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298: Dan Bruder – Unlocking Potential through Culture, Strategy, and Execution

Dan Bruder Shares Strategies and Tactics in Unlocking Your Potential

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Dan Bruder Show Notes Page

Dan Bruder was asked to start a bank during his early 20s. He didn’t have any experience yet, but he didn’t back down to the challenge either. In order to accomplish this, he needed to work harder than anybody else. He didn’t have any idea about multiplicative leadership where he could do more with others, and he only focused on how he could do things better by himself. While working on this role, Dan realized the potential of success through the help of others when he hired a second-in-command that was really talented. However, after a year, this person quit. Her reason was that the role was not challenging enough. Dan was putting on too much of the responsibility to himself making her job too easy and squashed her potential and inhibited her ability to be great. From that experience, Dan got over the hump and learned a very valuable lesson in delegating and helping others activate their own potential.

Dan Bruder grew up in a small beach town in South Florida…Lantana, FL, b00fore going to Orlando to attend UCF.

He is the youngest of four children with two older sisters and one brother. His father passed away when Dan was 7, which caused him to be a bit anxious about the future and drove him to make a difference despite not having a father in his life.

Growing up, Dan was always playing some sport and ended up sticking with football. Football was instrumental in teaching him hard work and helped him understand that people could be direct and sometimes mean and still want the best for him. They were called coaches. The essence of a team was learned when his high school football team went deep into the Florida state playoffs. The team had tremendous chemistry, and he remains connected with several of the players today – he calls this a Legacy Team.

Sports laid the foundation for his life as the desire to stay active, fit, and compete. This desire and dedication wake him up before 5:00 every day. He has been a triathlete competing in ironman events and some 24-hour endurance races as well.

Dan started his career in the banking industry after playing football and graduating from UCF with a finance degree. At the age of 26, he was asked to start a new bank and was overwhelmed by the responsibility related to being president of a bank at such a young age. After a good run in the banking industry, he transitioned into real estate and hospitality with a division of Marriott, which then led to some entrepreneurial and small business executive roles.

In 2008, Dan started a consulting practice and continues to run the practice today, helping companies implement the 300Blendification System.

Dan believes the Blendification System has the power to significantly impact the world as leaders embrace their role in developing their employees. His book, the Blendification System, is a step-by-step process for leaders to align their companies around a common cause and develop a strategic operating model that becomes the catalyst for employees to pursue their potential at work. The system is the foundation for his consulting practice as well as his teaching at CSU in the Executive MBA program and CU Boulder’s MBA program.

Dan lives in Superior, Colorado, a small town near Boulder.

He has a wife of 29 years (Denise) and two adult daughters. One daughter, Brittany, is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a civil engineer in Denver. His youngest daughter, Brooke, is a senior at the US Air Force Academy and captain of the gymnastics team.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @danbruderco get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“Your behavior as a leader has a systematic impact on far greater things than what we can see.” – Click to Tweet

“If your behaviors are not creating the outcomes you want, all you have to do is look at what you were focusing on.” – Click to Tweet

“We can’t have an organic culture and reach our potential as an organization. We have to design our culture.” – Click to Tweet

“The reason creativity is being squashed is because we have leaders that want to control creativity. They want credit for creativity.” – Click to Tweet

“Creativity happens at the grassroots level.” – Click to Tweet

“The solutions in all of our companies tend to sit within our people, and we never ask them for the answers.” – Click to Tweet

“What got you here won’t get you there.” – Click to Tweet

“If you want to grow and develop as a leader, you need to change how you’re doing things. You need to be constantly growing.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Dan Bruder was asked to start a bank during his early 20s. He didn’t have any experience yet, but he didn’t back down to the challenge either. In order to accomplish this, he needed to work harder than anybody else. He didn’t have any idea about multiplicative leadership where he could do more with others, and he only focused on how he could do things better by himself. While working on this role, Dan realized the potential of success through the help of others when he hired a second-in-command that was really talented. However, after a year, this person quit. Her reason was that the role was not challenging enough. Dan was putting on too much of the responsibility to himself making her job too easy and squashed her potential and inhibited her ability to be great. From that experience, Dan got over the hump and learned a very valuable lesson in delegating and helping others activate their own potential.

Advice for others

Earn success.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

My shadow self or that false person.

Best Leadership Advice

If we want to change our trajectory in life, we need to change our habits.

Secret to Success

Hard work.

Best tools in business or life

The Focus Spectrum

Recommended Reading

The Blendification System: Activating Potential by Connecting Culture, Strategy, and Execution

Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

Links and Resources

Dan’s website: https://blendificationsystem.com/

Dan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/danbruderco

Dan’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danbruder88/

Show Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because we’re going to get into a great day

Jim Rembach (00:03):

Discussion about something that a lot of people perceive

Jim Rembach (00:07):

Be in direct conflict with one another. And we’re going to have that discussion with Dan Bruder. Dan grew up in a small beach town in South Florida, Lantana, Florida. He is the youngest of four children with two older sisters and one brother. His father passed away when Dan was seven and which caused him to be a bit anxious about the future and drove him to make a difference. Despite not having a father in his life. Growing up, Dan was always playing some sport and ended up sticking with football. Football was instrumental in teaching him hard work and helped him understand that people could be direct and sometimes mean, and still want the best for them. They were called coaches. The essence of a team was learned when he has high school football team. When deep into the Florida state playoffs, the team had tremendous chemistry and he remains connected with several of the players today.

