At the conclusion of the 2019 Fall Good Leadership Breakfast Series, we will have completed 10 years of programming. So naturally, I was searching with eagerness to find just the right speaker for the 80th meeting, November 15. Today, there is no more mystery…our good friend and mentor Richard Davis accepted our invitation. He’s the former CEO of US Bank – whom I wrote about in both the What Really Works, and How Goodness Pays books – and is now the CEO of Make-A-Wish America. He’s a one-of-a-kind speaker whose natural energy for life and passion for goodness will provide the cherry on top of a very satisfying 10 years of spreading goodness with the breakfast series.
This morning, my colleague Kathy informed me that series tickets are selling faster than ever before.
Young Leaders Breakfast
Alvin Abraham is a charismatic University of St. Thomas professor whose natural passion inspires young leaders.
The fall series will begin with our annual tribute to young leaders on August 16. This year TCF presents the Master Alliance Young Leaders episode of the Good Leadership Breakfast with a dynamo speaker, Alvin Abraham. Alvin is the founding dean of the Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas, a two-year college as part of the university’s mission to advance the common good, which welcomed its inaugural class of students in August 2017. He also serves on The Collective’s National Advisory Board at Teach For America, the board of directors at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Teach For America Twin Cities, and Great MN Schools. We chose Alvin for his ability and experience with inspiring goodness in young leaders.
Julie Kae is the global sustainability leader for a Swedish-owned global data intelligence firm, Qlik.
Global Sustainability Through Big Data
September 20, we will introduce you to Julie Kae, the Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Executive Director of Qlik Foundation. Qlik is a Swedish-owned global data intelligence company. Julie leads the global sustainability strategy, empowering nonprofits to effectively serve our planet and vulnerable populations. This includes managing strategic partnerships with the United Nations, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Private Sector Roundtable, and other organizations. Qlik has received numerous awards for corporate responsibility under her leadership.
Girls & Women in Sports
Nicole Lavoi is a former NCAA athlete and nationally-acclaimed educator and researcher on women in sports.
On October 18, we will introduce you to public scholar, educator, and author Nicole Lavoi, PhD. Nicole is a former NCAA athlete whose life today impacts student athletes across the USA. She is a Senior Lecturer in the area of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and the Co-Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. Through her multidisciplinary research she answers critical questions that can make a difference in the lives of sport stakeholders.
By the time Richard Davis speaks at the Good Leadership Breakfast on November 15, we will have hosted more than 19,000 guests, contributed more than $300,000 to local charities and shared the stories of how goodness pays from 78 speakers. We do this in service to the idea that goodness pays, when goodness grows. We ask you to continue to help spread goodness through your good leadership – because goodness pays.
Phil McKoy, an IT executive with UnitedHealthcare, is self-described as “profoundly impatient,” in ways that made him endearing.
Patience has never been one of my strengths. Last Friday, our speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast said something that arrested my attention. He described himself as “profoundly impatient.” In context, Phil McKoy of UnitedHealthcare, explained to more than 250 guests how being “profoundly impatient” works both for him, and against him in his leadership.
Every once-in-awhile something really surprises me about myself. Over the course of 56 years I’d never heard that two-word combination: profoundly and impatient linked as a leadership descriptor. In that instant, I lost my ability to focus on Phil’s speech. Instead, I drifted off into a new level of self-understanding. “That’s me!” I said under my breath.
Phil’s message about character and hard work united guests and sponsors around the idea: Goodness Pays.
Over the next 90 seconds, a highlight reel from my life’s highs and lows raced through my mind. I revisited the pain caused by my own knee-jerk reaction to things I didn’t like – suffering and embarrassment caused by my impatience. And there were moments when I acted quickly on my instincts for things that turned out great. Bold moves that feel “wise” today.
His strength, his weakness – a familiar refrain
There were over 250 guests, including the speaker for August, Alvin Abraham, who shared in a roundtable discussion about mentors.
What I re-learned from Phil McKoy is how our greatest strength can also be our most significant weakness. Duh. That’s not at all profound. But it never hurts to pause, and contemplate familiar themes that are expressed in fresh ways.
So, what strength is also your weakness? Does the descriptor: profoundly impatient fit with your leadership?
The momentum is building around the Goodness Pays discussion. Tickets are now on sale for the 2019 Fall Series.
My opening remarks were about the momentum that’s building around the Goodness Pays message: higher demand for tickets, higher book sales, more options for speakers and Good Leadership events. It feels satisfying – and also unsatisfying at the same time. Time marches on, and we have millions of leaders to touch with our message.
