Welcome to “The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective” with your host Bruce Holoubek. Bruce believes that the degree to which leaders invest in the development of their people as a whole has an exponential effect on both the growth of that individual and the growth of the organization in which they work. When done properly, it creates truly mutually meaningful work engagements. Your looking glass into the mechanics of that relationship starts here. - You can learn more about Bruce and the work he does with leaders at http://theapugroup.com
Living The Example In Leadership And Service, with Peter Schravemade (part 2
Any leader in any organization has to be mindful of the example they set. What you model will be a good example or a bad example for distinct groups of people: those you lead, those you serve, those with whom you are in a close relationship, and those who observe your life from a distance. This undeniable reality is an aspect of leadership that seems to fall off the radar for many senior leaders. Position and success somehow obscure the need for humble modeling and are sometimes replaced by a sense of entitlement or superiority.
Peter Schravemade is a leader who has not lost touch with the impact his example invariably has on others. Though he’s ultra-busy in his role at BoxBrownie.com, he strives to keep himself grounded, for the sake of his family, those he leads, and his own sanity. Join me for this delightful conversation with a guy whose responses are often deeper than the question he’s been asked. That’s a good thing.
Should a leader’s personal life intersect with their professional life? I’m always curious about how leaders see the relationship between personal and private life. Modern business etiquette often says the two should remain entirely separate, but if you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ll know that I couldn’t disagree more. I believe that who you are personally not only informs but amplifies who you are professionally if you allow the two to intersect in helpful ways.
Peter is a “what you see is what you get” sort of guy. His self-deprecating humor and humble attitude have earned the respect of those he leads and have advanced him to positions of influence and strategic growth on the BoxBrownie.com team. In this conversation, we discuss how his personal and professional life intersect and why it’s important for top decision-makers to make sure the two are connected.
Does the entirety of who you are hold up under the magnifying glass of a “What you see is what you get” perspective? As a leader, what can you do to nudge yourself a few steps close to it?
Modeling a servant attitude is more powerful than you may think People naturally gravitate toward those who encourage and help them. That’s why leaders should be practiced at recognizing the abilities of those on their teams, encouraging and empowering those abilities, and providing opportunities for them to develop. There’s a name for this, it’s called servant leadership.
Peter says that the “service” part of what he does — as a leader and more broadly toward customers — is what keeps him going. He's made a good point, there. It’s a huge motivation to know that both how you lead your team and how you provide services to customers is making a difference in their lives.
How are you doing on this front? Do the team members you lead know that you are in their corner and working to see them excel? If you’re not sure, why not ask them? You may find clear areas where you can improve your leadership that you didn’t know existed.
True leaders model a deep belief in their product or service It’s been said that when you are convinced that the service or product you provide will benefit those who use it, you’re obligated to tell them about it. Leaders can learn something from that statement. Not only do you as a senior leader have broad experience from which those you lead can benefit, but you also have a perspective of the overall organization’s goals, direction, and impact on customers that can help them see the bigger picture of how your organization is making a difference in the lives of those you serve.
In his role at BoxBrownie.com, Peter has seen time and time again how the work they do fast-tracks the results their customers are seeking. It’s this clear benefit that he keeps in mind at all times. It motivates him each day and keeps him going as he travels across the world at a feverish p
How An Upstart Australian Real Estate Tech Company is Storming the U.S.—Part 1 with Peter Schravemade
Real Estate is an industry that everyone understands on a basic level, but very few know about the highly specialized niche businesses that serve the industry. These organizations keep the real estate machine humming along smoothly for the benefit of both buyers and sellers. Some of them enhance the process to provide greater value for everyone involved.
Peter Schravemade serves as Strategic Relationships Manager at BoxBrownie.com, one of those highly specialized real estate tech companies I referred to. BoxBrownie.com takes average-looking photos of properties and makes them pop — resulting in faster sales and higher sales prices (Peter cites that claim during our conversation). Peter is the type of person you can talk with all day, and we almost did. Thus, this conversation will be split into two episodes. Watch your podcast player for the next installment.
Learn how the leadership at BoxBrownie.com started the company in Australia, the challenges they faced branching out to the U.S. market, and how they are handling the pains of massive growth as the company’s services continue to grow in demand.
You can’t fix blurry When asked about the most challenging parts of what the BoxBrownie.com team does, Peter was quick to say that though they work with many stellar real estate professionals, there are some who make him scratch his head. He’s had situations where agents provide blurry property photos and expect the BoxBrownie.com magic to make the image clear. Others may upload a picture of a door, half-opened, and ask the BB team to “create” the rest of the room that can’t be seen.
