261: Stan Silverman: Be different through your power skills
Stan Silverman learned so much working for his tyrant, more so had he not worked for him. Luckily for others, Stan persevered this experience. Eventually, he was promoted above his tyrant, and within three weeks of his promotion, he had cause and terminated him.
Stan Silverman grew up in the northeast section of Philadelphia. His dad was an entrepreneur, running a small electrical supply business, providing lighting and electrical products to industrial and commercial customers. His mom served as the bookkeeper for the company. The dinner table conversation always revolved around business issues and the importance of customer service.
His parents stressed the importance of education, hard work, honesty, ethics, and integrity, and Stan states that these traits formed the basis of his value system. It is one of the reasons why he is a strong advocate for the right tone at the top and organizational culture.
Stan was always mechanically inclined. He and his younger brother Stuart used odds and ends of lumber stored in their garage to build the frame of a go-cart and attached the wheels of an old baby stroller. They raced their friends down a steeply sloped street a block from their house.
There were no parents involved to help them build these go-carts. When they found they didn’t have the fastest cart, they figured out why, made modifications, and hoped that races the next day would yield a better result.
As a young teenager, an inquisitive mind led Stan to make firecrackers. Leery about being in close proximity when setting them off, this future engineer used a match head buried in the firecracker and 25 feet of train wire from his Lionel train transformer to set them off remotely. Stan says that you can’t do that today without a visit from the local police and Homeland Security. He says some freedom has been taken away from kids to explore and be kids.
Stan attended Drexel University where he earned a BS degree in chemical engineering and an MBA. After working two years at Atlantic Richfield, he joined PQ Corporation as a chemical process engineer, where he was promoted up through 11 jobs, reaching the position of CEO.
As the author of Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success, Stan entered his fourth career after coming up the ranks of PQ Corporation, serving as a director on public, private, private equity and nonprofit boards and writing nationally syndicated columns on leadership for the Philadelphia Business Journal.
He writes about his experiences and observations as a way of giving back to those who went before him and who have helped him be successful, and to make a difference in the lives of others who follow. For him, helping others be successful is one of the most satisfying things anyone can do. He writes to share advice with his two sons and daughters-in-law as well as his four grandchildren. He writes to help businesses thrive and provide guidance to individuals, so they become more effective leaders, entrepreneurs, and board members. This is his legacy.
Stan resides in Dresher, PA, with his wife Jackie, who has been his support over the years, allowing him to advance throughout his career. He is forever grateful to her.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“You’re always on a journey to try to be the best.” – Click to Tweet
“A CEO should never say their company is great.” – Click to Tweet
“You may achieve today, but you get up tomorrow, and you have another thing to go.” – Click to Tweet
“Leadership is the most important skill that anybody in an organization can have.” – Click to Tweet
“Power skills are just as important as technical skills for success.” – Click to Tweet
“When it affects the reputation of the company, if the board is not there, they’re not doing their job.” – Click to Tweet
“As a board member, my job is to protect the people from tyrants and to protect the company reputation.” – Click to Tweet
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way that you want to take advantage of.” – Click to Tweet
“You have to create your own opportunities; you just can’t sit around and wait for them to come to you.” – Click to Tweet
“Never tell your boss it can’t be done, but give them alternatives on how you might approach it.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s a strength to ask for advice and opinion.” – Click to Tweet
“We don’t grow by ourselves; we grow because people help us.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Stan Silverman learned so much working for his tyrant, more so had he not worked for him. Luckily for others, Stan persevered this experience. Eventually, he was promoted above his tyrant, and within three weeks of his promotion, he had cause and terminated him.
Advice for others
Be humble as a leader and understand that you get results through other people.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Best Leadership Advice
Lead like you’d like to be led.
Secret to Success
I relate to people really well. I get to know them.
Best tools in business or life
My commitment to ethics and integrity and my distain for anyone that’s not ethical or doesn’t have integrity.
Contacting Stan Silverman
Resources and Show Mentions
Show TranscriptClick to access edited transcript
Jim Rembach: 00:00
Okay. Fast leader Legion Tam, excited because we have somebody with such a wealth of experience and passion that you know, he was also sharing it at multiple levels
Jim Rembach: 00:10
and hopefully he’ll be a great role model for you, which is a very important point that he talks about. Stan Silverman grew up in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. His dad was an entrepreneur running a small electrical supply business providing lighting and electrical products to industrial and commercial customers. His mom served as the bookkeeper for the company and at the dinner table. Conversation always revolved around business issues and the importance of customer service. His parents stressed the importance of education, hard work, honesty, ethics and integrity. And Stan States these as traits that has formed the basis of his value system. It’s one of the reasons why he is a strong advocate for the right tone at the top of and part of the organizational culture. Stan was always mechanically inclined. He and his younger brother, Stewart used the odds and ends of lumber stored in their garage to build a frame of a go-kart in a test, the wheels of an old baby stroller.