Jim Rembach (00:59):

He calls this a legacy team sports laid his foundation for life and the desire to stay active, fit competitive. This desire, dedication wakes him up before 5:00 AM every day. And he’s been a triathlete competing in Ironman events and some 24 hour endurance races as well. Dan started his career in the banking industry after playing football and graduating from the university of central Florida with a finance degree at the age of 26, he was asked to start a new bank and was overwhelmed by the responsibility related to being president of a bank at such a young age, after a good run in the banking industry. He transitioned into real estate and hospitality with a division of Marriott, which then led to some entrepreneurial and small business executive roles. In 2008, Dan started a consulting practice and continues to run the practice today. Helping companies implement the blend application system.

Jim Rembach (01:49):

Dan believes the blend vacation system has the power to significantly impact the world. As leaders embrace their role in developing their employees. His book, the blended education system is a step by step process for leaders to align their companies around a common cause and develop a strategic operating model that becomes the catalyst for employees to pursue their potential at work. The system is the foundation for his consulting practice, as well as his teaching at CSU in the executive education program, the MBA program and the CU Boulder’s MBA program. Dan lives in superior, Colorado, a small town near Boulder, he and his wife of 29 years, Denise and two adult daughters. One daughter, Brittany is a graduate of the university of Colorado Boulder, and as a civil engineer in Denver and his youngest daughter, Brooke is a senior at the U S air force Academy, and captain of the gymnastics team, Dan brooder, are you ready to help us get over the hump? I am. Thanks Jim. Looking forward to it. I’m glad you’re here. And I’m looking forward to our discussion and I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share with us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better? Yeah, I guess my true passion has kind of evolved all that

Dan Bruder (03:00):

Time. As you, as you were going through that, I was thinking, gosh, there’s, there’s been a lot of years underneath those experiences, so glad to be here today. But I think my passion today is around the power of leadership. That’s kind of like a, their leadership is multiplicative, so to speak what happens in the workplace actually happens at home. So there’s a multiplier effect. And, um, what I find is that when leaders inspire challenge and direct others, they tend to not only enhance the lives of those people that they’re talking to. They tend to motivate them to be better community members, to be better spouses, to be better parents, um, to be better friends. And, uh, so really what happens at work kind of happens at home to take that whole, uh, you know, the Vegas thing, right. A little bit different take on it, but I find that there’s, um, there’s a real strong need for leadership right now.

Dan Bruder (03:53):

Um, particularly what’s going on in our country. And, uh, you know, if we’d look at it, I think the answer to all of this really lies right in front of us. And the answer is what we do at work. You know, Jim, if you think about it, um, there’s roughly 70% of the population that has a works for a for profit company. It doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be leadership in nonprofits and government, governmental agencies, but the truth is, is that for profit companies, not only drive our economy, they drive our experience, they drive our learning, they drive our growth. So if we’re going to make a significant impact on this world, we probably should start with what we do at work. So I’m passionate about making and helping leaders understand that they have a system impact with their companies, with their employees, with their customers that really boil over into their communities. And, um, so if I’m really looking at where we are today, I think the solution is making our, or helping our leaders get better at what they do and that’s lead human beings. And by doing that, they’ll create a better company. They’ll create better friendships, they’ll create better relationships and they’ll create better communities. And that’s really what I’m trying to get everybody across. And that’s essentially what our country was founded on using business as the tool to create a better society. I think we need to go back to that.

Jim Rembach (05:14):

Well, and as you’re talking and, you know, after reviewing the book and starting to put all these things together in regards to, you know, what you just conveyed and, and being able to create it and apply it, you know, you talk about leaders of today needing, you know, different types of intelligence. And so you talk about a leadership intelligence pyramid, what’s the pyramid.

Dan Bruder (05:37):

Yeah. The pyramid is, um, it goes back to this idea that we really need to look at leadership as a combination of several things. And, uh, Jim, I noticed you’re, you’re a certified emotional intelligence coach, is that correct? That’s correct. And of course, emotional intelligence, um, is really was popularized in the nineties. Um, and Daniel, Goldman came out of book and everyone said, gosh, this is, this is it. You know, if we can be more emotionally intelligent, we can better connect with our people. We can provide empathy, we can learn and develop our people better. We don’t necessarily have to rely on just, um, cognitive intelligence. You know, when I was thinking about that and for the longest time, I thought, well, gosh, it really means what I really believe is that we need both cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence. So if I was going to build, you know, the Superman or superwoman of leadership, they would have a high level of cognitive intelligence that the lowest that, you know, the base level, then they would layer on some emotional intelligence, the ability to relate to people when they’re talking to.

Dan Bruder (06:38):

But then I layer on this third part that is really the top of the leadership pyramid. And that is, that is system intelligence. Because again, what we were talking about a minute ago too, is what, what happens, what I do, doesn’t only impact me in you. It impacts how you show up with the other people in your department. It impacts how you show up in front of customers. It impacts how you show up at home. So now what we start seeing is my behavior as a leader has a systematic impact on far greater things than what we can see. So a leadership intelligence pyramid says we need to really blend all three of these layers together in order to reach our true potential as a leader. And at the top of this pyramid is system intelligence because as we graduate from cognitive intelligence to emotional intelligence, and then we get into this looking at and saying, Hey, what happens?