From those examples, Peter is quick to point out that it’s incumbent upon the BoxBrownie.com team to educate its customers — and potential customers — about what is and isn’t possible in photography and why good quality original photos will benefit the seller, the buyer, and the real estate agent in the end. When they do this well, everyone wins.
Are there ways as a top decision-maker your organization could take a page from the BoxBrownie.com approach to amplify your customer’s results by educating them about what you do, how you do it, and why it is done that way? The BoxBrownie.com team does so through blog content. How could you educate your customers better?
How you act and react to a situation dictates the person you are. A painful turning point in Peter’s life was the passing of his mother. She struggled with sickness for many years and finally succumbed to death when he was 21 years old. Her example of serving her family faithfully despite her daily suffering is an inspiration to Peter to this day. Her loss forced Peter to seriously consider who he wanted to be and what he was going to do with his life. That’s when he chose to get into the real estate industry.
It was during that season that a comment his mother often said to him came back to him. “How you act and react to a situation dictates the person you are.” He realized the wisdom of her words — that in every situation he has a responsibility to be the person he truly wants to be, the one who responds rightly, maturely, and with patience and wisdom toward others involved in the situation.
What might happen in the lives of leaders and their teams if leaders adopted this sort of responsibility for their responses and actions? Beyond that, what could happen to the bottom line of their customers if that attitude permeated the organization resulting in customers being served better?
How $1.60 sells houses faster and for more The base product BoxBrownie.com sells is a photo service that enhances property photos to make them more appealing and revealing for potential property buyers. This enables the buyer to see the property with greater clarity so they better understand the features and qualities of the property purchase they are considering. The BB
5 Reasons You May Be Promoting The Wrong People And How To Avoid Them
In his book, “The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong,” Dr. Laurence J. Peter quipped that “People in a hierarchy rise to their level of incompetence.” By this, he meant that employees are typically promoted based on their success in previous roles under the assumption that they will do well with even greater amounts of responsibility and leadership. Laurence says this formula of “success leads to promotion” often continues until that person reaches a level at which they are no longer competent for the role they've been given, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.
Though Dr. Peter’s book was released in 1969, we sadly see this dynamic happening still today, and it brings up a much-needed question, “Is there a better way to assess people for leadership roles?” I believe there is. This short episode introduces my ideas so I hope you listen.
Where the promotion process typically goes wrong Beyond the dynamics that happen according to the Peter Principle, there are additional reasons that promoting people within your organization can go awry. I’ve noticed 5 significant concerns in my experience working alongside top decision-makers and teams.
1 - The compensation and reward structure of the organization is inadequate Many organizations only have one way of rewarding team members: by promoting them to a higher position in the organization. When your options are limited to that, you’ve already set yourself up for failure.
Think through creative, meaningful ways that team members can be rewarded for performance and cultural contributions that don’t include promotions or steps up the rung of leadership. You’ll not only contribute to positive company culture, but you’ll also relieve the obligation team members feel to work toward promotions in the first place.
2 - The romantic notion of leadership Most top decision-makers and leaders know that there is nothing at all romantic about leadership. They have the battle scars to prove it. However, many people who are not in leadership don’t know the harsh realities and tend to romanticize leadership.
Clear communication, humility, and transparency from the top down can serve to reveal the realities of leadership to team members. It can also demonstrate the level of commitment leaders need if they are going to do their jobs well, informing those truly interested in leadership roles of the cost they will have to pay to become a leader.
3 - Outside influences impact leadership ambitions We are all influenced, for good and bad, by a variety of sources. If your team members are learning about leadership from outside your organization (not necessarily a bad thing) then they could be influenced to pursue leadership positions for reasons that don’t align with your organization’s values. Again, clear and regular communication that nurtures team member goals and dreams can help you get a bead on the real motivations behind leadership ambitions.
4 - The potential leader simply doesn’t know if they want to be a leader Many people stumble into leadership almost by accident. Once there, many of them discover gifts, abilities, and personality traits they didn’t know they had that are well suited for leadership. Others discover just the opposite. As Laurence J. Peter also said, “A man doesn’t know what he knows until he knows what he doesn’t know.”
You’ll hear me strike a similar chord in my advice on this point: regular and open communication between you as the senior leader and those who work under you will enable you to see untapped or undiscovered leadership potential in team members. You’ll have the opportunity to nurture those latent abilities, equip team members to use them well, and provide opportunities for them to be used and developed. This is one way you can help future leaders discover that they are le
The Winding Road To Greater Purpose, with Max Duckworth
We’ve all heard it said that the shortest path between two points is a straight line. That’s undoubtedly true, but what we often fail to realize is that the BEST path is not always the most direct or straight path. Sometimes it’s the bends and turns in the path that brings the rich experience and learning that we need the most for carrying out our life’s work.
