Our Best Podcasts of 2021 (Part 1)
As we wrap up 2021, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite episodes from this year. We hope you enjoy!
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 bank podcast.
Erik Bagwell: Welcome to the community bank podcast. I’m Eric Bagwell, director of sales and marketing for the correspondent division of south state bank. And joining me as always is Caleb Stevens. Caleb works in our business development area and is an essential part of this podcast. I promise you, Caleb, how are you?
Caleb Stevens: I’m good. It’s crazy that is the week of Christmas that this show is airing. So, we’ve put out, I think 50 shows to date, which is wild. So, we appreciate everyone’s feedback.
Erik Bagwell: Well, we’re calling these new, next two shows are our best of shows, which I guess you can say we’ve got a pretty good podcast. If we’re putting out a best of, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from you guys, um, that you enjoy listening to the show and we thought it’d be good to just kind of take a look back over the last year. Caleb mentioned we did 50 shows and just kind of highlighted the ones that we got a lot of good feedback on. So, we’re going to do that today. Just play a quick little snippet from each. I think we’ve got nine on this show, but Caleb talks really quick about how we pick the guest on the show. I know we get that question and kind of why we’re even doing this podcast.
Caleb Stevens: I mean, a lot of people could hear this and think, man, you guys have the biggest hodgepodge of guests. You’ve got a guy with the Savannah bananas wearing a yellow tuck, talking about how they do these crazy baseball games, you’ve got people who are economists talking, you’ve got people who are all about Bitcoin, you’ve got people who do M&A. How do you think about the guests on this show? That’s a fair question. Couple thoughts for you. One is we want this show to be a place where you can get it valuable content. Then maybe you can’t find that your typical association conference or gathering. So, that’s the first thing is if all we’re doing is providing something that everyone else is doing, then there’s really no point to this show. We wanted this to be something that brings a lot of new value to you the banker. The second thing is we think about it like this, every show is going to fall into one of three categories, either culture and leadership strategy, so that could be M&A, could be digital banking, could be something about liquidity or the third is the economy and interest rates. So, hopefully as you listen to the show, you’ll see that every episode kind of falls into one of those three categories. and not to say that we’ve got a greatest hits album or collection this year, but we do have a lot of shows that we really enjoyed and there’s too many to cram into one episode. So, we thought about maybe making this part one show all about the culture and leadership highlights that we had from the year in terms of our guests and then we’ll make next week, the second show, more of the strategy and economy and more of the hard technical banging show highlights.
Erik Bagwell: Well, let’s get to our first one, Mark Miller. Mark joined us gosh, it’s probably been a month or two ago Lot of good feedback.
Caleb Stevens: On, he goes back in August. It’s been a while.
Erik Bagwell: Tell us a little bit about mark and what to expect here on this low clip.
Caleb Stevens: Mark’s the VP of high-performance leadership for Chick-fil-A, he’s written a number of books. He is an author, he’s a speaker but really at heart, he is just a really phenomenal servant leader and I really like the approach he takes, where it’s all about defining leadership, measuring it and he’s really learned how to systematize it and weave it into Chick-fil-A’s cultures and I think this might be my favorite show we did this year. I don’t want to maybe get the card ahead of the horse, but this might be my favorite show. So, I can’t think of a better one to kick it off with, in this segment with Mark Miller on high-performance leadership.
Erik Bagwell: Mark talks really quick a lot of the folks listening here have probably been at a bank. We’ve had a lot of customers over the years and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. They’ll actually sell the bank because there was no bench strength. It’s like, hey, you get to a point and we don’t know what we’re going to do and it seems like it’s just easier to sell than keep something going and there are other reasons, obviously you sell a bank. Is that the most critical thing for a leader of an organization? Is it always, is it literally just developing that next generation is that, what’s your comment on that?
Mark Miller: Well, I’ve turned a few heads. I remember speaking at a leadership conference several years ago and I stood up and I said, there is something, every organization needs more than leadership and you think I’d slap somebody’s mama. I mean, it’s like, wait a minute. This is a leadership conference. He leadership guy, this is a leadership talk and I said, yes, there’s something, every organization needs more than leadership. They need a leadership culture. The way I define that, it’s a place where leaders are routinely and systematically developed and you have a surplus. Now, some people might say surplus, that sounds wasteful. It’s like, well, hold on. That’s how you know the systems and processes are working. So, that when you need somebody from the bench that you actually have somebody that is ready. So, many organizations struggle, I talked to a leader one day that lost a member of his senior leadership team and I hated it. I knew some of this history and the circumstance, and I said, well, who’s next? He said, well, I don’t have anybody and I said, well, congratulations. He said for what? I said, well, you got a assume that responsibility. He said, what are you talking about? I said, how do you run the organization without that? He said, well, it’d be hard. I said, so tag, you’re it. So, it happens all the time for any number of reasons that a leader’s just not ready. They’re just not prepared; they’ve not created that leadership culture. It’s a huge, huge problem.
Erik Bagwell: So, let’s dive into that a little bit and get a little more practical here. Chestnut checker sort of leg out. What are some of the themes and some of the practical ways that you guys at Chick-fil-A try to implement this culture of leadership and try to develop the bench strength?
Mike Miller: All right. So let me, I’m going to take a seat at that, and then we’ll go deeper. if you’d like, I want to set a little context. When we did this work, we spent several years trying to answer the question I raised a moment ago. How do you actually build a high-performance organization? Thankfully for us, as I said, we’re in the chicken business. So, this could not be complicated or would be in trouble. So, this is what we learned that high-performance organizations, only have four things in common, and the first is that they all bet on leadership. We cannot find a high-performance organization in the world. That’s not well-led. If there is one, we’d like to know about it, we’d like to study them and learn from them. But we did, I would honestly say exhaustive research benchmarking and we think all high organizations are well-led.
