Orchestrating Success

Orchestrating Success

OS 85: Keys to Designing a Business by Design vs. by Default.

November 07, 2017

Brandon Allen is coach, speaker, strategist and founder of New Work Revolution. Allen's mission is to bring the human element to every work environment. He has coached hundreds of small business owners, the federal government and done corporate training to assist leaders to come to new levels of understanding around how to connect and impact people around them. Brandon is the host of the New Work Revolution podcast and the creator of the Strategic Business Forum workshop series. When not transforming lives, Brandon spends time in Salt Lake City with his wife and four daughters.

More about Brandon at http://www.newworkrevolution.com

Interview Transcript

Hugh Ballou: Greetings. Welcome to this version of Orchestrating Success. My guest today is long-time friend and a very capable individual, Brandon Allen. Brandon lives in Salt Lake City. He has worked with very high-level thought leaders who have been mutual friends. Brandon, I guess we met eight to ten years ago. We haven’t really spoken for a few years. I’m really glad to be reconnected. I am going to throw it to you to tell people a little bit about you, why you are doing this current business, and what brought you to want to do this.

Brandon Allen: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Hugh. It’s always great to talk. When I think about the genesis of my career, I spent a decade in the corporate world. I was the COO of an Inc. 500 company. After working with a large company but also smaller companies, I got a real big insight into what does it take for a small business to scale and get to the next level? How do they get out of their way so they can really grow and get to that next level? I started a consulting company at the worst time you could start a consulting company, in 2008. Right in the midst of a financial crisis, I decide that’s the time I’m going to start a business. But since then, I’ve worked with hundreds of small business owners, thought leaders, and brick and mortar businesses, helping them get to the next level, grow, feel more confident in what they’re doing, have more freedom in their lives. I do some federal government work and consulting. I’ve done it in Utah and New Mexico for the federal government. I still do a lot of corporate training and government training. People ask me what I do. I say I’m a coach, speaker, and strategist. Ultimately, I am a person of deep curiosity. I love to connect people with people and people with ideas. I’m always curious about the world around me, and I use that curiosity to help other people get more curious about what they’re doing as well.

Hugh: Wow. Since you and I last talked, you launched this business. We’ve talked incrementally but not about your business. The title that I see is New Work Revolution. Talk about that. What does that mean, and why did you choose that title?

Brandon: The idea behind New Work Revolution is about humanizing work, putting the human element into work. We could talk about systems. We could talk about processes. We could talk about an ideal customer. We can talk about all these different strategies and plans on paper. All those things are meaningful. All those things matter. But if we get the human piece wrong, none of it works. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

New Work Revolution is about breaking the bonds that really tie people down. There are two facets to this. 1) I have been an employee who has worked with a less-than-desirable boss. There is nothing worse than working for someone that a piece of you dies inside every time you interact with them or see them. Everyone who has ever been an employee knows what I’m talking about. That’s tough. 2) On the flip side, there are a lot of business owners—as an example, I had a business owner who wanted to shut their business down because they couldn’t wrap their heads around the people-management part of their business. Through our work together, they realized that a lot of what was getting in their way was their own thought processes and limiting beliefs about team management. When they did it right, they experienced great growth and tremendous enjoyment within the business.

I want to teach leaders how to be the best boss they can and still create accountability, connect with team members, and build strong cultures within their business so that when people work for an organization, they enjoy what they do. We spend 40 hours a week at least at work. In fact, the majority of our waking time is at work. We might as well enjoy the work that we do as well as the people that we work with. That is what New Work Revolution is about. How do we start a revolution to work differently, work better, lead better, and connect better as a group?

Hugh: Enjoy your time at work. What a novel concept.

Brandon: It’s crazy. So crazy.

Hugh: The problem with common sense is that it’s not very common.

Brandon: Yes, that is true.

Hugh: So Brandon, I’ve interviewed a whole lot of leaders on this show. People have a different nuance. I learn from everybody, and I get inspired by everybody. I learn things from people that have very different approaches than I do. I don’t know that yours and mine are any different. We are unique individuals though.