Dan Bruder (07:32):

That ripple effect of my actions? What happens down the road? How am I impacting this person’s psyche? You know, when they, when they get up in the morning and they come to work, how are they showing up in meetings? That’s the system intelligence. So to me, it’s the whole package. And it really goes back to that foundational element of when to vacation or, or blending these things together. So many times today, we want to just say, choose one. And the choice, the choice of choosing one is not valid. It’s how do we choose all? And I think we sell ourselves short. When we say, we just want to focus on one thing, what we’re human beings, we’re the smartest things that ever walked the planet. You know, we can do much more than what we’re currently doing. So let’s challenge ourselves to put all this together. And that’s the leadership pyramid or the leadership intelligence pyramid.

Jim Rembach (08:12):

Well, even when you started talking about the whole system intelligence component, I mean, it goes back into the whole book. I mean, it’s understanding not, not just, you know, what you were referring to in regards to my interactions with one another, but it’s how all of these different systems within an organization have to fit together along with the people. And then you execute. And to me, that’s what I really liked about the progression level of going through the front of the book to end the book and in the system taking me all the way through, because you talk about, you know, the difference between for example, you know, mission and intent, you know, so tell us a little bit about the difference of those two.

Dan Bruder (08:50):

Well, we, we know that vision and missions, um, they became popular back in the nineties. I think it started out, you know, the late eighties with Sony that came out with a vision statement. And I actually don’t even know what the difference between a vision and mission is. And I think everybody uses an interchangeably. Um, the way I look at this though, is that the vision or mission statement, if I say that and I teach it to universities, as you mentioned, if I send that to my 25 year old MBA students, they would almost laugh at me. And here we go, another, some corporate jargon, right? And what I really look at is what motivates people. And what we found over the years is people have created a vision or a mission statement, and they put it on a wall and most people in the company don’t even see it or understand it.

Dan Bruder (09:33):

And there’s no real action behind it. There’s no accountability to it. So when I started saying, I need to really develop a way to create a culture that can drive a company to higher levels. What are the key factors? What are the things that I want? So I came up with intention as opposed to mission. And to me, an intention has some level of accountability. So if I tell you my intention for you, Jim is to do X, Y, and Z. Now you can actually hold me accountable to this, a mission or a mission or a vision is kind of a dream. Um, and, and this, this generation, the millennials, they don’t really, they don’t really resonate with that language. But when you say my intention for you is this. Now they wake up, their ears perk up and they say, okay, this is what, this is what this person’s going to do with me.

Dan Bruder (10:21):

So when I talk about intention, I create an, a statement of intention in the book. And what that is is really what is my intention for my customers, my employees in my community. So if I look at those three, you know, we can call those stakeholders. But to me, those are three major components or major areas that we impact as an organization. So why don’t we be real at why don’t we become real outward and identify what our intention is for our employees, customers, and community, and actually put a statement out there. That’s something we post on the wall. That’s something I can be held accountable to. You can actually say, you’re not living through with your intention for either your employees, customers, and community. And then we can drive our company. We can build our strategy and we can also build a culture around that. That’s really what I’m talking about with an intention.

Jim Rembach (11:12):

Well, and even when you start talking about intention for me, I want to start moving into expectation setting as well. Right? So it’s like, okay, this is the intent. This is what I expect. And then part of that is you talk about focus, right? Because focus on a lot of different things. And because we’re talking about, you know, fantastic creatures, we’re also very fear motivated. And if we’re not careful, you know, our focus on fear, you know, can cause us to go in a direction that we don’t want to go, especially now. Right. So you talk about the focus spectrum in the book. Give us a little bit of insight into that.

Dan Bruder (11:45):

Yeah, I think, well, when we look at focus, um, for me, what I’ve found is that, um, whenever I look at my behaviors or my actions, it tends to be preceded by what I was thinking or my focus. So if my behaviors, my actions, and then later on my habits, if they’re not creating the outcomes that I want, I, all I have to do is go look at what I was focusing on. So if I’m in a bad mood that day, maybe the stock market fell yesterday, or one of my stocks dropped and then I come home and I start, you know, maybe acting a little bit grumpy. It’s probably because I was focusing on something that wasn’t positive and it wasn’t consistent with, um, with what I really want to do as a human being and as a leader. So the focus spectrum is a tool that I created that assumes that, um, everything we do or our focus is always somewhere on this focus spectrum, um, and think of a focus spectrum, like a color spectrum, right?

Dan Bruder (12:44):

That there’s, you know, on a color spectrum, every single color is represented somehow along the way. And I believe our focus is always somewhere on the focus spectrum from an extreme perspective, it’s all the way on the red side, where our focus is actually holding me back, as well as holding others back as a leader. And that’s where we focus on obstacles. We start blaming others for the current things that are going on. Um, you know, we that’s going on right now, right. Um, we’re always blaming somebody and we focus on things like why it won’t work. We dig in, we become experts. Have you ever been in a company that was the best? You know, we, our core competency was figuring out what won’t work. Um, you know, and that’s, that’s red sighted thinking. And, uh, so this, this red side focus tends to keep us from growing as human beings.

Dan Bruder (13:32):

It also gravitates and influences others and keeps them from growing and reaching their potential. And then if we do this within a company for always focused on our obstacles, always focused on blame, always focused on what won’t work or self centered. If we’re always focused on those things, we have a company that becomes stagnant and quite frankly, the culture becomes terrible. And it’s really based on where we focus. Then we would go over to the other extreme and saying, how do we actually change that? How can I be aware of my focus? Kind of like emotional intelligence? How are we aware of what our focus is at any given time? Where is it on the spectrum? Is it on the red side? Am I blaming others for the current situation? Or am I looking at what are the outcomes? If we go to outcomes and say, what do we really want to create?