Jim Rembach: 01:08
And they race their friends down a steep slope, a block from their house. As a young teenager and inquisitive, Stan actually made firecrackers. He was leery about being close to close proximity and so when he sent them off, this future engineer used a match head buried in the firecracker and 25 feet of train wire from his lion L train transformer to set them off remotely. Stan says, you can do that today without a visit from the local police and Homeland security. He says some freedom has been taken away from kids to explore and just be kids. Stan attended Drexel university where he earned a BS degree in chemical engineering and an MBA. After working two years at Atlantic Richfield, he joined PQ corporation as a chemical process engineer where he was promoted up through 11 jobs reaching the position of CEO as author of be different the key to business and career success.
Jim Rembach: 02:07
Stan entered his fourth career after coming up the ranks of PQ corporation, serving as a director on public private private equity and nonprofit boards and writing nationally syndicated columns on leadership for the Philadelphia business journal. He writes about his experience and observations as a way of giving back to those who went before him and who have helped him be successful and to make a difference in the lives of others who follow. He writes to share advice with his two sons and daughter, daughter and daughters-in-law, as well as his four grandchildren. He writes to help businesses thrive and provide guidance to individuals so they can become more effective leaders, entrepreneurs, and board members. Stan resides in Dresher, Pennsylvania with his wife, Jackie, who has been his support over the years, allowing him to advance throughout his career. He is forever grateful to her. Stan Silverman, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Stan Silverman: 03:02
Yeah. Thank you, Jim for that great introduction and it’s just a pleasure to be on your show. Thank you for inviting me.
Jim Rembach: 03:08
Oh man. I’m honored that you’re here and we’ve already had some really good discussion that I hope we can bring onto this interview, but I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but continue to, can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Stan Silverman: 03:20
My current passion is helping others be successful. I coach and counsel a lot of people in mid career positions. They want to know how they can get promoted to the next job. Uh, I give them advice on that. I talk to a lot of college seniors, uh, going out looking for the first jobs. They want to know if the resume is up to snuff. I also, I was asking them about the resume, what’s different in this resume that’s different than the other 500 resumes that I’ll go into Comcast for that one finance job, why are you different? And they kind of look at me and say, well, I guess I should be different. And I help them develop from their, uh, from their time in college. Why they’re different from other people. I also tell them the kind of issues they would have raised during interviews, which no other college kid will raise when they’re interviewing, such as being committed to continuous improvement, being committed to, um, creating a great customer experience for their, for their clients or customers and so forth. So I help people be successful. And that’s my passion today.
Jim Rembach: 04:21
Well, I think you bring up a really interesting point because a lot of times us as individuals and if you think about that whole self assessment piece, we may perceive, you know, that we are different. However, we really may be a little bit, you know, convoluted, um, maybe not a little, not, not as focused as we need to be. Um, not really understanding, you know, what different really means. So if you can give us a good background and understanding of what different really is.
Stan Silverman: 04:48
Well, um, so let’s look at it in the context of the business. Um, I’ve worked with a lot of people. I’ve seen a lot of leaders in my time, some very, very good leaders and leaders that aren’t so good. And those leaders that are very successful over a long period of time in a sustainable manner and build great businesses are different in this way. They have great tone at the top,
Jim Rembach: 05:12
Stan Silverman: 05:13
They hire great people. Uh, they have great values, they have a very good value system, and they hold their people accountable to those values. And there are no shortcuts. There are no shortcuts. Uh, you read a lot about companies. They get into trouble because of shortcuts they take and they lose a huge amount of reputation. Uh, there’s huge reputational risk and what they do or they don’t do. And uh, being different in the business sense is you really want to run a great company with great tone and you know what? Your employees will go home and go to sleep at night and they’ll wake up the next morning and want to come in and, and go to work because it’s just a great place to work.
Jim Rembach: 05:51
You know, as you’re saying that and you’re talking about many of those things, and maybe I’m a little bit biased because I’m in it and I do this podcast and I talk about it a lot, but you know, to me it would seem like it at least being aspirational and trying to obtain all of those things that you talk about, you know, would be the norm. But you’re saying that is the exception.
Stan Silverman: 06:12
Uh, in my experience, I have, unfortunately I have to say yes. Uh, you know, you’re always on a journey. You’re always on a journey to be better. And, uh, I used to tell my people as, as when I was CEO of my company, uh, I would ask him, um, are we the best in the world at what we do? And of course, you’re never going to be the best. Only one person can beat the best CEO. And you’re always one of the journey to try to be the best and that drives the business forward. And, um, uh, if you, if you don’t do that, uh, are you going to try to be the most mediocre in the world? At what you do or you’re not even going to think about it and you’re basically a flounder. Um, you hear many CEOs say, why my company is great.