Let’s back up. This word “leadership.” My whole podcast is about leadership. I choose not to use that word because I feel like people don’t understand that word. Do you find that to be true?

Brandon: Absolutely. Look, we use these words with no intention behind what we’re saying.

Hugh: Say more. That was good.

Brandon: One of the things that I do for myself personally and for leaders that I work with is I define what this means to you. Here’s the thing with leadership, Hugh. I use the example of college football. Nick Saban is the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. By all accounts, Nick Saban is not a pleasant individual to play for, but he gets results. On the flip side, Dabo Swinney from Clemson, he’s a player’s coach, a guy that you’ll see dancing in the locker room, havin’ fun, a complete opposite in a lot of ways from what Nick Saban is. They win the national championship last year over Nick Saban’s team.

My point in saying that is not because one style is better than another. There are many different ways to lead and many different paths to leadership. You have to define what that looks like for you. I have a leadership philosophy that I created for myself that helps me define how I want to lead. What does being a leader look like to me? How do I communicate that in a meaningful way to people that I do lead so they understand where I’m coming from and how I want to impact their lives for the best?

Hugh: Wow. That is pretty profound. Defining your philosophy. Do you model leadership for people you work with?

Brandon: Do I model it for them or from them?

Hugh: Do they learn by what you do or what you say?

Brandon: Both. The problem is what I say needs to be congruent with what I do. Here is why I say this. When I was a very young leader, 25 years old, I thought I knew everything about leadership. Oh my gosh, I am going to be the CEO of this company within five years. What I realized was the great business philosopher Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” That’s what happened to me when I got my first leadership assignment. I had a plan, I got punched in the face, and I realized through that experience that I didn’t know nearly as much about leading people that I thought I did. I transcended my own failure into success, but how I did it was I got educated and trained on where are my blind spots, what am I doing wrong. Before I changed those blind spots, I needed to set context with my team about what I’m doing.

Hugh, if you are my employee, and we work together, and I start to create a thought about you that says, “Hugh is a no-good rotten piece of junk. I can’t work with him. He’s just impossible,” everything that you do starts to be seen through that lens. You could be out there feeding homeless people, right? I could look at you and say, “I told you he’s no good. He’s not working. H’s out there doing God knows what with this and that.” Now I have taken something that’s pure that you’re doing and I have ruined it through my own faulty filters.

I have to go to my team and humble myself and say, “Guys, I recognize that I am not an effective leader in these areas. These are things I am going to change. I want you to hold me accountable to making that change, and I want you to recognize why I’m doing it so that you don’t misrepresent or misinterpret what I’m trying to do as something that is not for you when in fact it is something that’s for you.” I think it’s important to use our words to paint the picture, but then to go out and execute those words ruthlessly. As a leader, my only currency is my credibility. If I am a credible leader, I have a lot of currency with people. But if I’m not a credible leader, it’s really hard for me to move people when they don’t believe in what I have to say.

Hugh: There is an awful lot in that. That was a whole lot of really good stuff, Brandon. I’m trying to track the questions that that prompted. The transparency piece. Early in my podcast series, somewhere in the teens, I interviewed a group of really profound leaders. One was Cal Turner, who went to his leadership team at Dollar General and said to his team, “I got this job because my dad founded the company. I have the vision to take this public. You have the skills; I don’t. I got the job because of my genes, not because of my skill. You got the skill.” Because he was transparent, they stepped up. They said, “Oh yeah.” Cal said to me, “Hugh, leadership is about defining your gaps and finding good people to fill them.” There was another part. He is a very faithful Methodist, and in his office, there are statues of the two Wesley brothers who founded the Methodist church. His dialogue, he said, “Yes, I am the boss, which spelled backwards is double SOB.” I am the son of the boss. There is a whole dynamic with families and leadership.

