Episode 7: Listen, Learn, and Lead
with Mike Lauderdale

Where’s the balance between confident and humility? How do you lead with confidence without missing out on the obvious because of your arrogance? Today’s guest brings a new perspective as our first guest working in a large corporation. Mike Lauderdale is a VP of Human Resources for FedEx and is someone we have come to know as a leader that is truly respected and admired by those around him. Throughout this conversation, you’ll hear stories that demonstrate a maturity of perspective from someone who has learned to take ownership over his personality rather than letting it have ownership over him. Mike’s wish for us all is also our wish for you in this episode- find the happy!

About our guest

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn

Mike Lauderdale is the Vice President of Human Resources for FedEx Services, the shared services entity of the world’s largest transportation company responsible for Sales, Marketing, Information Technology and Customer Service. As a human resources executive, he provides strategic direction to attract, develop and retain a highly talented global workforce. He is deeply committed to ensuring a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture where everyone can learn and thrive.

Previously, Lauderdale served as the vice president of FedEx Customer Technologies where he oversaw a consulting services team that designed, constructed and implemented customer technology solutions. He was also responsible for the development of large customer facing applications and senior level support.

Prior to that role, Lauderdale served as the director of IT Strategy, Planning & Analysis. In that position, he was responsible for the orchestration and implementation of leadership and performance initiatives, ongoing benchmarking and external research to ensure competitive superiority, and executive support of strategic initiatives.

Since joining FedEx in 1985, Lauderdale has experience in customer automation, revenue services and operations. He is a four-time winner of the FedEx Five Star Award, the company’s highest team member honor.

A native of Memphis, Lauderdale earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Memphis. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Memphis Museums, Inc. who oversee the Pink Palace Family of Museums. He also served as a board member for The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change.

Episode transcript

Keith Hi, everybody, and welcome back to episode seven of the Growing as Grown-Ups podcast.

Sara, I am so excited that we have Mike Lauderdale with us today.  Mike is currently the VP in charge of Human Resources for the Services division of the Federal Express Company, FedEx. And Mike's influence is wide ranging; he's been with the company for thirty five years. He has just been noted and paid attention to as a person with great influence, so much just because of the way he is. The group that he oversees and serves right now is almost fifteen thousand people deep, so that's a lot of responsibility. His team is amazing to work with. Mike is amazing to work with. He is just such an overall fun person. And I know how much you enjoyed having this interview with him.  

Sara Yeah, he really is a lot of fun and his energy is contagious, and so I think not only does he have some good leadership wisdom to share with us, he's just fun to chat with.  Keith Yeah, totally. One of my favorite things about Mike is that he and I are built just alike. So is that saying more about me or more about Mike? I don't know which one, but, you know, our personalities are very similar. I don't know if Mike's ever taken the Enneagram, but I think he's an Enneagram Seven and so am I. And what's most inspiring to me is just this - maybe someday I can be as fun as Mike. He's just, he's got such a light spirit around him and he's just so much fun. And I feel like I'm too serious a version of this. Right. So but, you know, one of the things that I think is going to be really fun as we jump into this interview in just a second, is that all the way through this interview, what kind of for me exudes out of Mike is this amazing willingness, almost, to look at himself, all the great strengths about the way that he's built and to continue to ask himself - how does like an overplaying of those strengths or how does really being me get in the way of the influence that I want to have, the difference that I want to make, the impact that I want to have in people's lives? And he does that, He's done it kind of naturally. You'll hear a piece of the interview even as early as high school that it's sort of he saw himself growing out of and through some of these challenges that were really strengths based kinds of challenges.  

Sara Yeah, I think Mike really is an example of learning how to be yourself, but also not let yourself get in your own way.   And so let's just jump in and hear my conversation with Mike and we will be back at the end to share some of our biggest takeaways.  

Sara Hello, Mike Lauderdale. Welcome to the Growing as Grown-Ups podcast. I am so excited to have you here to have a chance to talk to you and for our listeners to get a chance to meet you, because you are a really amazing leader that we have come to know over the past couple of years. But you are one that probably a lot of our listeners wouldn't have had a chance to interact with. And so to get to introduce them to you is really great. So Keith and I have already told our listeners a little bit about kind of who you are professionally, but I would love for you to just say hi and introduce yourself and just tell us who you are.  