One of the things they do to bent on leadership is to build the bench it’s to build the bench. So, that they don’t get caught in this gap because what happens when you get caught in the gap and you’ve been in the business world long enough to know if you don’t have any better on the bench, give it to an existing leader and you can do that for a while. But at some point, you’ll kill your existing leaders. You’ll burn them out. So, that’s not a long-term play and so I don’t know how much you want to chase that, but let me give you a couple of things. I wrote a book on that called leader made here because a lot of people said, well, how do I build the bench? How do I create a leadership culture? I’m going to make this sound really easy and cute because that’s what you got to do.
When you write a book, it’s much harder than what I’m about to tell you. But first, you’ve got to define it, we didn’t have a common definition. Most organizations don’t when you say leadership in most businesses, for-profit or not for profit, everybody nods and they all think they know exactly what you’re talking about. If you have them write down their definition on a three-by-five card and you take them all up, two things will be true. One, everybody had a definition and two they’re all going to be different. You can’t build a leadership culture if everybody has a different working premise in a different operating definition. So, that’s what the secret, the book with Ken, that was our first step that was defining leadership in our context, in our culture. The second thing and I’ll move quickly is you’ve got to actually teach it.
People have to be able to understand what it means and how to actually employ the truth and deploy the concept. If you’re saying that leaders see the future, you actually have to teach people about how to create vision, how to communicate vision. There’s that there’s that teaching component. So, you’ve got to define it, you’ve got to teach it. You need to let people practice it because most of what people, the research indicates most of what people know about leading, they learn from leading. Now it helps to understand the three keys to delegation, but you really don’t understand delegation until you actually go work on it. It helps to know what vision casting means and why it’s important and how to do it and when do you learn it really, it’s actually when you do it. So, we have worked hard to be sure that we give emerging leaders an opportunity to practice preferably in lower stake circumstances and situations where if they stumble, if they are not successful, then it’s not the end of the world,
Number four, you measure it and the organizations that create a leadership culture have a leadership scorecard. Again, I could talk for a long time on this, but let me say this. It’s probably not a single metric a lot of organizations have spent a lot of time looking for a single metric. The most successful that I’m aware of in that pursuit is FedEx, where they create an index, but it’s seven factors. But it is just too complicated to say, we’re going to think one thing is our measure of success, the second thing I’ll say about that. It’s not dynamic. If you’re just starting, your scorecard might have thing as simple on as how many of our leaders have been instructed on what our point of view is and you want that number to go to a hundred percent. Well, once it a hundred percent and you’ve added it to new team member or new leader training that doesn’t need to stay on your scorecard. So, it not a single metric and it needs to be dynamic.
Erik Bagwell: So, those are added, those are four points under build your bench, which is under, be on leadership is somebody, am I following the train here?
Mike Miller: I’m sorry. I’m trying to give you some real tactical stuff. One more. So, you got to define it, you got to teach it, you got to practice it, you got to measure it, and finally, you have to model it. Yeah. If you’re, let’s just pretend for a second, some of your leaders are advocating servant leadership. If your existing leaders aren’t trying to be servant leaders, you might as well quit talking about servant leadership. So, those are some real tactical things that you can do to build the bench, which is one of the strategies. If you commit to being in leadership.
Erik Bagwell: At our next segment, we’re going to play a clip from Jesse Cole, and this one I enjoy a lot, Jesse, we actually live stream, I guess these we don’t show the video, but we see the people who we’re talking to. and Jesse is the owner of the Savannah bananas, which is a college, I guess it’s a summer college league baseball team in Savannah, Georgia, and Jesse was wearing his, his outfit. It was a yellow tuxedo talk about.
Caleb Stevens: And a yellow top hat, I think too. It’s a summer college league baseball team. They’ve got a waiting list for tickets in the thousands they spend no money on marketing. They’ve really made headlines with making baseball really crazy and fun and just an experience that your family can enjoy on a summer night in Savannah and he is a marketing Wiz and this was an awesome show. So, let’s go to that right now.
Jesse Cole: it’s interesting. Talk about marketing. We actually spend $0 marketing. So, what we did in the beginning, we failed. When we only sold two tickets, we were marketing like crazy, we were putting on ads in the newspaper, we were doing social media, we were doing everything, but I don’t believe people want to be marketed to, they don’t want to be sold to, they don’t want to be, they don’t want to be promoted to, they don’t want to be advertised to they, people want to buy and they want to buy something they believe in. So, how do you show that in a way without trying to sell people stuff? How many times do we see ads? We got this deal, this interest rate, buy this, buy this, come on, get us. No. So, we just wanted to show people having fun and show the experience and that was really how we built the model but first we had to get attention and I think a lot of times, attention marketing why should people get into it?
Caleb Stevens: You guys come up with so many crazy ideas and kind of out-of-the-box thinking, is there a method to the madness? Do you have sort of a processor is it just more happenstance and I’m sure, is there some kind of a filtering process to where you say, maybe not this idea?
Jesse Cole: Well, I mean, to be honest, we have the five Es to create raving fans that we’ve developed and so quickly I’ll share those and then I’ll going to start the starting point. Number one, eliminate friction. You have to look at every friction point that your customers have and that’s huge for us. I mean, big fan of Walt Disney, and he said, whenever I go on a ride, I’m always asking what’s wrong with this thing and how can it be improved? How often do we go in and look at every touchpoint? Is there a friction point? That’s number one for us? Number two is entertaining always. I think you look, oh, you’re an entertainer. You’re, you’re in a yellow tuck, you’re a circus guy. Who’s running a baseball team. This doesn’t work for a bank; this is the definition of entertainment is to provide enjoyment and to provide amusement.