The dynamic you hit on was people think that identifying those gaps is a weakness in leadership. You just positioned it as an essential strength in leadership. Did I hear you right?

Brandon: Absolutely. I’ll add to that. Here is the thing about our flaws: Everyone else knows we have them, right? It’s hard to read the label when you are inside the bottle, but everyone can read the label except for you. We all have blind spots as leaders. We have things we know we’re weak at, and we have things we don’t know we are weak at that other people can see. What my team wants to know is am I aware of my own imperfections? We all have them.

I remember I think it was Glenn Morshower. He was speaking at an event and said, “You know, ignoring your flaws or ignoring,” he talked about ignoring your sins or flaws, “is like getting in a pool and then saying you didn’t get wet. You are walking around and dripping water everywhere, and the whole time you are thinking, No one knows that I got wet. No one can see my flaws. That’s our flaws.” Our flaws are the water that is dripping off of us, everywhere we can go, that people can see. If my team is going to follow me, they will follow me more. They will be open to recognizing their own flaws when I am more transparent about what I have to learn and where I have to grow.

Think about how ridiculous of a philosophy this is for leaders who say, “Don’t show weakness.” But then what they want their team to do is show weakness and invite them for training, development, where they need to grow. If I sit there and pretend I have it all put together, all I am doing is inviting my team to do the same. If everyone has got it put together, we’re screwed.

Hugh: Absolutely. He said exactly the same thing. He pretended to know, they are going to say, I am going to show him. I am going to get him. It’s disingenuous. It’s not authentic. You have just portrayed as being open and transparent. Brene Brown talks about vulnerability. What I learned from the great teacher of conductors James Jordan who has written books on lots of topics of conducting, “In order to make really good music, the conductor needs to be vulnerable on the podium. Then we can invite good music-making.” That’s probably the same principle we have in corporate leadership.

Brandon: Absolutely.

Hugh: You said a lot of profound things there. I think part of it is that we have been taught leadership a certain way, and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work now if it ever worked. We have to be the boss. We have to have all the answers. We have to be in control of everything. If we are able to clearly paint the vision and empower other people, which is what you just talked about and say, “Here’s my piece of it. I’m really good at this,” my position is, and Cal taught me this, skills and gaps, rather than strengths and weaknesses. I think we all don’t do some things better doesn’t mean I’m weak there. I like to say my skills are here, and my gaps are here, and that’s where I find really good people and elevate them to higher levels of functioning.

Brandon: I like that.

Hugh: I learn a little bit from everybody. I am learning stuff from you today that is great. I think if somebody that I am interviewing says, “No, I got that leadership stuff done,” I can’t help them, and they’re dangerous. Their mind is like a parachute. If it ain’t open, it ain’t going to work for this.

What is the biggest challenge you see? Let’s talk about the business sector because it’s different than the nonprofit or church sector. In the business sector, what is the challenge? Is it the same or different for leaders in mid-cap or big companies versus entrepreneurs?

Brandon: For leaders in smaller organizations, the challenge they have is time and resources. They know they need to train; they know they need to have intentional processes. They know they need those things, but they don’t always have the resources. Or they are not concentrating on putting those resources toward those areas. You have a lot of people who work in the organization who aren’t qualified or trained or anything else. Let’s take someone who is a dentist. You have a dental office, you have people who are in there. Pretty soon someone rises to the level of office manager. The reason why they are the office manager is because they have proven themselves to be capable, responsible, and effective in their role before that. Now we have put them in a leadership responsibility, but what got them here won’t get them to the next level. They need a whole different set of skills. A lot of business owners are ill-prepared to train and develop a leader underneath them because they don’t know what that looks like for themselves.

In a larger organization, you see more of that. They start to invest in training and get people support at certain levels. There is still a gap there of a lack of investment in people and growth across the board. This is happening in larger companies as much as it is in smaller companies. When I do corporate training and consulting in a corporation, there are a lot of the same frustrations and pain points that exist in a smaller organization. It looks a little bit different.