Mike I am a Mike Lauderdale, as you heard. I am a VP of Human Resources at FedEx, I Live in Memphis, Tennessee. If you can't tell from my accent, you might think I was from Boston, but I don't know what else you know about me, Sara?  

Sara I got to see your drink container a second ago; why don't you tell the people that are listening, tell us what it is that I'm looking at.  

Mike You're looking at my big McDonald's cup. I actually have two of them. So fun fact about me. I absolutely love McDonald's. My partner and I, we go to McDonald's every day, usually twice a day, and people always ask, what's your favorite meal? Depends on the time of the day. I'll tell you the answer now. Work out really, really hard. I do crossfit and I started this year doing triathlons, so that's a new thing. But just to offset my love for McDonald's and we have a hallway upstairs with both walls covered with pictures of us in front of every McDonald's we've ever been to around the world, every country we've ever been to and lots of places in the US.  

Sara I think that is such a fun fact about you and for the people that are listening and can't see you, you are in really good shape. And so you are definitely not the kind of person, I would imagine, that has such a deep love for McDonald's.  

Mike I do. But you can eat healthy at McDonald's. I must go on the record. You can eat healthy. McDonald's is all about portion control. Covid has been not been my friend during this time, not McDonald's.  

Sara There you go. This show is not brought to you by McDonald's, but if you want to sponsor us, get in touch with Mike.   All right, Mike. So we are doing kind of this opening series on our podcast. We are talking to leaders that we admire about how the challenges that they face in life have shaped them into the leaders that they are today. So we're picking people from all different walks of life, from non-profits and from independent organizations. And I think you might be our first big corporate representative, but you're just a leader that we have come to admire and respect. And if you all haven't figured it out already, his Southern accent is my favorite thing to listen to, and he just has such a great spirit. So it's going to be a fun episode. But with that in mind, we're just asking our leaders to tell us some stories about challenges that you faced over the course of your life that have shaped you in meaningful ways and helped you become the leader that you are today. So when you think back over your life, what is a challenge that comes to mind that was impactful to you?  

Mike It's such a tough one because I haven't always been healthy. So learning to lose, because I lost like seven years ago, I lost 40 to 50 pounds just to get back because I went to McDonald's every day and I love Taco Bell too, so not a healthy eater. I've tried to get better about that. So I'd say one of my biggest challenges is to lose weight that just shows up overnight and maintain it. And the older you get, the harder you exercise. It doesn't work. You have to make adjustments. But relative to like leadership and life in general, I think it is humility. And I can give you a couple of examples. I lived with my mother and my grandmother, so me and four women in the house. And I adore all my family, but my mother always put this confidence in me that you could do anything. She would always kid like she was perfect. And we're all perfect. And you have the ability to do anything, be anything. You just had to put your mind to it and almost like, you know,   you see these kids on YouTube today getting accepted to college and they're like, oh, I got in, but my mind was like, well, anywhere I apply, if I applied to Harvard, I'd get in. So that creates a confidence in you, but you have to balance it with humility. And I remember when I was in, and this is just a life scarring event that nobody else would probably even remember, my senior year and in high school, I was vice president of my senior class and had always been on the student body and, like, I want to be the president of the student council, the student body. And it was like, it was mine to get. I went to a small high school so it wasn’t like I’m winning it over a thousand people, it's a very small high school, probably 75 in my graduating class. But so I get ready to campaign and go for it. And the year before I'd been like the Treasurer or something like that. And this guy, super nerd, super geek, shaved his eyebrows, like when we were in eighth grade type guy decides he's going to run too and I'm like, ok. I'll say his name is Sara, just to protect the innocent. So Sara is going to run. And I'm like, oh, this is easy. And we get up to do our speeches before Election Day, do kind of like our version of the debates. They were much more controlled than the debates today, undoubtedly, but he gets up to do his talk. And I mean, it's like Abraham Lincoln. He gives the most impassioned, powerful speech. I'm like, how on earth is that Sara? How on earth is that Sara? And so I'm dumbfounded. I'm one that kind of speaks from the cuff, I have my plan notes, but I just talk. And I get up and I'm done. I was like, I don't even know what to say. So I do my talk. I didn't win. And then when he won, I was like, how on earth? And there was these things that related, like if you're the president of the student council, you hosted certain events and stuff so it was like that moment in life didn't allow me to do other things I just had, quote, "expected to do" throughout the rest of my senior year.  

