Retired Air Force Colonel, Jim Donihee shared his multinational and operational leadership experience having served as a fighter pilot in NATO operations and how he translates those leadership skills to lead multi-billion dollar mergers and turnarounds.
We Talked About:
- Galvanize your executive team and operationalize proven tactics to deliver mission accomplishment
- The pursuit of freedom and adventure
- Demonstrating fair treatment to scale trust in the org
- Execution of tasks without ego
- Skill and joy as measures of suitability
- Money is a shallow motivator
- The fear of performance vs. the expectation of performance
- Letting people go with dignity and grace
- The key question to ask when it comes to change management?
- “In the military, you have duty of care for your people 24/7.” they can only operate at 100% when they know their loved ones are well care for
- “The way you foster trust in your organization when you let people go is by overtly demonstrating that these people are have been treated fairly. The manner you let people go will set a tone in your culture.”
- “Park your ego at the door starting with the ceo. Fess up when you don’t meet your own standards”
- “When I didn’t achieve the mission, the first place I look at is the mirror”
- “If you look after the people and you demonstrate your commitment to them, then you’ll earn their respect and loyalty and they’ll go through the thick and thin with you”
- “If your key tool is money, everyone else can pay the same or more money. It’s a shallow motivator. It’s not going to develop the allegiance, kinship for the organization you want to develop”
- “ Am I willing to demonstrate this first?”
- “Your personal weaknesses, your personal mental gaps are threats to your success”
- “The common thread to success is always people and your ability to lead them and to earn their trust and respect and the reciprocal of that.”
- If you enjoyed this podcast, please take a few moments to leave us a review so others like you can find this, too. Go to, http://bit.ly/noblewarriorreview
- Chat with CK on http://www.chatwithck.com
- Jim Donihee can be reached at: email@example.com
A passion for flight and drive for excellence led Mr. Donihee to become a single-seat fighter pilot (CF104, CF5, & CF18 Hornet) in Canada’s Air Force where he served for twenty-eight years before retiring as an Air Force Colonel. Colonel Donihee has extensive multinational and operational leadership experience having served as a fighter pilot in NATO operations, as a NATO Battle Commander of forces in Yugoslavia, NORAD Commander in the Arctic and US, and as Wing Commander of CFB Cold Lake, Canada’s largest operational CF-18 fighter base. For noteworthy excellence in Leadership throughout his career, Colonel Donihee was decorated by the Governor General of Canada (Canada’s Commander & Chief) and inducted into the Order of Military Merit.
Upon retirement from the RCAF in 2000, Colonel Donihee transitioned to industry in Calgary where he has held a number of senior executive positions including VP & Chief of Staff at Pengrowth; Chief Operating Officer at the National Energy Board (Canada’s Energy Regulator); VP Organizational Effectiveness at EnCana; and most recently Chief Operating Officer for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. A strategic thinker and skilled Governance practitioner, Mr. Donihee has extensive Board experience having served as: a founding Board Member of Projex Technologies; Chair of the Corps of Commissionaires of Southern Alberta; the Board of Directors of Enform, Canada’s upstream oil & gas association dedicated to improving safety performance; and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for Legal Aid Alberta. Colonel Donihee is a recognized change leader possessing extensive expertise in operational leadership, organizational effectiveness, defense policy, energy policy and regulatory structures.
Colonel Donihee has also served as a Chair for TEC Canada (Vistage USA) and leads a consulting practice focused on coaching high-performance CEOs and executive teams in high-growth / turn-around and merger situations. He thrives on ‘giving back’ and challenging others to excel.
Transcript By Artificial Intelligence
JIM DONIHEE 0:00
Not only do I want to hold myself to that standard, but I give you permission to raise that observation to me if it appears that I’m not honoring those values. So by having those kinds of conversations and setting those expectations, not only of others, but I’m giving them the permission to hold those expectations of you, and to challenge around it is going to truly help create an open, trusting culture that says it, it really is okay. And be cautious because the first time somebody ever does demonstrate the courage to challenge you, if you chomp on them, that’s the last time they ever Will anybody ever will.
This episode is brought to you by CK LIN mindset coaching for leaders, entrepreneurs and high achievers. Having a clear mind will empower you to tap into your true potential and achieve extraordinary results with more ease and freedom. Visit www.talkwithCK.com and apply for a free clarity session today.
CK LIN 1:00
I’m really excited today to have my friend Jim Donahue with us. He’s a retired Wing Commander of their Canadian Air Force is an executive coach for entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs. And why I invited him to be on the show is you exude leadership, yuzu wisdom, and love to just engage in that conversation a little bit more about what it takes to be an inspired leader. For those of you listening, who are also entrepreneurs, I think you can learn a lot from how Jim approach, managing people, leading people and meeting people where they’re at with compassion, with wisdom. So thanks so much for being on the show, Jim.
JIM DONIHEE 1:51
It’s just a pleasure to be here. Thank you.
CK LIN 1:54
So if you don’t mind, take us back a little bit about Your own or origin story, how you embark on this journey of the noble warrior path.
JIM DONIHEE 2:12
So mean the little boy that grew up in southeastern Ontario community in Canada. You know, perhaps like many grew up dreaming, the aspiration or flight, the aspiration of excitement about freedom and an opportunity to really test myself as I grew and grew up in a Catholic family and joked often about, you know, for those who would know that story of, you know, I wanted to be a pilot, I wanted to be a pilot, just like punches pilot, who, you know, I didn’t even understand the significance of the term or probably the ramifications of that particular story, but a you know, I just grew up. With the love of flight and a love of adventure,
CK LIN 3:04
how old were you at the time?
