might find even higher capacity to CARE for the company, all ATBers, and yourselves. People know and trust most when they know you put the greater good ahead of individual gain. One cannot fake deep care. And when people know you do really care, they will rally behind you in astonishing ways. Be generous.

No. 2. CONNECT.

I wish you the gift of connection, and that you always are able to invest in the very first and most important step of the simple but powerful flow of Connect, Understand and Act. Connection means that you will have the energy and selfless fortitude to dig deeper in finding the unfound; those beautiful untapped people waiting for you to discover and develop them. And that you each will know the personal story of at least 100 ATBers, at a level where you know the names of partners, children, pets and more. That’s what real connection involves; no excuses. Always be connecting solutions to problems, and the people to make that formula work. Be intentional.

No. 3. COURAGE.

I wish you the beauty of endless courage and that you embrace ATB #11 with relentless vigor. I encourage you to bring your full authentic self to work everyday. Show up to be seen, and see others with fresh eyes daily. Most importantly, speak up with conviction for what you believe is right and just. Bring your unvarnished views to the table, even when perceived to be unpopular and uncomfortable. ATB and your CEO will only be able to find the right path with you all in. And that takes the courage to strongly agree and disagree. Fight to do the right thing, not to be right. Be fierce.

No. 4 CONFIDENCE.

I wish you the capacity and humble confidence to think and be big. That 10x thinking is a way of life where good is always seen to be the enemy of great. That you will ignite unbounded inspiration and aspiration. When you leave the field of play, know you’ve been truly, fully engaged in the scrappy arena not on the safe sidelines. Be BIG.

No. 5 CULTURE to CUSTOMERS.

I wish you the magic powers of better understanding and knowing what drives Culture over strategy, and that ATB’s culture explodes into the vigorous voice of legendary, remarkable loyalty from all customers and stakeholders. Be obsessed. 

And one more thing, I’d like to add an ‘L’ to the ‘C’s’, because as I’ve said many times before, you’re all worth it. 

No. 6 LOVE.

Have the authentic strength to declare love for each other. Yes, we have to make decisions that are difficult . However, that does not mean we cannot love one another. We come, contribute and all leave. During that journey, we can ALL love the ones we’re with. It is the human condition to want to belong and contribute. As leaders, we have the ability to create those conditions. Be brave and love unconditionally.

And with those 5 C’s (and one L), I take my leave and extend every possible best. I truly love you all.

– Lorne”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Do No. 1 through No. 6 relentlessly.

Love in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: It seems to me that most of us spend a lot of time and energy trying to earn more than a C, but it’s safe to say that these words are A+ material.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

July Lessons 6: Business is Always Personal

Abundance Accountability Respect

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Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: I worked for one person for many years and gave this individual every effort I had to create value for the organization. I also made a point of knowing something about this person’s children, partner, and even mother. I thought it was important to care about, and know my boss as a complete person. How might I understand his overall ambitions and interests if I didn’t? However, it disappointed me that the reverse was not true. I’m not a “matcher” though, and believed getting to know him more completely was the right thing to do, regardless. What saddened me was that our connection was incomplete without this person knowing something about my family. I wondered how much he actually cared about me. In the end, my concern was valid. I was mostly there as a commercial transaction. It’s just business, right?

Key Point: I’ve worked with wonderful people everywhere. I am so blessed to have spent time with so many people I’ve genuinely loved. Even though it’s challenging, and unrealistic to expect these relationships to fully continue after leaving each organization, the importance carries on. These personal connections actually accumulate to define us. So, one of my beliefs that has been fully endorsed working at ATB, is the idea that business is ALWAYS personal. It is never “just business,” even though that premise has been inappropriately used as rational for questionable behavior far too often.

In this context of business always being personal, I strongly believe you and I have an obligation to genuinely know the people we work closely with, without crossing privacy lines. This includes and is not limited to the following:

  1. Do they have a partner? His or her names?
  2. Do they have children? Grandchildren? Names?
  3. Do they have pets? Names?
  4. What do they do for fun?  
  5. What do they deeply care about?
  6. What do they like to eat?
  7. Coffee or tea? Cream or sugar? Etc. 