So fast forward to working at FedEx and interested in – well it wasn't like I'm not one of those people that's like I want to be the CEO of FedEx. I'm Mr. Smith's replacement. So I know it's like I'm one that, kind of very boyscoutty of me, I like to be prepared and make sure I'm ready for when opportunities present themselves and then I just walk through the door. So I had been kind of like, thinking about leadership. I've been in leadership roles. It's like I think I want to go into management, but I don't want to be any manager. So a job comes up in the area that I worked in and another one in a sister department that I would have liked as well came up. And so I was like, I'm going to apply for both of them. It'll be good experience for the one but I really want this other one. So I interviewed for both jobs and I did great on both of them. I was just like, oh, I think I really, really nailed that. And I get a call on Friday from the one that I was just ok if I got but I didn't really want it, and it was late in the day on Friday, and this is, you know, before texting or cell phone service - the phone is on my desk, you know, big clunky desk phone. Didn't have a rotary dial, though, not that old. But so I didn't call him back. So I'll call him Monday just in case I hear from the other person. Well, Monday morning I hear from the other person - hey Mike, you did a great job and everything, but we're going to offer the job to Betty. Oh, ok, so I call the other person back (thinking) well, I got that one. So I call them - Mike did a great job but we're going to offer the job to Johnny. And then you backtrack and it's like it's more than just your answers and I always give this feedback to people when they interview with me or other people is, like I said, there's this fine line between confidence and arrogance, and you don't want to cross it. You can be confident. And so through my, you know, just through my life and this applies to work and home and everything, it's like you want to be confident enough, but you don't want to be overly confident. One, you'll probably be disappointed, but you also don't want to be overly confident because you may miss the obvious, like, what were the things you didn't plan for? What were the Saras that come out of the, you know, the dark horses that come in and take that opportunity? So I think that's probably my biggest learning, is learning to how to channel my confidence into a confident humility.  

Sara Love it, and I love that you have two stories that kind of reinforce the same lesson, but they come from different ages and stages of life.  

Mike Oh, absolutely.  

Sara So if you can put yourself back in the mind of high school, Mike and career Mike, what did that loss mean to you at the time?  

Mike Oh, both times, and I'm not a depressed guy. I'm one of those people that if you look at the change curve and you go through the stages of depression, I just kind of speed through. We always talk ‘skate as fast as you can’. I just go through the curve really quickly. Life's too short. Let's get on with it. But both of those examples, I mean, I. I went into a.. I think because the high school one was probably the first time I maybe had faced, I'm sure there were other times - like I knew I wasn’t great at baseball, so if I didn't hit a ball, I'm not depressed because I'm not really good at baseball. But that one I was like, this is mine. I had been working for it. I think the only thing that helped me at that time, because I was really like depressed but I didn't want to show it so I internalized it. I didn't want to show that I was depressed, especially in high school. You don't want to show vulnerability to weakness. A friend of mine, soon after that, she had won like Junior Miss, so it's like a Miss America in high school, but Junior, and she had won our grade every year from ninth grade all the way up. And in our senior year, this six foot tall person that had been in high school with this other beautiful girl and who played the piano, she decides she's going to go for Junior Miss that year. And she looks like, you know, like a Miss America. And she had a real talent and everything like that. What was it like, poem reading or something nut to the point where it is good. But she gets up and she wins. And so there's so this friend of mine who was one of my best friends, we were like almost could commiserate and say, ok, what got us here and what drove it? And then when I go fast forward to that first manager's job I applied for - deep depression. I mean, it was like a week, plus. I was like I just didn't want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to go into my room. You got the, you know, denial, anger, bargaining, depression. It was like I just decided to be depressed, like, poor, pitiful me. And then finally I just started fact checking. What? Why didn't you get the job? I mean, I always ask for interview feedback, whether I get the job or not, you know, how well did I do. But it's so much more than the interview. It was the attitude walking into the interview and the way in which you handled leading up to that opportunity. And then after that opportunity, and hopefully I've learned I've built it into so much coaching I do for other people because you do interview some people that it's like, you know, you were really great. I mean, you were really great. But, God, you love yourself. I mean, you are like you've just crossed that line into just total arrogance. You need to ratchet it back because it's inhibited you from the growth you really need.  

Sara So I think that's so insightful. And I'm wondering if you can explain a little bit more either. From your personal experience, which would be great, but also from what you've seen and other people of what is it about arrogance that gets in the way of somebody growing and in taking these opportunities and becoming more you know, we talk about it and you've heard our lessons enough that the kind of growing into the bigger me and not being held in place by something else, like how is it that arrogance in that attitude of it's mine to lose? How did that get in your way?  