Unknown Speaker 3:06
Oh, I mean, you know, my early in my early years probably, you know, sub 10 kind of thing. I was not a particularly athletic kid, in my early years, went through high school in my community and then, you know, eventually had a friend who I’d seen go off to one of the military colleges similar to Lowes, which they would have in the US. And it spoke to me. I mean, as I entered high school, I had to start to play some sports started to discover my own abilities, my own strength, and it was a pretty modest family. And so, you know, going to one of the military colleges was an opportunity for me to get a very, very sound very good undergraduate degree. You know, and I mean, economics were part of it initially because again, is pretty modest beginnings and so, you know, joining the military going to the military colleges was just part of the adventure it was an opportunity to begin to learn about myself to, you know to step into that realm to go away, if you will and in search of freedom and
CK LIN 4:20
this desire for freedom drove you
Unknown Speaker 4:23
Yeah, I you know it was I don’t even know that it would have call it freedom at the time is so much as it was adventure and so I joined the military at the age of 17 right out of high school, started my undergraduate degree and did the four year undergraduate degree in Business and Computer Science and and then you know, shortly after that went straight into the into flight training. I was very fortunate through the Military College program where you have a summers, you know, after the academic phases, I went on a little JT job training experiences with different types of squadrons, flying squadrons. And, you know, on two of those occasions, I had the opportunity to do some exchanges with with fighters squadrons with single seat fighters. And it just awoken in me and aspiration to to fly single seat fighters. And it wasn’t there’s a lot of reasons for that. I mean, partly partly because, like a lot of, you know, high performance, single sports, there’s tremendous opportunity to to test your own physical limits alone in the aircraft. You have to be good to be to be second best in that environment is simply not good enough. And, you know, it’s a type of person that I don’t, I don’t thrive on ego. I am not big on those who have egos. I say a lot of times when I got into that environment, I would, I would strap on the jet rather than getting strapped into the jet. And as I got strapped, you know, as the jet got strapped on to me, that’s when the eagle had to surface. And I loved I love the opportunity to, to really dig in and perform at the very highest levels while I was in the airplane, and then at the same time, I love doing the straps and getting out of the aircraft and then to certain degree shedding that skin, if you will, in terms of shedding a skin that meant that, you know, I had to I had to beat other people. And I think even at that time, I was, you know, probably learning about the ranges of performance in terms of saying well, you know, I don’t have to be that way every moment. But I need to know that I can be that way in order to excel in that environment when when it calls upon me. In the Military College again was a wonderful expense. sense of self discovery for me because a pretty modest little kid, I’d never, never worked too hard at academics, they seemed to happen. And it was sort of a necessary evil in terms of growing up, so to speak. But, you know, right, from the early days, I had the opportunity to begin learning the art of leadership, you know, not only of self but of others.
CK LIN 7:26
So, how would you define leadership in this case?
Unknown Speaker 7:32
So, I mean, I think, I mean, leadership in my model of the world is, is, is not about command and control model. I mean, clearly, when you’re in, you know, operations that are demanding in nature, there may not be a lot of time for discourse and debate with the people that you’re you’re working with. That said, you know, in advance of going into those operations. It is it’s absolutely about the team. It’s absolutely about finding a way to, you know, to learn of the strengths of others and to make sure that you incorporate those strengths into everything that you’re doing. Because no leader can know it all, no leader can, you know, just embark upon a course of action without the wise counsel of others. And that doesn’t mean that you’re abrogating your responsibilities means that you’re harnessing that knowledge and you’re harnessing the skills and the abilities of everybody that you have surrounded yourself with, and that you’re going to get the job done.
CK LIN 8:37
Well, let me ask you this, because in the me I’m not in the military, but really, people pretty much assume that in the military is about rank and file. You follow the order to the T to the best of your ability. So it actually my mind doesn’t quite incorporate that collaborative way of doing things. And by the way, is that a common way of thinking, collaborative rather than rank and file? Just do what I say. Don’t question it.
Unknown Speaker 9:10
Yeah. So I think again, you know, as I said, when you’re in the actual operation, there’s there’s not a lot of a lot of time for debate. I mean, you’re, you’re going to give orders, there’s no two ways about it. But it’s, it’s the lead up to that moment, when you actually enter the operation, where it’s incumbent upon you, as a leader, to make sure that you’ve, you’ve harnessed that knowledge and you’ve harnessed all of the, the the critical questioning around the nature of the operation to make sure that you’ve truly, you know, you’ve attacked your own operation in terms of how you’re going to execute it in order to make sure that you’ve done your very best to consider all of the all of the factors that come into play. All of the strengths and the weaknesses of the enemy that you’ve you’ve thought it through and that you’re absolutely ready now. Execute in the moment and enter present. I think the airforce is a bit of a different beast. I mean, the you know, the army is very different in that, you know, the officer corps is much fewer obviously a number than the rank and file as you referred to and, you know, in the army, you you send the soldiers to war. I mean, the the officers clearly go with them. But, you know, in the Air Force, certainly in a Canadian Air Force, it’s very different and especially in the single seat fighter environment where, you know, the, the airmen and the air women are, you know, they’re maintaining the aircraft, they’re getting everything ready. They’re an absolutely integral part of the team. But then it’s the officers that strap on the airplanes and go to war the foreign go into operations in combat. So I mean, the mentality can be very different. The the essence of team is absolutely critical not only with your men and women that are going to get an aircraft ready and making sure that they’re 100% ready to go but the the essence of team work with those with whom you go into combat with your the trust, the levels of trust that you must have for one another in terms of your ability to execute means that there’s there’s no tolerance for, for people that are not 100% committed to executing the job.
CK LIN 11:19
How would you define, in this case high performance? what’s what’s a high performing officer versus and low performing answer, just so that people have an understanding or context of what you’re referring to?
Unknown Speaker 11:32
Well, so low performing, we didn’t have a lot of tolerance for we did be frank, we didn’t keep them around. Because again, in that environment, it’s so intense. It’s so rapid in nature in terms of how it, how it unfolds, that there’s not a lot of tolerance for people that are low performance. So low performance would be those who perhaps know don’t know their aircraft as well as they should know. They don’t know the operating parameters for the weapons system. Sometimes they don’t understand or, or live the same degree of commitment to one another, and to the achievement of mission, that that is necessary in order to know that you are my brother or going into this situation together. And I need to be able to count on you as you must be able to count on me.
CK LIN 12:22
So what I hear in this is there’s a certain level of knowledge base of the aircraft of the operation and knows a particular craft and the ins and outs, as well as providing that support for you to fulfill the mission.
Unknown Speaker 12:39
Yes, I mean, there’s a tremendous building block processes, you know, I mean, you don’t just take a brand new avenue pilot, stick them into into that those sort of demanding situations. I mean, it probably takes five or six years. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s at least masters if not PhD level for people even to get to the point of being a wingman, you know, a follower, if you will, in in that environment. So there’s the training, the preparation, the knowledge, the leadership on an individual basis, the quality of team ship, the, you know, again, the the commitment, the fraternity is you work darn hard but you also play pretty hard and you live together and you know each other in and out and what to expect of one another in the most arduous of circumstances.
CK LIN 13:30
So, knowing why, you know, now, would you recommend let’s say, your kids, your friends to or your friends kids to going to Military College, like what are some of the pros and cons of going through that experience?