Aren’t we all in the entertainment business? So, we question, how do we entertain every step way? The third thing is to experiment constantly. We’re so constantly focused on the way things may be used to be this used to work, but we’re constantly experimenting. Jeff Bezos said, he said our success is a direct function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week, per day. So, experiments are huge. The fourth one engaged deeply; you know how do we actually engage? Focus on love more than focus on our people that love us and really engage them and listen carefully and respond creatively to what matters to them and then finally it empowers action. We want to spouse empower our fans to actually be a part of it. Our fans make all the decisions about who’s going to pitch during games.
They’ve actually decided that which once it was a disaster because they picked a pitcher, let up six runs in the ninth and we lost. That wasn’t the best decision, but we empower our fans to feel part of the brand, pick the shirts, pick the designs, be a part of it, have a say, and then you can empower your team to also have a say, too. So, when we put that five ease together, that’s really the model to how we do it and we have constant idea losers, where we bring our team together. We talk about ideas to eliminate friction, to entertain. How can we try something else new or get closer to our fans or empower them to be involved and that’s, what’s guiding us in making these decisions?
[ Music]: 15:26
Erik Bagwell: On our next clip. We want to play is from coach Mark Rick. We got together live with coach Rick and Athens and obviously, we’ve got national championship games and bowl games going on right now. We just wanted to sit down with coach Rick and really just talk about football. There’s really no leadership or culture thing here, I guess a little bit. He’s got a book that’s he’s written, but we want to just ask him questions that you don’t ever hear coach get asked or even talk about then. He was very gracious to sit down with us for about an hour, one day, Caleb, what else you got on this?
Caleb Stevens: Well, I mean, for the football fans, you’re going to like it. If you’re not a football fan, you can go ahead and skip to the next segment, but man, coach Rick is so gracious and so nice just to have us in person to talk to him and probably one of our biggest guests in terms of notoriety. So, we’re grateful he joined, we’ll go to that now.
Caleb Stevens: Quickly, we talked about this coming up with the referees. I know there’s like a pre-game meeting with the referees. What what’s talked about, how long is it? What’s talked about in that meeting?
Mark Rick: Well usually though they might bring something up, that they might have on tape in a game prior could be an alignment issue with a special team. It could be just a guy that’s a little feisty and they might say, hey, keep an on number 75. If you can calm him down before the game starts which we rarely want to do that. But usually from my end there’ll be something I might see that the other team does and for example, you might have a certain cornerback or just all their DBS just are mollie and receivers at the line, or every time they try to separate, they’ll snatch and try to Slingshot underneath them to get interceptions and all that kind of thing and the referees could probably call it every down, but they get tired of calling it, I think. But sometimes you just say, hey, this is what I see on tape and usually what you do is you’ll put a tape together. So, you might have 20 clips of these two cornerbacks doing whatever they’re doing all season long and you send it to the office early and they ask that the crew views the tape prior to it. So, you always say, hey, did you guys watch the tape? What’d you think,
Caleb Stevens: Did they watch it? Most of the time.
Mark Rick: They watch it. Sometimes you wonder if they watched it or not.
Caleb Stevens: So, let ask you this, is there ever?
Mark Rick: So, that are some of the things that happen.
Caleb Stevens: Is there ever a time you see where there could not be rest in baseball there are rumors that maybe there’s not going to be an umpire behind the let a computer call ball and strikes. Don’t think it’ll ever happen.
Mark Rick: I don’t think so it won’t happen at footballs. There are too many moving parts. Baseball could make sense that if you had a sensor on the ball and you can make sure everything’s a strike and that’s a strike and a ball’s a ball but you lose the human element of the game and I think people just wouldn’t enjoy it as much.
Caleb Stevens: Well, let me ask you this. So, before the season you’ve got your schedule. Do you know who the rest are for each game at the start of the year?
Mark Rick: I don’t, you don’t know it at the very beginning of the year, but usually going into, by the time you are at least a week away and sometimes sooner you’ll know who you’re going to get.
Caleb Stevens: So, you probably know the tendencies of the res I’m sure.
Mark Rick: You’ll have a breakdown of the referees and the crews and how often call an alignment penalty or something as simple as that, but going back to them too, one thing, if you have a trick play and there’s going to be a certain bit of press to digitization, as they say, that might fool an official and he may blow the ball dead thinking somebody to get tackled, but he doesn’t really have the ball. We had a couple of those super-duper ball fakes, even at Georgia, a few times when everybody thought on fourth and one moose Smith going over the top, but David Green still got the ball and throws it deep for a touchdown. Well, if the referee thinks he’s tackled and blows a whistle plays over and forth down in one at midfield or whatever it is, you’re in trouble. So, there are some times that you’ll tell the referee at the last second some of your intentions because if you don’t tell them they might just miss the call because it was just that good of a ball fake.
Caleb Stevens: So, saying that I got to ask you this question and I think you’re on the staff, but you may not have been Florida state, the punt Ruski at Clemson. Did coach Bowden even tell the ref about that or was there a need to be there?
Mark Rick: I don’t know. I wasn’t in that I wasn’t privy to the head coach, you don’t have assistant coaches in that meeting, but every once in a while I would bring one of my assistants, especially like a special teams coach and he might have something he wants to explain to them that that’s not legal, for example, John Fabrics, he saw, or he was our special team’s coach when I first got to Georgia and there was a kid that when he would snap on the punt, he’d bring the ball forward about three or four inches maybe further before he went ahead and snapped it. So, he said, I’m going to have my kid put his hand on the other side of the neutral zone, but he’s going to hold his hand right in front of that ball.