Stan Silverman: 06:54
A senior should never ever say their company is great. That’s for third parties to say, when somebody says you’re great, your answer is, well, we’re okay here. We’re doing really well here. We have a long way to go here. We’re on a journey to become great because once you tell your employees you’re great, there’s no place to go, and there’s no, you plateau where you go down. And so you never say, I’ve never ever said we’re great. I don’t. Our employees understand that they’re understand that we were on a journey. We were in a journey to help our customers be successful. That’s our role in life. And when you become, when you are, when you’re on that journey, you move towards becoming the preferred provider of product or service in your marketplace. So people want to buy from you and not your competitors. You want to help your customers be successful, give them a great customer experience.
Jim Rembach: 07:45
You know, as you’re saying that I started thinking about some confusion that may take place because I mean I’ve learned on it, you know, I just had not happened, didn’t happen, but a few years ago, you know, I learned that there is a difference between being achievement focused and competitive focus and the, and the fact is, is what you described from my perspective is more of an achievement focused, meaning that winning, you know, it really isn’t our goal, what our goal is to continually focus on trying to be the best that’s that’s achievement based where competitive based is, Hey, you know, we’re the best, we’re done our, Hey we beat them in this market or Hey we need to beat them. And then it becomes more of a toxic, potentially toxic and a, an eroding, uh, element that could be in your culture.
Stan Silverman: 08:33
Yeah. Actually I’m glad you brought that point up because you’re absolutely correct. You’re never done. You are never ever done. And so you may achieve today, you get up tomorrow and you got another thing to go. You have another goal to, to hit. You need to keep on moving forward. And um, you know, there, there are competitors that compete because they, the customer what they want and they satisfy customer needs and they give a great customer experience. And there are other people that compete on, on other things where we say, well, we’ll cut the price even though we don’t give you what you want. Why our product? Because it’s the cheapest. That’s no way to compete. That creates price Wars. You want to do that. You never want to compete on price. You want to compete on quality and service and other things. You, you give the, the, the client or the customer that your competitors can’t give. And that’s how you win in the long term. But winning is only today and tomorrow you have another goal to hit.
Jim Rembach: 09:33
Okay. So that brings me to the book and you just start talking about, uh, really the, the, the four parts in order to be able to be different than an organization as well as individuals, teens, you know, has to really focus in on, in order for that to occur. And in the book, I mean, to me it’s just loaded with a lot of information. You’ve made very, very short chapters within these four parts. And these four parts are on the importance of leadership, building a competitive advantage, advancing career, your career. Uh, and the last one is for me is about role models and role modeling. And, and so when they start looking at these four, how did you really come up with those four?
Stan Silverman: 10:17
Um, that took some time actually, that took some time. And so I had all of this I wanted to put down on paper, but I had to organize it properly so that it made sense for the reader. And, um, I eventually came up with these four categories, which I thought would be the most meaningful for somebody that wanted to learn how to do what I was teaching, which is to be different. Um, and it, it, it fit together. And I finally said, well, I want, I, I originally had five sections and it was too many. So I condensed it into four and it just felt right. And so the four that you mentioned is what I, what I came out with.
Jim Rembach: 10:53
Well, and we talk about, um, you know, really the journey piece. You talk about even, you know, constructing this in a way that people can actually leverage it. You know, it took a while, but that, that journey and when you start thinking about your career and where you are now and the business landscape and you know, the side of velocity you want to call it as such, you know, if you were to talk about the path that you had have taken and the experience that you’d had, how different different would it be somebody who was actually more on the earlier and starting out, uh, stage of their journey today? Well, how would it be different?
Stan Silverman: 11:33
Um, I was very, well, I’m, my journey is not going to be duplicated, uh, anymore. So I spent 30 plus years with the same company through 11 jobs. That doesn’t happen today and I wouldn’t recommend it. I would not recommend it. Um, the only reason I stay with PQ corporation is I kicked it up getting promoted and they kept giving me more money and more responsibility and they allowed me the freedom to try a lot of things, a lot of new things. And so, um, you know, I wasn’t wanting to sit at my desk and just do it the same way all the time. I always tried new things. Um, I can remember, uh, I really scary time when we found that we had to recall a product because it had, uh, iron filings in it from the manufacturing process. And I didn’t have the authorities to business management order, this kind of large recall.
Stan Silverman: 12:22
And my boss and the CEO were traveling in Europe and it was before cell phones and before text messaging. And every day that we waited to recall the product, the cost of recall would go up exponentially and it would really go up if our product finally made it into a customer’s product. And so I would have to recall, and my people are saying, you’re going to be celebrated or terminated. I said, well, let’s hope it’s the first. I wanted to recall these guys got back and I told them what I did and I got celebrated. They said, you did the right thing, but I learned something very interesting. You always want to hire people with good common sense and critical judgments because you want those people to make decisions that are against policy when it’s in the best interest of the company to do so. It doesn’t happen often, but you have to hire people that know when to do that.
Stan Silverman: 13:12
And so from that point forward in my career, I always hired people that I thought had good comments, ends and critical judgment, and I empowered them to break the rules when they thought it was necessary to be in the best interest of the company. And so I would hope moving forward that people starting out in your careers will learn that. And I hope they work for bosses that will permit them to do that because if they don’t, those companies want to get into trouble. You’re hiring people for what they know for what they know. And I think it was Steve jobs that says we don’t know how to hire smart people to tell them what to do, no harm, so that they can tell us what to do. So it’s a similar thing and I hope people get a chance to work for those kind of companies and those kinds of bosses.
Stan Silverman: 13:57
Well, and speaking of those types of bosses and those types of cultures, I think you have a passion for no tyrants because you shared a story with me that I think everybody needs to hear. Yeah. So, um, I was, I was, uh, probably a high, I was higher level of middle manager and I worked for this tyrant who basically beat the crap out of everybody in his organization. Um, he would, uh, micromanage everything, not give any, uh, allowance for making decisions. Everything had to run through him. He would just go off on people. And I finally learned how to deal with him. I was almost ready to leave the company. Had I left the company, the company would have been deprived of a future CEO for the company, but I learned how to deal with him. I was tough enough, but we lost a lot of great people.
Stan Silverman: 14:43
So I get promoted to be president of our Canadian company in Canada. So now I’m at his level and for three I do that job and I get promoted again to come back and I’m now, um, global president of industrial chemicals and he’s reporting to me. Within three weeks of me being back, he went off on somebody and I fired him. I fired him. He was shocked. And, uh, the folks in that group celebrated for days, for days. I brought in the very best leader within our company. I didn’t go outside me cause I didn’t, I couldn’t take the chance. I brought in the very best leader that I knew to take that role and it took six months for him to get those folks to start making decisions, to get and get the, the division growing again. And so that was such an impressed, that was such an important point in my career from an experience point of view.
Stan Silverman: 15:34
Um, I still remember it as what was yesterday. And because of that, when I serve, I’ve served on 14 boards, three public companies, private, private equity, you name it. I sit on the committee of every board because I want to hear what comes in on a hotline in a free port, comes in on a hotline that there is a tyrant in the organization. And I want to know what the CEO’s going to do about it because I feel because of my experience, my unique experience getting to the position I’m in, I want to know what the CEO’s going to do to protect his people. And uh, maybe they can change that person or they can, if they can’t change him, he’s out. He’s gone. I’d farm in a microsecond and a microsecond. I don’t care how good his performances, because this is individual performance. The people below him work for me cause they don’t trust it. They don’t trust him. So he’s got to go or she’s got to go. And I’ve done that so many times. You can see how passionate I am about this.
Jim Rembach: 16:28
Right. Well, and I think what you’re just saying right there is also that that is quite different because unfortunately, you know, people will say, well, it’s hard to find people, well they have a certain skill set that I can’t get rid of. Well, I mean, they make all these excuses are making a really tough decision and it’s, you’re talking about the whole strength of leadership and power of leadership. You know, that you’re not leading at that point.
Stan Silverman: 16:55
You’re absolutely right. No one is indispensable and let’s assume the person is doing a great job, but they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re really hurting the people below them because they’re just a crappy leader. You’ve got to move him out of that position. Uh, maybe you keep them, but they’re not leading any body. You put them with an individual contributor situation where they can continue to contribute, but they don’t, they’re not going to lead people because leadership is the most important skill that anybody in an organization can have if you can’t lead people, get them out of that position.
Jim Rembach: 17:29
Well, and that kind of leads me into, um, part of the discussion that we had earlier that I think is really important for us to talk about. Because in, you know, the marketplace, you know, in the workplace and in society, and it’s getting to be a, a global scenario as far as the business is concerned, the issues associated with no engagement and a lack of leadership pipeline, all of the, you know, all of these things that we’re kind of talking about is such a problem. It leads us back into how we’re Marino really educating, you know, our current as well as our future generations to live in the type of world that we are today. So, you know, you sit on a lot of boards, you’re part of, you know, Drexel university’s chair or vice chairman of the university. So one of the criticisms that institutions educational institutions have is that they’re not developing the worker of today and definitely not the worker of tomorrow. They’re actually developing the worker that we needed 10 15 years ago. So where are you on and thinking on that?
Stan Silverman: 18:32
Uh, and I would agree with you. I have a lot of conversations, uh, with, uh, professors not only at Drexel but in other universities. Uh, also that we need to teach what I would call power skills to our students. Uh, the power skills or the skills about, uh, getting along with people, forming teams, using, uh, emotional intelligence and making decisions using good critical judgment, knowing when to, um, uh, to let somebody go because they’re not a good leader. And we need to teach these skills. We need to teach the skills of networking. I see it so many times. These young people, they’re on their phones all the time and they’ve lost the ability to talk to people. Well, not only have they lost the ability to talk to people, we also don’t teach them how to walk into a room where they’re a cocktail parties going on.
Stan Silverman: 19:25
A reception is going on and there’s maybe 10 or 15 groups of people talking. They need to know when to break in, when not to break in, how to break in, how to excuse themselves from the group to move on to the next group. Um, how to develop maybe two or three relationships that you can continue on. And I don’t mean giving out 5,000 business cards in an hour. You need to focus on who you might be able to help or they might be able to help you in the future. Develop those skills. We don’t teach those skills, you know, not only do we teach them, we don’t teach that they’re important, but they’re so, so, so important. And so, um, our, our universities need to teach this. One of the problems is that a lot of our professors have never really done this. They’ve come up through research and they teach, they’re great at technical skills, but they’re not great at soft skills or what I would call power skills. Power skills are just as important as technical skills for success. I’ve seen so many people with great technical skills, they have zero power skills and they don’t make it. They don’t make it.
Jim Rembach: 20:29
You know what you’re talking about right there. They’ve actually done some studies on that and it’s technical skill and ability. When you start talking about that track level and getting to that middle management, it’s the technical skills that can get you to that level at a pretty, pretty good level. But unfortunately those skills
Stan Silverman: 20:48
have to switch in order for you to go up to that next level to what you’re talking about. Um, and so somebody who is at that most senior level, while the technical skill is very powerful for them cause they essentially know what the business does and how the business does it at. So, I mean it is, it does have value, but now they’ve moved from a situation where they’ve got to actually have the entire organization have a strong culture. But I have great leaders and you’re right, that is a totally different skillset. So how do we fix this? Well, um, I, you can fix it in the schools by letting people to be aware of it and to set up situations within the courses where they have to work within teams. And a lot of people are doing that. A lot of schools are doing that, um, where they have to deal with various personalities where they have to deal with clashes and personalities on their team and get people to work together.
Stan Silverman: 21:40
Um, but you really get this experience being out in the fields in your real life is where you really need to do it and you need to be aware that you need to build those skills and you need a lot of emotional intelligence. In fact, it’s emotional intelligence is more important than IQ when you get to that point. I Q is the entry level. In fact, it was a good, it’s in my book, there was a paper developed by a researcher, one of the universities where IQ will get you to a certain level. ECU will take you further up. So it’s, it’s the, it’s the price of getting in. IQ gets you w moves you up and you just need to continue to practice it. So I would recommend to college students, get on a lot of committees, a lot of extracurricular activities, lead units around lead groups around the school, get involved in athletics, become an athletic leader.
Stan Silverman: 22:32 And you develop those skills there. So when you go out into the marketplace, you’ve gotten some basics in terms of the evolving those skills. You know, it’s really interesting that you say that because there was a report that came out or a study looking at Nobel prize winners, Nobel laureates. Uh, and uh, what they were saying is that those people who are the receivers and recipients of those awards or recognition, we’re not the smartest in their field. They had higher E Q and that’s what enabled them to get recognized and wins. Isn’t that an interesting, it’s an interesting, it means they were able to tap the works of others and build on the works of others. They were able to collaborate together, uh, and they were able to advance their, uh, their, their science or the technology in their, in their area of expertise. And actually the whole world is built upon that.
Stan Silverman: 23:23 Most definitely. So when I start thinking about, you know, all of the, the, the case studies that you, and there’s just loaded in this book, you know, all of these particular case studies, I would have to say there’s kind of one for you that’s like, you know, that’s the one that kinda hits me the most. That’s the one I have the passion for the most. Which, which case study would that be? Well, it’s gotta be the Wells Fargo case study and closely following that as Volkswagen and probably after that, his third husband, let’s talk about Wells Fargo. Um, as most people know, because it’s been in the press, uh, Wells Fargo had a problem back around 2014, 15 where the people that worked in the bank branches, uh, were incentivized and actually pressured to, uh, open up accounts that clients did not need because that was part of the metric used to pay the, uh, the senior leadership of, of that group, big bonuses.
Stan Silverman: 24:18 And they were encouraged to do unethical things that bothered people a lot. The people down at the lower level. Um, and in fact, it’s interesting they called the, they didn’t call their bank branches, bank branches. They called them stores. That’s what walls, I don’t want to bank at a store. I’m not buying anything. I want to bank where I’m going to get, get advice. I want to go to a bank branch. But they called them stores. So that kind of set up the culture. And um, when this, when this blew up and it became public, they were fine. Millions of dollars by the government for doing this. But that was only a drop in the bucket. As soon as it got out, uh, their reputation went down. They lost billions and billions and billions of dollars in business from cities and governments who didn’t want to do bond work with them. And for corporations, they didn’t trust them.