Unknown Speaker 13:45
So for me, you know, it was so the first answer is yes. Okay. Without hesitation without hesitation without hesitation I say yes. And you know, in Canada is a very peace loving country. It’s not a, you know, the general populace does not understand And the military formation, the military training. And so, you know, I think the, you know, for the average kid, so to speak of which, you know, which I was, you know, going into that into that environment, you have a wonderful opportunity to begin to learn your own limits, you know, as your it’s not only an academic sort of training system, but you know, regardless of degree program, there’s, there’s a lot of training around the art of leadership around Organizational Behavior around histories and traditions and heritage and, you know, the values of the college and I went to work truth, duty and valor. And so, you know, right from those early days, you know, in my, in my teens, you know, sort of early adulthood, I’m, you know, absolutely learning the meaning of those sorts of abstract terms what they what does truth duty and valor mean, you know, and what does what does duty mean? And I think as
CK LIN 14:58
What does it mean for you?
Unknown Speaker 15:00
So as a leader for me, and duty is in the tremendous weight of responsibility, the duty of care for the men and women, you know, that you’re working with, and especially the the men and women that you’re, that you’re leading, you know, and I’m choosing terms, you know, in deference to the audience. Second, you know, I mean, it’s easy to talk about command, you know, which is what it is in the military, but it’s, it’s, it’s really about leading and in the Air Force, as I said earlier, that it’s rare that you actually ever say I, you know, I order you I command you to do this. There’s a, there’s an interaction, there’s a trust, there’s a, you know, there’s an understanding that you
CK LIN 15:44
Even the language you don’t use those terms: I command you. I order you remember that?
JIM DONIHEE 15:50
No, no, I mean, you know, when you have, you’ll sit down and say you’ll have sessions where it’s here’s our, here’s the orders that we received, here’s the mission that’s been assigned. Here’s what we’re going to accomplish, and you lay out the protocols and you do your damnedest to execute. But, you know that that duty of care, I think, is something that, that I learned early where, you know, unlike, unlike the corporate world where, you know, you have a responsibility for the men and women who work for you, as a leader, you know, pretty much from nine to five, and I might go home and they have their own lives and you know, nothing of that, for the most part. You know, in the military, you have a duty of care, which is 24 hours a day, and it’s not only for the men or women in uniform, it’s for their families, it’s ensuring their well being, it’s ensuring, you know, if I’m taking someone’s mother or someone’s father overseas, or you know, I know an operation on a far off land, but I I need to know that the family is going to be well cared for while we’re away. And only young people can only operate, you know, at 100% when they know their loved ones are well cared for. At home, and, and that they’re going to be looked after. And so, you know, when when people have any kind of, you know, social issues or whatever I mean, you’re it’s incumbent incumbent upon you as a leader to make sure that they’re there, okay? We’re not going to shed them, we’re not gonna, we’re not going to fire them, we’re not going to dispose of them. We’re, we’re caring deeply for them and developing them and carry them forward. And again, not carrying them if they’re a piece of baggage carrying them if there’s a true and honest commitment to them from them, to you know, to pick up permission and they clearly have the potential to grow and to move forward.
CK LIN 17:42
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You used the word expendable at some point.
Unknown Speaker 18:14
I didn’t, I never would, I never would have again. But I’m happy to, you know, I’m happy to address that to the address.
CK LIN 18:19
And let me actually underlying that question a little bit. Because for young entrepreneurs, let’s say, the mindset may be let me, you know, I’m going to have a arrangement with my employees, I’m going to provide benefits and all that good stuff, and an opportunity for work. But beyond that, that’s that and so I’m going to swap people in and out based on the mission of the company. So and I always kind of understand why they want to think that way, but at the same time, as inspire leaders, as value inspire leaders, I wouldn’t Imagine the mindset would be more holistic, let me make sure that you are on purpose. And let me make sure that you and your family I want to take care of. It’s not just a job. It’s the whole person. So, so talk a little bit about this mindset of expendable being, or, or an integrated way of leading people up on my.
Unknown Speaker 19:24
So, I mean, I would never use the term expandable in the military context, you know, and as a leader think, I mean, undoubtedly either people are going to get hurt, people will, sadly, very sadly will be lost. You know, I, in my experience, I’ve never known a military commander who would plan an operation, sort of thinking about throwaway people or throwaway units or you know that they are expendable. I mean, you do, you should do. Your duty is to do everything in your power to make sure that you have done your your your utmost to ensure that you minimize any casualties, any losses. And, you know, the the terrible sadness that I carry in my heart is knowing that, that people were lost. And despite that duty of care and the tremendous responsibility that you carry, and when people sometimes don’t come home, there is a just a terrible weight loss that that I carry for a lifetime. And, you know, when I think about that in the corporate context, and you know, I in the lead leading them, you know, so I did 28 years in the military and then I did make a transition into the corporate sector. And so I can understand the comment that you offered with respect to you know, there’s people who come and go a little bit as you build your company and there will be skill sets that you require, and you may then find that there’s no longer a need for that and and the way that you will foster trust as you grow your organization is by very Very overtly demonstrating that those people have been treated fairly, that if they gave their all they gave everything to the corporation, you reach a point where, you know, and I’m not talking about a performance based issue at the moment, I’m just talking about the needs of the corporation or the needs of the organization. If you know if you reach a point where that particular skill set is is no longer integral to the success of the corporation, the manner in which you say farewell, the manner in which you release the manner in which you you know, brackets dispose, and brackets, that individual will set a tone in your organization for the culture of the organization that will be absolutely instrumental to its ongoing success.
CK LIN 21:45
Yeah. I really appreciate how you answer that question. Because, you know, from my personal experience of working with fast growing startups, they go through different phases, right, and part of the burden of being a leader in those Organizations is that the beginning the first 20 people they may not be able to help the organization, its current state. And then there’s a grappling between loyalty versus the need the mission of the company. And I know that for a lot entrepreneurs founders listening to this, this is something that they grapple with in a lot of times, you know, you hear internet, you know, advising, hiring slow firing fast, but how do you actually do it with compassion, as you know, how people leave actually sets a tone, unionization, the culture and everything because if there is a even an idea, even like an inkling of like, Oh, I better perform or pretend that I can actually fulfill this mission. The psychological CPE just isn’t there. And then and then it’s a trickle down effect. Then everyone’s pretending that they got everything handle and then you don’t get real about the mission of the company, where you’re at and your family circumstances and so forth. So I really appreciate it.
JIM DONIHEE 23:11
Yeah. So I mean, I really think it’s just a question of honesty and openness, you know, and so it if you have a culture that is open and honest, so people have a clear understanding of the expectations and what’s required, then they will honor that if they know that, you know, that, that this handshake may come at a certain time, but I’m going to be very fairly treated in terms of, you know, moving on to my next employment, whatever that might be, then they’re able to give their all if you know, I think the real message here is to do your best to avoid surprises. And, you know, I mean, when we executed operations, the the expectation of challenge in the military, at least in the Canadian Air Force was very high when it was a leader Again, I have to be able to execute my tasks, at least as well as everyone that I surround myself with. And the interesting part is that not only, you know, as a fighter pilot and as a Wing Commander, I mean, I would sometimes fly with, you know, some of the formations and not in the lead role. And so, you know, in it instance as a wingman, my rank is irrelevant. I’m, I’m expected to perform the task of that wingman, to the very best capability of a wingman. I have to trust and honor my lead in that moment, and, and when we land, then there’ll be a very thorough debrief, and they’ll be an opportunity to, you know, to question one another to learn from one another. The after action review processes are very, very disciplined in terms of the way it unfolds. And in that way, when I say disciplined, I mean there’s a protocol that we follow. And the beauty of the way those things are executed is that there is no rank in that room. You know, so as the Wing Commander, if I was a wingman, then I made a couple of buffoonery Then I’m going to, you know, in the beauty of it normally, unless I didn’t even realize that I had screwed up was that you fess up first. And so there’s, you know, there’s just complete commitment to the safety and execution of the mission from one another. And so. And as the leader, if I’ve screwed up, then I expect, and someone noticed it, it’s not, they’re not writing me out there. They’re identifying it in a way that is intended to ensure that we learn from it, we grow from it, and we execute better on the next round, because that’s really what it’s all about, is executing. And if you can create a culture where you park your egos at the door, and that includes the CEO, and I think that’s often a challenge in a lot of the fast growing entrepreneurship as well as you know, the CEO needs to take a hard look in the mirror and understand that he or she could very rapidly become the limiting factor in the growth of the company as well. And so how You as that CEO, hold yourself open and receptive to honest, well intentioned feedback in order to make sure that the things are growing and progressing the way they should.
CK LIN 26:18
It’s easy to say though, it is it’s not so easy to execute per se, because we hear people in companies and organizations saying that let’s work in a ego lyst environment, let’s set our ego aside or similar languages, right. And what I hear in the illustration, the example that you share is clarity of mission, clarity of standards, and be the first to fess up where you as a leader may not have actually met your own standards or your your collective standards. Is that is that a good recap of what you said?
JIM DONIHEE 26:52
Yes. Yeah. And there’s going to be an environment where, you know, I mean, you have to know that hey, look, if I fess up I’m not going to get a nugget slam, I’m not going to get spanked for the sake of attributing blame I’m fessing up because the other was something that unfolded, which was perhaps, maybe the the plan wasn’t as sound as it should have been, or maybe the briefing wasn’t as strong as it should have been. And there were some unknowns that were on addressed. And so in that moment, when I was faced with that circumstance, I made a decision. And, you know, in that environment, there’s not a lot of time to, you know, to go seeking counsel, you need to make a decision and react in the moment to the best of your capabilities. And so when you come back into that debrief, then and you’re having that quality of conversation, that, you know, to the best of your capabilities is eagerness, then you’re not looking for blame. You’re looking for the lessons, you know, so as the CEO, you know, where it was my claim week, was there a training issue that, you know, that, again, if I’m trusting your capabilities and your knowledge and that in that moment, you made the very best decision you knew how to make With the skills and tools and capabilities that I gave to you, then then I really have no reason to fault you. If as the CEO I shorted you by and by not ensuring you are well trained or not ensuring that the equipment was everything that it should be or that in fact, I failed you because I didn’t brief the all of the potential eventualities, then I need to look in the mirror, you know, if you as an individual, you know, routinely make erroneous decisions. I mean, now, we’re talking about a different circumstance. But as a leader, you know, throughout corporate life, as well as, you know, my full career in the military, when I didn’t get what I wanted, or what I as you know, hope to achieve as far as the mission was concerned, I mean, the first place I looked was in the mirror.
CK LIN 28:56
So let’s let’s break that down into something that Tactical, if you don’t mind, does that mean we can talk about principles, but for the listeners want them to actually have something that they can actually take on. So what what disciplines tactics that they can actually operationalize into their life to cultivate their own self awareness, their their own ability, their own courage to fess up to that one ization? If you don’t mind actually walk us down.
Unknown Speaker 29:28
So, you know, I mean, in our instances, right from day one, I’d say it was in my DNA, because I discipline is has been there probably since the earliest days of military operations. So, you know, I think as you’re growing your company, it’s, it’s a matter of taking a hard look in the mirror first, you know, where, where are you going? The if, how strong is the plan, how well executed as a plan. I mean, often times young entrepreneurs are extremely talented, you know, and especially in the technical environment where, you know, they may not have the organizational skills or the leadership skills beyond their truly expert knowledge in, you know, in the technical aspects of the business that they’re creating. And so, you know, I think it’s hugely incumbent upon a young entrepreneur to take a hard look in the mirror and, and perform a self assessment, whether you want to do a, you know, a personal SWOT, or whatever the case might be, but Swan you know, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, right. So, you know, examine your own abilities, like, what am I really good at? And what am I not good at, and sometimes, you know, the challenges that I, you know, you can have some blank spots where I don’t even know what I’m not good at. And, and so that’s, you know, and I pump them coaches, but that’s where, you know, senior advisors or people outside the business perhaps, you know, surround yourself with people in the business environment that you know, that to certain extent, have been there done that they can offer you some lessons and some knowledge around some of the pitfalls. And, you know, you’re not, again, you’re not giving up your authority or your accountability, but you’re seeking that sage advice that’s going to allow you to, you know, to be aware of the circumstances that you may face that you could not have anticipated because you’ve never been there, done that. And so, you know, and that’s what I talked about earlier in terms of even building your team. You know, one of my earliest examples of that would be even at the Military College, and my second year of school I was, you know, chosen delete, but we call it, you know, the equivalent of a military tattoo, which is a, you know, we took the whole student body and there was a large sort of marching and gymnastics and, you know, rappelling and you know, like a real demonstration of all the military skills and capabilities and I’m looking at this kind of going I don’t know a lot about all this stuff, then. So I mean mindfully created a team and surrounded myself with people that, you know that skills are different, yet complementary to my own. And, again, you know, surround yourself with those kinds of people do not hesitate to ask for help, you know, be, you know, be circumspect in examining your own abilities and your own knowledge and saying, okay, like, I know this technology, like from A to Z, and I know it’s this good and it can do all of these things. And yet, you know, you may not know how to generate the funding, you may not know how to hire people, you may not know how to attract or hold or retain, you know, the, because you’re a good technician, which is really what it amounts to doesn’t necessarily make you a good leader. And so how do you begin to have conversations around leadership? How do you how do you come out of your shell because again, my experience would say, you know, working in industry, largely with the audience gas industry after leaving the military, tremendously competent people, you know, in the engineering and financial disciplines, and I mean tremendously competent and yet equally introverted equally. You know, the other end of that spectrum equally, you know, I’m experienced when it comes to the art of leadership. And so, you know, it’s, it’s pretty hard to, to build something unless you’re unless you’re simple desires to the girl and spin it in a heartbeat. But if you truly want to grow and see something that’s going to sustain itself for a period of time, then you really need to think about how do I, how do I bring the rest of these skill sets to bear in order to ensure success over the long haul?
CK LIN 33:49
So leadership is one of those terms that you hear people talk a lot a lot, but it’s difficult to grasp this to me it’s very similar to like, Look, right. It’s a critical skill to develop, especially growing your organization. So in your mental model, I love mental models, because you know, are there different stages of leadership so that way people can walk, you know, hey, I need to focus on this and this stage, focus on nine that stage etc. If you don’t mind telling us from your experience and mental model, what that is that would be very useful.
Unknown Speaker 34:25
Yeah, and I think so I think, you know, in the entrepreneurial world, it’s not going to be terribly different, where, if you’re a startup, you may have a handful of people or you may even be a solo entrepreneur initially. And, you know, I mean, it’s all about you, you are everything, you know, you’re learning the skills, you’re mastering everything that you know, literally the most tactical level possible in terms of making sure that you’re keeping the lights on, you know, generating some some cash in order to get it going. And you’re sending out invoices when you finally have a product. And as you start to grow and to bring people to you that the challenge that many faces about Understanding that, you know, I need to make a choice here either else, you know, I mean I, I may need to reach a point where I’m going to be the chief technical officer rather than the CEO or as I just don’t have those skill sets. But the other the other reality is to lead take a look at it sometime. So you know what, I actually just don’t get joy from doing that, like that’s, that’s not that’s not the element of growing and running this company that that brings me joy. And so again, how to being able to look in the mirror and truly know yourself to the point that you can admit that to yourself at a certain point, and then not only admitted but act on it is an extremely important sort of progression in the evolution of an entrepreneur in terms of how he or she are going to lead lead his company into my instance I started out as a wingman. As I mentioned, you know, I get my all I needed to do is start the aircraft keep my lead inside. And basically release my weapons when when he told me to, and then get them back in sight, follow them home land and go through the debrief and how did it go. And you know, two years later, three years later, now I’m an expert at that. I can anticipate rather than simply follow, I’m a better team member for that reason. And now I’m going to start leading, and a wingman whose job is to keep me in sight. It’s a it’s a very sort of experiential learning model. In the fire force in terms of how that how that progresses, you, there’s no way you train somebody to be a mass attack lead, you know, after four years of school and drop him in or her in nowadays, and say, go for it. They fail miserably. And, you know, so to a degree I’m suggesting it’s not dissimilar in terms of building a company you you know, you can you can do the school and you can have the brilliant idea for that technology. And you can you can build it improve out. But then the knowledge that you lack in terms of surrounding yourself with people in perhaps even the self awareness that you lack in terms of admitting that to yourself or the courage to admit that to yourself can be fatal in the journey that you hope to take that company on.
CK LIN 37:22
You actually said something I think it’s really important to underline here. Does that actually bring you joy? Because not not just about, am I competent? Am I skillful at doing something? That’s important thing in building a company, of course. But I think a lot of entrepreneurs, especially young ones, they have this mindset of, I just want to get this company to quote unquote, success, so I can sell it so that I can have the money or whatever, to do something. Yeah. And then I forget to actually to really enjoy the process. Is that actually bringing the joy and also does it actually does it does it actually violate your own non aggression? Boss and by non negotiable, both I mean for some people may be family may be spending time with their children may be spending time with their wife or, or husband, whichever. And they they just have this self sacrificing mentality let me set all that aside, such that I can have this proxy money or whatever success for magazine cover whatever it may be, then I’ll come back to these things that’s really really important for me. So, I think, at least from my mentality doing things that aligns with the non negotiable as I call them, some people call them bumpers, right, whatever it may be these these boundary conditions that it actually fulfills you, in the meantime on your journey to this goal that you have this mission that you have. So I think it’s really important to underline
Unknown Speaker 38:52
Yeah, I mean, do you know what your non negotiable is our you know, I mean, for all of us, you know, certainly speaking the first person you know, In the early days, I don’t know that I had any nonnegotiable. So you know, it’s an exciting environment, it’s working with super type eight people who you trust your life to, who entrust you with their lives, the the team ship and everything is all consuming. And so, you know, I think by nature, you know, we talked about freedom earlier a little bit. I mean, I that sake of adventure, I can say probably for, you know, it’s you often hear that catchphrase about, you know, find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
CK LIN 39:34
Follow your bliss.
Unknown Speaker 39:36
it’s, it was true for me. I mean, I, you know, in it. And I think that’s where it comes from to is finding your joy in terms of, so what is it about my company that’s going to allow me to find this joy, and it may be the technology initially is you’ve developed this and you want to see it really succeed and grow forward. And then you know, as I said earlier, it just depends on what What? So what gives you the most joy is that actually, at a certain point, you know, moving away from being the absolute technical expert in still understanding everything about the technology, as I did, as a Wing Commander, I could still climb in the aircraft, I could fly every mission that we ever flew. But I mean that, you know, that level of sort of tactical execution was no longer where I was meant to be. And so, you know, as the entrepreneurs, you’ve mastered the technology, perhaps even invented the technology and taking it forward, you know, at a certain point, then, what is your aim? And how, how clear, are you on that? You know, are you going to grow away from being the gentleman or the lady who’s actually moving ones and zeros around? Or are you going to be the individual that actually infuses your organization with this culture with, you know, the quality of leadership that is going to actually grow it and sustain it over the long haul? Because again, If, you know, I suggest the culture would be very different. If you’ve got people coming in with a sort of a purely capital motive that says we’re going to pardon me, you know, we’re going to grow this thing, we’re going to pop this thing, we’re all going to be rich, and then we’ll live. The mistake that you’re making is that this is your life, you know, the, and if that sale never happens, or if some other technology Trumps you along the way, there’s perhaps a big chunk of your life that’s just been expended,
CK LIN 41:31
quote, unquote, wasted.
JIM DONIHEE 41:32
So yeah, I mean, I’ve come at it. And it’s interesting, because as I made the transition over to the corporate world, you know, I did have the luxury of never having to worry about the bottom line, you know, and it’s obviously it creates a different reality for me, but at the same time, you know, I had to take men and women into places and they were extremely austere and keep them motivated. And so the difference in that environment is that, you know, in the entrepreneurial world, if you’ve got somebody who’s extremely vital to your operation, you just say, Well, how much does it take to keep it here? I’m not, you know, I perhaps don’t even really care about your heart and mind. I need your, you know, your mind in terms of your loyalty and your commitment. I just need your mind so that you can work the next layer of that spreadsheet and keep things happening. And at the, you know, either either to keep you here or the back end of this journey, there’s going to be a big fat paycheck. You know, in my instance, I had no ability to influence what people were compensated for how they were compensated. The only tool that I could wield was the art of leadership and their knowledge and absolute understanding that I love them. And cared deeply about their well being, you know, I’m some of them obviously reach points where, you know, I had it happen and you know, and I, you know, as a military leader I can remember being so infuriated when, you know, I’d have some of my most skilled pilots come in and say, Jenny, I love you. But I’ve never had more fun in my life. And I know I’ll never find a role or a job that’s as rewarding as this. But I can’t take my family to Disney for a week is, you know, the military p skills don’t prepare to anything like, you know, in phoning the headquarters folks and kind of Santa look it. I’m about to lose a pilot here who’s who we have invested probably more than $15 million in training and experience in for the sake of $10,000 a year like, you know, cut me a check. Yeah, the answer would be no, like, we sorry, we don’t do that. And in so I think the lesson that I’m trying to mention here is that as I transition to the corporate world, I can From a viewpoint of leadership that says, you know, absolutely, I believe in the bottom line, and I know that it’s got to be nurtured. That said, I paid much less attention to the bottom line than I did to the people. You know, and I’m not saying the bottom line will look after itself. But if you look after the people, if you create an understanding and a loyalty, and you demonstrate that loyalty and that commitment to them, then then my belief and I’ve seen it proven out and borne out in numerous instances is that you will earn their respect and their loyalty and they will go with you through the thick and the thin because they they believe in you, and they care about you in ways that they know and feel that you care about them.
CK LIN 44:50
Absolutely. I mean, even research have shown that traditionally, people think extrinsic motivators like money, like recognition. Actually, probably that’s not recognition like a title. Right? These are extrinsic motivators are enough to keep talented people around. But ultimately is the intrinsic motivators is that loyalty is that I feel amazing working with Jim, or whoever that ultimately is, is going to keep people longer. Right? That’s where, and also, the secondary effect is that not only they’ll work and put their heart and soul into this mission, but also, especially if you’re doing creative work. That’s going to fuel that. for creative work for knowledge workers, knowledge workers, if you want to get more performance out of people, it’s not because of the extra 10,000 20,000 hundred thousand even I mean, for people that work at Facebook, Google these, you know, it’s like a drop in the bucket like they don’t I mean, it’s meaningful, but it’s Not Superman. Yeah, actually saying that
Unknown Speaker 46:02
well, so if you, you know, if your, if your key motivators money, anybody else can pay the same or more money, you know, and so, it’s, and undoubtedly, we all need money to make the world go around and look after our families and, you know, achieve the goals that we wish to and so on. But I, again, I’m just going to say my experience has been that it’s a shallow motivator, it’s not, it’s not going to create, you know, the type of allegiance, the type of kinship, the type of, you know, team that you’re probably going to want to develop in order to truly sustain the business and to grow it forward.
Unknown Speaker 46:40
So, it’s, again, I’ve just seen too many instances where, you know, things take a downturn in your company and there’s a new startup across the street and and they’re paying money and you know, your talents kind of fit the bill and, you know, you may not even get a handshake out the door, you know, from the individual that’s leaving and you Guys later, it’s very mercenary that way. Yeah, it’s been it’s been a treat, you know, thanks a lot. You know, whereas, you know, I never saw it. But the greatest joy in my life at times is when I see people that I had the privilege to lead, you know, 15 or 20 years later, and they’re saying, Jimmy, those were the best of times, you know, like, no matter what I knew you had my back. And, you know, anywhere, anytime I do it again, and there’s no greater mark or respect in my mind, then I haven’t had that quality of connection with people. And that doesn’t, as I said earlier, you know, what, you know, it doesn’t mean that you’re carrying them as I said, you know, be firm, be fair, you know, treat, be carrying in, you know, treat performance for what it is if, you know, if someone’s not performing, then you know, and, again, depending on your circumstances, I mean, you coach them into a performing type. condition. If they’re not if they’re still Performing after you’ve given them that quality of care that like there should be no surprises, when you finally walk up to that individual and say, Look, this is I’m sorry, this is just not working out. And, you know, I’m going to help you make a transition and, and be fair in in cutting that cord and making that transition. And those who are still in the office after that gentleman or that lady that has been respectfully, you know, ushered out, are going to know that, that it’s not a it’s not a fear of performance, it’s been engendered, it’s, it’s a knowledge that, you know, I’m sure I’m expected to perform, that I’m going to be coached, I’m going to be provided the resources and you know, it’s, it’s fair and if we get to that point where I just can’t cut the grade then then I actually want to go because I’m letting my teammates down. I’m letting I’m failing to achieve the mission. I don’t, you know, it shouldn’t want to hang around just for the sake of the paycheck because I’m not doing myself great service. In terms of achieving my potential, there’s got to be another spot where I can grow and learn and be honored for the strengths that I bring to the table, rather than just, you know, being ignored and shunned because I’m still here, even though I’m not making a full contribution.