My guest, Max Duckworth has taken his own winding path on his way to filling the important role he does now. It’s one that’s taken him from particle physics to environmental policy, to energy commodity trading, to impact investing. Max is now an impact investor and co-founder of Masa Partners, which in his words, attempts to invest in companies that make a positive impact on the world while making a profit at the same time.
Putting together the varied lessons life has to teach us as we walk our winding paths enables each of us to move into opportunities we didn’t even know existed when we started the journey, and often, the world is better for it. Join me to explore the idea on this episode.
Impact investing from a people perspective Impact investing is focused on making financial investments in companies that are taking on serious problems for the betterment of the world and mankind. It aims to be profitable through investment in companies that are making a difference — not just making money. Max says that his approach to choosing the companies his investment group will fund is focused around four “P”s: Problem — People — Product and Profit, in that order.
It’s the people part of that progression that was especially intriguing to me, so I asked Max to elaborate on that piece. He says that he spends a significant amount of time assessing the founders and team of the company he’s considering an investment with. In his mind, he’s asking, “Is the group capable from a business standpoint and from an execution standpoint?” In other words, are they the kind of people who have both the skill and drive to get their product made and marketed well?
While it’s admittedly a subjective call, some of the things that go into answering those questions have to do with whether or not the team members have a personal connection to the mission. If they do, through life experience or history with the problem, they are more likely to be all in and will see the project through, and thus, create a profitable outcome.
This assessment step is something savvy leaders could adapt and tweak it to help them create mutually meaningful work engagements for their teams. Hiring and retaining people who are personally connected to the projects you’re working on could dramatically impact the meaning your team members derive from their work and fuel your organization’s forward momentum over the long haul.
When COVID hit, impact companies took the lead in caring for their people Though small and struggling to use their limited resources well, many early-stage companies that Max works with made what I’d consider the right choice when the COVID pandemic hit.
These mostly young leaders, by and large, considered the well-being and overall happiness of their employees as one of the essentials they must maintain during the pandemic. In my mind, this is an example of leadership done right. Perhaps it’s the focus on “impact” these founders already possess that enables them to see human capital as the primary consideration for the longevity of their companies. No matter the reason, I couldn’t help but say, “Well done” when I heard this news.
Hiring is one of the most significant growth pains of early-stage companies As early-stage companies start to gain traction it can seem like a thousand things require attention all at the same time. One of the most crucial of the puzzle pieces that have to be sorted is hiring. Finding and hiring the right people
Work Engagements Can’t Be Mutually Meaningful Without This
“The obscure we see eventually, the completely obvious, it seems takes longer.” ~ Edward R. Murrow.
Edward R. Murrow was a broadcast journalist and war correspondent who gained prominence during World War II. His statement points out something we all know, the obvious things don’t always get our attention right away. It happens to all of us.
It even happens at work. We're busy, we're preoccupied, and mistakes are made. Sometimes we are lucky to have someone witness our fumbled actions or statements and we can get a good laugh from it. Other times it bites us squarely on the ass. One of the things which may seem obvious to you once you hear it is how to create meaningful connection with those you lead in the workplace.
That’s the topic of this episode.
Before you can create a mutually meaningful work engagement, you must do this Again, it sounds obvious but before you can engage in a mutually meaningful relationship with a team member, you have to understand what would make that connection meaningful for them. For people to willingly share with you what makes a work engagement meaningful for them, there first must be trust. Many of you already have that level of trust with your employees, but what about the new person? How do you develop a higher sense of trust with them straight out of the gate? In this episode I give you a number of quick tips on how to it, so be sure you listen all the way through.
To build trust with your team, learn to say, “I don’t know.” During your first conversations with a new employee, there will likely be something they ask to which you are reasonably sure of the answer. But resist the temptation to feel that you have to give a definite answer. Say, “I don't know,” if you must, and follow it up with, “but I will find out and get you the answer by X time.”
Why is this important? Because conveying that you are reasonably sure puts the trust factor at risk. To them, “reasonably sure” might be perceived as the real deal and you’re then on the hook if it turns out not to be the case.
Leaders must learn how to appropriately ask personal questions of their team members I always get hate mail with this one, but nevertheless, I stand by my experience. I’ve discovered that it is important for the employee to know that as a leader, you're interested in their success and development as more than just an employee. The way to do that is to ask questions about things not related to work. This too is rather obvious, but not everyone agrees. You can ask about their non-work goals and objectives and how you can help them attain those.
I’ll write more on this at a later date, but leaders these days feel like they walk a tightrope when it comes to determining what they can and cannot ask their employees about their lives outside of work. I suggest you use common sense, be compassionate, and you'll be just fine.
Do your team members understand your plan for their development? It’s important that every employee knows that you are intentional about your role in helping them develop and grow. Show them a general 10,000-foot plan for how they will be developed, challenged, and grow. It’s a matter of giving them evidence that you are invested in their growth and that it will bring mutual rewards for them and the organization. Use this time to also show them the high-level plan of the organization. They will appreciate being in the loop.
If you are a top decision-maker experiencing challenges relating to this topic or any developmental topic, then give me a call and I will give you 20 minutes to confidentially discuss your situation and help you come up with a path to move you forward. My phone number is (715) 661-0364.
Outline of This Episode [0:45] The painful truth of the obvious things missing our notice [1:58] What makes a mutually meaningful work engagement mean
Authentic Leadership Breeds An Authentic Company Culture, with Carl Atwell
These days the word “authentic” is bandied about quite a bit, almost so much that it’s lost its meaning. That’s why it’s refreshing when you get the opportunity to chat with a leader who truly embodies the meaning of the word. Carl Atwell is an individual with whom I had that sort of conversation recently. He’s an “all-in” guy, which is one of the main reasons he’s so authentic. Carl doesn’t believe there’s any reason or point to playing games or allowing organizational culture to go sideways. So he talks straight and with incredible authenticity, and he does so for the sake of making his organization of better service to customers and more meaningful for his team members. Now THAT is a mutually meaningful work engagement!
Carl is the owner and President of Gempler’s, a farm and home company that he says is an “81-year-old ecommerce company.” During our conversation, we discussed how Carl made the decision to purchase Gempler’s, the experience that prepared him for the opportunity, the challenges and successes he’s experienced at the helm so far, and why customer service and company culture are such important things to him.
What the leader of an 81-year-old company can teach us about organizational culture The people who buy products from Gempler’s are those salt-of-the-earth individuals who know what it means to work hard to produce actual fruit from their labors. They are farmers, ranchers, landscapers, and other outdoor workers who do honest work for an honest wage. It’s these customers who motivate Carl to make Gempler’s the very best it can be. Though his company is not growing the food or raising the cattle, Carl is proud to serve those who are in ways that make it possible. It’s an honor he doesn’t take lightly.
That attitude is one he diligently strives to pass to his employees. He wants them to see how their work matters, why the things they do are not only supporting themselves but also those who fuel the food supply of a nation. It’s an admirable ambition and one that demonstrates how good leadership is essential to the attitudes and behaviors of those within an organization. When modeled well, meaning and purpose through work can be caught as well as taught.
How small to midsize companies can out-Amazon, Amazon Shortly after Carl took the reins at Gempler’s he led the organization through one of the most far-reaching and significant pivots the company had ever made, moving from a long-standing, catalog-sales model to an e-commerce brand. With their primary competition being Amazon and Wal-Mart, Carl knew he had his work cut out for him. Not only did he have to get past the barrier that the company’s long-standing catalog-only sales model represented, he had to do so in a way that not only retained customers but also made Gempler’s an attractive alternative to Amazon.
His approach to the issue was ingenious: Gempler’s could do all the things Amazon does well — great customer service, free shipping, quality products — but also do something Amazon can’t do well, be a company that people want to support by applying an authentic, real-people approach. That would make customers truly enjoy engaging with them. His approach paid off. Gempler’s made the transition to e-commerce quickly and without losing many customers. And top-down customer service is one of their largest areas of focus.
Top-down customer service sets the tone for an authentic company culture Companies can say anything they want about themselves on their own web properties. Whether the claims made are to be believed depends on either the gullibility or diligence of the visitor. But when I visited the Gempler’s website I noticed something that told me it was an organization that was doing more than talking a big talk. The President himself posts his private email address on the website and
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Thank you Bruce for being the kind of lighthouse we need! Great guests, great questions, great vibes. And all that in an easily digestible format.
I was lucky enough to be on Bruce’s show as guest. I think you will find Bruce to be as thoughtful and insightful as I did. Great show and free chance to learn from Bruce and other great guests that are in the trenches. Keep up the great work Bruce!
I had a blast being on Bruce’s show. He is down to earth, fun to chat with and asks great questions. In addition to being a guest I’ve listened to many of his other shows - they are great!!