Stan Silverman: 25:08 So they took their business, us, it probably costs them 40 to $50 billion, all told. And they lost a huge amount of reputation because this occurred. Now why did it occur? Why, why did it stop? Um, there was a study done, a number of studies done, uh, led by a lot of columnists at CNN, uh, and at the wall street journal that showed that six employees that use the ethics hotline to report what they thought was unethical and illegal practices were fired. Can you imagine that it’s against federal law to fire whistle blowers. And then my question in the chapter that I wrote is why did the board allow this? And it came in on the hotline where they asleep at the switch. I’ll tell you, I would have been, if I was a board member, it would’ve never happened. And actually John Stumpf, who was the CEO who was finally forced out, forced to retire, he told the board the first year that he has a problem board said, well get it fixed.
Stan Silverman: 26:11
John. The second year he came back and said, he still has the problem. If I was the CEO of Wells Fargo, I expect to get fired that day. You never let it go that long. I as a former senior would expect to get fired. That’s the standard I hold myself to. If you don’t get it fixed, you’re out. Of course you’re out and we don’t want for five years and went on for five years and eventually stump left. Um, and they replaced them, uh, actually with the COO at the time. And I really wondered why, cause he was still with the bank. They needed somebody from outside and they finally bringing in somebody from the outside.
Jim Rembach: 26:45
Well, as you’re talking about that, I started thinking about, you know, your comments about where they sleeping at the wheel and talking about the board. And so for me, when I think about the, um, you know, a board experience that I’ve had a couple of nonprofits, couple of for-profits is that, you know, one of the things that we’re always trying to be mindful of is not to get into the daily operations of the organization itself, but when you’re starting to talk about this whole hotline thing, isn’t that kind of getting into the operations? I mean, where, where is that line and what do I have to do?
Stan Silverman: 27:13
Absolutely not. I’ve written a lot of articles about the line between governance and operations and I never crossed that line, but let me tell you when it affects the reputation of the company, which can affect, uh, how this shareholders are affected in terms of reputation and the drop in stock price. If the board is not there, they’re not doing their jobs. That’s why the hotline comes in to the audit committee, right to the audit committee and if the hotline report is about the CEO, it goes directly to the chairman of the audit committee. It doesn’t go to the CEO, it doesn’t go to the committee first. And so it’s your response. It’s the responsibility of every board member to make sure that the reputation of the company is protected because that impacts the shareholders and the shareholders value in and what they have invested in the company.
Stan Silverman: 28:04
And I go through, I’ve been through a lot of CEO and performance reviews and my fellow board members only want to talk about the numbers. They want to talk about financial performance. I said, no, no, no. We’re going to talk about tone culture. No, we don’t really have to talk about that. And I dig my heels in and I just won’t let go. I’m a Barracuda on that because I’ve seen what happens. I was not protected by my board at PQ corporation when I worked for this tyrant. My people were not protected. And so my job is to protect the people from tyrants and to protect the reputation. And I’m going to hang tough on that. Like a Barracuda.
Jim Rembach: 28:44
Well, obviously you are a man full of passion and some deep wisdom. And one of the things that we focus in on this show are quotes in order to hopefully bring those things to the present and in the forefront. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Stan Silverman: 28:58
You never know where the future will take you. You never know where the future will take you. It’s my favorite quote. Um, I’m in my fourth career when I graduated school with a degree in chemical engineering. I never thought I’d be an author of a book. I never thought I’d come up through my company to the CEO. I never thought I’d so I sit on 14 boards or I’d be a nationally syndicated communist, widely read, um, or in leadership. And so you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, that you want to take advantage of and you need to make your own opportunities. You just can’t sit around and wait until they come to you. You need to make your own opportunities. There’s another quote that I love, um, and it goes something like this, don’t me, it can’t be done.
Stan Silverman: 29:43
Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Everybody’s familiar with the movie Pearl Harbor. And if they recall the scene where, uh, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and a couple of days later, uh, we declare war on Japan and president Franklin Roosevelt is meeting with his joint chiefs of staff and he wants to bomb Tokyo and they’re telling them we can’t be done. It can’t be done for this reason and that reason. And you know, and he actually stands up and out of his chair, which just shocks everybody. And he says, with such a serious look, don’t tell me it can’t be done. A month later, a sub commander comes and visits him and says, I know how to do it. We’re going to launch bombers off the carrier and this is what we’re going to do. And that Ray was led by Colonel Doolittle. So whenever somebody tells me it can’t be done, I say, don’t tell me a Tempe done.