Hugh: Is that like the Peter principle of people getting promoted to a level of ineffectiveness?

Brandon: Absolutely.

Hugh: It’s different skillsets as you go up the ladder. However, if you go up the ladder, you know what‘s below that and how the organization works. Where I see death in corporate America is someone comes in a horizontal position for management, but it’s really leadership. With a Harvard MBA, they come in at a leadership level and they have no clue what goes on below them.

Brandon: Absolutely. Think about this. One of my favorite leadership books is a book called Derailed by I think it’s Tim Erwin [it’s by James Siegel]. It’s five classic examples of disastrous leadership. One of them ran for president here recently: Carly Fiorina was featured in this book. That is the kind of book you want to be featured in.

They talk about Bob Nardelli. Bob Nardelli was the CEO of Home Depot. He took over for Arthur Blank. He came in at a CEO level and did not understand what made Home Depot successful. They had a family environment. It was very down home. What he did was build an elevator that went straight from a private parking garage right to his office so he didn’t have to interact or engage with any employees. He created all these standardized processes and systems that were very cold and antiseptic because he wanted to be commanding and in control as the CEO. Coincidentally, he failed in that leadership assignment, not because he is not a smart guy or not capable, but because he didn’t understand the culture he was coming into and how it operated. He tried to completely change the culture, and the culture won. The culture won out. He lost, and he was fired. It was a colossal failure.

Hugh: That’s a huge story. The story you just told of Home Depot is they hired somebody without regard to the culture. They were not a fit for the culture. That, to me, is one of the biggest deficits in hiring. I work with companies on hiring; there is competency, of course, and role and responsibility. The third component is the culture fit. What you just said is huge. It made me think of good leadership. Southwest Airlines, they say they are in the hospitality business even though they are an airline, so they hire for attitude. They hire for the culture. I’m sure they hire pilots just for attitude; that’s probably the number one factor. Everyone you talk to in the organization understands that paradigm.

Brandon: Absolutely. I think that’s so important.

Hugh: Yeah. Give me a story, for instance, of the impact that you’ve had with a client. You don’t have to use names or initials or locations unless you want to. What kind of results have you seen? I always like the consultant that says, “I’m a turnaround specialist. I turn companies around. I went into a company that was angry and depressed, and when I left, I turned them around. They were depressed and angry.” I haven’t told that in a long time. I am known for telling the same jokes over and over, but that one, there are people like that though.

I know you, and I know you have valuable work. You told me I could ask you anything. Unless you would rather not, is there an example of here is where they were, here is how you Brandonized them, you went in and helped them gain the confidence and skills and systems to elevate to wherever they wanted to do. I prefer to say go to the top than go to the next level. You can do it sequentially. Give us a case study. What impact have you seen with your work with a company?

Brandon: I will tell you one of my favorite examples. A dental client that I worked with in the Midwest got on the phone with me, and this was the first call. He said, “Brandon, I hate dentistry. I hate my partner. I hate my team. Can you help me?”

And I said, “Okay. Let’s take a step back here. What is it about these things you don’t like?” We identified some core things. He said he was dissatisfied with his partnership. My next question for this person is: What conversations or communications have you had with this person about this issue up to this point? It got really quiet on the phone because he said, “You know what? I don’t know if I have ever talked to them about this.” Okay. That is step one.

Step two: What kind of a culture do you want? What does the organization look like? What would the ideal organization for you look like, that celebrated the best of what you do, how you do it, and serve your patients at a high level? What does that look like? He had no idea.

How do we decide who is a good fit for your organization and who isn’t? Doesn’t know.

We started working on those aspects. How do we communicate and connect? Here’s the funny thing about the partner. Totally interested in doing everything he wanted him to do. He was just waiting for someone to ask him and talk to him about it. That was the easy fix.

The culture, we identified it and put it together. We identified there were probably two to three team members that were not a cultural fit. Through starting to communicate about what kind of culture we wanted, those people self-selected themselves out of the organization. We brought in new people. Now we have a team fine-tuned and humming along.