If he moves the ball forward and it hits my guy’s hand, it’s not a penalty. So, just don’t, don’t call that we’re tampering with the snap because that’s, we’re telling you exactly what we’re going to do prior to it happening. So, the officials were watching the snapper during the pregame warm-up and saw what was going on. So, you don’t get it called for something like that, but going back to the punt Ruki, that was a play that was brought in by a graduate assistant coach named Clint Ledbetter who was from Arkansas state, I think and that play got to run there either on a scout team or in a real game. I don’t know, but no one knew about it, but he was running the scout team against our punt return team and he put it in, I don’t know if he told anybody about it, but it worked like a charm coach bow fell in love with that play and he couldn’t wait to call it and finally versus Clemson, he kept one the fourth and one give that fourth and one backed up on your own 30. So, we called and it work.
Erik Bagwell: All right next, we want to highlight, our interview with John Acuff. John is a New York Times bestselling author speaker Caleb, talk about this one.
Caleb Stevens: I mean another one of our bigger guests that we got to have on the show this year really grateful for John coming on. He had a new book out called tracks and it’s all about overthinking and decision making, but it really applies to company culture and he has this really powerful line that I’ll never forget from this episode, he talks about how too many cultures, they say one thing in the boardroom, but they say the truth in the break room. And man, if that’s your culture, then that means you’ve got some serious work to do. John offers some thought on how to improve your culture, how to improve your leadership, and particularly within the framework of making better decisions. So, we’ll go to that one right now.
Caleb Stevens: You never want there to be two different conversations. One in the boardroom and one in the break room. You never want people that cheer and clap in the boardroom and then tell truth in the break room and go, wow, that’s a terrible idea. I know we can’t say that, but that’s a terrible idea and leaders one thing I say about leaders is that leaders who can’t be questioned end up doing questionable things. So, when a leader gets isolated and can only be told the things they want to hear, there’s now a broken soundtrack at play in that culture. Every employee knows. Don’t tell the leader that doesn’t the leader, this type of thing, or always sugarcoat this, or always spin this. Then the leader’s no longer getting accurate information. So, they can’t make good decisions because the information they have isn’t even accurate and you’ve got this really kind of toxic collection of broken soundtracks.
Erik Bagwell: That kind of reminds me a little bit of the quote from Andy Stanley, where he says leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say, a riff on that same thing.
Caleb Stevens: Exactly. Because they learn you get in trouble if you speak out or you get in trouble, if you share the truth, so you better not share the truth. So, then you’ve got an environment that is no longer telling the truth about what’s really going on and it’s really hard to lead that environment.
Erik Bagwell: So, I mean you speak and you consult with companies all over the country, even globally. What are some of the most common soundtracks that you see inside of companies big and small?
Caleb Stevens: Well, I mean a really simple one is when say it’s the first quarter and you’re kicking off a brand-new year and you come out and you have crazy large goals because you think I want to be a strong leader, I want to be optimistic. I want to be positive, and you launch these huge goals that are not tied to reality at all and everyone there knows that they’re not tied to reality and the problem is a goal is never just a goal, a goal is a promise and a promise you make to your people, it’s a promise you make to yourself, and every time you break that promise, it gets harder for them to believe it again. So, for instance, I spoke the other day with a woman who runs multiple dental practices. There’s a lot of fascinating things that happen inside of dental practice because usually, a dentist gets two weeks of business training.
So, multiple years of medical training and then at the end of like, oh, by the way, you’re now a CEO. So good luck. Here’s how to like here’s two weeks of how to run a business and be a leader and it’s just a mess. So, she said, I’ve got this one office that I work with and they want to get better. But their habit is they hire a new consultant and they say, no, we’re going to change. They never change a single thing and then after six months they fired their consultant and they find another one. They’ve done that four times and so now every time they announce, hey, things are going to change here. Their dental hygienists say to each other, no it’s not, but at least we’ll get a free trip to Arizona. Like we’ll get to go to a resort, that’ll be fun, and I said, how much money have they spent on that? She said, half a million dollars, $500,000 of broken soundtracks going. We want to change when nothing about their actions indicates that. So, they just keep jumping from consultant to consultant and now they’ve got broken soundtracks within the office where their team won’t even support the new thing because they don’t trust it. So, those are the kind of things I see often.
Erik Bagwell: Here’s what I see that I love for you to riff on because we’re bankers and you mentioned earlier, we’re numbers-driven. We’re a little bit risk-averse because I mean we’re loaning people money. So, by nature, we’re managing risk for a living. So, one that I hear pretty often as I meet with other banks is this phrase, well this is the way we’ve always done it. In other words, why should we change? I mean, if you’ve ever followed banking, there’s fintech, there are so many different pressures that are disrupting our environment. We have to change, but it’s so easy to get stuck. Well, this is why we’ve always done it.
Caleb Stevens: So, that’s a really common one too. Especially with the pandemic. I mean everybody on some level had to say, so think about, I’ve spoken to probably, I don’t know, a dozen sales teams in the last year and they’ll say, you know what? I was amazing at the pop-in. You get me in the room with somebody like I bring over coffee to the client or donuts to pop and I can close the room. All of a sudden, the pop-in was illegal. So, any sales team that said, well, my strength isn’t available anymore. So, I’m just going to wait until it is lost every good sales team that said I’m great in a room, but now I have to learn how to be great on zoom and it’s going to take me some time. I’m going to have to learn some things, but I don’t have the luxury of going.