Stan Silverman: 30:37
Tell me how we can get 80 or 90% of the objective, which might be good enough or maybe even a hundred percent by breaking paradigms and doing things differently. And I write about that a lot in my book, but don’t tell me it can’t be done. And as your soul, as you’re an individual coming up through your organization, never tell your boss it can’t be done. Maybe it can’t be done the way you’re thinking about it, but give him alternatives when, how you might approach it or give her alternatives with how you might do something different. The boss didn’t hire you to tell him that or her that it can’t be done. They want solutions. So figure out how to do it. Even if you have to go to other people involved. It’s a strength. It’s a strength to ask other people to get involved. Even if you don’t know how to do it, bring other people together, you’ll get it done.
Stan Silverman: 31:24
You know, that’s really interesting because one of the things they talk in regards to employee engagement is that employees seek to find a autonomy. You know, they don’t want to be task and policy Laden and not mean they don’t want that, right? They want to have more autonomy. And so what that means is you have to take advantage of getting the autonomy right. You have to earn the autonomy, you have to build your way to getting the autonomy. You can’t just expect that it would be given to you and you also, on the flip side, can’t let that policy and all that stuff get in your way because maybe it is that you’re working for an organization that you shouldn’t be in. Right? Yeah. So there’s, there’s something else I’ve read about in the book. It goes something like this. Let’s assume you have all the authority in the world to make a decision, but there’s risk in the decision. You’re unsure, you just, you’re just not quite ready to make the decision. You need some advice. You can ask other people for their advice and for their input. It doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. It’s not a weakness. It’s a strength to ask for advice and opinion because that way your de-risking, your de-risking, your decision, people are somewhat risk adverse, especially in the organization that doesn’t tolerate risk, which is another thing they need to, they need to allow their people to make mistakes and risks. They don’t
Jim Rembach: 32:40
learn it, but they need to make responsible risks and they need to de-risked the decision. The best way to the risks there to see a decision is to ask other opinion, other people for their opinion. And that’s what you need to do. So, and I think you bring up the really good P key point of that is that you don’t have to necessarily accept it, but gaining the perspective has significant value. So when I start thinking about, you know, you going through this journey, um, you know, 11 progressions and responsibility up to CEO, you know, where you are now starting your fourth career. I know there’s a lot of humps that you’ve gotten over that you’ve been able to use as opportunities to learn for yourself as well as to teach others. But is there, or is there one of those opportunities that you can share with us so that we can learn more about getting over the hump?
Stan Silverman: 33:25
Yeah, well the big one was the one I just described a few moments ago that is working for my tyrant. Um, I learned so much. I learned so much working from my tyrant, uh, more so than I had I not worked for him. The other thing everybody needs to do to get over that hump is to
Jim Rembach: 33:42
get out of your comfort zone.
Stan Silverman: 33:44
And I have a great example of that. Um, I was a business manager at our company and uh, I was business manager for anhydrous, sodium metasilicate. It’s unnecessary to know what that is, but we call, let’s call it ASM. It’s used in the urgency in, in industrial cleaning. So Rhone plank, which is a French company, decided to dump their, a ASM made in France into our country below home market price in France, and they basically stole a lot of our business and so that qualified as dumping product and therefore we could take them to court and get dumping duties assigned. So to have them stop doing that. So I went to my CEO and I said, I explained the situation. He said, yeah, go ahead, go Sue him. I said, okay. I went to our GC general counsel. I said, I need an attorney for this purpose. He says, I got just the guy. He picks a guy who’s very good at, and I’ve done the cases, not a wall street or a New York guy,
Jim Rembach: 34:43
God Philadelphia, right?
Stan Silverman: 34:44[inaudible] actually, he was a pretty scrappy guy, that kind of lawyer. So my product manager and I meet with him and he says, yeah, this is a great case, but I’m not gonna run the case. You’re going to run the case.
Jim Rembach: 34:57
I said, what
Stan Silverman: 34:58
Ted, you’re going to run the case because when you go in front of the international trade commission and the five commissioners, if they see business guys presenting their case, they’re much less harsh on when breaking a protocol in the court. Then if it’s an attorney, so as an attorney, they’re going to hammer me in my, in my colleagues for even the saws mistake, we’re going to give you a little wide latitude because you’re just a bunch of business guys trying to protect your market. I will teach you what to do. And so we went, we did this and we won the case. We won the case
Jim Rembach: 35:33
Stan Silverman: 35:34
I felt like we won the Olympics. I felt like we, the goal a goal and they, they assign the highest stumping duty to that product so that they had to stop importing it. So they protected our market. And it lasted for years and years and years. And so I was so out of my comfort zone preparing the case. I’m not an attorney, I’m a business guy. I’m an engineer as a business guy, right? And we go in this huge chamber with these five commissioners. It’s like the Supreme court chamber, except as the international trade commission. I’m looking around with these high ceilings thinking, what the hell am I doing here? Well, you know what? We learned a lot about ourselves because we did something that we never did before. We were way out of our comfort zone, way out of our comfort zone, and it felt great.