In October of 2018, a full house heard how Mr. Joseph Otting’s career included 35 years in banking, before accepting the call to service in Washington DC, as the Comptroller of the US Currency.
This Friday is the last meeting of the 2019 Spring Series of the Good Leadership Breakfast. With the help of our speaker Phil McKoy of UnitedHealthcare, our team will have completed our 76th meeting over 9 1/2 years. Our team can still see and feel positive momentum in our breakfast series. Here are signs the momentum is still growing:
Including conferences, happy hours, and breakfasts, more than 18,000 guests have attended Good Leadership events
The generosity of Good Leadership Breakfast guests has created a movement of living generously.
In partnership with HANDy Paint Pail inventor, Mark Bergman, guests have donated nearly $300,000 to local charities through “The Bucket of Goodwill”
Clients, sponsors, and business partners are spreading the “goodness pays” message on four continents
Guests are nominating leaders in their organizations as “proof points” that goodness pays
Two new books are underway about Teams and Breakthrough Thinking
As we take the months of June and July off from the breakfast series to rest and re-tool, we will be dreaming about version 2.0 of the Good Leadership Breakfast. When the Fall season is complete in November, we will have finished 10 years with the same format. It feels good, and yet, that milestone has me asking, “What’s next?”
If you see signs of positive momentum you’d like to share, please shoot me a note. It you have ideas for “what’s next?” for the Good Leadership Breakfast, I’d like to hear that too.
And thank you for making the time to include this blog in your day. We are grateful for how you spread goodness.
Phil McKoy is the speaker next Friday, May 10, at the Good Leadership Breakfast.
One of the questions I use repeatedly in interviewing Good Leadership Breakfast speakers is, “Who were your role models for good leadership, and the idea that goodness pays?” Our speaker for next week – Phil McKoy, the CIO at UnitedHealthcare – didn’t skip a beat in delivering an energetic and inspiring answer, “I have to say that I have two people that come to mind, and one is someone I’ve never met.”
Happy, intense, and grateful are three words that are top-of-mind for me, to describe Phil Mckoy from our interview and coaching session to prepare for his speech. He grew up in Jamaica as the son of a country pastor. When he was 12 years old, his family moved to Atlanta where he attended high school. He stayed in the U.S. for college at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and then on to graduate school at University of Denver. Like many other leaders I’ve interviewed, his path to Minneapolis/St. Paul began when he married his wife who grew up here, and wanted to return home.
Goodness role models
The two role models for “goodness pays” were his father who served a rural congregation as a country pastor, and his grandfather. “My dad had a big impact on the community every day, not just on Sunday. He embodied what it meant to be a ‘good leader’ in every way possible.”
“I also have a role model that I’ve never met – my grandfather. He was one of the first educated black business men on the island of Colonial St. Kits. When I walk on that island, and tell people that I’m his grandson, people say, ‘Whoa!’ He was bigger than himself. I never met him…but he paid it forward for his family and I am the benefactor of that. When I’m there, I always identify myself with his name…and it resonates in a very positive way.”
Today, Phil believes he is carrying on his family legacy by shaping the future of healthcare in America with technology at UnitedHealthcare. “Working to reform healthcare is not for the faint of heart – it’s a tough business, kind of a mess. I believe in the UHG mission: Make people healthier, and make the system work better.”
His professional path included international assignments for Accenture, Target Corp., Aimia, Inc., and then onto UnitedHealthcare. “I never really planned to be in the IT field, with a B.A. in Political Science, and Masters in International Affairs…but once I got involved in large IT projects I was hooked.”
He finds the biggest satisfaction in the job by building teams, and seeing people thrive. “I love the growth and development that comes with that. Not the most technical IT leader – but I have a good eye for talent, and I can build teams. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”
If you click this link, there may be tickets left for next Friday’s breakfast so you can meet Phil McKoy.
Every one of us is a dreamer. Dreamers are people who see things others don’t see. Are you dreaming enough?
On Easter Sunday two days ago, I heard a beautiful message about the importance of dreaming. Dreamers are people who see things others don’t see. The skeptic says: “I will believe it when I see it.” The dreamer says: “I will see it when I believe it!” Dreamers are people who transform organizations and industries. They also disrupt organizations and industries. For dreamers the disruption is fun and exciting. For the people who don’t see the dream, or feel the excitement, they feel disrupted. And that’s not much fun.
Why good leadership matters
Good leaders honor the voice of the skeptics who help them understand the barriers and risks. But they accept the barriers as part of the challenge to make the dreams come alive anyway!