That’s not how we do things. Guess what? For this season and maybe in a hybrid way going forward, this is how we do things. I better learn how to adapt those old talents to something new because eventually, I become a dinosaur. Like it’s not a matter of if you’ll change, it’s a matter of if you’ll enjoy it if you’ll be part of it if you’ll lean into it like change is going to happen. I was thinking about that the other day. So, there’s this YouTuber named Mr. Beast. He’s the number one YouTuber in the world.
Erik Bagwell: I’ve got a story on that in just a minute, but keep going,
Caleb Stevens: Massive YouTuber, and he started doing cheeseburgers. He now drops ships cheeseburgers and what they call ghost kitchens. So, a ghost kitchen would be like Buka depo in our area. Isn’t super full right now. So, they have staff that can make cheeseburgers. So, he opened up 600 locations almost overnight. He doesn’t own a single piece of real estate and kids that are 12 and 13 are buying all these cheeseburgers, have no idea that they thought they ordered Mr. Beast burger. My oldest daughter worked friends work at Bucher depo and they’re like, yeah, we’re making these cheeseburgers. There’s not a single restaurant owner in the world who thought we got to keep an eye out on Mr. Beast, the 23-year-old YouTuber who does prank videos. No one saw that coming. So, there’s some sort of change right now. That’s headed your way and you want to be as ready for it as you, it can be and you want to lean into it.
Erik Bagwell: Shoot where the birds are flying. So, one of our top salesmen in our division, his son goes to the university of Georgia and one of his fraternity brothers happened to be the 40,000,000th subscriber to Mr. Beast. So, Mr. Beast brought like 40 of that guy’s friends down to South Georgia, you and they just gave away these cars, Porsche cars with anime on him and his son got a car. So, there you go right there.
Caleb Stevens: That crazy so that’s, what’s so fascinating about the world we’re living in. Is that the disruption isn’t over it’s just coming in ways it’s growing, it’s changing? I mean, I think about that. Like we’re going to my Montana, next week and we couldn’t find a rental car. The rental car market is insane and so we had to try to rent a U-Haul cargo van, which is not the best solution, and then we went on Toro, which is like Airbnb for rental cars. So, there are just waves of change coming and so the soundtrack I tell people to use, especially leaders are a tourist when it comes to change, be a tourist, what a tourist has in common, they ask lots of questions. They don’t pretend to be experts.
They request help from experts. They make mistakes, they have fun versus going. I have to be amazing. One of the craziest things about change is that the people that are your highest performers are often the hardest to change because they’re so good at the old way that they have the most to lose people who are average at their job. Can’t wait to do the new way because they’re not even good at the old way, whatever, but somebody who’s really proficient at the old way that you think is going to be amazing to lead often fights it tooth and nail because they have more to lose.
Erik Bagwell: Our next segment is with Laura Whitaker. Caleb sat down with Laura. She is the executive director of ESP and ESP stands for Extra Special People. Caleb, talk about this. This is a really neat show.
Caleb Stevens: This is a great show. All about vision and what bankers can learn from nonprofit leaders. I mean, one of the things that nonprofit leaders have to deal with is they work with a lot of volunteers and how do you get volunteers motivated when they’re unpaid? So, that really calls into importance. I think the value of vision of clarifying your mission and really calling people to a greater purpose in their work and I think that’s something that all for-profit leaders can learn from. So, here’s a quick segment from Laura Whitaker.
Caleb Stevens: You talk about vision. Let’s spend some time on that because I think this is something, at least from what I’ve seen, nonprofit leaders tend to be better at this than business leaders in many cases, because as nonprofit leaders, you guys know that in order to move people’s wallets, you got to move their hearts and to move their hearts. You’ve got to cast a really clear, compelling vision of the future and the impact that you guys can make with their support and their efforts. You also have to inspire volunteers who aren’t there for a paycheck. They’re there because they care and that’s a big commitment to give up several hours of your week when you have all these busy things going on to do something without pay, maybe cutting into your work time. Talk about the importance of vision and how do you try to instill that into your organization?
Laura Whitaker: I’m so passionate about the vision and it’s so funny when I talk with my other colleagues or board members that are in the for-profit world because it does decisions work very differently in the nonprofit world. But I think there’s a lot to learn for the for-profit leaders that for me, in order to move something forward, I have to cast a vision, collect people who believe in that vision who want to invest in that vision, and like you said, volunteer for that vision. Then we are able to move forward to purchase the land or build the thing or grow the thing. In the for-profit world, a lot of times you’re working on a lot of that behind the scenes. You’re pulling together the business plan and the funding and all this strategy and statistics.
Then you go public with a decision. Once you’ve got everything together and what I’ve found really beautiful. I’ve seen this on the bank side and I’ve seen this with a lot of my for-profit leaders and casting vision is this idea that people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I often relate it to if you’re going on a trip and you want someone to go with you, if they can only see a portion of where they’re going, if you’re just saying, hey, you want to go on a trip with me? They’re like maybe where are you going? What are we going to do? What do I need to pack? What’s it going to feel like? So, oftentimes I show a picture of a beautiful exotic place and I’m like, hey, you want to go on a trip with me?
You’ll see people shoot up their hands. Like, yeah, I want to go there. Yeah, take me there but people have to see the bigger picture, right? They’ve got to see where they’re going in order to make a decision to go with you and so this idea is so applicable, no matter what leader you are and what organization you’re in is that the people under us oftentimes need to be reminded about that exotic vacation. They need to be reminded about the why and where they’re going. We see we’re so shortsighted, we get caught up in all the details, and as the leader job is to remind our people and to remind our customers and to remind us, our volunteers, our donors, where the big picture is. So, they can feel a part of that big picture and get excited about where they’re going and it’s our job to be storytellers and to remind them of that.