Dan Bruder (14:17):

You know, and we were talking earlier, Jim, about goals, you know, having goals. And, you know, if we can get ourselves focused on goals and positive outcomes, now our focus takes us to a place that then drives motivation. It drives inspiration. If we stay focused on where, what we want to accomplish, that’s the green side of the spectrum. And then we start talking about now what won’t work. We start talking about what will work. We look for solutions, it’s solution based thinking outcome based thinking and all of these, um, all of these things really create a way that we can build a better self and a better leader when we’re talking about where we’re focusing. And I, it really comes back for me. And I created this focus spectrum because quite frankly, I found myself on this red side and couldn’t figure out why I create these leadership tools.

Dan Bruder (15:07):

And I, I do them to fix me because I’m, I’m, I’m broken. And I’m. So now whenever I find that I’m blaming somebody or I’m reading an article and I’d shake my head and I go, Oh, I can’t believe they did that. Or somebody at work is doing something. I start going across, I’m camping out on the red side. I need to move my focus to the green side and get myself focused on how we can make things work, where we’re going as an organization where I’m going as a human being, staying focused on those big rocks, so to speak.

Jim Rembach (15:37):

I think that’s why you’re, you know, um, you know, the blend of vacation systems so important. Like for example, even when you’re talking about that and focusing on red, that’s one of the reasons why, if you look at some of our traditional models, I can’t stand the whole SWOT model. I mean, it’s weaknesses and threats that are sitting there and just really undermining a lot of the things that are possible strengths and, and, you know, opportunities. I prefer to use the, the strategic model based in positive psychology called soar, which is strengths, opportunity, aspirations, and results. That’s no negative things in there, right? I I’m going to stay in the green because I need that.

Dan Bruder (16:14):

Yeah. I actually, I’ve done quite a bit of work on, then I incorporated it into the strategy whiteboard. Now the SWAT to me is a fabulous tool if done correctly. Um, but you’re right. When I would, when I used to use the SWOT, I would spend most of my time talking about opportunities and threats and debating if one was an opportunity or threat, and we would spend hours talking about that. And the truth is it doesn’t matter to me when I used to, I just call an external impact. So if you were to look through the book, you would see this thing called a strategy whiteboard. And within that, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to what I call external impacts. They’re going to happen. We can’t control them. The question is what are we going to do about them? So I just call them something simple.

Dan Bruder (16:53):

Their external impacts COVID is an external impact. Now, what are we going to do about it? Right. Um, the great recession is an external impact, the move towards more technologies and external impact. So the whole SWAT model is a really good foundation, but I don’t think it’s really being used for its true capabilities. There’s some other conversation about how do we actually take those external impacts and then build an organization around it. And you were talking about the store model. There’s a lot of different models out there. I choose to use something that I call external impacts and then go into internal evaluation. So then we evaluate our internal environment based on what the future is, not based on where we are today.

Jim Rembach (17:30):

Oh, definitely. I mean, that gets right to the whole action based element execution element, which is critically important. And one of the founding governances, you also talk about is having a statement of intention. Tell us.

Dan Bruder (17:43):

Yeah. And we were talking about that a little bit ago and it starts out with first having a statement of cause. And, uh, you know, I threw away the whole vision and mission and values things. Um, it just didn’t really resonate with people anymore. It really wasn’t being used to drive focus. So, so I created a more of a hierarchy or process that starts out and talks about, um, you know, first a statement of, cause, you know, what are we really doing? What, what is going to be different in the world? Because our con B, because our company exists, what is our company going to do in order to impact the world? And that’s some, that’s our statement of, cause that’s not a goal by the way, that’s something that lasts forever. That’s what our cause is. That’s why we get up in the morning.

Dan Bruder (18:22):

That’s why we go to work. That’s why we work with people. We sometimes don’t always like, right? Um, it’s because we have this cause that we’re going after. And then underneath that, it’s where we create this statement of intention. And that’s where we create a statement that we’re held accountable to, to our employees, customers in community. But then even below that, those are just statements. We need a little bit more meat than I go through and say, what is culture, if we’re really going to look at culture because you know, Jim, if you were to ask virtually any CEO or any senior leader in a company today, they’re going to tell you the most important thing is culture, right? Um, and then they’re going to spend all their time in sales meetings. And I say, well, how much time do you spend in culture meetings?

Dan Bruder (19:00):

Where, what, what’s a culture meeting? What do I say? How do you evaluate your culture? How do you know your culture strong? What did you do to design your culture? Right? Um, Oh, I haven’t done any of that stuff. It’s organic. Right? Um, it’s just been organic. Uh, the truth is, is that we can have an organic culture and reach our potential as an organization. We have to design our culture in a way. And we do that by developing our statement of cause statement of intention. But even more importantly, we have to identify the behaviors. So below that statement of intention is the behaviors because we want, actually, I want to call them core values. I want to say, what behaviors do I want to see too? I want to evaluate, do I want to see within the company, how we’re treating our employees, how are treating our customers? So those behaviors, we actually build those out and they feed up to the statement of intention, by the way, even at the lowest level, um, we go down and actually highlight, um, habits because, you know, habits can be very, very good or they can be very, very disruptive. Um, so if I look at that, the statement of intention really drives some accountability with our behaviors and habits too.

Jim Rembach (20:05):

Yeah. And in the end you give examples of this in the book. So like for, for the culture piece, you would talk about a, you know, a hotel and hospitality organization and you refer to the cause being to enrich family, friends, and professional connections with life enhancing memorable experiences. And then you have the intention about employees and how they’re developed. And they’re nurtured to embrace responsibility, to be able to serve those guests, to make that impact in the specific behaviors you’re saying are, you know, like have con uh, converge focus on meaningful and motivating outcomes, uh, committed to maximizing personal interactions to activate potential. I mean, those things are, can be more measurable. So you don’t have the, that says, well,

Dan Bruder (20:48):

The culture, well, you just know because you feel it, you know, I’m from Colorado and specifically Boulder, there’s a lot of organic thinking out here, right. Um, but we can’t, we can’t live, we can’t reach our potential and live our lives and grow a company by just being organic with everything and culture. If it’s important, we’re going to design it. We’re going to write it. We’re going to evaluate it. We’re going to hold people accountable to it. We’re going to drive it. It’s going to attract people. It’s going to repel people. It’s going to attract customers. It’s going to repel customers. Culture is everything. And that statement of intention, that statement of cause identifying behaviors and habits are the key component of building a culture. Once we have that kind of identified, now we can actually build a plan and that’s our strategy side, right. Not before that. Right. Why would we ever build a plan if we don’t know where, what we’re really trying to accomplish or what our causes,

Speaker 4 (21:38):

And then another one of the tools that you have is the steep model. Tell us what that is.

Dan Bruder (21:43):

Yeah. The steep model actually flows underneath the external impact. So, um, you know, if we were to go back to that SWAT conversation in the opportunities and threats, those are basically looking at what’s going on outside the company. That’s out of our control. And so many times when we either go into companies and we talk about, um, developing strategies based on the SWOT analysis or whatever model you use, we tend to just start talking. Um, but we don’t really have a model for that. And we tend to forget things, um, believe it or not, you put 15 people in a room. We start forgetting things. We don’t realize one person says something and then somebody else follows that path. And then we missed a big, big, um, a big component of what’s going on. So underneath the external impacts, I created this thing, I call the steep model.

Dan Bruder (22:30):

And that’s basically just a reminder that we need to look at these five components of the external environment so that we can evaluate in the future, how they’re going to impact our organization and our industry. The steep is an acronym for social, technological, environmental, economic, and political. I always put political at the end because it’s, it’s really challenging to talk about it upfront. Um, so, but we use that as a process that it’s just a step by step process and we have worksheets. You probably saw it in the book. We have worksheets that go through that so that we don’t forget all these different things that can impact our company. You know, there’s a social impacts. We know that social impacts are really dramatically impacting how we sell our product, um, who we sell our product to. But even more importantly, it actually impacts how we lead our organization socially.

Dan Bruder (23:21):

What are we talking about? What’s our HR department, what type of training are we doing? So we want to look at all those things when we’re going through and evaluating what’s going on. We want to look at technology, how is technology impacting us? You know, this particularly for the education industry, you know, all these things that are going on right now are really just picking up and accelerating what was already happening. Well, online education that didn’t just appear on March 15th. You know, I’m working from home, these things didn’t, this has been going on for the last several years. It’s just accelerated. So how has technology and how will technology impact our company externally in the future? How will it impact how we engage with our customers? How will they buy from us technologically? How will we lead and develop our people? How will we communicate with our people inside environmental?

Dan Bruder (24:09):

That’s a big component of what’s going on. Are we doing the right things environmentally? And we think that’s good for the environment. Yes, it is. But it also impacts our ability to recruit and retain our people. We don’t, we can’t say we’re going to be environmental stewards of this earth and then do nothing about it. Because when we hire people, they’re going to realize that no, this isn’t the case. So all of these things, social technological impacts environmental impacts, obviously economic impacts with 10.2% unemployment. Right now there’s an economic impact of that. We need to be forecasting. What’s that going to look like over the next six months, the next year, the next two years, and how is it going to impact my organization? And I won’t even get into political. I’ll leave that to somebody else to talk about. So that’s always a tough one, but the key point here is that we need a model in order to make sure that we capture everything that could potentially impact our company so that we can build a strategic platform that we can use that will enable us to pursue and pursue our cause.

Jim Rembach (25:07):

Well, and, and it goes back to the whole systematic thinking and intelligence and being able to have more visibility into all of those different components and elements that oftentimes, like you said, we forget now, but really when you start looking at where organizations have had the most struggle, it comes in two ways. But the first one I want to address is all about getting things done, executing, taking action. And you recommend something that I haven’t heard from a foreign, you call it a roots group. What is the root group?

Dan Bruder (25:38):

Well, read scripts for me is, as we’ve gone through this, we’ve talked a little bit about culture. Jim, we’ve talked a little bit about strategy and you know, the external SWAT and things like that. And ultimately we build a plan, you know, a strategic platform. And then we have this thing on paper, we call it a plan. We call it a strategy. And typically companies go away every one or two years and they develop this strategy and it comes back and it kind of goes on the bookshelf and we know what happens to strategies. Most of them fail. Um, and, uh, it’s not that the strategies fail. It’s the execution that fails and underneath execution. There’s a lot of things that go on. But what I wanted to do is take the execution responsibility out of the hands of the executive team in a company.

Dan Bruder (26:21):

The truth is, is that the executives aren’t going to do the work. They were never designed to do the work. Um, and so why don’t we create a model that creates change in the company at the grassroots level. And that’s what I was looking for. And that’s really where the name roots groups come from. So when we leave a leadership or a strategy retreat using our strategy whiteboard, the last we do is we identify for roots groups, a roots group that focuses on the customer and market, a roots group that focuses on the product or roots group that focuses on the operations and a roots group that focuses on the people. So all four of those are what I call strategic focus areas. We create specific roots groups that are now tasked with owning the execution of the strategic outcomes, execution of the plan, what we’ve done here.

Dan Bruder (27:10):

Um, and there’s some psychology to this too, because we know that there’s cliques that exist in organizations, right? So my thought is, why don’t we use that to our advantage? Why don’t we create manufacturer cliques or roots groups in the company? And we give them the tools to succeed. We give them everything they need from an executive support platform to help them succeed within and within the organization. So that customer and market roots group now owns the implementation of the strategy or the implementation of the outcomes. They own the strategic actions. That means that they have the ability to change on a dime. What they’re doing for in practice, how this works is a specific example of a company COVID happened. And it was the end of March, and we didn’t know where this thing was going. So, um, if you went into the book, you’d see there’s a series of structured meetings that are driven by the roots groups.

Dan Bruder (28:05):

Um, what they did is they called an emergency connection meeting. And the connection meeting is where the roots groups connect back to the executive leadership team. So, um, they’re already doing these meetings on a tempo basis, what they did when this COVID came, as they did an emergency one, and the roots groups then said, Hey, something’s going on outside the company called this Corona virus? Um, I don’t even know if it’s called COVID-19 at that point. Right? Um, so they, and they said, here’s what we recommend doing. Now, the executive leadership team just started thinking about this, but the roots groups were way ahead of them because they were tasked with the agile execution of the strategic outcomes. And so what I believe is that if we can create internal peer accountability groups, no hierarchy, these are internal groups that hold each other accountable, completely accountable.

Dan Bruder (28:59):

They work with each other they’re cross-functional. So it’s not one department, it’s not a committee. They’re cross-functional, they have the ownership of all these outcomes. Now we actually start taking strategy and we’re embedding it into the core of our company. And that strategy becomes part of our culture through our execution. I don’t know if that makes sense. If you follow that connection, the strategy is through the roots groups really becomes part of our culture. And they’re actually executing on this. That’s a key component of this because, you know, like I said, these roots groups or these peer groups already exist. Why don’t we make them do something special for the company? They’ll be more fulfilled through their careers at the same time. So that kind of summarizes the roots group concept it’s creating and implementing rapid agile change at the grassroots level. And it’s all structured

Jim Rembach (29:47):

That even addresses one of the issues. I think it was back in like 1980s, there was an article in Harvard business review that looked at change initiatives and why they failed to such a high degree. And it comes down to what you were essentially saying, it’s the direction. And all of that came from up above, and you didn’t have any frontline ownership and action. And therefore, you know, nobody bought into it. I mean, it didn’t become part of the culture. It became part of that thing that gets put on the shelf, right? So the intention and the support comes from up top and the action comes from the frontline, comes from the people who are actually can respond to things and understand what needs to happen first before those people who are at that higher level. Now, because of this, this is important because here’s one of the fears that we have.

Jim Rembach (30:34):

And we know as a major issue is that the rate of creative thinking, talking about longitudinal studies is going down, innovation is going down. Yes, we’ve had some forced innovation right now. Um, however, if you look at overall without this blip, you know, the, you know, the innovation and creativity has been in a quite steep decline. So one of the worries is I, if I make things too systematic, too structured, therefore that creative thinking element kind of gets squashed and we miss that opportunity. And so therefore we just end up being in a system that is not allowing us to thrive.

Dan Bruder (31:11):

Yeah. And that’s the exact reason why I created roots groups, because the reason why I believe that creativity is being squashed is because we have leaders that want to control creativity. They want creative credit for creativity, and they’re not doing their job as leader and that’s empowering others. So what I’ve seen in organizations that have implemented the blended vacation system is they see a full engagement of the organization around creativity and solution based thinking. So to go back to that focus spectrum, this, this roots fruit is really creating a process. And the roots groups meetings are structured in a way that the roots groups are tasked with outcome based solution focused. So for solution focused, we have to be creative in the way we identify those solutions. We, and these organizations, we don’t rely on the executive team to come up with solutions to major things within the company.

Dan Bruder (32:07):

It really flips an organization upside down to some extent, not completely because the leadership team is always there as a guidance committee, so to speak. But the truth is, is the creativity happens at the grassroots level. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to engage. We want to get the overall direction of the company out there from a strategic side or a leadership side, but we want to make sure that the people in the company are actually creating the solutions and the creativity. It’s amazing. When you go to a roots group meeting, how unbelievable they are when they start coming up with solutions, there was one company. We went through this, they were, um, they were on the product team and they manufactured. They were large scale manufacturer of cabinets and kitchens for, um, commercial kitchens, large commercial kitchens for universities and things. And they went in and they put the roots strip together.

Dan Bruder (33:02):

And the roots roots met for about four times. And no one ever asked them for their, their ideas after about four times. And that’s over the course of two months, they came up with a new design for hinge on a cabinet that took about one and a half percent out of their cost of sales. And I went into their meeting and I was sitting talking to them. They said, well, nobody ever asked us to do this. And now they, and the senior leadership now one and a half percent on multimillion dollars of costs is a pretty significant number. And it’s just because all we did was ask them to use the brains and the solutions, the solutions in all of our companies tend to sit within our people and we never asked them for the answers. And that’s what the roots groups do.

Jim Rembach (33:43):

So I mean, to me, when I start thinking about the whole customer centricity and, and the importance of the customer from a product development perspective, from a service perspective, from a retention perspective, and we’ve always said that it resides in the front line and this enables it

Dan Bruder (33:58):

That’s exactly. And that’s by design. So we talk about structure. Yeah, there’s a lot of structure in the structure is to create quick and fast solutions and empower our people to do it. That’s our structure. We have a meeting and a communication structure that encourages creativity that aligns, and that creativity has to line aligned back to our strategy, which then connects to our culture and our cause.

Jim Rembach (34:20):

Well, and a lot of this can be very inspiring. And going back to what we had originally talked about at the beginning of her discussion is focused, becomes so darn important. And one of the things that we use on the show to help us focus our quotes are kind of in that one of those mental reminders that gives us a guiding point. Is there a quote or two that you like?

Dan Bruder (34:40):

Yeah, I think, um, the quote that always comes to mind for me is it’s really not even a quote. It’s the name of a book and it’s Marshall Goldsmith’s book. What got you here? Won’t get you there. Um, it’s just so basic to me, but it’s just a constant reminder that if I want to grow and develop as a leader, as a human being, as a parent, um, that I need to change the way I’m doing things I need to constantly be growing. Um, I’ve applied this in my life because you know, there, there was a point in my career where I hit some stumbles and I was wondering what was going on. And I was just doing things the way I used to do things, the way that I learned as a kid to do things, the things that I, the things that I succeeded at as a kid, that same mentality and the truth was is that if I wanted to keep growing as a human being and pursue my individual potential potential, I needed to do something different. So that book or that quote, what got you here, won’t get you there. And I’ve read the book a long time ago. And the main thing that stuck with me as the title of the book. So it’s not like the book itself, really me, any tools, but that quote alone has driven me to make sure that I stay on top of things. And I’m always looking to grow and learn, because if we’re not doing that, we’re just going to fall back and we won’t live a fulfilled life if we stop growing

Jim Rembach (35:49):

Is a very good point. And know, I think you started going down the path of telling us a time when you’ve gotten over the hump. So if you could elaborate on that a little bit more for us

Dan Bruder (35:57):

Hump. Um, well, yeah, what I was referring to back there is, gosh, this goes back in my early career. So I, I was, um, I was asked to start a bank in my, in my twenties, my late twenties. I was in the banking industry after college, I was asked to start a bank and I was, I was like, I don’t think I have the experience to do this. And I didn’t have the experience to do this. It was, it was a real challenge, but I wasn’t going to say no, I’m not going to back down from a challenge. Right. Um, the truth was is that when, uh, when I started doing this, I had to, um, acquire a bank acquire location, which we did had to furnish. It had to, um, raise money, get board of directors, um, had to hire a staff, train, a staff development staff and find customers, all these things.

Dan Bruder (36:38):

I was 26, 27 years old at the time. And, um, I wasn’t going to back down, but the way that I was going to be successful was I was going to do it the way I always did it. And that was to put my head down and work harder than anybody else in the room. I wasn’t even thinking that I needed people to help me. I didn’t see this idea of, you know, multiplicative leadership where I can do more through others. It was all about how can I do more? How can I do this? How can I do that? And, and, and that’s how it was brought up. And that’s how I learned. And that’s how I achieved success early on in my life. And I hung onto that. And, um, when I got to this role, I hired them, somebody that was really, really talented, kind of second in command.

Dan Bruder (37:21):

And, um, she was with me for about a year and she quit. And, um, and I, and I was asking her, why did you quit? And she went on to tell me that, you know, it just wasn’t challenging enough. Um, I wasn’t, she was, she wasn’t really being challenged. She kind of knew what to do. She was very, very capable, but the truth was is that by me doing and me putting the responsibility on myself, I actually squashed her potential. I squashed her motivation. I inhibited her ability to be great. And I stood in her way, thinking that was the right thing to do because at the time, if I can do more than they’ll like me more, they’ll want to stay here. I’ll create loyalty by making it easy for them. And by making it easier for her, all I did was run her out of the business so she could find another challenge somewhere else.

Dan Bruder (38:09):

So for me, that was a bit of an eye opening just with her, but it was kind of the big picture. I was, I was a bit of a train wreck, just doing everything, working like crazy, but it was all about me working. Um, and as it went on and he talked about a hump, I mean, I ended up leaving the company. I had a, I had a nice title at a very, very young age and great responsibility, but I was overwhelmed. And I didn’t know where to turn. My only way was to leave the company and kind of reshuffle deck. So I went on left that bank and went to a different bank and said, give me a new start. I was overwhelmed. Um, I guess, um, it was a way of quitting. I essentially quit by going to a new bank because I was overwhelmed and I figured I could just start fresh and maybe even hide out and learn a little bit more.