Their growth through this process, we didn’t come up with any fancy marketing strategies, we didn’t introduce some strategy that no one knows about that is a secret. We were more intentional about our communication. The culture that we wanted and identified where we want to take things. Through that process, they grew 30% in that year. Loved his team. Loved his partnership. Loved his business. It was a huge success.

It starts with, as you said, I change leaders so that they can change cultures in their organization. If we change the leadership, we can change a lot of things about the culture and what shows up around that. But it starts at the top.

When I was failing as a leader, my boss asked me one time, “Brandon, why are you guys doing so poorly?” I looked at him and did the most leadership thing I could do and said, “My team sucks. If I just had better players, I would win.” And he did a very leadership thing and said, “We’re probably not going to fire your entire team. What else can we do?” That’s where I thought about the skills I’m missing, the feedback I need.

I went to one of my team members and sat down with them. They’d been at the company longer than I’d been alive. I said, “Hey, I want some candid feedback. What am I doing wrong?” They said, “Do you really want to know?” I immediately regretted asking as soon as they said that. Do you really want to know? I said, “You know what? I’m committed now. Get it out.” They said, “We don’t like you.”

Hugh: Whoa.

Brandon: Really hard to hear. I waited until I got to the car before I started crying, mind you. As I went home and thought about that, I thought, What about that feedback is true? How could that be true for me? I can take that feedback and say, “You’re just a bitter old lady,” or I could look at it and say, “What about that is really true? What is it about what I do and lead that needs to change?” I started investing in my own leadership journey and development in a way that I hadn’t before. I stopped assuming that I knew every darn thing about leadership as a young person.

Through that transformation process, all I changed was myself. We went from being a mediocre office to one of the top-rated offices in my area. Then I was offered a bigger office as a result of that. I didn’t change anything else but how I showed up in the office and the interactions. That is what I did for the dental client that I just told you about. I did that for myself. That kind of process works.

Hugh: You know what? You and I resonate on a lot of stuff. My whole perspective is the orchestra or the choir is a reflection of the leader. What they see is what you get. We want to blame them for poor performance when they are trying to follow us. The old saying is: If the orchestra respects a conductor, they play as the conductor intends. If they don’t respect the conductor, they play exactly as they direct. We are flawed as individuals. That is a very interesting story because we don’t change other people—we change ourselves and people change as a reflection of that. That was exactly what you said. Did I hear it right?

Brandon: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Hugh: Leaders want to change everybody else. What you did was change yourself. That was tough feedback. We don’t like you.

Brandon: It was devastating. It was devastating to hear it. I was at such a low point because here’s the thing. I had just gotten married. I moved my wife to a city neither of us had ever lived in before. I thought that I was going to get fired, and my wife is going to find out what a loser I am. I am going to be stuck in this city I had never lived in that I really wasn’t sure I wanted to live in. What do I even do? First time I get a leadership assignment, I run it right into the ground and blow it up. It was tough. But that was the exact feedback I needed to hear. I had to subordinate my ego so that I could internalize that and say, “You know what? How do we change this? How do I go from basically killing people’s morale to inspiring and empowering them?” That started that journey.

Hugh: That is why you’re doing what you’re doing. Some people would call those failures, but I call them learning opportunities.

Brandon: You hope they are. If we have the right mentality about it.

Hugh: Right. If we have an open mind to it. Brandon, this is good stuff. It reminds me of the guy who goes to one of his colleagues and says, “What do you think?” He says, “You’re ugly.” He says, “Whoa, I need a second opinion.” “Okay, you’re stupid, too.” Good thing you didn’t ask for a second opinion.

Brandon: I had to stop here. Oh my God, that was enough. I’d heard enough. We’re good.

Hugh: That’s pretty profound that you were able to take that input and turn it around. I’ll bet when you showed up differently, that person became part of your fan club, part of your support system in a profound way because they felt heard.