So, we do that regularly here at ESP. I mean, we want to the leader in providing transformative services to people with disabilities throughout the country. So, it’s my job to remind our people that every small thing that we do, every small celebration that we have, every win that we have, we’re working towards that greater, more national goal, to be the best provider in serving and celebrating people, vulnerabilities, changing communities all over the world. So, people get excited about that and they’re much more willing to work, harder to work longer hours to put in extra volunteer time, to give you extra advice, to give you extra money, to invest in you when they see that at the big picture and understand that it’s more than just in the bank’s case, shareholder value and profitability, it’s like no Oconee state bank they want to be Georgia’s most remarkable bank I can get behind that. That’s much more, that’s something that I want to be a part of, something bigger than myself.
Erik Bagwell: On our next segment is with Joel Manby. Joel was on the undercover boss, the TV show, and he’s a former CEO of SeaWorld, Herndon family entertainment. This was an interesting interview. It was really neat to talk to him, I guess, kind of off there a little bit about what it was like to be on that undercover boss TV show Caleb, talk about what Joel told us.
Caleb Stevens: Joel’s an awesome guy and he’s really passionate about culture, which I think says a lot coming from the guy who was the CEO of the largest family entertainment, a theme park company in the world. He was the CEO of sea world. I mean, this guy’s been in some big corporate jobs. I think he was CEO of Saturn back in the day and he makes the case that you really want to focus as a CEO in three consent or circles, your employees, your customers, and the financial performance and it’s kind of a three-legged stool that you’re always trying to manage and balance, but all three are critically important. I just think really good wisdom overall from Joel, and so we’ll go to that now.
Erik Bagwell: Joel, tell us about your experience on the TV show, undercover boss. How’d that come about and what was it like to be in that role on that show?
Joel Manby: Sure. Eric, I’m happy to, that actually is a perfect segue of the Herston time. So, in a nutshell, I’m going to answer your question. The Herston’s had a really, amazing culture in Branson, Missouri, where the family was, but as you went out to other states and as they made acquisitions, the culture was not as strong because they didn’t have systems and processes behind it. It was driven just by the Herston’s themselves, and so I am brought in to figure out their culture, put a vernacular to it, and then spread it out and make all the properties like the ones in Branson. So, we were looking for a way to kind of show how good Branson was and get to know the other parks better. I was already looking for something like that, but then CBS came to us and offered the undercover boss experience, which in high, right now when you’re listening, you think, well, wow, that would be an easy call, but this was the first season.
Nobody knew if it was going to be like 60 minutes or Mike Wallace back in the day, he’s God rests his soul but you know, he would walk into somebody’s office and destroy their business from 60 minutes. So, we had no idea and we took the chance the board took the chance and it was an incredible experience for people. I think it’s still on Netflix. You can still Hulu, you can still find it, on YouTube, but it’s a very emotional experience because it showed us how great our people were. But it also helped us with our culture because we established a foundation where we basically the employees would give a dollar, then we would match it two to one and all that money would be used for the benefit of the employees if they didn’t have health insurance or this was back before Obamacare, but we made sure everybody was covered.
So, the program itself, not only led to great changes like this foundation but there’s one other point and then I’ll go to the next question. I told you guys already how I had this angst in my soul and I wanted better leadership and it wasn’t until I really saw the Herston that I had that mentor I needed. I thought it was just me, but when we were on the undercover boss, Eric, we are inundated with thousands and thousands of texts and emails and Facebook and all the people posting on our websites, people wanting leadership, like what they saw in that show, not me necessary, but the people who had worked were working with me and it was just shocking. So, that’s why I decided based on that to write the book, love works and love works is really a synopsis of the culture at her and where it was all about servant leadership. So, that’s the story behind the undercover boss and the writing of the book.
Erik Bagwell: I got a question. So, I had a friend that was on a golf show. One time that aired on the golf channel for it was a gosh, a seven- or eight-part series. It was one of the big breaks and that thing he was on there and that thing was like a three-day shoot and they just cran it was like 24/7 filming the show. Is that what that was like on undercover?
Joel Manby: It was definitely a kind of 20-hour day It was a solid 14 to16 of filming and then you’ve got makeup beforehand and I think the thing is, people definitely didn’t know who we were because the show had not been out yet. So, they were just filming. I went to properties that I hadn’t visited much and the ones I visited a lot, we found a way to interact with people like on the night shift that didn’t know me. They really didn’t know what was going on and but it was some long days, but well worth it.
Erik Bagwell: I think there’s a lot more to a TV show than until you either talk to somebody or be on one.
Joel Bagwell: I will tell you at the beginning, long story short, I the producer definitely had a political agenda and it was definitely not to make me look really bad and the company makes the company look really bad, which that’s not surprising, but what surprised me is the efforts they went to, they would ask the people, very misleading questions. They weren’t always honest. Let’s put it that way and after the first day of that I took her out and just said, I’m done if you don’t straighten this up and she said, well, you have a contract and I said, well, so do you, but I’m not, I’ll do reality, but I’m not going to allow you to force a reality. That’s not there and so we had to have a little discussion, but after that, it went very smoothly.
Erik Bagwell: That’s interesting. So, well, let’s talk about, you mention in your book, love works. What was the impetus behind that book and what are you trying to communicate in that book?
Joel Manby: Well, the impetus is really what I already said about just the huge out crying really from 20 million people saw it undercover boss program, and it, we were very fortunate because it filed the NCAA quarterfinals. So, they kind of rolled right from kind of duke, North Carolina, right into undercover Boston. So, we were very fortunate. A lot of people watched it and I really, then anyone who’s listening to this or has any question or desire about servant leadership and wants to understand what it means really and what the theory and philosophy is behind it and why it works. That’s what this book’s about. It separates we all have due goals, Eric, right? I mean, which are hitting your numbers, your sales volume, your margin targets, loan portfolio ratios, whatever they are, everyone has those in America.
