Howard Fox: Well Randy, how are you doing today?
Randy Ford: I’m good Howard. How are you?
Howard Fox: Fantastic. You know, it is so hard to believe that we have just passed our second month as the hosts and producers of the SuccessInSight podcast.
Randy Ford: Yeah, and this is the first time in one of the SuccessInSight podcast episodes where we’ve actually gotten to talk to each other. You’ve had some great interviews, I’ve had a chance to talk to some great people, but it’s cool that we have this chance that we’re taking to talk together.
Howard Fox: Definitely. I think this is a good opportunity to have a look back at not only all that we’ve accomplished, but we’ve actually had some really great interviews. One of the things that I’ve seen is people do some really amazing work when you get a chance to sit down and listen to them.
Randy Ford: Yeah, that’s what’s been really cool about this is, these people who we’ve had on so far and the ones we know are coming up are really fascinating and have done great things. But the fact that they’re willing to sit with us for a few minutes and talk a little bit deeper about some of their personal stories. Some of them talk about their childhood and how that has impacted the things they do, and everybody has been really willing to open up to us, and really it’s helped us get some of the insights into their successes. One of my favorites, because if you talk to John Bentley or you listen to John Bentley, he’s been on two times now, and we’re hoping he’ll come back down the road. He is so kind and just one of those people who makes you feel like the world’s right, you know? He was telling us so openly about when he wasn’t like that, when he was younger and that what changed his life was a moment with a Coke can, which I can’t stop thinking about that. Changed his life because someone was willing to step in and set him right. Should we play that?
Howard Fox: Yeah, let’s definitely play that.
John Bentley: Yeah. If you don’t mind I’ll tell a story about me?
Randy Ford: Please.
John Bentley: It has to do with my 10th year in the Air Force April 9th, 1992. I’d signed paperwork to leave the Air Force because we were reducing the size of the force after Desert Storm. Get this now: They were going to pay me $25,000, and you know it solved this 31-year old, all his problems. Every one of his problems would be solved. What I’m not telling you is the reason I was leaving is they weren’t promote me fast enough. So I signed the paperwork and I walked out of our commander’s office -- which, to our listening audience, that would be the H.R. office -- and the most respected individual 1200-person organization pulled me aside said, “Hey John I need to share a life lesson with you, because you’re leaving the Air Force in December never to return again.” And he shook a Coke can very, very hard and handed it to me and said, “Open it.” You can imagine, I said, “Nope, ain’t opening that, sir. Ain’t opening that.” he said, “Why not?” “Well, it’s going on you and me, and it’s going to be sticky and nasty.” Then he took that Coke can, and he set it down and he got truthful and kind. And I really want people to listen to this piece: It wasn’t truthful or kind; it was truthful and kind. See, if you’re just truthful people you tell them whatever you want to think and you don’t care how they feel. It’s about you being right, you winning. Or if you’re just kind, you tend to skirt the issue, because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings, or you don’t want your feelings to be hurt. But he did it in a truthful, kind way, and he said, “John, that’s what you do. You’re like a Coke can when things don’t go your right that someone shakes up. They pop the top and you spew all over them. John, you have all the talent in the world. But here’s what I’m going to tell you. Talent will get you nowhere until you learn to lead yourself. And if you don’t learn to lead yourself, you never earn the right to lead others. And here’s what happens, John. You’re going to struggle.” I was struggling. “You’re gonna be frustrated.” Oh, was I frustrated! “And, finally, you’re going to limit your opportunities for success.” So that day I made a decision to determine why I behave the way I did. Now let the story continue just a little bit: 30 days later, guess whose name showed up on the promotion list. My name. Well, I had PLOM Disease, as Zig Ziglar would tell us. “Poor little ol’ me. Sure, you’re gonna promote me now.” Well, I was fortunate. About 30 days later, they they sent out a document that basically said if your name was on the promotion list you could withdraw the paperwork and stay in the Air Force. So I didn’t stay in because of the promotion. I did it because someone saw in me things I could do better and cared about me enough to tell me that.