Dan Bruder (38:52):

Um, and I’m not going to blame it on my lack of experience. It had nothing to do with that experience. I can gain, I can learn that it was a lack of my leadership and that’s what really caused my problem and caused me to change, not necessarily careers at that time, but change and go to another bank. I’ve always looked back on that and said, you know, that the spark of that was really, it was really her leaving and me kind of going, Hey, I’m not doing a very good job. I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I need to go do something else. And, um, you know, that was several years ago, but I still think about that experience quite a bit. Cause I failed. I just flat out failed. And then I ran for my failure,

Jim Rembach (39:25):

Hawaii. However, you turn those into some really good learning opportunities. And now you’re coming back and teaching others and the fast leader, Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor. And even better place to work is an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic and employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers to learn more about an even better place to work visit [inaudible] dot com forward slash better. Alright, here we go. Fast leader Legion. It’s time for the home. Oh, now, okay. Dan, the hump day hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights back. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give robust yet rapid responses are going, gonna help us move onward and upward faster. Dan brooder. Are you ready to go down? I am. All right. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Dan Bruder (40:24):

I would say in what’s holding me back and thinking about this a lot is my shadow self. And that is the things that I use when I was younger. That ma gave me success. And, um, you know, that shadow self or that false person is holding me back. This, this description of a person that has to work hard no matter what, and really do everything for everybody else is holding me back. So once I identify that that’s my shadow self. I don’t need it anymore. Go away. Thank you for getting to where I am. I don’t need you anymore. So that’s real. That’s what really holds me back.

Jim Rembach (40:55):

And what is the best leadership advice you ever received?

Dan Bruder (40:59):

Well, I think it comes from the book, the power of habit and a, that 40% of what we do every day is a habit. So if we want to change our trajectory in life or change our trajectory and of our companies, we need to change our habits.

Jim Rembach (41:14):

And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Dan Bruder (41:19):

Um, one of the things that I talk about hard work as being a curse, it’s also a blessing too at the same time. So I, I do fall back on hard work. I will work really, really hard. And I, I do, I do tell people that hard work is a good way to do things. In fact, my daughter who’s at the air force Academy told me the other day, she said, she said, dad, you always told me that you relied more on hard work than intelligence. So I thought that might’ve been a comp when I think there’s a compliment somewhere in there. Right?

Jim Rembach (41:48):

Yeah, definitely. And what is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Dan Bruder (41:53):

Well, we actually talked about it. Um, the focus spectrum, um, to me, that’s changed my life. I created that, um, selfishly for myself, because I didn’t want to get stuck thinking about things that would hold me back then. That’s the focus spectrum and the ability to switch my focus at any given time to positive, fulfilling and sustaining outcomes.

Jim Rembach (42:12):

And what would be one book you recommend to our Legion? And it could be from any genre, of course, we’re going to put a link to the blend of education system on your show notes page as well.

Dan Bruder (42:20):

Sure, sure. Um, I would say conscious capitalism by John, John Mackey, the co CEO and former Kosta. You, I don’t know if he’s still the co CEO of whole foods. Um, but, uh, you know, just looking at how capitalism in companies can really make a difference in society. To me, that really resonates again, going back to what we said, the solution to where we are today and all the problems we have in society are really what we’re doing. Your work

Jim Rembach (42:43):

Okay. Fast leader Legion. You can find links to that. And other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/dan brooder. Okay. Dan, this is my last Humpday. Hold on question. Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t pick it all. You can only choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Dan Bruder (43:06):

Well, Jim, I think I would go right back to that situation. I described earlier and say, what, what, what skill would I apply to that? And that, and, you know, specifically with the person that worked for me that left and what I would apply as a skill, um, or a tool that I call earned success. I didn’t make that up. It came from Colonel Gary Peyton from the U S air force Academy was talking to a bunch of cadets that just accomplished something called basic training. That was really hard. And he was telling them that you’ve accomplished something really, really challenging that you probably didn’t think you could do before you started, but you’ve done it. And he went on to say that if we look at the lives of people and we find people that have experienced true joy in their life, true fulfillment, and they, what they talk about is earned success, earned the earn component of success is that it wasn’t given to me.

Dan Bruder (43:51):

I worked hard. I figured out I overcame the obstacles and that’s where we look back on life. And I would apply that to that situation and apply that to virtually every situation as I lead people that I’m going to challenge people, I’m going to grow people because they’re smarter than I am. They’re smarter than I think they are. They can do quite well. If we just give them the challenge, they’ll figure out the answers and that kind of holds true with the whole roots group thing too, is that the answers are right in front of us. They’re just not on off the tip of my tongue. They’re on the tip of everyone. Else’s tongues as a leader, we need to bring that out. And that’s this thing called earn success, create challenge. And so people can succeed in life.

Jim Rembach (44:25):

Dan, I had fun with you today. How can the fast leader Legion connect with you?

Dan Bruder (44:29):

Well, probably the best way is just check out my website. That’s a www.blendededucationsystem.com. Um, from there you can, uh, link to Amazon and get a copy of my book, which goes through this whole system, this whole process. Um, you can also watch my Ted talk on blended education. If you’re curious about this concept of blended vacation, I did that Ted talk a few years ago, then wrote a book that really systematizes it. Um, and always give me an email@dandotbrooderatfusiondynamics.net. So I’m always happy to chat with people. You can also connect with me on the contact page from my website as well

Jim Rembach (45:06):

Dan Bruder, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The fast leader, Legion honors you, and thanks to you for helping us get over the hump.

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