Brandon: She said that when I left, she would retire. That’s how we ended it. That person who said they hated me said, “When you leave, I’m retiring. I don’t want to work for another boss.”

Hugh: You took lemons and made lemonade out of it. You saw that as an opportunity to move past that barrier. Wow. I knew you had a lot of smarts, Brandon, but you are giving me a lot of good stuff today.

Brandon: Let me tell you this. I don’t know that all of that transformation came from a good place always. I was very committed to achievement and looking my best. Any feedback was information that I could take to perform at an elite level. I placed a lot of value on performing at an elite level. It didn’t always come from a healthy or good place. That’s why I did it. I’d love to tell you that I just really had this great heart that really wanted to do the right thing. But really what it came down to was my own selfish reasons, which I had to tackle later in my career.

Hugh: That’s proof of transparency and self-awareness. You talk about the blind spots. I was speaking after one of your colleagues in Salt Lake City one day. He was out in the crowd and said, “How many people know your blind spots?” There were about three or four hands that go up. He said, “No, you don’t. They are called blind spots!” That was Brett. I thought that was brilliant. People are totally unaware of some of those things and unaware that they are not aware. What challenges do we have for lack of self-awareness with leaders? Is that something you have dialogue on with people?

Brandon: Absolutely. You have all sorts of people that get into where they shut themselves off is self-awareness. You have that high achiever who gets their ego wrapped up in their results. I used to be that kind of a person. I am still this kind of a person on some level. This is ongoing work. But because of that, we shut ourselves off to the things around us, and we get so focused on winning. We think because we are winning that we are doing everything the right way or we don’t have anything to learn. Who is going to teach me something? Look how great I’m doing. You have that achiever.

Then you have the person on the other end of the spectrum who is really beat down and then adopts the fixed mindset that says, “I don’t want to look bad. I only play in my lane. I only try things I know I’m already good at. I play it safe. I play not to lose, I don’t play to win, but because I have such a scarcity mentality, I’m just going to do the bare minimum here. I don’t want to stick my neck out because I don’t want to see what’s out there.” That person is also shut out of growth and development but for completely different reasons.

It’s about identifying how we get into that spot of recognizing, “Hey, there are always opportunities to learn. What is the next lesson for me? How do I tap into that self-awareness for myself? How do I pull outside information to help me uncover blind spots?” That will come from someone else. Recognizing that. Or maybe we have an epiphany where we have a failure that maybe enlightens us to our blind spots. That is such a big part of really winning the inner game of leadership by understanding that self-awareness piece.

Hugh: It is huge. I can’t work with anybody who is not willing to talk about that and willing to open up that dialogue and say, “Okay, I don’t know what I don’t know.” I find that the better they are, the more they want to learn. When Jim Rohn used to do speeches he said, “The people driving the expensive cars are right here in the front row. The people driving the Chevrolets and beat-up cars are in the back row. Or they are not here. The people who are high performers want to be better. They are in the front row.” He was a profound influencer.

What are the reasons people give you for not wanting to grow their skillset? You work with people who say they want this type of result. Like you, you didn’t know where you had gaps. To me, there are reasons, and there are excuses. What are some of the common fallacies people have about leadership and therefore their own lack of ability to grow? What are some of the lies we tell ourselves or the fallacies that we have? Does that make sense?

Brandon: It makes perfect sense. 1) I didn’t learn this in school. 2) I am not predisposed to be this type of a person. Therefore, I can’t be a leader. I need someone else to do it for me. 3) I’m just someone who likes to put my head down and work. I just expect other people to do that around me. I don’t need to build these skills or this leadership. 4) I don’t have time. 5) I can’t afford it.

There are tons of reasons and excuses that people give for why they don’t learn more about leadership or invest in it. One of my favorites: I can’t invest in those people because if I do, what if they quit? Then I have just wasted all this time and effort in investing in them, and then they leave. I always remind them of a meme I saw between a CEO and a CFO. The CEO says, “We need to invest more into our people.” The CFO says, “What if we invest more and they leave?” The CEO says, “What if we don’t, and they stay?” It’s getting leaders out of that mentality of: Look, if I invest in these people, then they’ll leave.