Last week I was in a beautiful meeting, hosted by a good leader. A new CEO was recruited to replace a founder who sold the majority interest in the company two years ago. Since that time, the firm has been in steady decline. They stopped dreaming. And the skeptics took control.
What makes a meeting beautiful?
The meeting was “beautiful” because the CEO stood in front of 75% of the employees in a public meeting to be accountable, and dream. He was flanked by the executive team, who evaluated all of their 13 major metrics with a red, yellow, or green status indicator. The financial results were red. The process goals were mostly green with just a few yellows. The meeting was beautiful, because the discussion was transparent, honest, and inspiring…even though the results were not “good.”
The magic happened when the new CEO shared his dream for their future. “The results we see today are a product of a stale and lukewarm vision,” he explained. “We can’t sit around and wait for things to return to the good old days,” he continued. “I’m convinced we can partner with our ownership group to start purchasing some of our competitors to assemble the best and brightest engineers…so we can be the innovator that shapes the future of our industry.”
In a room full of professionally-trained skeptics, the CEO changed the tide by being a dreamer. But it wasn’t “his dream” alone. It came from his team. That’s really beautiful.
Each one of us are dreamers. And there are dreamers in our businesses, our churches, our school systems, and in our families. Are you listening to their dreams? Are you sharing yours?
Monte Nuckols artfully described how discovering a life measured by The Seven Fs: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future was life-changing.
Last Friday, a full room of guests battled through an April wintry blast of snow and ice to attend the Good Leadership Breakfast. We learned about how goodness pays through the experiences of our guest speaker Monte Nuckols, an international IT executive with Adient. You can view a summary video here, and listen to the podcast here. Monte recalled the compassion and encouragement of a specific leader when I asked him the most important question: Looking back over your career, can you think of a specific moment that stands out as a proof point for you that goodness pays?
His answer, paraphrased and edited for brevity:
How Monte knows for sure goodness pays
Most people don’t realize how close the entire United States automotive industry was to going under during the Great Recession. We know how U.S. President Obama helped rescue General Motors, and the other manufacturers were equally in peril. It’s really important to understand that, at any given moment, there is $50 billion flowing through the United States economy in the automotive supply chain – and that included the company that I was working for at the time.
Monte ended our interview with a shining example of a moment when he knew “goodness pays” in leadership.
So, it’s not surprising that most of the companies in the automotive industry were doing layoffs. I knew that goodness pays when I experienced how the North American leader of our company explained, and then carried out a huge round of layoffs. He told people the real story. He made himself available. He communicated with respect and compassion – and he moved swiftly so people didn’t worry more than necessary.
I was part of the team that decided to continue with our employee engagement survey, even during the middle of the layoffs. To our surprise, our engagement scores were very high, and employee trust in leadership was the highest we had ever measured. That showed me how good leaders, who behave with goodness, can improve any situation, including affecting the lives of so many employees with layoffs.
Phil McKoy will finish the spring series with a compelling story about how immigrating from Jamaica helped build his unique brand of goodness in his personal and professional life.
Mark your calendars now for the August special edition of the Good Leadership Breakfast: TCF presents, the Masters Alliance Young Leaders Breakfast on Friday, August 16. It’s the third-annual event where every ticket holder is obligated to bring a young leader to hear the message “goodness pays.” We are expecting more than 400 attendees…tickets will be on sale in May.
Our signature book launched in November, and it’s been a joy ever since. But it didn’t start out smoothly…
It’s been 5 months since Paul Hillen and I launched the How Goodness Pays book. It wasn’t easy in any way, shape, or form. It took two years to get the funding, and three years to research and write a credible book. And since the book launch he and I have been traveling east and west talking about the joys and tribulations of tackling the subject of “goodness” in business. Here’s how my journey started, as written in Chapter 1:
It was an email that hardened my resolve to prove how goodness pays. The subject line simply said: “COMMENT.”
The body of the email: “What are you an F’n Do-Gooder?” – that’s all.
So, how does it feel to be an F’n Do-Gooder?
Because the sender’s name was unfamiliar, I replied back and asked, “What do you mean?” All that came back was an AOL bounce-back message – a dead end. The hollow exchange sparked a self-talk debate inside my head:
“Am I an F’n Do-Gooder? Probably. Why does it feel weird to say?
If I’m not, then why not? Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
If I’m not an F’n Do-Gooder, then what does that make me, an F’n Do-Badder? That just sounds bad.”