Stan Silverman: 36:19
It felt great. So sometimes that’s what you have to do. Well, and it seems like you also had a good mentor in that lawyer and you were, and while you may have been placed with him, I think what we all have to do is proactively try to find those types of people. All of us, it doesn’t matter where we are in our journey. You’re absolutely right. We don’t, we don’t grow by ourselves. We grew up because people help us. And if we’re smart, we’re going to take advantage of that help and we’re going to play it forward because we’re going now help people who are coming up behind us. And that’s what I do. I help people because people future. I help future leaders and help develop them because I was developed by the people that came before me. That’s our job. That’s what we do.
Stan Silverman: 37:05
That should be our legacy for most certainly. Okay, so when I started looking at, you know, your journey, start talking about those four plus decades, we’re talking about your fourth career. I’m sure that you have still several goals that you’d like to achieve, but can you share one of those with us? Yeah. First let me, let me say that people, people are very hot on goals. You know, you graduated from school and needed a whole bunch of goals. I only had two goals in my life and they were sequential. They weren’t at the same time. When I got to school, my first goal was to rise to a position where I could run a P. and. L. I can be the general manager of a business and be responsible for PNL. I got that some years later when I was promoted to be president of our Canadian company and there was my P and L was my company.
Stan Silverman: 37:52
It was my company. As soon as I reached that point, I’m thinking I can become CEO in a company. And that was my second goal. So I only have two goals and there was no timeline, there was no time. Loomis who was, it was just too general, too big goals out in front. And I work towards those goals as quickly as the opportunities allowed me to to do. I didn’t get upset if I thought that I was and I took a couple of lateral excitements and promotions to do it. And so that’s a lesson for all of us. Let’s not focus so much on so many little goals. Let’s pick the big goal out there and shoot for the goal. And you don’t have to have more than one at a time. You can do the second goal after you did the first goal. So what is my goal now? My goal now
Jim Rembach: 38:36
is to help people be better leaders,
Stan Silverman: 38:39
help people be better. Business people, help people be better, board members, how people rise up through their careers and so that they become different than their peers. So they get the next promotion. And I teach people how to be different than your peers. What to talk about when you go into an interview, what to do when you get into your job, how to be collaborative, how to build teams, how to never throw people under the bus.
Jim Rembach: 39:06
Those people get get tossed out. Yeah.
Stan Silverman: 39:08
Real quick. And so my job is to help people be successful and that’s my legacy. And it’s my legacy too. As I wrote, uh, in my, in the forward of my book, it’s the legacy to my kids and to my grandkids.
Jim Rembach: 39:21
And the fast leader. Legion wishes you the very best. Alright, here we go. Fast leader Legion. It’s time to stop home. Calm down. Okay. Stand the hump day hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights, fast, ask you several questions, and your job is to give us robust, rapid responses or can help us with onward and upward faster. Stan Silverman, are you ready to hold down? I’ll do my best. Yes. So what’s holding you back from being an even better leader today? Nothing. What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received? The best leadership advice I’ve ever received is to lead like you would like to be led. What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success? I relate to people really well. Uh, I get to know them. What is one of your tools that helps you lead in business or life? What am I tools
Stan Silverman: 40:16
is my commitment to ethics and integrity and my disdain for anyone that’s not ethical or doesn’t have integrity.
Jim Rembach: 40:25
And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion? It could be for energy genre. Of course. We’re going to put a link to be different on your show notes page as well. Thank you. So good to great by. Jim Collins is the very best leadership book I’ve ever read
Stan Silverman: 40:39
and I, I, I read a lot of them. Uh, it is phenomenal. And one of the points in his book is you want to be a level five leader, which means that you’re humble,
Jim Rembach: 40:51
you’re not Imperial, you’re there to do your job,
Stan Silverman: 40:55
um, you think about and care about the folks around you because they are the ones that make you successful. And that’s, and he, he reached that conclusion by studying company after company after company who returns the best returns over a long period of time in a stock market. And that’s a common trait for the leaders that laid that lead those companies.
Jim Rembach: 41:16
Okay. Stan, this is my last Humpday hold on question. So imagine you had the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can only have to take one. What’s or knowledge would you take back with you and why? It’s to be humble as a, and
Stan Silverman: 41:34
understand that you get results through other people. You don’t get results yourself. Your job is to set tone at the top culture and cut people loose to do their thing.
Jim Rembach: 41:45
Stan, I had fun with you today. Can you please share what the fast leader Legion, how they can connect with you?
Stan Silverman: 41:49
Yeah, the best way to do it is through, uh, my website. Uh, look for or type in and search for Silverman leadership.com you’ll get to my website. You’ll see all the articles that I’ve written. You can buy my book, uh, by going to Barnes and noble and just typing in my name, Stan Silberman and the title will come up, be different. The key to business and career success.
Jim Rembach: 42:12
Stan Silverman, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The past leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.