It’s almost like an abusive relationship. I don’t want this person to know that they can do better, so I am going to make sure that I manage their expectations of themselves to let them know that no one is going to love you like I love you. You will never be good enough for someone else; you’re only good for what we do and what I provide for you. It’s a weird type of thing that leaders sometimes do to keep people from branching out and breaking free of the organization to do other things. It’s very bizarre.

Hugh: Wow. Wow. That is bordering on dysfunctional, isn’t it?

Brandon: It is. But leaders do this all the time.

Hugh: Wow. That’s pretty amazing. Brandon, tell us your website; it’s your company name. It’s newworkrevolution.com?

Brandon: New Work Revolution because we are starting a revolution for leadership in organizations. My intention is to continue a revolution of powerful, great leadership in any organization that we touch.

Hugh: And you have four daughters.

Brandon: Yeah.

Hugh: You are a proud father. I have seen pictures of you on social media with your daughters. You appear to be a loving father.

Brandon: I try.

Hugh: Your podcast is on iTunes. New Work Revolution. Same name.

Brandon: Yep.

Hugh: I certainly want people to find you. What do they find when they go to newworkrevolution.com?

Brandon: A couple things that you’ll notice: there is an assessment you can take if you are a leader, and you want to go through an assessment and you can see how you’re doing. It gets them access to—I know some people don’t like this and don’t do it—but we do a call around that and talk about the assessment. It’s a free call just to assess where someone is at and how they’re doing. We take them through that process.

There is an Events tab. You can check out what events we have coming up. We do very intimate workshops here in Salt Lake City, Utah around different areas of leadership. We are doing CEO Business Habits in November. You’ll find information about what we do, how we do it, that kind of stuff.

Hugh: I want to encourage people to go visit. We’re coming up to the final part of this interview. Is there a topic I haven’t asked you about that you want to introduce here and say something about?

Brandon: I think we covered some really great things as it pertains to leaders. What great leadership looks like. Self-awareness. Those kinds of things. I really feel like we have covered a lot of the good things that I think is pertinent to great leadership.

Hugh: You had extremely good answers to my questions, which were not the hardest ones I can think of, but they were the hardest ones I could think of today. I’d like you to ponder on a closing thought, tip, or recommendation for people.

Brandon, leadership is fundamentally based on relationships. Communication is also based on relationships. People don’t engage us with money unless they know the value they’re getting, and we have created that trusted relationship. I want to throw that in the arena if you want to comment. After you comment, what is a parting thought you’d like to leave with people?

Brandon: Give me your question around trust again just to make sure I understood it.

Hugh: Leadership is fundamentally around a relationship, in my world. Respond to that. What’s a closing thought you’d like to leave with people?

Brandon: I think the people element is so huge. If we have good people in our world to really help us and support us, we’ve got a lot of great powerful things. I think about times where I have struggled, where I have needed help. Systems and processes didn’t jump in and provide the support I was looking for; it was people who did that. If you want to scale a business or grow an organization, the best way you can do that is have smart, capable people that you invest in that will help you further that.

To piggyback off that, you asked for a final thought. My favorite leadership quote is by Lao Tze, who is credited with writing the Dao Dejing: “A leader is best when people barely knew he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” We can’t get there without intention, without a philosophy on how we want to lead, on communicating, subordinating our ego, and then stepping back and letting smart, capable people do the work that we hired them to do and that we know they are capable of doing.

Hugh: Awesome. I look really good because I hang around smart people like you, Brandon. You’re a gift to your clients and a lot of people I have seen you interact with. Your reputation with people I know is certainly very high. Thank you for sharing the wisdom on this podcast today.

Brandon: Thank you for having me, Hugh. It was an absolute pleasure.