Goodness grows, and goodness pays
That was nine years ago. Since then, we have built a thriving leadership development business through coaching, writing, and speaking about how goodness pays for our clients. The word “goodness,” applied to leadership, creates a polarizing response in most people – hardly anyone is neutral on this term. Skeptics like Paul Hillen, at first dismiss the concept of goodness in leadership as too soft, weak, or religious. But the vast majority of successful leaders endorse goodness as a motivator for their ongoing business success. They just may not call it goodness, or even realize they are doing it.
The message is spreading through keynotes, workshops, and coaching engagements by Paul Hillen (left), me, and our coaches.
Definition of Goodness: Goodness in business is when people thrive together through a culture of encouragement, accountability, and positive teamwork.Goodness is an others-focused approach that creates and sustains business momentum, even in uncertain or difficult business environments.
So, the book is an unapologetic statement, supported by data, to show how goodness pays in business.
Making the Case: How Does Goodness Pay?
For more than eight years, my firm has been collecting input from leaders in a variety of forums – meetings, retreats, and conventions – about goodness as a catalyst for business success. What have we learned? Four out of five leaders surveyed through audience response technology say they believe goodness pays in leadership and business. And yet only two out of five of those same leaders are happy with the consistency of their financial results. The book, How Goodness Pays, closes that gap by specifically teaching those who believe goodness pays how to achieve consistently positive financial results following goodness practices.
How Goodness Pays helps leaders work on their leadership approach to improve business results.
In short, we identified Five Goodness Pays Factors. In other words, leaders who radiate goodness and create consistently positive financial growth have these five things alive in their organizations:
A compelling plan that energizes employees
The belief that profitability is healthy for everyone – not just owners and executives
Timely and transparent decision-making that gives employees what they need, when they need it
Magnetic ethics, created by high standards that leaders role model
What’s remarkable about what we’ve learned, is that none of these five factors are “remarkable.” It’s simple common sense. And that begs the question: Why is common sense, not common practice? Are you asking yourself that question right now? Because you are not immune.
In future blogs I will explore insights about the Five Goodness Pays Factors. And we will dive into the answers behind Why is common sense not common practice?
Monte Nuckols posed with me in 2018, when his global leadership won a nomination for a BOLD Award here in Minneapolis. Monte is the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast, next Friday, April 12.
Our coaches delight in working with technical leaders who learn to master the soft stuff. What’s a technical leader? Lawyers, accountants, technologists – anyone who is highly-trained in the scientific method whose natural orientation is to identify problems. What does it mean to master the soft stuff?
Working with a global company provides a rich variety of travel and experiences. Here Monte and his teammates plant a tree in India.
There are multiple ways to answer that question – the simplest way is to learn more about the next speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast Series next Friday, April 12. Monte Nuckols is a global IT executive whose natural gifts are “technical.” And through a series of dramatic work and life experiences he’s becoming a master of how to unite a team, motivate a variety of personalities, create caring relationships across the globe, and build positive momentum for enormous projects – without burning people out. That’s the soft stuff.
Monte’s employer, Adient, is the global leader in automotive seating. Which means it’s very likely the car you ride to and from work is equipped with a seat that includes technology that Monte knows. What’s special about Monte’s job is the global manufacturing footprint. Adient has people living and working in more than 50 countries around the globe.
Here’s a sample from my interview with Monte that may pique your interest in meeting him at the breakfast:
When did you know you were gifted in the IT field – how early? I took a Fortran class in college and aced it… so I took the next class and aced that as well. I ended up taking all my electives in Computer Science and Math. I enjoyed programming so much, that I made IT my career choice upon completing my undergraduate degree.
Monte’s IT experience helps him give his 85 year-old father computer lessons.
What were the most important pivot points – the moments that changed your trajectory – that got you to where you are today? Taking a risk to leave my first job for a role in a new company that was a little over my head at the time – that really launched my career. The second is a large Enterprise Resource Planning project that really failed. We learn the most through our failures. After we fixed the system, it was recognized as being a significant contributor to keeping that company out of bankruptcy.
A collegiate golfer, Monte still plays the game better than 95% of golfers. In this picture he shared a round with Pro Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson (left).
What’s the most satisfying part of your role at work? That’s a tough one, because most segments of the automotive industry are struggling on a global scale today. But actually, a true test of a leader is managing in bad times…finding the goodness, and helping to turn around poor performance. That’s my job everyday.
What’s most satisfying about your life outside of work? Watching my young adult children and spouses find their way in life/careers. And living in ways that make sure my Seven Fs Wheel is round and rolling freely. After my heart attack, part of mastering the soft stuff for me was to think about my whole life differently. I reconsidered all of my relationships, inside and outside of work. I worked on my faith, my fitness, and my family scores in totally different ways. Today, I’m living proof that embracing all of my Seven Fs was necessary for me to live the good life that I imagined – and that my family deserved.