Howard Fox: So one of the first interviews we had was with an entrepreneur, a book author David DuPont. And very much like what you just shared with John, a lot of who David is today is a result of incidents, experiences when he was a child and growing up. You know, helping his father, and that’s how he became an auto mechanic. Then he shared the story of how his device, which is called the Shure-Step, came about. So he’s working in the cab of this truck. He reached in a little too far, tried to break a spark plug, and he ended up essentially getting thrown back off of a milk crate he was standing on, hurt himself and realized, “Oh man, I cannot do that ever again.”
Randy Ford: One thing that I love about this story that we’re getting ready to play is that it came about this evolution in his product because he noticed just a few people in the customer profile had returned. How many people who have big product sales volume take the time to look so closely to what those similarities are in customers? And then what a payoff that was for him in terms of profits but also he talks about the people that he’s been able to help because of that. So let’s listen to David DuPont.
David DuPont: Over the course of about six months, I noticed that five or six retirement communities had ordered our product, but they had all shipped it back, because we get a 60-day, no-questions-asked guarantee. And so I was like, oh that’s very interesting that five or six would order the same product and every single one of them would ship it back. So I got on the phone and I called them and I asked them why. And they said oh we found your product. We saw it, the pictures that look oh it’s so bright and yellow that our seniors can see it. And I said okay. Oh it looks so safe and sturdy. It was heavy duty, so we knew that they weren’t going to be scared to get on it. I said okay. And they said it didn’t have any legs. Most of all the other steps would have legs, and I said well what’s the problem with legs. Well if our seniors are using it sometimes they get their foot caught underneath the step thinking they have that they have their foot on top of it and they’ll step forward and they’ll fall; I’ve seen it happen several times. I said what are you trying to do? And he said well we’re trying to elevate our senior residents to get on our transportation bus. I said, oh okay. And I said, what did you ship it back for. They said it was too tall. Really. That was all the problem? No, the no-legs thing was perfect because they can’t get the leg caught underneath it. I was like ok, cool what were you using before? What didn’t work? What’s the distance, what are you trying to accomplish? And then I talked to a physical therapist at one of the retirement communities, and she said six inches. I said six inches because the distance from the ground to the first step on the bus was usually about 13 -- 12 to 13 inches. And I was kind of torn between six or seven inches. And she said six inches. And I said why? And she said that after hip or knee replacement, the very first physical therapy we want them to do is stair-stepping six inches. And I said, okay, six inches it is. So I created a step that was only six inches high. Same design as the mechanic step. And now it has become my best seller. It’s called the Senior-Step. It’s amazing what’s happened.
Howard Fox: One of our more recent guests has been Deb Terry, who is a leadership coach. She works with corporations around their leadership development and leadership culture. It’s really interesting to hear from her about the impact her work has had on individual clients and entire teams within very large international corporations. That’s pretty amazing to kind of hear that kind of impact.