Mike It was that you didn't open up. You didn't open up yourself to what's possible. And I don't want to give this away. I hope everybody's seen the movie. What it was the movie with.. oh, lord, now I've even forgotten the name of it, but the one with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osmond. Sixth Sense. It was like at the end of the movie. Don't want to give it away to everybody, but at the end of the movie you have a AHA! That makes you rethink the entire movie. And I can't remember what Hayley's name was in the movie. But, you know, had his eyes been opened in the beginning, what would that have told him as he was going to experience? I think arrogance is the same way or it's mine to lose or overconfidence is you don't open up your eyes, I mean in your mind, your body to see the obvious clues that are out there. I think that's the biggest one. I say see it or saw it myself, and I see it in so many other people's eyes. I love your confidence. Your confidence is great, but what are you missing by being so confident?  

Sara So let me ask you this. You just changed roles.  

Mike About eight, six, six or eight weeks ago. Yeah.  

Sara So I'm assuming in that process you had to go through some job interviews.  

Mike Oh, actually, no, it was actually an assignment - I got a phone call and was asked if I was willing to serve and I said ‘here I go’. But it was a dramatic change. So I kept saying, you know, I serve at the pleasure of the company, but if you called me to tell me, I want you to be like the CFO or the Chief Security Officer or something, I might have said, yeah, that that's not in my wheelhouse.  

Sara So does this new change, and this may or may not lead into the next big question, but does this fall in the category of things that you're confident in or things that you are not sure…?  

Mike Honestly both, I’m really confident because now I'll have leadership development and things. I'm very passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, things like that. So I'm very passionate about that. So from that aspect, I'm really I'm confident in my vision and strategy; execution, I'm probably a little bit more humble about how do we do it all? How do we get it all done? But other areas that like aren't my strong suit - compensation or workforce analytics - things like that. But I know I've got such a great team.   The one thing I think I do well as a leader surround myself with people and I'm a big get to know the people on my team. So the first couple of weeks on the job, I'm like, okay, I want to meet with everybody. I want to meet with every team member know. Tell me what type of behavior style you are. What do you do, what are you responsible for. So I know who I'm depending on because they are the ones, the ones who help us all be successful.  

Sara And it seems like that approach really helps with the humility aspect, right, of recognizing that the people around you are gifted and skilled in things that you aren't going to be able to do in learning to rely on them and not being the kind of leader that thinks I have all the right answers.  

Mike Oh, absolutely. I think leaders that think they have all the right answers have no answer sometimes because they think they have all the right answers. Again, setting a good strategy and a vision helps empower the team just as much as just literally empowering the team because you have to hold yourself accountable and then hold your team accountable. But they're the ones that are going to deliver, especially the I guess the higher in the organization you go from, the roles you have, you're dependent. I mean, you know, Mr. Smith is dependent on every single courier, every day, every team member sorting packages. And the job is dependent of all these people to deliver on the great service. That's FedEx. He knows he can't do it.  

Sara So when you think about the journey that's ahead of you in this new role and all the things that you need to figure out and accomplish and leading a new group of people, what do you think is going to be the biggest obstacle that you face personally. Not from that organization or from forces outside? Right. You know, you've spent enough time talking with us that looking inside at our own challenges and the own the ways that we hold ourselves in place is where we have the opportunity to really grow and become more mature and more grounded and, you know, ultimately these kind of level five leaders. So what is it that you have noticed that you're kind of bumping up against these days that you think might be your next big challenge?  

Mike I would say three things. One is time management. It's because I had my last role. I've been in that for six years. I managed my time schedule and I was able to form and transform the organization to the one that it is today, which I'm thrilled about. And it is by my heart that organization. But it was like I learned how to manage my time really well. And here coming into this job, because there's so much I can't contact, people have been asking, what's the toughest part of your new job? Contact switching.  It's like you're talking about compensation today, diversity, equity and inclusion tomorrow. Then you're talking about workforce strategy and then you're talking about, you know, implementation, new HR technology. There's so much context switching and so many things on your schedule that you can't manage. I think first thing for me is personal time management. How do I manage the time and be there for everything I need to be, but balance it as well. Second thing probably for me is realizing that I can't do everything, it's kind of it's a little different because I was offered this opportunity, so I had and I've been building a strategy for it. I was I was actually we're down a path on a new couple of new programs with CT and our strategy and my prior organization. And I had this opportunity, know, get a call today and start tomorrow type of thing. And so it was like, oh, well, I have great ideas. I have a lot of ideas. But now what's your overarching strategy?  How are you going to connect everything together to one direction for where you want to go? And then I think the third challenge for me in that space is doing it, knowing I like breaking it down into bite sized pieces. We talked a lot about the one thing here and what's the one thing that's going to lead to. The next thing is like, OK, what is realistic for me to accomplish in FY21 and then FY22 and know that I can't have it all overnight. And that's the third one, is probably an easier skill for me because I know it is just that typically if I've gone into a new job or an existing job for a while, I have a new strategy. The strategy drives the the timing in my head and this time I'm like, well, I want it all now. So how can A balance those two together?  

Sara So of those three that you mentioned, which one do you think seems the most daunting?  

Mike The time management shockingly at the moment, at the moment, time management and I think it's somewhat related to the stay at home orders and the pandemic piece is because everybody's available. People aren't rushing out to light like yesterday, no fault of anybody, time management on my part, I was going to go work out at 5:30. I had a call that went up, you know, supposed to go up to 4:30. It went up to closer to five and then had to follow up. Calls to do for that is I I'm not going to make it there. About five thirty. Let's go eat Mexican tonight. Let's go the other direction. But I think it's maybe learning to to cut off. We talk a lot at work and about work life flow or being in Blursday where it's like, I don't know what today is, it's just Blursday. So I think maybe managing time and actually helping the people that I work with manage time, that's probably going to be the tough one just because of the environment we're in right now.  

Sara So, you know, we talk about how the things that bother us point to things that we value, right? So the the frustration you feel of having to switch back and forth and not be able to you said be everything for the people that you need and having to do things remotely and having this availability, all that stuff. What does that. Signify, if you can think about it, like what are those values that lie behind it that seem like you're not getting to fully express them in the way that you wish you could?  

Mike I would think it's that, would you call it the desire to please? Or the desire to be available? It's one thing. I mean, I realize, you know, we've we've got a strategy. There's so many things I want to achieve. I can frame them up well and then manage in the every day. But it's almost like you don't want to disappoint. And I feel like I've got a little extra not pressure, but expectation on myself with this new role, because it was an opportunity offered to me. And I want to make sure that I'm very successful in it. So I want to know enough. But I also know that fast forward six months and I'll find my cadence and I'll find my rhythm and get back to training for the marathon, which I really liked that; I still don't love running. It's a skill and I can do it, but I don't love it. I love CROSSFIT, but I don't love running. But it's a skill. And what I think it's helped me and actually it helped me with Crossfit and helped me with life is treating things like a marathon because, you know, you're going to go twenty six miles. You can't sprint out at the front. I still tend to sometimes, but because sometimes my pace on the first mile will be my pace. But is having that discipline, I get one of my coaches or coaches across speed always getting me about sandbagging because we would have, you know, a long workout that's like 15 minutes or 20 minutes. And he's like, I always have this extra energy. At the end, you just sandbag and say, now I'm maintaining so I can complete because I don't want to just stop. I don't want to stop at mile 18. I don't want to stop it 15 out of a 20 minute workout. So I want to be able to pace it. And I think that I've learned to apply that discipline to work as well and know all the things I want to do. But I know I've got to pace them out. And right now I'm still like got like learning to run right now. So I'm sprinting on a lot of things when I got to realize, OK, I'm going to have to learn to pace those down so that I can actually finish the full marathon.  

Sara It sounds so easy. And yeah, it's really hard to tease apart those voices.  

Mike Right, of the internal voices over here saying, no, no, go faster, go faster, or you can't do what you've always done it this way. It's going to work again. It's like it may not work. Yeah.  

Sara Yeah. I love it. So good. So if you think forward - All right, let's put ourselves this time next year, what story do you want told of Mike Lauderdale as he engaged in the first year of this new position or survived? Twenty-Twenty and all the things that it brings, like what do you want to be true, more true of you next year than it is today?  

Mike I think it'd be... The one thing that was very appealing about this job. And I had conversations with people as I was saying, yes, I can't say really before I said yes, as I was saying yes was that I think I could have a bigger influence than I was having in my current role. And again, we're doing great work for our teams, for our our customers and everything in my prior role. But I'm very passionate, passionate, because I've said a couple of times about one of my one of my roles is diversity, equity, inclusion. And I turn on the TV and it just drives me nuts thinking, is this 1960? I mean, I'm like I just watch the news. I'm like in and I think Memphis has done a really good job with social unrest right now. And because we took a an approach between the spiritual religious leaders, the politicians, the chamber and protesters to say we're going to listen, learn and lead, that was the approach that the chamber took out that was great, is they will go we're going to bring the clergy together and the politicians together and y'all are going to listen listen to the or listen to their voices. Then repeat back what you heard, what you learned so that we can all collectively learn and then lead to solutions together. And I think Memphis has done a great job of that. And I kind of want that same approach for FedEx. I want to make sure that for our leadership of tomorrow that we reflect the communities we're in, the customers we serve, the suppliers we use, that we are creating leaders of tomorrow. Because I want to feel like a year from now that I set our organization, services and corporate, on a direction to help us be here for the next 43, 45 years, because I've been here 35 years and I've obviously got 30 or more than 35 years of life ahead of me. But I won't be at FedEx for another 35 years. But I'd like to know that we've set the direction and it really starts with, with the front line employees. So all the way from our college connections, our entry level program to developing our individual contributors to the front line leaders. And how do you build that throughout so that we have the leaders of tomorrow? Because we I mean, we we have a very tenured organization and we have new people coming in and and people coming in today that you tell me you've been somewhere thirty five years. You've had thirty five years when they haven't been alive that long. But they're they're like, well I just can't imagine that. Just like I do want to help you imagine that. So what does that look like? So I think a year from now I would feel satisfaction if I really felt like we've we've really listened, learned and led as an organization to get us the true, diverse leaders of tomorrow that we need to make it successful.  

Sara So what does that look like for you at an executive level, right? You're not the one down with the front line employees. So what will you personally be able to do and push yourself to do to make that happen?  

Mike Honestly, I think that what I want to listen learn, and lead. I feel like much of my job is inspiration as it is setting the strategy and directing and leading the organization. But I think it's also inspiring and inspiring everyone to follow and go down that path. And I feel like for me, I have to personally be balance inspiration with accountability and expectations. So like I can inspire you all day - right, but you don't get anything done. So it's balancing the two. So making sure I'm holding me accountable, the team accountable, to the expectations we have and at the same time, inspiring them to want to achieve.  

Sara Yeah. And I, I have insight into your personality type. And so I know I know some things about you - And when we do our series on personality, we'll probably reference back to you. But you are the same personality as Keith, but even more so. I know inspiration just runs through your blood like that. Is your true gift inspiring and just what comes naturally to you. So I can I see that being a really great way for you to have an impact on your job, especially with some of these diversity and inclusion initiatives and and things like that that do require people to to feel to need to feel differently, right? To recognize you need to change, but then some of the the execution stuff is the stuff that gets a little harder, right? Because living in the ideals, being paired with the get it done stuff is hard. So I see that. But I think you have figured out a way with your with your discipline. Right. That I think the running analogy that you've given and just what you've learned in your life is that discipline is what really helps you overcome kind of your natural tendency to just live in the ideals and the inspiration and say, no, we've got to get some done and we're going to discipline and we're going to pace and we're going to set goals.  

Mike So this is so much easier, maybe a little small bouncy ball that you would get. If you bounce it..You know, that's my natural desire. I just want to bounce off the wall and have a good time, "bounce me again! bounce me again!". But then you have to learn how do you control the bounce to actually say, OK, and we hit the ball and I wanted to hit that spot on the wall and I just keep doing it over and over. Until you do, you can but know that you still have the ability to bounce all over the wall, But you're training yourself to bounce in one direction.  

Sara Yeah. And knowing that you can have a bigger influence, like you said, when you are able to control that strategically and intentionally.  

Mike I think that's a good word - Intentionally. Yeah.  

Sara So as you think about kind of what you've learned over your life in your career and you now have kind of this access to up and coming leaders, right, a lot of our podcast listeners are younger in their careers, earlier in their kind of management and leadership influence. What advice would you give to people who are earlier on the journey than you?  

Mike Hmm. First off, you know what my mother believed: have the confidence. You know, believe in yourself. Don't sell yourself short. Believe you can do everything. Anything doesn't mean you have to want to do anything but have the belief that you can do anything and then choose the things you want to go after. The second is, and this is a life learning is follow your gut. I remember when I first became a manager as a brand new manager, and I had something happen with some employees. That's like to me, the common thing would be to say, hey. Sara, you know, you shouldn't have done that, but my two peers had both been my managers at one time and they're like, oh, this back in the 90s when you did formal memos is stuff you need to give Sara a written memo, counseling memo to say that. So I'm like, oh, that seems really harsh. I just think I should just tell her she shouldn't have done that. But no. So I followed their advice by gut saying one thing of all their advice. And I know especially now being in H.R., there are things that are black and white, but there's a lot of gray in life. And so I give them this. I gave him a piece of paper that said the same exact thing I would have said verbally, but having it on paper, you know, I think tarnished their initial and it's my first manager, first manager job first workgroup, their view of me. And I just felt uncomfortable. They probably never thought about it again. It's been 20, 30 years later that I've never thought about again. But to me to this day, it bothers me because I didn't follow my gut. So I think for new leaders, I would say I have the confidence, know you can do anything. And there are times when the world telling you one thing, but your gut tells you something else. Listen to your gut, your gut probably right.  

Sara Where do you think the balance is, especially for younger leaders of listening to their gut and seeking wise counsel?  

Mike I think you should always seek wise counsel. I think you should always ask and get input. And if your gut is telling you something is kind of like getting a second opinion from your doctor, if if your gut is telling you something, go to some. I totally removed from that, which is what I should have done because I asked my two peers who used to be my bosses. So obviously they know and my best move would have gone to go to some other trusted leader that I know whose style is valued and ask, well, what would you do in this situation just to validate, you know, maybe my gut is right. So let's go, because I think we're real bad about getting our coaching and advice from our verticals. And I really think you need to get coaching advice from people outside of your discipline and outside of your vertical, because they're going to have a totally different perspective and they're not going to necessarily be shaped by what you do but who you are.  

Sara Hmm. I like that. And we talk about it not in the corporate hierarchy, kind of like that, but more in terms of diversity of perspective. And I think getting somebody getting input from people outside of your kind of smaller...  

Mike Like the peer mentoring group - I mean, you know, I love those because you were you were peers, but you're getting advice from people that are complementary styles, not the same as you.  

Sara Yeah, exactly.  So then one last question, Mike, as we wrap up with everything that's going on in the world and all the difficulties, we love to end with the positive question. And that is what is going on in life right now that you're excited about?  

Mike Hmm. I'm excited about the holidays. This is not the answer you're expecting is like, should we get the Christmas tree out now? And just about decorating now because we're all at home, we might as well enjoy. We're going to have some big holiday party that we're getting ready for. So we might have we might as well have an extended celebration season, especially with Daylight Savings Time coming is going to be dark at five o'clock. Well, Christmas lights really brighten that up. So so I think I think I'm excited about our strategies for getting us through the rest of this remaining time, however long that time is. The other thing I'm excited about as far as the company is I love some of the ways in which COVID has brought 2020 into today from an e-commerce perspective and and and changing the way in which We shop, we interact. I think it has opened up a lot of good, just like us doing this podcast type thing. I'm looking at you, which is great, because typically if you did a podcast and we were doing Joe Rogan style, but if we were, you know, a lot of people just do it on the phone, I said, I think there was more with that. Look at it. People interacting. So I like that. That's open up opportunities for people to. So I'm excited. I'm excited about I'm excited about a lot of things. I just think I think I want to see people in society get a little happier.  

Sara I support that, I think if we all had somebody like you around us every morning there would be more of that, that you have just one of the best spirits.
Well, Mike, thank you so much for your time and sharing your stories and just everything you've learned over your life and your approach to leadership. I think it's just such a fun and beautiful way. The way you care about your people is great. And so I wish you all the best in your new opportunity. And I hope we get to talk again soon.  

Mike Thank you. We definitely will.  

Keith Sara, what a fun interview and I have to tell you. Great job keeping that thing going and kind of rallying him around a little bit. You know, one of the things you can't really experience until you've been with Mike for some period of time is just how dog-gone likable he is and how winsome he is and how funny he is. I mean, you got little bits and pieces and tastes of the interview all through that. But he's got such a notable personality. And so when I think back to some of these things in the interview that really stood out to me, I think, you know, obviously when we kicked off the early story from sort of his high school years and how that bled into the interview situation and his incredible awareness of how just arrogance and confidence and and and while arrogance isn't seen, I think generally as like an asset, confidence is an asset. Right. And there's a fine line between those two places. And I just want to say, even though Mike used the word arrogance, I've never seen him cross that line. I mean, he he always comes across on the competent side of that line. But I really loved he said you have to recognize were those that competence, that arrogance and attitude is inhibited you from the growth that you really need? It's keeping you from maybe what's possible. And you need to ask yourself, what are you missing by being so confident? And what's interesting is these things that so often and each of us has these we have these strengths that we bring to the table that have really served us well in the past. Usually those things are in our wheelhouse, right? Usually there are things that that like we we've been rewarded for, we've been promoted for people have given us accolades for them and all this kind of stuff. And one of the big takeaways for me in terms of what can I be learning new about me by listening to Mike's interview, is that there is such value in asking yourself the question, how do you open how do I open my eyes and my mind to what I'm missing by being the way that I am? Right. And and for that to just be a constant question in the middle of that. So I don't know what your reaction was to that, but but I just love that whole opening segment, the whole opening 15 or 20 minutes of the interview.  Sara: [00:45:08] Yeah, I love that, too, and I think I said it in the interview, too, like he has done such a good job of balancing that in something that struck me just now, hearing you say it is it wasn't. What am I missing by being so arrogant? Right.  

Sara Confident is a good thing. But even then, what am I missing by being so confident? And I think back to Karl's interview on our last podcast, right. Where he talked about this idea of how do I go in and listen with with curiosity and figure out what I might be missing by listening to somebody else's perspective. And I think even the good things like confidence, we're not getting rid of them, but we're just holding them in check to say what am I what might I be missing by doing that? And that leads into what was one of my favorite parts of the interview was when I asked him what what was the story he wanted to be told of how he leads in this new season of life. And he pulled in that phrase, I think, from the the Chamber of Commerce, maybe. But the listen, learn and lead. And again, going back to what we talked about last time of. Of we we just need to learn to listen to other people, and as he's trying to lead this new branch of the organization, like not coming in and thinking he has all the right answers, because, as he said, leaders do think they have all the right answers, have no answers. And I just want to listen to people. I want to learn from what they have to share, what I can learn from them, which requires this openness and humility. And then once I've listened and learned, then I can lead and then just think that's so beautiful and and something that I think we everybody just could could use a little bit more of that in our lives of learning to listen more and try to learn instead of always just trying to lead in the way that we think is right.  

Keith You know, I mean, that's the growing as grown ups podcast, right? I mean, the whole idea behind this is that we keep figuring out ways to push ourselves, to keep growing. And it is really hard to keep growing if you're not willing to listen to others, listen to the circumstances, listen to your own inner voice, listen to the tension. Right. I mean, it's just such a beautiful concept that gets played out and can be leveraged in so many different ways. You know, I think I think one of the big things for folks to kind of think through and if if anyone's gone in and downloaded the growth gap tool and you can go to the Growing as Grown-Ups website to to go to go get that to jump into some of the resources that we have for for our listeners to explore. One of the things that you discover by going in that is you do have this way you're built, you have a way that you're built. I have a way that I'm built. Everyone who's listening, we've got this stuff that we bring to the table. Right. And it's and it's who we are. And a lot of it's personalities, some of it's upbringing, some of the experiences that we've had. And all of those things wind up serving us so well early in our lives. But figuring out how can I bump up against the stuff that just plays as like background music in my life that's been so much a part of who I am that I almost don't know it's playing until it gets quiet enough for me to go. Oh, yeah, that is playing right now. Right. And one of the things that that, you know, again, that Mike said that was so good is, is that I need to recognize that I need to manage my time differently, that I can't do everything, that I can't have it all overnight and all of that kind of energy, this this sort of bouncing from thing to thing that getting on it now, but getting sucked into it all. Background music for Mike and and and for me, that's how I can say it so confidently about him as that is it's kind of the way that we're built. And so, you know, I think my encouragement to people as we kind of shut down this episode of the podcast is that don't just listen to these things, folks go in and explore and learn about you use the growth gap tool as a way to listen to you so that you can learn new and lead. And I love it that you pointed that out. So thanks so much for doing that.  

Sara Yeah, I want people I want our listeners to go and do some of this work themselves. And I think the last thing from Mike's podcast, which might be a good way to wrap this up, is just his wish that we all just find the happy in life is tough this year. Year's tough. Let's just find some happy and I hope, if nothing else, Mike's interview brought you some happy.