What not enough companies focus on is the B goals which are what kind of leader do we want our leaders to be? We can come back to that if you want but the whole book is really about how do you define the B goals? I chose seven words in the book, which are based on first Corinthians, actually a Bible verse, but it’s, it’s called Agape love and it loves the verb. It’s not loving the emotion. That’s why people get freaked out by it. They hear love and they think emotion. It’s not the Greeks, and I go into this in the book, the Greeks actually have four words for love. We only have one in English, so it’s very limited. The love I’m talking about is a gape it’s an absolute verb and it’s how you treat people. So, that’s what we’re talking about.
Erik Bagwell: Well, next up, we’ve got Dean Turner. She’s the former vice president of talent for Chick-fil-A. She ran HR for Chick-fil-A for a number of years and this is another great Chick-fil-A guest. She’s all about culture and she’s got a book out called Crush Your Career, and it’s mainly aimed at helping younger folks think about how to navigate their career, how to build a career, how to ACE a job interview but it’s also really good stuff for older leaders who are leading gen Z millennials and some good thoughts for them on how to think through leading the next generation of talent. So, let’s go to that interview right now. What, were some of the key qualities and the key, what was sort of your framework for hiring as you were trying to find these young people and as they were approaching you what was your parameters and what was sort of your framework for how you approach job candidates?
Dean Turner: Sure. What I can speak to is during my time leading talent at Chick-fil-A, of course, I couldn’t tell you anything about how things are done today, because all the players and processes have changed and I’m sure that they’ve retained some of those same principles, but I’m just not as familiar with them. But what was important, as I was leading that function was to really focus on three things. When we selected a staff member or franchisee. Now, remember all the Chick-fil-A team members, those wonderful people in the restaurants with the big smiles and the, my pleasures and good manners and all those things. Those are actually employees of the franchisees. So, they select all of those people. But our job was to like great franchisees that would do a good job selecting talent, which I personally think they do a tremendous job of, but our, we focused on three things primarily, during that time in my career and the first was a character. We looked for somebody whose character matched the organization, meaning that their own personal, purpose, mission, and values would not necessarily be the same, but they would align with the Chick-fil-A corporate purpose, mission, and values and then secondly, we look for people with the competency that matched the role. That’s pretty obvious but the really hard job there was is that we had so much talent approaching us in. So, few opportunities were really deciding who had the most competency. Everybody was competent for the role, but it was so competitive and we also didn’t just look for competency for the role we were selected for at the moment. But we had to think about it, we were such a growing organization. We had to think about competency for roles down the road and some that hadn’t been invented yet. So, for example, one of the things that I, the job that I love the most at Chick-fil-A was selecting Chick-fil-A franchisees at the time that kind of the height of when was involved in this process or what I would say was the most challenging time was when we were shifting from being primarily in shopping malls to being on in them as we call them freestanding restaurants on a street corner and the freestanding restaurants on a street corner generated a lot more income than those mall restaurants. But guess what? All the mall rest, all the franchisees that were currently at malls, wanted to go to those free standards. So, they were being relocated and what that left me and my team to was to find franchisees, to go in these less profitable and less income-generating opportunities. But here was the catch. I had to find people who would take that opportunity, but be competent enough to be able to run probably in just a few years, a four, five, or $6 million restaurants because they were likely to be the ones that were going to be relocated to those new restaurants. So, it was a challenge, to say the least.
Then the third area is chemistry. The chemistry that matches the team so if it was a franchisee somebody that had the chemistry that would match in with the franchisee team market, where they were going to be located or a corporate staff member that was going to fit in with the team where they were going to work. When I talk about chemistry, I don’t just mean, hey we lock arms and sing kumbaya and all get along together. I’m talking about the kind of chemistry where somebody can actually bring their diverse perspective and they’re skilled in collaboration. They can bring that diverse perspective and influence the other people on the team. That’s great chemistry and that’s what I look for when I look for talent. So, it’s those three things where the basic framework that I use a character that matches the organization competency that matches the role and chemistry that matches the team.
Erik Bagwell: All right. We went, we went back to football a little bit with Rennie Kern. Rennie is and this was a neat interview too. I liked I enjoyed hearing from Rennie. He’s an ex-Georgia football player and then was on the Tennessee Titans, played in the NFL for a while and you’ll hear him if you’re in Georgia and you’re a Georgia fan, he’s on some pre-game and post-game stuff, some Calin shows and I didn’t know this, but a couple of years ago they introduced him and he’s a motivational speaker and had some really, really good advice for leaders in the workplace. Talk about this interview for a second.
Caleb Stevens: One of Randy’s biggest things he brought to the podcast was I just lessons that you learn in sports that carry over into business and there’s more than you think. So, really good stuff, particularly on how to handle success and I think that’s the clip we’re going to play right now.
Erik Bagwell: So, when we talk about preparation, any other carryovers that you’ve learned coming from the sports world operating at one of the highest levels to the business world and the other big lessons?
Randy Kern: I got so many and the biggest thing I would say is I would say how you handle success is another major carryover. There are so many times where we were doing well in this season, but there were things that were slipping under that were because we are in a position of success, things that we let slip under the rug, like having that teammate that’s cancer, right. There’s we all know, right. That person that’s in our office. So, that person, that’s part of our team that may not be there if things were going well, and it’s like their impact isn’t felt that much when their success, but when it gets bad, that’s when they really, really stick out, those, all those little, inefficiencies really, really start to come to the surface.