CK LIN 49:16
tactically? Is there a specific way that you can let people go with grace and dignity? And I asked that question, let me underline that a little bit. Because HR reasons or litigation reasons, a lot of startups actually don’t want to focus on the light. Hey, certain people leave so they just kind of quietly let those people go. And one thing that I comes to mind, one quote that comes to mind is people not gonna remember what you say or what you do, but they will remember how you make them feel forever and ever. And in doing that, you know, I have been on the receiving end of that myself. It doesn’t make me feel good. Right, to basically be let go that way. Right. So I’m curious to know, tactically? Is there a specific recommendation that you have for founders, entrepreneurs, to really allow people to let them go with dignity and grace? And that they get like, hey, it’s not working out, but
Unknown Speaker 50:24
good luck to you. So I guess my first response to that would be to say, do it yourself. And, you know, as a couple of things in the lead up to it, I mean, there should never be any surprises. I mean, an individual should know that is perhaps trending in this direction. And again, you’re not, you know, hopefully you’re not working at it from a fear based viewpoint that says, look at if you don’t, if you don’t have to grade you’re out of here. It’s like, Yeah, no, it’s you’re not hacking the grade. And help me understand why, you know, is it is it a training issue? Is that a resource issue? Is it a Is it a desire based issue on your part, like, are you do you really want to be here like You know, and, and again, I’m you know, I’m not so naive as to say there aren’t circumstances that just require, you know, some decisions to be made promptly, right, in order to move on, then, you know, you know, ideally, you know, that’s, that’s the sort of circumstances that’s going to see people treated better. Many people sort of, are surprised when I relay the fact that in the military, there is no HR. And so I ran an organization of over 4000 people eventually, and there’s no HR there’s, there’s you as a leader, and, you know, you’re, you’re the individual who is looking after their training and their development and their feedback, you know, constructive feedback and the performance management issues and so on. And so, you know, I think, again, a lot of times in startups, my experience would be that, you know, there’s there’s really no such thing as performance management. I mean, you know, you had to do it or you don’t when you don’t I blame you and perhaps, you know, Some sharp words are exchanged, and you bloody well better get it right the next time. And, and so, you know, that’s, that, again is not a, and it’s partly the, you know, so organizationally, it’s a fault and it’s going to cost you tremendously. Now, I don’t necessarily follow that entrepreneur leader because he or she may have never actually had an experience where performance management was done skillfully themselves, and so they’re simply, you know, repeating the circumstances that they’ve experienced and
CK LIN 52:35
doing what, what’s, what’s been working for them?
Unknown Speaker 52:38
Well, it didn’t work for them. You know, in your own instance, here, you’ve said it didn’t work for me. And so, you know, then the question is, okay, well, you know, if I ever get into a position like that, am I going to do it better? You know, am I actually going to learn something about it? And in this instance, you know, like in, in my instance, again, the practices were long standing, they were there and that all works and in the corporate sector, okay, so maybe you do HR in somebody that’s skilled in that area. But again, it’s like bring those skills to the table so that you know, it can happen, take an active part in it yourself as the CO leader so that you, you know, that the system is fair, stand up in front of people and explain, you know, the system and the approach and your values as a leader as an organization, like, define the culture and the expectations that you want to see present within the organization. And don’t be shy about doing that. And that’s often the challenge for, you know, as we talked a little bit about the, you know, the introverted entrepreneurs that are technical experts, and yet, you know, what’s the value, I mean, at some kind of abstract concept that, you know, I’ve never spent time talking about or really thinking about, like, you know, give me another spreadsheet. So, you know, it’s about gaining confidence to get in front of people and to know yourself well enough and be able to say this is this. These are The values that I want to be present within the organization and you know what? I’m going to demonstrate them first, and perhaps, you know, ideally more strongly than anybody that I expect them from. And only do I want to hold myself to that standard, but I give you permission to raise that observation to me if it appears that I’m not honoring those values. So by having those kinds of conversations and setting those expectations, not only of others, but I’m giving them the permission to hold those expectations of you. And to challenge around it is going to truly help create an open, trusting culture that says it, it really is okay. And be cautious because the first time somebody ever does demonstrate the courage to challenge you, if you chomp on them, that’s the last time they ever Will anybody ever will.
CK LIN 54:56
So when you meet entrepreneurs, the people that you coach Do you have more of? Again, I’m going to go back to tactics. What framework? Because it’s this concept of leadership is hard to grok. grasp. So are there a roadmap of framework or mental model was a visual for them to, like, Hey, here’s where I can start. You show them that or is this super customized based on the situation? And you just give him very customized answers.
Unknown Speaker 55:32
yeah, I mean, I, I tend to work from a customized standpoint personally, because, you know, I’ve been privileged fortunate to be in a, you know, I’m in a, quite a range of businesses. So, you know, and it may not help the folks that are looking for the template, you know, but I guess I would say, if I talk about the assessments that I go through, and it’s first about sitting down with the individual and really getting you know, a deep understanding between the here she and I around so where are you on the self awareness scale? Like how? What’s your level of courage in terms of even stepping up to what you consider to be your own strengths and weaknesses? How adept Are you at, you know, implementing that wielding those skills in the organization? You know, what’s most pressing at this point in time? Is it you know, is it literally that you’re under fire, so to speak, and you simply need to execute and there may be some casualties but, you know, the whole businesses never even getting it off the ground if I can’t, if I can’t execute and, and so, you know, what are what are the exact circumstances of the business, what’s the nature of the individual and then putting in practice, you know, a lot of dialogue with the with, with the CEO, and then potentially with the executive team, you start taking a look at it in terms of saying well what’s what’s the state of dialogue? within the team? You know, how deep are there trust issues on the team? how clear are the values? how clear are the performance expectations, you know, the goals that are to be achieved? How free and open is the nature of the dialogue that we can have? Like? Do we all agree what the problem is? Do we have a common understanding about how to solve the problem? And, you know, and a level of commitment across the team around how we’re going to solve that and are there are there decent Are you know, are there any after action processes in place so that you can examine that last iteration of, of execution to determine, you know, what, what were the issues and how do we, how do we methodically go about executing better on the next round, and as you, you know, again, as you go to the next stage and the next stage, the next stage You know, as a CEO, is it am I, you know, where am I at? Am I? Am I needing HR? Am I needing, you know, investment advice? Am I needing, you know, how do I begin to flush out the organization at the right time in order to build more structure around the execution and the marketing functions in order to in order to carry it forward. So, you know, it’s a kind of a great big long, it depends, but, you know, it’s, it depends. I think, if you if you try and walk in with some kind of a cookie cutter approach that is going to fit every single individual, every single entrepreneurship, you’re I would probably not even offer that individual coffee, let’s put it that way. And say, look, you know, I’m not interested in a template, I’m interested in learning and learning and growing and understanding that, you know, you’ve seen a range of circumstances and that you’ve helped that co learn and grow and create success in those in a range of circumstances.