Deb Terry: Probably my favorite example was last year, I was called in to a global team. Their employee engagement scores were low. The leader was pretty much on the hook to do something different. And initially, the conversation started, “Hey you know you do this DISC stuff. Tell me about that.” But the more we start talking, more I was like, you know, I said “You need to step back a little bit and really look at your organization.” And I said, “How would your organization, especially your leaders -- there’s gonna be 40 people at this meeting -- describe the culture of the team, how they get things done and how they work.” And he said, “Well, I don’t think we’d be that good.” He’s a Brazilian gentleman. The more we talked, he said, “You know what, you need to come and do the whole two days.” And so what we did is we put together an approach where we worked with the group, helped them identify their ideal, basically do some envisioning, their ideal work culture. What would it look like? What would people be saying? What would they be doing differently as leaders. What would they stop doing, continue doing, start doing? What would their employees say about their their employee experience in the organization? How would they be functioning, not just in the U.S., not just in Brazil, not just in China, but how would they be functioning with these global teams when they’re all working better? To drive this conversation, we use the five behaviors of a cohesive team model by Patrick Lencioni to help drive it so we start talking about, “OK, trust. What does it look like for us if we’re going to get to this vision that we came up with? You know, what does trust look like, not just with the leadership team here, but with our teams that we have reporting to us?How do we manage conflict?” And then you have all these factors that cross-culturally come to play to so, you know, an Indian might say, “Well, hey this is what’s important to me about culture.” A Brazilian might say this. So we had some great conversations. Again, and we looked at each of the dimensions of commitment. How do you drive that? How do you hold each other accountable? How do you drive those results? From there, we came up with a team charter. Said, “OK. This is what you are going to hold each other accountable for, so as you’re sitting in teleconference in your home bases, this is behavior that works for this organization, because if we’re gonna get to this cultural definition, this cultural mecca that you want to have so people want to work in this team within this organization.” Because frankly this organization had a reputation where, gosh you don’t want to work in this organization. It’s not fun. So my challenge to them: what does that look like? Again, over the past eight months, I’ve had regular updates with the group and what was really great. Again, about two months ago, I happened to be in their facility, and on the TV monitor they had the pyramid that had the five behaviors of a cohesive team. They had their team charter popping up on the screen. They had their cultural vision, what they were trying to achieve, and all this was all over that particular building on campus here at their main headquarters. But the other part that was probably the best: I was talking to my contacts there as well as the HR people. I said, “OK, what happened with the employee engagement score?” And they said it went up four points. And again you might say “four points?” But you’re talking 300 people all around the world. And I asked the person, “OK, how did this help?” “Oh my gosh, it helped tremendously.” Because frankly, it was a global group of engineers. We had the engineers thinking and talking differently to better engage their people. Part of it was launching this process and walking through the process with them but also the individuals and the leadership taking ownership and accountability to help drive these people changes.
Randy Ford: Yeah, because when you think about organizations that are spread around the world and working from those different locations, one of the first things that always comes to my mind is, “Oh, that time difference is really annoying.” But Deb was telling us that it’s so much deeper than that. The cultural differences for people around the world really help meld the work environment. If that is handled right, than it can be a benefit instead of being something that takes away. Here’s Deb Terry.
Howard Fox: We’ve got some great guests coming up. Most recently we interviewed a C-level executive, and when you hear about the logos of the companies he’s lead, you’re going to recognize them. But he just authored a book on leadership and management, so that’s coming up. We have a network marketing entrepreneur. So this is a guy that decided, “College is not for me, and I don’t want a 9-to-5 job working in a cubicle.” And he’s been very successful in the network marketing space. We also have a marketing director of a local construction company, who is passionate about networking. So, you and I are both involved in a variety of networking groups.
Randy Ford: Yeah.
Howard Fox: Well this guy, along with a couple other partners, actually started their own networking group.
Randy Ford: Wow.
Howard Fox: And now it’s evolving. So really some interesting stories. Just hearing not only their insights about why they pursued a particular path, but also to hear about what’s been working, what’s been a challenge and where are they going with their business?
Randy Ford: Right and hopefully some good lessons that all of us can takeaway to think about it.
Randy Ford: You know, I mentioned earlier that this is the first time we’ve been on SuccessInSight at the same time. And I also realized that people probably don’t really know who we are. We’re just these guys who show up and start asking people questions. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about Fox Coaching?