Monte is pictured here with his daughter-in-law Sophia, after his first post-heart attack 5K run.
About a dozen tickets remain for you to meet Monte – you can get your tickets here. If you can make it, we’ll dive deeper into the How Goodness Pays research, and discuss ways you can learn to master the soft stuff.
What is your “Bag of Hammers” and can you grant others nagging rights with zero cost of candor?
In our new book, How Goodness Pays, my co-author Paul Hillen describes how his leadership style was once dubbed “a bag of hammers.” What’s your own “bag of hammers” – that is, a blind-spot leadership trait holding you back from success? Paul Hillen tackles today’s blog…
“Your leadership style is like a bag of hammers,” was what my executive coach at the time, Paul Batz, told me in 2004, when I was a senior leader at Cargill. Paul was giving me a wake-up call from my 360 feedback. I had recently joined Cargill after 15 years at Procter and Gamble.
What Paul was telling me was that the things that made me successful in the P&G culture would not help me succeed at Cargill. My 360 feedback was very good from a capabilities standpoint, but some people felt I was not taking the time to involve them in decision-making or genuinely caring about their personal success.
How Goodness Pays helps leaders work on their leadership approach to improve business results.
I was raised as the youngest of seven where it was survival of the fittest. My parents were great, but were no-nonsense, work-for-what-you-want, and no sniveling. I remember as a kid helping my dad trim trees. I was up in the tree with a saw and clippers in my hands barely hanging on. I said to my dad, “What if I fall?” He responded, “That’s why I had seven kids.” That upbringing combined with the fast-paced, results-driven, up-or-out culture at P&G molded my leadership style.
My “bag of hammers” was my blind-spot. I literally did not see how my leadership style was affecting others until someone pointed it out. I had the fortune to be in a leadership program that assigned a coach to me, but not all of us have that opportunity. Here is a useful way you can get that kind of vital personal feedback.
Paul Batz and Paul Hillen, Co-Authors of How Goodness Pays, met when Paul Batz was Paul Hillen’s executive coach at Cargill.
Nagging Rights with Zero Cost of Candor
It is the concept of “nagging rights” – identifying three to four trusted colleagues or friends and confiding in them the areas you are working on to improve your leadership (or asking them to help you identify those areas). Nagging rights only work if accompanied by “zero cost of candor” – the absence of repercussions. If the people feel they can’t be honest with you, then you won’t get beneficial feedback.
Trust me, you won’t like some of the feedback. It might hurt. However, without candid feedback, you won’t improve as a leader. I know it’s helped me. I’m confident it will help you too.
Let me know how you are working on your own “bag of hammers,” and if you can grant trusted friends and colleagues nagging rights with zero cost of candor.
Regions Hospital CEO Megan Remark charmed the Good Leadership Breakfast guests with a crisp and refined message about how goodness pays.
Poised, happy, articulate, and magnetic – that’s how I’d characterize the presence of Megan Remark who spoke at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday. She’s the CEO of Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN, and also one of the senior executives at HealthPartners. Under her leadership, Regions hospital has risen to be included in the Top 50 Hospitals in America two years in a row.
Megan adoringly shared how her parents were her first role models for radiating goodness.
Guests who persevered through a Bold North snowstorm to get to the breakfast, were treated to a full menu of nuggets from listening to Megan speak. Here are five that I’m savoring still today:
1. Her parents were great mentors for “goodness” in every aspect of her life – that left me reflecting upon and appreciating what I learned from my parents to help me be a good leader.
Megan literally made me LOL, when she explained how she and her husband Roger are leaving their children “memories not money,” someday.
2. Hospitals may possibly be the most complex teamwork environment anywhere on earth – patients during a 3-day hospital stay will likely encounter 100 hospital staff members during their care. Every one of those people delivers upon what Megan called a “moment of truth.”
3. Her advice for the youngsters in the room who want her job someday: “Take your time. And make mistakes and learn from those mistakes on a smaller stage. Once you get the big job every thing you do will be in view.”
4. She and her husband Roger are embracing all of their Seven Fs: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, & future in raising their two children. They are adventurous with bold travel. “We tell our children we are leaving them memories instead of money!” The audience laughed along with me.
5. Goodness starts with each of us as leaders. “If you don’t think your immediate supervisor radiates goodness, then you can decide to do that yourself.”