If you can’t answer most of these questions about the people who work for you, how can you possibly fully care about them? How can you help them grow and develop more fully? Don’t worry about whether your boss does the same with you. It’s a shame if he/she doesn’t. It’s most important that you set the example. It shows how much you are invested. How can you ask people to deeply care about you and where you want to take the organization without having personal consideration for them?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Connect with your teammates by genuinely getting to know them as complete people, including but not limited to the individuals they dearly love in their personal lives.
  2. Every conversation you have with these people ideally includes a sincere question about those important to them. Everytime!
  3. At minimum, you should know their partner’s name, and how many children they have (or comparable information). If not, why should they believe that you really care about them? No excuses.

Personal connections in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Even if you’re shy or believe that exchanging basic personal information with co-workers is a form of prying, there’s just no fun in knowing nothing about those you spend a considerable amount of your life working around. You’re seriously going to sit there all day and never shoot the breeze? We Millennials can definitely multi-task, so 40 plus hours a week are much better spent when your team isn’t a pack of total strangers.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

July Lessons 5: Duh… What ‘People First’ Really Means

Abundance Accountability Respect

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Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: I recently listened to young professional working at a car dealership tell me he was going to quit because, behind the scenes, the only thing his supervisors cared about was the “upsell.” They wanted customers to rate 10 out of 10, but frankly, their single concern was margin dollars. That’s why buying a car still sucks. Reading about the ugly Wells Fargo “fee pressure and sales upsell” scandal a few years ago made us cringe. Or Volkswagen lying about emissions results, etc. Business, free markets and even non-profits, at their best are marvels of value creation. At their worst, they make people last, both employees and customers.

This is a blinding flash of “duh.” I watched our engagement scores go up every year for six years. Yet, one area that proved to be stubborn and remained relatively flat was the feedback we were getting on “best tools to get the job done.” Regardless of the amount of investment we made in giving people productivity tools, we couldn’t move the needle much. On the principle of personal equity however, we were better every year. So what does this have to with putting people first?

Key Point: Putting people first has always been our strategy. People, customers and the shareholder, in that order. However, my learning after 40 years, believing in people first is NOT exclusive to the business’ human resource department. Of course, deeply caring for the well-being of people is vital, and I prefer to wrap that up under investing in the personal equity of each team member. I believe putting people first before the customer, in it’s best sense, is intentionally looking how every product and service the company provides starts with the questions: “What is the team member experience like to deliver the process, product or service to each other and the customer?” And “how does that team member feel presenting that policy, process, program, etc.?” If we make employees feel great, and in an ideal situation, even make them feel like they have super powers, that really IS people first. Then we become people first AND customer obsessed.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Become almost insanely obsessed looking at the customer experience through the eyes of team members first. Even digital properties need that consideration. Imagine what it will feel like delivering that product, device, policy or the customer service contact after the service/product experience.
  2. Think how to make the process, service, and product the HERO, instead of expecting people to be great because we’ve handed them a “turd sandwich” with parsley on top, to then give the customer. We keep grading people on their ability to compensate on poorly designed, over complex, and crumby offerings. In fact, too often we reward for customer recovery instead of a WOW experience for team members and customers. Become REALLY PEOPLE FIRST.

People First in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: As many of you might know, July 16 and 17th is Amazon Prime Day (at least in the U.S.), where all Amazon Prime members are encouraged to take advantage of cyber deals. It’s a huge reminder that human interaction for most goods and services is hardly even necessary anymore. If I want something, I likely can have it shipped to my front door. This suggests that People First is actually more valuable now than in the past, because if the quality of product and customer experience makes things more difficult than clicking a button from the comfort of my own home, then who needs it? People First is a good way to help ensure that you’ll keep seeing people come in at all.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis