Glen Jackson on the “Five F’s of Culture”, Working with Chick-fil-A, & How to Become a Preeminent Organization
Today’s discussion is with Glen Jackson, co-founder of Jackson Spalding, a marketing communications agency with offices in Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles. We talk about the book he authored in 2018 called Preeminence. The book is an inside look at the pillars needed to sustain extraordinary excellence in today’s competitive marketplace.
Order Preeminence here: https://www.pathtopreeminence.com/
The views, information, or opinions expressed during this show are solely those of the participants involved and do not necessarily represent those of SouthState Bank and its employees.
Intro: Helping community bankers, grow themselves, their team, and their profits. This is the Community Banker Podcast.
Erik Bagwell: Welcome to the Community Bank Podcast. I’m Eric Bagwell Director of Sales and Marketing for the Correspondent Division of SouthState Bank, and joining me is Caleb Stevens. Caleb is, I guess I’d have to say you are the regular on the podcast. I work in business development but also marketing and you are the podcast guru for us.
Caleb Stevens: Well, I was going to say it’s good to hear your voice back on the show because I’ve been riding solo for the past few weeks. So, good to have you back on.
Erik Bagwell: Yes, it has been a very busy start to the year, and Caleb you have done an admirable job filling in. Caleb is awesome. He is really the reason that this podcast has gotten to be as popular as it is. But it’s good to be back and we have a great guest on today. Glen Jackson is with Jackson Spalding a marketing firm here in Atlanta and by guest PR Firm. But Caleb talks about Glen, in our conversation we had with him.
Caleb Stevens: Glen is a phenomenal leader, his company Jackson Spalding works with a lot of big brands in Atlanta but all over the country few around here. Chick Fil A, Delta, Home Depot, and he’s really grown this company since 1995 when he started it all the way till now, and now they’ve got offices in Dallas out in the L.A. area here in Atlanta, and Glen is a wealth of knowledge, he’s written a book called Pre-eminence. What it means and how to sustain it and we walk through seven pillars that every great company is sort of built upon that leads to them becoming what he calls Pre-eminent and he’ll define that in this interview, and so we’re excited for y’all to hear that now.
Caleb Stevens: Thanks for joining the podcast today. It’s great to see you. How are you?
Glen Jackson: I’m doing well and it’s a pretty day in Atlanta, got a pretty almost spring-like day.
Caleb Stevens: Well for folks who are not familiar with Jackson Spalding give us sort of a quick flyover of your career how you started the firm and everything you guys do to serve companies and leaders?
Glen Jackson: Thanks Caleb for asking. Jackson Spalding, we’ll be in our twenty-seventh year as of July of this year and I co-founded the agency along with both Spalding and we now have about 130 team members with offices around the country Dallas, Athens, Georgia, out West now in the L.A. area, and Atlanta, and we’re a public relations integrated marketing agency and provide a broad spectrum of services to help companies and organizations advance their reputation and also grow their revenue.
Caleb Stevens: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen from 1995 up until now and that’s a big question and there’s a lot of changes but any broad strokes a few things that how is PR and marketing different from when you started it as it is today and how did you sort of evolve to stay up to date?
Glen Jackson: Well the digital world has been I think the most dramatic change in our industry leveraging content that you now can create yourself like we’re doing here, and there are also some things fundamentally and foundationally that have not changed. I think every organization once they want to and need to communicate with clarity and integrity to the critical audiences they want to positively impact over time and that will never change. So, there’s been change and there’s also been some things that have stayed the same.
Caleb Stevens: And I mean for folks that aren’t familiar Chick Fil A, Delta, Coca-Cola a number of clients talk about some of the brands that you get the pleasure of serving.
Glen Jackson: Well, it’s such a privilege to represent the companies you just listed. In addition to those we represent Publix supermarkets and we do a lot of work for Google in the state of Georgia. We do projects for the University of Georgia. Georgia, we represent L.L Bean where their national public relations agency out of Maine, and then we have a lot of great clients in California Mendocino Farms is one. So, we really enjoy working for all the clients that need our services and our goal is to aim for excellence for them every day.
Erik Bagwell: Glen you’ve written a book Pre-eminence, and what it means and how to sustain it. Tell us about why you wrote that book.
Glen Jackson: Thanks for asking that. Eric, I felt called to write it. I really did. It was like drops of water coming from a faucet that just would not stop dripping and I’ve done a podcast with Andy Stanley about the word Pre-eminence and some pillars. I had identified it after I did the podcast with Andy up there and just said I think I’m going to write all this down and see what comes from it and I just started writing I wrote a lot of it on my iPhone, and I wanted to write something that was about not work count but words that count. So, it’s not a long book but I hope every word has some weight-bearing.
Erik Bagwell: So, how do you define Pre-eminence and what about that topic? What intrigued you about that topic?
Glen Jackson: Well Pre-eminence is in origin. It’s a Greek word it means first and ranks and first and influence a Greek, and what intrigued me was there was not a business definition for the word itself and I decided to write that definition and then as I wrote that definition, I identified seven kind of inextricably linked pillars all distinct but complementary that make a company organization or brand Pre-eminent. So, I’m happy to share the definition for you, if you’d like to hear it.
Erik Bagwell: Absolutely.
Glen Jackson: So, Pre-eminence is extraordinary excellence once reached and sustained creates a formidable competitive advantage. This is the kind of excellence that is seedling was it never plateaus. It just keeps getting better and better, and once this focus on extraordinary excellence continues over years it takes about 10 to 15 years to become Pre-eminent but after that, it’s really this sustaining peace guy that really matters. There’s this unflinching unswerving commitment to being better than yesterday to constantly head this headroom. Let’s be better, let’s get better. How can we seed our client’s expectations, and this organically and strategically creates a very formidable competitive advantage so much that your competition actually fierce competing against you? They don’t like that because they know they won’t win and there’s just a formidable competitive advantage that you establish over time.
Caleb Stevens: Glen give us a quick flyover of those seven pillars that you mentioned and then maybe we can pick two or three to dive into.
Glen Jackson: Sure, happy to do that Caleb. The seven are trust number one. Number two is relationship building. Number three is marketing communications. Number four is assessment assessing your business well. Five is the cultural torch of servant leadership. Six is fanatical focus keeping that swim lane that you’re in as a business clear you know opportunity doesn’t equal obligation is something Andy Stanley said in the past. What a great line and that’s so true, and then the seventh is remarkable resiliency. This striving stretching and straining to succeed in the arena of competition never giving up never giving out never giving in. So, those are the seven you know trust is a must, and nothing is fashioning the Speed of Trust that Stephen Covey says relationship building is the opposite of networking, relationship building is transformative. Whereas networking is transactional it’s a big difference. Networking is about meeting people in relation buildings about investing in people, and people and organizations that are about relational well understand those really important. They treasure people more than possessions and that’s what the relationship-building culture is all about, and then the marketing communication space is obviously about all the branding topspin you need to create for your realization and then assessment I think is fundamentally one of the things that when you can’t reach preeminence. That’s the one that’s missing actually because you don’t assess your business enough and are questions in the book that I’ve identified that I think organizations ask a lot, and it’s the whole thing is about being on the business not in the business, and criminal organizations take time to spend time on their business and they realize that change of place plus change of pace equals change your perspective. So, they get away and think about their business. So, they go casual and they change the pace relax, and then that leads to a change of perspective on what they need to do next. The culture is so powerful as we know, Drucker said, culture a strategy for breakfast I had lunch at dinner there and then servant leadership so important to serve others to be a Steward of the organization. So, those are the seven and they’re all in a strictly link and they all matter and they all complement one another.
Caleb Stevens: One that really stood out to me. I remember I read this book probably a year and a half ago maybe two years ago on an airplane and I remember the chapter that vividly stuck out to me was relationship building because in it you list several different versions or expressions or types of relationship builders and I think sometimes we have this conception that the relationship builders the extrovert that’s always out you know never eats alone, always out with people, when they need recharge it’s not I want to spend time alone and I want to go see people, and you make the case that there’s actually not one sort of one size fits all kind of personality and we’ve got a lot of commercial lenders who are listening to that are always thinking about who can I get to know? What are the small businesses I can serve through our bank? Talk about those different types of relationship builders.
Glen Jackson: They make an overarching point before I do that Caleb and Eric whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert as it relates to creating relational wealth in your life, and we’re all living in a relational economy period that’s never changed in my 30 plus years of being in my industry. The point is be more interested than interesting when you’re with other people, be more interested than interesting. So, talk less, ask more questions, listen really well. That is so important, and that leads to what I’ve identified in the book is as four types of relationship builders. So, there four and each has a mindset. So, the four are investors, connectors, personalizes, and observers. Those are the four. The observer as an introvert, I’ll get back to that in a minute. Typically, your investor connects or personalize or is an extrovert. So, the mindset for the investor is long term low pressure she builds the relationship over time she sees the relationship as a commitment, not a tax and her mindset isn’t going to give this relationship time, I’m not going to sell, it’s not going to be high pressure, and that mindset eventually leads to results. A connector mindset is genuine always wins.
He is great at connecting people that he thinks will really enjoy getting to know each other. So, he makes that connection and those connections actually come back to him for making those connections it bears fruit over time because they realize their friendship or relationship would not be the case without that connection point you pay. The personal lives it’s very interesting the mindset there is personalized to maximize. She personalizes these relationships beautifully by handwritten notes and sending articles to their customer. A link that they need to see, a podcast they need to hear, a book they need to read constantly personalizing relationships, and everybody wants to feel noteworthy in their life. All of us listening it receive handwritten notes from someone and they keep them and they cherish them and the personal lives are really good at making people feel noteworthy and the observer typically is the introvert. He’s quiet, he listens well, the mindset that there is trust your intuition to spark action. So, he’s observing, he’s looking at the situation with that wide-angle lens and has very high emotional intelligence, and that is a strength that the observer has and they’re able to see things for example that connect her typically doesn’t see for the investor. So, ideally, you want to be all for. You want to really be good at all for as a relationship builder. But most of all be more interested than interesting that is the central.
Caleb Stevens: I think that’s helpful; I think that’s liberating for a lot of folks even maybe in a sales role who maybe don’t have this gregarious personality but they listen well they ask questions that are revealing of the potential client’s needs and they are great at building relationships. So, I think that’s encouraging to a lot of people. This may be sort of a good transition point to your story of meeting to Kathy on an airplane Chick fil A of course is a client of Jackson Spalding now and it’s a very fascinating story would you mind sharing that Glen, because I think that illustrates sort of the investor mentality of low pressure want to build a relationship and I’d love to kind of have you to share that with us.
Glen Jackson: Well, we start a business in 1995. I was 31 and I’d love to New York agency with those balding to start our agency and we suddenly some space with some borrowed for insurance really bad poster. God they were bad, and we just started we didn’t have a receptionist. I mean the rug we had came from home, and we were just wet behind the year’s entrepreneurs and we got a flip chart out like the first month or two in our business. We said OK you are our dream clients down the road and of course Chick Fil A, was at the top about a week after that I had a business trip to Washington D.C and I just had my business cards printed. I was so proud of these business cards and I took like one hundred with me on the airplane and they were like weighing down my coat and I looked up and true Kathy was on the plane and I was in the back of a Delta plane and it was in the middle and at first glance, I was impressed by that. He had a bunch of cow toys and trinkets and things he was going to watch to make it talk to the Washington Press Club and I thought gee maybe I should give him a business card introduce myself. Well, my emotional intelligence 31 kicked in. Thank goodness I held off an we were at Ronald Reagan Airport but 10:30 in the morning and I was in the baggage claim area and I was in the men’s room and I was washing my hands and the door opened and true Kathy walked into the men’s room and he and I were the only ones in.
So, I waited. This was I pre-coded when I was washing my hands for like 20 minutes waiting for him. I was doing my job back then ABCDEFG that about a hundred times so he finally came out and he was washing his hands right next to me and I looked at him and I just read his book, It’s Easier to Succeed than to Fail, and I looked at him and I said, It’s Easier to Succeed than to Fail, and he kind of paused and looked at me it is beautiful blue eyes and he said, that’s right! What’s your name, and I said my name is Glen Jackson and we just started the business and we admire your company so much and one day we may just hopefully have a little bit of your values and sort of our agency. Oh, you are going to do well Glenn and he put his hand on my shoulder and said What are you doing in DC, and I said I’ve got a meeting. So, I’m going to give you some and he reached in and gave me a be our guest card to get a place which was signed by him and I thank him and he laughed and I was holding it and I said, I’m not going to go and get a chicken sandwich with this B O G, I’m going to keep it in my wallet until we worked for him one day. So, it stays on my wall for about ten years and we eventually started working for him. But that’s not the end of the story guys. I mean this is amazing. I go out of the room looking over at the conveyor belt and all the luggage is coming down and there’s a young girl possibly 22 five months pregnant and I look over who’s getting her luggage off the conveyor belt. It’s true Kathy he’s getting her all that up on the pushcart and I’m watching the whole thing is a 31-year-old man and I’m thinking wow here’s a billionaire doing that for her and he got her all set up. She said I watched it, she said thank you so much. I heard it and I was actually reading his lips. He said, it’s my pleasure, and I’m sure he really modeled that and so many great ways and it’s great to see that in action. People do more than what they hear in terms of seeing things, if you see it, you’ll do it more than she does here. So, everybody on this calls the day let’s find our moment maybe this week to get a little something to help somebody not ask for a pat on the back. Let’s just do it.
Erik Bagwell: Glenn you listed some of the companies’ you guys work with and obviously these are just pillars of great companies and Publix and Delta and just great names that are household names. How do you know in a lot of Community Bankers are listening to this? How do you know when you’ve become Pre-eminent? I mean is there a test. The public’s right to me I love Publix, they’re a great company. How do you know you’ve become the public of community banking?
Glen Jackson: What a great question. I think the true litmus test for Pre-eminence is whether others aspire to achieve what you’ve sustained, and when you have other companies in your industry or even outside your industry. They want to see you tap into your insights, observe your office environment, learn from your core leadership principles, and philosophies and soak you up like a sponge literally soak you up like a sponge. Then congrats because I think you’ve reached Pre-eminence, and the key is to keep sustaining that. Jim Collins talks about the genius of the ant, and it’s not a word but is an ant, and it’s humble and hungry, is gracious and ambitious, it’s fun and focus, it’s driven and dignified, and let’s keep that genius at the end as we strive to sustain our preeminence. But that is the litmus test when others aspire to achieve what you sustain inside and outside your industry coming to meet with you, that is a barometer for criminals.
Caleb Stevens: Glen do you see a difference in terms of privately held companies versus publicly traded companies in terms of the unique challenges to become Pre-eminent that each have one common critique. I often hear when it comes to culture and sustaining excellence you often hear people say Well Chick Fil A, is a great example but they’ve privately held the owners and the leaders are one and the same. When you’re publicly traded the owners and the leaders are a different set of people and there’s some short-term expectations to hit quarterly earnings and you have eyeballs and analysts following you. What do you see some of the best leaders who work for publicly traded companies any thoughts on how they navigate sort of that tension of I do have some short-term obligations, I’ve got to meet and be held accountable to? But at the same time, we’ve got to have a long-term perspective here.
Glen Jackson: I believe that there Pre-eminent publicly traded companies like Apple and Delta as well as Pre-eminent privately held companies. So, it’s really up to the leaders of those organizations and being able to look at a Delta for example, and see how Ed Bastian leads the Delta, a Frank Blake when he was at Home Depot. Those guys realized that culture really matters and they stayed true to the values of the founding of both of those companies. Like what Frank like did when he took over Home Depot, he called Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank said, all right give me some advice. What do we want to make sure we protect here and there they keep those values sacred and protected is a move the organization for with vision and a lot of momentum that the best leaders from my perspective I get to observe a lot of them? Beverly Tatum, Spelman, what an amazing person and later when she was leading Spelman. They impressed at a distance an impact up close as one of the things they do. You hear her speak in your impress with what she has to say and then when you meet with her for breakfast, you’re impressed with an impacted by the questions she asks and how she keenly listens to you and doesn’t dominate the conversation.
These are leaders I guess or more workhorse than show horse and that’s what separates these leaders and finally, I would say that these leaders to quote Jim Collins again have intense professional willpower and strained personal humility. So, they’re combining this professional willpower with personal humility and that makes a very powerful combination.
Erik Bagwell: Glenn you talk about DTUs in your book. What are these?
Glen Jackson: The opposite of IOUs you know IOUs as an obligation DTUs stands for Do The Unexpected, and that’s about motivation, and DTUs can be that handwritten note. Eric, you write to somebody that says I’ve been thinking about you they appreciate your business and you’re making us a better team and we’re learning from you every time we’re around, and that was a Do The Unexpected, it could be a call you make to someone or a voicemail you leave or just a spontaneous act you do for a human being that doesn’t even know you. You pick up the lunch with the person behind you at the Chick Fil A. I’ll take care of this person behind me. You’re not just those little things guys would need this so much more now. Let’s be about 80 years and I think if we can do one this week for someone it’s a wonderful thing because when you refresh others you refresh yourself and you feel better about being or are planning to make the world a better place. Let’s do the unexpected and see what happens. You’ll feel better because.
Caleb Stevens: Well Glenn as we wrap up here couple more questions for you. This is one that was very fascinating to me. I believe this is the chapter on the pillar of the carrying the torch of servant leadership. You make the case that a company can actually talk about culture too much and I think that’s sort of a counterintuitive shift that we need to make as leaders and I think you’re right. Culture is such a buzzword today you hear it all the time it’s sort of a tired word in a sense and yet it’s something on this show we talk about all the time. Why can culture using that word almost be counterproductive as you’re trying to create a great culture in your company?
Glen Jackson: You don’t want it to come right. You don’t want it to just be something that doesn’t have much meaning. Study just talks about it all the time, and I think the best cultures are places where people and ideas are flourishing all the time and it’s a real creative greenhouse like environment where you’re growing like a plant inside that operation and that’s what’s been so hard with Covid because culture to me is created in circles, it’s not created in squares. We need more involvement with each other now to make that culture continue to be healthy. But I think you can just over to use the word and let’s be about it versus is talking about it all the time and you know a healthy culture when you see it guys and our listeners do too but they’re not at Delta which is an amazing culture and then I don’t culture around every sentence of the day there is when you see it, feel it, absorb it, want to be good, and that’s what we want, that’s what we should have, and I think the best cultures have what I call Follow Ups that I’ll stop. One is fascination so the people who are working there are fascinated about where the organization’s business is going what’s around the corner how we shape the clay of this business to is fun they’re having fun working there, their teammates are enjoying all that they’re doing. Three is future. They see themselves there for a while and want to be part of shaping informing the future of the organization. Forest financial, they’re rewarded for people rewarded for their hard work bottom line. Leaders or rewards so they reward well then finally it’s freedom. It’s freedom to think and do and not feel like you’re in some straitjacket all the time at work. It’s not just about freedom of working from home but it’s freedom to think, freedom to take part in something and take an idea from scratch and create it, and grow it have that freedom in your ball saying Go go go. You can do it. Let’s sexualize this thing is this exciting. So, those are the five fun fascination freedom future and financial.
Caleb Stevens: Glen talk real quick because you write about your dad and his role and we’ll want to tell. Tell the story of your dad and your journey over to Normandy.
Glen Jackson: Wow thanks for asking there. Well, my dad told me so much he died when he was 60, I was just 19 but my father signed up for the United States Army when he was a junior at Emory University along with a bunch of fraternity brothers who’s an ATF at Emory and they all joined Interpol harbour and dad joined the leap tank battalion seventy a tank battalion and they fought in Italy in Africa but they were getting trained for D-Day June 6, 1944, massive invasion to free Western Europe from Hitler’s evil menacing ways. So, my dad landed on Utah Beach and was hit three days later and later in the hedgerows of France and I made the artillery shell and he was wounded severely wounded and then was captured was a BMW for almost a year and escaped and was recaptured and then we lost him tragically. My dad took his life when he was 60. I was there when it happened.
So, I’m a suicide survivor and it took me a long time to heal as a man. I finally realized I need to step into my pain to receive gain. I’ve thrown away all the clothes I had on that day but that garbage can follow me around for years and I got some help and my brother talked to me Clay said you need to really think about what you need to do. We went to Normandy and we honored our dad there and really felt his presence there and I heard him in a way kind of speak to me and said, son please move forward on your life. I love you. The best is yet to come and our dad friend Sau said, what happened on the beach that morning it’s in the book he never seen or happen, and we wrote my dad’s name in the sand and save it for people listening. But it was an amazing moment, and I feel like my children that their grandfather for the first time on the beach. Beach of those candidates’ gram branched and were in many ways we’re all broken, and we did men and when I think we have to heal from let’s be overcome years and turn to your faith and turn to your friends to get the help you need to remember those you love and try to honor them every day. That was what that trip was about.
Caleb Stevens: I don’t know if we can end on a different note than that. Glen if folks want to get your book if they want to engage with you and all the resources that you provided for leaders in your book Pre-eminent how can they find the book and learn more about yourself.
Glen Jackson: Yeah. Well, thanks for asking. I just want the book to help people if they want to get a copy of it’s on Amazon, and my assistant Peggy Elder, P Elder at jacksonspalding.com has a bunch of books here and we can get those to everybody. Her numbers is (404) 724-2519 but the book helps I felt called to write it and it was fun to do and it really took me 30 years to put it together because it involves 30 years of just business expertise and learning what not to do a lot of times on my own learning from my mistakes and I hope it helps people and I really appreciate you guys having me on today. I’ll take care, keep up the good great work at the bank and keep being about Pre-eminence let’s all strive to have others aspire to achieve what we’ve sustained.
Caleb Stevens: Do you have a second book in your iPhone notes app right now.
Glen Jackson: I am. I’m working on, I call it a Writing Project, and I’ll call it a book until it’s actually a bug it’ll jinx you. But I am working on something. It’s a philosophy life, a philosophy mindset about the Back None of Life. Once you turned 50 and the five sand traps to avoid on the Back None of Life and the solutions for those five.
Caleb Stevens: Eric I think you’ll get a copy of that.
Erik Bagwell: As a 52-year-old golfer. I need to read this book.
Caleb Stevens: That books for you.
Glen Jackson: So, yeah oh sand traps are tough and golf and also want to be careful. We all get it them and the five or isolation perfection boredom you get older you get bored, watch out. Four is secrecy a dad kept some secrets he didn’t share much about what happened to him. I think that was a problem and then the fifth one is spirit 20 knows their solution for all five. That’s what I’m working on. We’ll see where it goes and I’ve interviewed a contended Lana people that I think are doing well on the back not a life in a boarding or getting out of these sand traps successfully. and I’ve interviewed some really fascinating men and women in Atlanta about how they’re working to run the race well.
Caleb Stevens: We’ll be eagerly awaiting that book and until then Glen. Thank you for your time this morning we appreciate it.
Glen Jackson: All right guys keep up the wonderful work. Good seeing you this morning.
Caleb Stevens: Thank you, Glen.
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