Howard Fox: What I like to share with folks is I’m a recovering IT business consultant. That’s usually the first words out of my mouth. You know, I was just alone in a hotel room, and it was actually a very beautiful place, Victoria, British Columbia, and I was incredibly miserable. I decided I needed a new career. I went back to school in my 40s, got my Master’s in Leadership Development, including an accredited coach training program, in another most beautiful place in the world. Since then I’ve been doing life and career coaching as one path. There’s the executive and leadership coaching, which is another path, something very similar to John Bentley or Deb Terry. And then I also do a lot of work with clients, individuals and teams, in the area of LinkedIn, to work on their profiles but also to coach them, teach them, how to use LinkedIn to develop stronger relationships with their LinkedIn connections so it turns into new business. This whole podcast idea is just something that I’ve always, I like doing it, it gets me out of my comfort zone. Not many people know I’m an introvert, but I really am. But this podcasting gets me out of a comfort zone. I get to meet really cool people and develop relationships, and that has been fantastic.
Randy Ford: When we met, like when I think both of our minds got ticking about this is, I am in practice as First Story Strategies, and that’s all about helping people find and tell their stories about the impact they have on the world. Because it’s easy to talk about ourselves and what we do in the ways that we’ve kind of been trained to do that for years and years. But stories are the way that, if we go back to the beginning of time, before there was PowerPoint, before there were bullet points, stories were the way that we communicated. And so, it’s the stories of people we help every day that make professionals get out of bed to go and do what they do. So that’s what I like helping people do. People, nonprofits and small businesses in particular. So that’s why when we got our heads together, we realized that this was going to be something that was pretty cool to do, and it has been so far, I think.
Howard Fox: It’s been fun. I remember when Fox Coaching started, and I produced my first website, it was all about me. Here’s who I am. Here’s where I went to school. Here’s all the products. And as I’m trying to grow a coaching practice, grow a business, and it wasn’t growing, and then somewhere along the line this idea of stories and not worrying about my story but let’s hear from the client about their story.
Randy Ford: Yeah.
Howard Fox: And that was pretty powerful. So like you said, when you and I met, and the First Story Strategies, it was like this massive light bulb just went on in my head. It’s like, “I got to talk to this guy.”
Randy Ford: Well I’m glad you did.
Howard Fox: It’s been fun.
Randy Ford: All right. Hope the people will subscribe if you’re listening to this and you haven’t subscribed. Wherever you get podcasts, rate and review, because it’s always helpful to get feedback. Also online at SuccessInSightpodcast.com. I am online at FirstStoryStrategies.com or I’m on LinkedIn or you can find me on Twitter @firststorystrat.
Howard Fox: You can find me and contact me via FoxCoaching.com. I’m also on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter; just search for Fox Coaching Inc. Search for SuccessInSight podcast. You could also find us on SuccessInSightpodcast.com. And you could actually follow us from that page as well and comment.
Randy Ford: It’s always good to talk to you, and thank you everybody for listening. We hope you’ll join us next time on SuccessInSight podcast. We’ll talk to you then.
Howard Fox: Bye everybody.
Randy Ford is the Founder of First Story Strategies. For more than two decades, Randy has been using storytelling as the basis for his work as a communications strategist, writer, editor, journalist, political strategist, media relations professional and events specialist. Randy invites you to visit him at https://firststorystrategies.com.
John Bentley is the Founder of Power 2 Transform. John is a leadership coach, trainer, and facilitator. He works with healthcare leaders to develop behaviors that build trust, maximize influence & achieve better results faster through & with others so they can effectively manage the daily pressures caused by: financial pressures, scrutinized clinical quality outcomes, extremely high levels of change, and chronic staffing shortages. John invites you to visit him at https://power2transform.com
David DuPont is a business owner & entrepreneur, and inventor and best-selling author. David shares quite a few golden nuggets and some lessons he's learned along the way. His designs have helped hundreds of retirement communities, churches, and bus, truck & SUV owners to help their precious seniors board and disembark their vehicles. David invites you to visit him at
Deb Terry is the Founder of Skillblenders. Deb is an Executive Coach | Mentor | and Facilitator who is passionate about helping people grow & expand their understanding of themselves and working with others. Deb invites you to visit her at https://www.skillblender.com