So, that’s one thing I would say that is a major carryover is even when you’re experiencing success, are you still trying to improve? Are you still looking and being mindful of those areas that you need to work on? So, constant it goes back to that accountability as, but even when we had, like, when I played on those great teams, even when we were really good, our coach would always remind us that our leader would always remind us, like, hey, look out for these things, don’t allow yourself to get them the comfortable and same thing when you look at Kirby right now, that’s what he’s really preaching. If you really pay attention to his words, like, yes, we’re good, but don’t eat the rat poison. Don’t the height don’t listen to, don’t listen to those who are saying, you’re good.
You’re only one week from being humble and so, as a business leader, you got to know that how many companies do we know out here that were doing really well, 10 years ago and now don’t even exist. Because the same thing, they, they were so high up, they were, the numbers were looking great, but they didn’t focus on innovation. They didn’t continue working on the things that got them there. They didn’t continue, recruiting the right people and it’s like all of a sudden, the numbers were looking good. But when you look at those things behind the scenes, they were on a downward trajectory and that’s definitely something that I’ve taken away because no, success doesn’t happen overnight. Failure doesn’t happen overnight, either failure. You see, as a result of like a series of like your failed ability to recognize certain things and stay on top of your game and make sure that you’re mindful of those things that can really bring you down ultimately,
Erik Bagwell: Our next segment with Jeff Henderson, Caleb sat down and talked with Jeff. Jeff is an author and a speaker and he has got a book called, Know What You’re for Caleb, talk about this.
Caleb Stevens: Jeff makes the case that oftentimes what your company is known for and what you want your company to be known for and not the same thing and how do you bridge that gap and how do you become known as a company that’s really for its community, for your teammates, for your customers. So, that’s what that book is all about, and really appreciate, Jeff sitting down with us and this is our last segment of this episode. So, this will be it and so thank you guys for listening and we’ll be back next week with our highlights from more of our strategic and banking-related shows. So, thanks again for listening.
Erik Bagwell: You’ve come to be known, I think as not only someone who understands leadership and culture, but also someone who really gets marketing talk a little bit about say we’ve kind of got the culture piece rolling from a marketing standpoint then how should bang style should companies be thinking about their approach to how they do marketing? Obviously creating remarkable experiences for their customers is one approach. But talk a little bit about that riff on that a little bit.
Jeff Henderson: There’s a big shift happening and I think this is incredibly exciting, but it’s challenging there’s a big shift that’s happening right now. So, let me tell you the old school perspective and the new school perspective. The old-school perspective about marketing is yelling at the customer and saying, look at us, an example would be you go to YouTube and you have a five-second ad that has, you have to get through to get to the video you’re going. It’s interesting to me and Caleb, the ad never has trouble buffering, but the video always does seem to.
Caleb Stevens: I’ve thought that too. I will have the worst service. I’ll have half a bar or something in the middle of the mountains or somewhere and the YouTube pre-roll always works without fail.
Jeff Henderson: That’s what I want to ask YouTube. What is it about that? So, that’s an example of what I call interruption, marketing people, yelling at you, getting in your way, you didn’t sign up for this and that’s old school and to be fair, that still is effective, but the effectiveness is rapidly having diminishing results. So, if it’s not a look at our marketing, what is the opposite? Well, the opposite is to put the customer as the hero or the center and tell the customer, instead of looking at us, the organization says, we see you out there and this is one of the biggest, biggest mistakes organizations are doing when it comes to social media. When I talk to banks, if you will businesses, large brands, small brands, nonprofit. I tell them, hey, by the way, I just want to let you’re not doing social media and they lose their minds.
They’re like, what in the world are you talking about? Let me show you my Instagram page. Let me show you our Facebook page. I said, no, no, no, no. That’s digital media. You’re forgetting the social and social media, and what I’m suggesting is that you go off of the platform onto a customer’s platform to simply say congratulations. You just had a baby. Congratulations. You just graduated from college. Congratulation’s way to go cheering you on. When the other pushback is that’s not scalable. We’ve got to make sure I’m all for scale. I mean, I worked for franchise organizations, both in church and in business, totally understand, stand scale, understand franchising, but scaling a business is a slippery slope. If you take humanity out of the business and by the way, just talk about a banking world, right? I mean, I’m not a banking expert, but I’m a banking customer.
The bank that focuses more on the personable interactions and does what I’m talking about will win the day versus the bank or the organizations that are trying to yell and interrupt the life of their customer. But I love what Anne Stanley says, when it comes to this, he says, do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone. You might not be able to comment on every customer’s platform, but you can comment on bodies and if you look at most, let’s just pick on the banking industry. If that’s okay. We can pick on the let’s do it nonprofit or the fast-food world. This is true. I mean, I might just about, I might ruin social media for you here, but if you go into any bank, any business, any brand, and you look at their followers and you look at who they’re following, there’s a gigantic discrepancy.
The reason for that is that looks at our marketing. And this is a little strong. So, you may want to edit this out but put it in the book, if a business was a person, many businesses would be considered narcissists because you look at their Instagram page and it looks how great we are all about us. Aren’t we wonderful, did you know, we’re better than our competitors, which if I could eliminate that strategy from, we’re better than our competitors, because, from a customer standpoint, it’s not surprising to us that a company thinks they’re better than their competitors? That’s all when they’re going that route, what they’re saying is we’re the center of our universe and to give you a sports analogy, the way businesses, nonprofits should approach this is many of them think of it as a football field and the customers are in the stands and they’re of the heroes and the customers are cheering them on because the business is so great. That’s not going to win the day going forward. You have to flip the script. You have to put the customers on the field. The business has to be in the stands and say, ultimately, our business is here to serve you and to make you better and make your life better and we’re going to help solve a problem in your life. If you can’t clearly articulate your four and how you’re for your customer, they’ll move on.
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