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067: Brad Cleveland: It was the deepest anguish I’d ever experienced

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Brad Cleveland Show Notes

Brad Cleveland was in his 20’s and traveling helping clients build their customer service organizations. He had more work than he could handle and things were very exciting. Then one day after visiting a client site his wife called him with news of a swollen lymph node and a strange spot on her skin. After many tests, the news was not positive. Listen to Brad tell his story of getting over this horrible hump.

Brad Cleveland grew up as the third of four children in Nampa, Idaho, a small town about 20 miles outside of Boise

Eventually, Brad found his way to Point Loma College in San Diego, California, where he met Kirsten, his wife of his wife of 27 years.

After working with a few organizations in their customer service operations, Bard and Kirsten moved to Annapolis, Maryland where he became a founding partner in the International Customer Management Institute. As CEO, Brad grew ICMI into a recognized brand in publishing, training and consulting, eventually leading to a successful acquisition by London-based United Business Media.

Brad Cleveland is known around the world for his contributions to customer service strategy and management. He has worked across 45 states and in 60 countries, authored 8 books, and appeared in media ranging from the NY Times to the Wall Street Journal and NPR’s All Things Considered.

His clients have included many service leaders like Apple, American Express, USAA, Google and others.

Brad maintains a busy travel schedule, and has logged an estimated five million miles in travel, speaking and consulting to organizations around the globe on customer service and how to shape it and get it right in the fast-emerging omnichannel environment.

Brad is also is a private pilot, enjoys skiing and mountain biking. Today, Brad lives in Sun Valley, ID near one of America’s iconic ski resorts, with Kirsten and their daughter Grace.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @bradcleveland to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Maybe the technology is a little bit ahead of where we are in managing it.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet

“Focus on what’s important and not letting clutter get in the way.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, but I’ve got today.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“What can I do in the next three hours to move something forward.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Money, travel, success, none of that all of a sudden mattered.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“My heart goes out to others who are facing severe trials.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“I will forever be more sensitive to the challenges that so many face.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Every day is an opportunity, every day is a gift.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“We’re all here together for a little while, let’s make the best of it.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Let’s go at the possibilities with everything we have.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Don’t make these things more than they are but make them everything they can be.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Every day is an opportunity to push something that matters forward.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Life’s what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“In all of the clutter, chaos and challenges…enjoy the ride.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Brad Cleveland was in his 20’s and traveling helping clients build their customer service organizations. He had more work than he could handle and things were very exciting. Then one day after visiting a client site his wife called him with news of a swollen lymph node and a strange spot on her skin. After many tests, the news was not positive. Listen to Brad tell his story of getting over this horrible hump.

Advice for others

Focus on the next three hours, it’s what we all have, move something forward that matters.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Clutter and distraction; devices that go bing.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Focus on the next three hours, that’s all we have, move something forward.

Secret to Success

Kindness

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Setting fewer priorities.

Recommended Reading

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond

Contacting Brad

Website: http://www.bradcleveland.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bradcleveland1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bradcleveland

Resources

Cleveland Clinic –  Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care https://youtu.be/cDDWvj_q-o8

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.


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Click to access edited transcript
Brad Cleveland: It was the deepest anguish I’d ever experienced

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

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Jim Rembach: Okay Fast leader Legion, today I’m excited because I get the chance to share with you somebody who I’ve known of for a long time and have greatly respected his work and he’s here. Brad Cleveland as the 3rd of four kids in Nampa, Idaho, a small town outside of Boise. Eventually he found his way to Point Loma College where he met his wife Kirsten of 27 years. After working a few years with organizations in our customer service operations Brad and Kirsten moved to Annapolis, Maryland where he became a founding partner in the international customer management institute.
As CEO, Brad grew ICMI into a recognized brand in publishing, training, and consulting eventually leading to a successful acquisition by London based United Business Media. Brad Cleveland is known around the world for his contributions to customer service strategy and management. He’s worked across 45 states and in 60 countries, authored 8 books and appeared in media ranging from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and MPR’s all things considered. His clients have included many service leaders like Apple, American Express, USAA, Google and others. Brad maintains a busy travel schedule and has logged an estimated 5,000,000 miles in travel, speaking and consulting to organizations around the globe on customer service and how to shape it and get it right for the fast emerging Omni channel environment. Brad is also a private pilot, enjoys skiing, and mountain biking. Today Brad lives in Sun Valley, Idaho near one of Americas iconic ski resort with his wife Kirsten and their daughter Grace. Brad Cleveland are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Brad Cleveland: I am Jim, thank you
Jim Rembach: Well thanks for being here. I’ve given our listeners a little about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Brad Cleveland: I am so interested right now on this whole multi-channel environment. In fact the Omni channel, it’s just fascinating out there, all the ways that we communicate and the expectations around that with the organizations and between organizations and our customers and our personal lives and maybe the technology is just a little bit ahead of where we are in managing it and it’s just a really interesting opportunity.

Jim Rembach: You know you bring up, oh wow, I mean just a whole diverse slew of questions in my mind when you even mention the word Omnichannel, right. So for many years we’ve all been focusing on this whole multitasking issue right but then when the science comes out and tells us that if you want to actually be effective and be more efficient that you shouldn’t be doing all these multitasking stuff because you can’t focus, a lot of issues associated with switching from one thing to the next. So when you start thinking of Omnichannel that could be frightening, what comes to mind when you think about that?
Brad Cleveland: When you were going through the introduction I was tiptoeing around my office trying to turn off all the devices and I’ve forgotten to switch to silence. Omnichannel is really from an organization’s perspective giving customers choice and ensuring all those channels work together and you can switch from one to the next and it all just works, it’s transparent. But yes, we have to be able to focus and I think that’s a great challenge of our time is to get these channels out there at an individual level and really at an organizational level, being able to focus on what’s important right now, not letting clutter get in the way.
Jim Rembach: You know you bring up a really good point about what’s important and making sure that the clutter clears way out of our minds and a lot of times we lean on leadership quotes at the fast leader show because sometimes they help provide that clarity that otherwise we just don’t have. Is there a quote or two for you that you can share that helps gives you that clarity, can you share it?
Brad Cleveland: You know I remember something the late Robert Townsend used to say, the former leader of Avis. He usually ask question, what can I do in the next 3 hours? And that helped me so much over the years I figured it often, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow but I’ve got today, what can I do in the next 3 hour to move something important along? I have to say Jim that’s one of the quote that often comes to mind. I’ll just throw these , Dory the fish in Finding Nemo, and you’re going through a really tough and uncertain times she said “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming” I’m not sure what that says about me but that one comes to mind as well.

Jim Rembach: Well I think both of those, kind of fit in to what you were talking about a moment ago with regards to that focus in clearing away the clutter is that just keep swimming right. I’m a huge fan of the Carolina Panthers and they just talked about Keep Pounding that’s one of the things that they keep referring to and I think again that’s one of those quotes or phrases or something that provides that clarity and makes you more mindful in regards to what you have to do and focus on.
Brad Cleveland: Yeah.
Jim Rembach: So when you start thinking about—even yourself when you’re referring to the whole Omnichannel, logging almost 5 million plus miles globally and having to be able to manage and lead a business and even now you’re doing a lot of your own work in regards to speaking and authoring and all of that, there’s a lot of humps that we have to get over in order to be able to keep focusing and swim, swim, swimming and going the right direction, is there a time for you where you’ve had to get over a hump because maybe you weren’t going in the right direction, can you share that story with us?
Brad Cleveland: Yeah that’s a great question. Let me mention a story that, I’d be remiss not to, I don’t tell this very often or at least I haven’t told it very often. There was a season over a couple of decades ago now that really was a point demarcation for me. I was working with my business partner at the time going to Piece in Junior, running the International Customer Management Institute. By the way Gordon was a great mentor-friend, amazing visionary, he retired in 96 so this was a handful years before that. When we were in a hyper growth mode, every alert organization was beginning to realize with the advent of the Internet browser and other new ways to connect and engage that service was becoming more critical by the days so we hit the timing just right we’re out there helping organizations with our strategy and getting our service operations in place and (7:15 inaudible) we had clients worldwide we had more work than we can handle, we had airlines, financials, and government, and it was exciting I’m in my 20’s and travelling and conference rooms and that was fun.
And I got a call from Kirsten one afternoon when I was leaving a client site, she said “There’s something on the back of my hand that doesn’t look right and I’ve got an enlarged lymph node under my arm” and we didn’t think it’d turn into much but after many tests it turns out it was melanoma. And she’s beautiful fair skin young Scandinavian descent kind of a demographic for this horrible disease and the stats for lymph node involvement were bad, its variable it can go in any direction, the doctor sat me down and said she may have five years. And my outlook changed in an instant—money, travel, success, all the trappings that we think of success, none of that all the sudden mattered, I would’ve given anything for her, it was like deepest anguish I’d ever experienced. That was over 20 years ago and by the grace of God we got through it and today it’s 100 percent behind us and she’s vibrant, healthy, she can outrun and out hike me any day. And seven years after that, our little girl Grace came along, Kirsten’s treatment didn’t impair her ability to have a child, so our daughter’s name is Grace because she truly is a gift of grace. I don’t tell that story often, my heart goes out to others who are faced with severe trials and some far worse than ours and with different outcomes but I will forever be more sensitive to the challenges that so many face and forever more balanced. I mean every day is an opportunity, every day is a gift.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that story. I mean as you were telling that story, gosh, I started finding some of myself going through some emotions with someone who doesn’t like me to talk about it, who’s very close to me. It’s amazing when you start talking about what we’re even talking about a moment ago and that whole focus piece and the omnichannel and all these things coming at you it’s just really gives you a total different direction and understanding of keep swimming, keep swimming.
Brad Cleveland: Right. And you know for me the whole experience changed my priorities and my outlook and executive boardrooms and tough projects and challenges in the economy and leading organizations through some tough times, none of those things are any bigger of a deal than they need to be it may sound like a contradiction but I enjoy my career in helping other organizations and others even more. I can go with these opportunities with gusto because there’s not a lot that intimidates me, it is what it is, it’s no more than that, we’re all here together for a little while let’s make the best of it, let’s go out these possibilities, let’s go out these initiatives with everything that we have and make them as great as they can be. So that’s one of the things I love about customer service, it really is about serving. If you’re an organization you get things in place the right way, you can make things easier for a lot of people. But I’ve enjoyed my career even more, I’ve never wished an experience like that upon myself or anybody but it gave me such balance and such focus that don’t make these things more than they are but make them everything they can be.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for adding that additional piece because it got me to thinking. And that’s really—even a conversation I had earlier this morning with my wife talking about somebody at work who is having a little bit of a struggle with them developing their work groups and working with others and we often don’t really stop and think about it but as much as 60-80 percent of our jobs are really entangled and contingent upon the strength, the relationships that we have at work and with partner organizations and with our customers.
Brad Cleveland: That’s right and I think understanding and being sincere, this is a lifelong learning thing for any of us. Understanding and being sensitive to what others are going through, the challenges, the opportunities they have and viewing everybody through their potential, wow, that gives them to give back in so many ways.
Jim Rembach: And you know, you also brought one thing to my mind that there was a video that was done, I think it was by Cleveland Hospital, where it really brought out those things. So when you start thinking of a patient or a family members or someone like that walking through the doors of a hospital, you don’t know what floors they’re going to, you don’t know if they’re going to be excited and go to the maternity ward or be totally crushed because they’re heading to the ICU or you know, you just don’t even know what they’re going through and they crafted such an impactful video, I’m going to try to put a link to it and make sure it’s on your show notes page because you brought that to mind. I think that’s a really important consideration for all of us is that—we’re talking about serving, what is the other person going through? What are they thinking about? What do they need? Because ultimately, collectively that’s going to help us all move to a better place.
Brad Cleveland: That’s right.
Jim Rembach: So when you start talking about—I mean we even mention as far as the travel, the authoring, the family all those things that are so positive and impactful in your life when you start looking in all those, what are some of your goals?
Brad Cleveland: I really am back to the top fascinated by the omnichannel environment that’s taking shape so quickly. So on the professional front that’s really the next leg out for many organizations and it involves the totality of people and processes and technology and its all-encompassing, it expands the organization. So I’m working with some great companies, doing some keynotes, I’m having a lot of fun and I’m not, I never have in my career been tied in any technology or solution so I really can provide and then depend a perspective and balance things around and I never seen more opportunity for so many organizations to really differentiate and see the benefits from that. On the home front, our daughter Grace is in the 8th grade, she’s going to the 9th this coming year and Kirsten and I are having so much fun being a part of her world which is so full. I’m doing some mountain biking and skiing and trying to get out there and stay healthy, which is so huge, so it’s been fun. I’ve got a lot of things I want to do and every day is an opportunity to push something that matters forward.

Jim Rembach: And that Fast leader legion wishes you the very best now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor
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Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Brad, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Brad Cleveland are you ready to hoedown?

Brad Cleveland: I’m ready.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being even better leader today?

Brad Cleveland: Clutter and distraction. Devices that go “Bing” all day, ignore them, turn them off, and get something done.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Brad Cleveland: Focus on the next three hours, that’s what we all have, move something forward.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Brad Cleveland: I think kindness. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people from all over the world and you’re laughing with them and taking an interest in them and basic manners and the humility that we’re all in this together, that goes so far and I’ve found that to be true across any culture.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that help you lead in business or life?

Brad Cleveland: Setting fewer priorities, not more, fewer but those that really matter.

Jim Rembach: What would be one book, from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners?

Brad Cleveland: Well if I could mention two, Getting Things Done by David Allen which is great for focus on what matters to you, very well written and I’ve picked up a book called Younger Next Year which has been out there for a while but it’s by Chris Crowley, he’s a retired attorney, he is funny, it’s on health, I think he’s close to 80 read it whether you’re 20 or 80 or any point in between it’s just really well done and health is an essential enabler.

Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to the fastleader.net/Brad Cleveland. Okay, John this my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skill you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you could only choose one so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Brad Cleveland: I think perspective and perspective without having to go through a crisis to get there which I guess some of us need and along with that enjoying the journey. It’s that old saying why sweat happens to you when you’re making other plans and all the clutter and chaos and challenges and the (17:41 inaudible) of the day today, enjoy the ride, enjoy every day.
Jim Rembach: Brad it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the fast leader legion how they can connect with you?

Brad Cleveland: You bet. So bradcleveland.com—cleveland spelled like city. Twitter is @BradCleveland, you’ll find me on LinkedIn and other channels, and email is Brad@bradcleveland.com.

Jim Rembach: Brad Cleveland, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

END OF AUDIO

No Comments
  1. […] Recently, I was invited to participate in Jim Rembach’s FastLeader Show Podcast. It was a great experience and gave me the opportunity to reflect on what has mattered most over the years. One bit of advice that has made an impact on my career is to focus on the next three hours. Move something that matters forward right now. You can listen to the full podcast at the FastLeader website. […]

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