What a gift for me to start my month of blogging/writing with this Day 274, Meaningful game! It’s a story about a leader who I had known for many years and for me it would be easy to share a few stories and I hope, an opportunity for our readers to develop some Productive Action for their day.
Chet and I lived in the same neighborhood and my earliest memory of meeting Chet was when he came to the door and asked for our son Ryan who was maybe 8 or 9 years old at the time. I said you probably mean me, I’m his Dad! No, he wanted Ryan and asked me to tell him the football game was starting and he was needed. Chet was clearly in a hurry and did not spend a lot of time meeting me. And every night Chet was in town, the game with his son’s, and my Ryan was on! Maybe a year or two later we started riding bikes together and I learned very quickly this little guy was one fierce competitor, he laughed easily and always had a very specific detailed plan of where HE wanted to ride and then we would often get lost.
I never met a more fierce competitor and an elite performer than Chet. I had won a football scholarship to College D1, I had been around very crazy, off the chart, elite performers….this little shit (Chet) was over the top. As the years went by I met his bosses at Compu Serve, Jeff Wilkens, Greg Tillar, Peter Van Camp and Chets team of Regional Directors. It became very clear to me this little guy surrounded himself with great people and had an eye for talent. What was also clear to me is that Chet’s Bosses were the kind of guy’s who knew how to grow leaders and they looked to Chet to lead the way to a more intentional, defined process for developing stronger leaders in this fast growing organization.
I had left IBM and joined a small company with a leader who had a big dream that I knew I wanted to be part of and I made the leap. Phil like Chet’s Bosses knew how to grow a company, had an eye for talent and he supported me in my leadership development. Together we grew our business and I had the ride of my life with Phil and the team we developed. I read 30 to 40 books a year on leadership, personal development and lot’s of history. I worked in the evening a couple days a week teaching Dale Carnegie classes, The Leader in You, Leadership Training for Managers, and meeting hundreds of passionate young men and women who some would later become my coaching clients. As Chet and I rode and sharing stories he made an offer to me which I believe was one of those life changing opportunities. As we rode I shared a story with him and he stopped and said, I want you to come over to Compu Serve and share that story with our sales team. I laughed and blew it off, but Chet was serious and I not only shared my story with that team, he invited me to go to other regions and share my story. That gave me an opportunity to see first hand what great leadership training looked like, how to build a great culture, how to find and grow good people, what elite performance really looked like and most importantly, observe the heart and soul of my friend in his leadership role. Chet was so different than any leader I had come into contact with that I had a hard time in those early day’s explaining what was so different in his approach to leadership. Chet was a winner, he loved to compete, he laughed, he played, he had a gift of believing in you and helping you believe in yourself.
Warren Buffett, the great Multi Billionaire Investor recently gave an answer to a young 16 year old’s question,” What advice would you give me on how to be successful in today’s business world?” Buffett’s Answer, “Surround yourself with great people, the kind of folks who will challenge your thinking, who are smarter than you and make you think. Read, Read, Read and ask great questions.”
When you study great teams, great cultures, it begins with good talented people. Chet built great teams at CompuServe and now continuing the same with Built To Lead.
Our first Partner at BTL was Larry Allen, to this day I have never met anyone with a stronger core than Larry. The mold had been cast, Chet had his first Partner and the rest of us had a high standard to live up to! Surround Yourself with Great People! Chet has another great partner who was chosen for our team, his son Taylor. Chet is not just working with Taylor he is pouring himself into Taylor, just as he did with myself and the rest of the band! Thank You Taylor for leading the way in September and your strong clear voice. I remember when your Mom brought you home as a baby and I’m so proud of what you’re accomplishing with Built To Lead!
Great cultures are never built with average players, take your time and look for the best, raise your standards!