CK LIN 59:05
Yeah, I appreciate that. I guess I asked the rhetorical question because I kind of know the answer. But but but I wanted to hear your point of view on this because for a lot of entrepreneurs, here’s the thing. What most people would tell me is we need more funding, or we need to improve our product services in such that we get more revenue, right this is these are like typical. Okay, the father let’s actually talk about I live in LA Why do and why do you feel the need? Why is there always a threat? What do you feel like you’re on the fire? Because from my point of view, you can’t be a high performer you can’t operate on a high level if you’re feeling that your safety is threatened at all times. Just this not you’re not going to sleep well and not going to eat well. I’m not going to exercise. What am I going to interact with people? Well, you’re just going to be more irritable and it’s just a lot of costs. To be Yes, you may Be able to get a little bit more performance out of yourself in or out of your people. You can do that a couple of times. You do that all the time. No one wants to work with you anymore.
Unknown Speaker 1:00:15
Yeah, again, you know, you may find people that are sprinters, if you’re looking at a short flip, and I worked at one oil and gas company in, in Calgary, and her, you know, probably seven or $800 million in market cap, privately held. And, you know, the CEO had built and sold a couple of small oil and gas companies. And this was another new venture and largely the team came with them. And that’s something that often happens to you know, if you get good at the flip, you may say, you know, you get a bit of a team and I’m going to come with you and so, get into this next instance. And then all of a sudden, the circumstances change slightly in something that was supposed to be a two or three year journey turns into something that’s going to take 10
JIM DONIHEE 1:00:56
And suddenly the skills that were needed from that CEO and that team to actually hang together over 10 years were completely different than because man, I can’t sprint for 10 years. I can sprint for one or two, but the the family consequences, the health consequences the mean all the rest of those consequences are just too high. If you think that you’re going to sustain that pace for even two or three years as a an astronomical length of time. You know, if you think you can do it for 10 you will be so, you know, I am fluent in France yc, ap PZ, you know, you’re just spent you are, you know, like there’s, you are an empty shell at the end of that. And not only you but you know, you’ve probably lost half those team members along the way because they didn’t sign up for a marathon. They’re sprinters and so I you know, perhaps while you’re sprinting, at times, you need to keep in mind that it could turn into a marathon. And you actually need to keep some reserve, you need to get on one of the biggest pieces of advice that I would offer, you know, and I. So when I first was promoted and took over the first Squadron that I lead as a as the commander, about 380 people, and I had this, I had some impression, I mean, seen them work with lots of really fine leaders. And then, you know, standing up the microphone that first day in front of the parade, you know, I, this incredible pressure I imposed upon myself to be profound. Like I’m the leader, you know, I must be profound. I’m, I’m the CEO, I must know it all. You know, and what I learned very quickly, was it No, I mean, I just need to be myself. And that’s, that’s what the men and women that you’ll work with or who you will employ most want to see. They just want to know who you are. They want to know whether you’re trustworthy or not. And they’ll figure out in a heartbeat or two, whether you’re If you’re pretending, then we’re right back to where we were a while ago where the best I can offer us a paycheck and maybe, you know, some kind of shallow employment for a period of time. But if they know you, and they truly come to believe in you and understand that you believe and care about them equally, then they’re going to be around. And so that whole aspect of authenticity of,
CK LIN 1:03:25
Unknown Speaker 1:03:26
trustworthiness, and, you know, in, put a bit of a plug in on I’m not affiliated with them any longer. There are several models, but in the US, I think there’s an organization called Vistage or in Canada, it’s called tech, TC, the executive committee. And so, you know, CEOs it’s a very lonely place. I mean, you know, how much can you can find in your executive team, you know, I mean, all there, there, it’s a lonely place, and I’ve been there and I know it and that’s why engaging Engaging a coach or finding some form of structure that you can go to where you’ll meet your peers as CEOs, and be able to share, you know, your fears and your struggles and your pains and your plans. And to have them form, you know, call it an advisory board or something of that nature, but find someplace to go or find yourself a coach. Because if you try and go it alone, it’s an extremely lonely place, and it doesn’t need to be.
CK LIN 1:04:34
Yeah, I think the tendency for people, especially men, more specifically, is I must know everything I need to come from a place of strength. And there’s really no one that I can talk to because what’s the point because either I solve it, I figure it out, or I don’t, by telling others about what I’m dealing with. You know, it’s not going to get me closer to the outcome,
Unknown Speaker 1:05:01
yeah, but I, I would disagree strongly with that premise. Because I think, you know, imagine for a moment that for a modest investment, you could increase the probability of your success by 60 or 70%. Why would you not choose to do that? You know, if you’re truly impassioned, and realize as many entrepreneurs do that, you know, I’ve got, I got personal loans against my house, I’ve got, I’m all in, you know, and so, I think that’s a mistake that many make also is, you know, I like I just need to go this alone. And you know, that $20,000 or that $10,000, or whatever the number is for that coach or that organization, like, I just, I just, it’s not on the books and how does it look, if I’m spending that money when I’m telling everybody at the executive table that we’re capital constrained in terms of, you know, making anything happen? And again, I just say, you know, do your best to put that to rest because you know, Pick a number collar 20 k for the sake of argument, which was probably roughly what one of those offerings is worth, you know, compared to the total capital investment that you’ve got in the company, like it’s peanuts compared to the probability of success. And I, you know, I had the privilege to lead one of those groups for several years, as well as being a, you know, member of a group. And I can, I can assure you, that I’ve witnessed and been party to, you know, companies that have grown and are now succeeding very well, by virtue of the quality of conversations that they had in those rooms, like where you can go and actually let down as a CEO, because, like, I just don’t know the answer to this one, you know, in these folks that are surrounded that surrounding that table, you know, they, they, they’re invested in your success, like not, not because they’re holding shares, but like, in the same way you’re invested in their success and giving them advice. They’re doing that for you. And so I just think that’s a gem. That, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs should take a peek at. And then, again, whether it’s coaching some lower order form, or whether it’s something like this stage or other models. As a, as an entrepreneur growing, you know, we talked about the leadership journey and all of those things. And so, you know, you need to continue to invest in yourself, you need to look in the mirror and understand that there are areas, there are gaps in your knowledge base and your experience base, that are critical threats to your ability to succeed in business. And why my question would be, you know, if you sit in my seat for a moment and say, you know, you’re a fully qualified f8 team pilot, and I’m about to send you into battle. And I say, look, you know, don’t worry about the threats out there. Because, you know, like, if you don’t know about them, you know, just go in there blissfully, and everything’s gonna be fine. You know, I don’t think you’d follow me very far in the back. If you thought that was the case, and and I just offer that analogy and say it’s in my mind, it’s, it is no different to take a look at how you want to grow your business, you know, and your personal weaknesses, your personal mental gaps are threats to your success. And if you fail, to have the courage to step into an environment and surround yourself with peers, as CEOs who are in that same environment, and to learn and benefit from that, then you know, good luck. It sounds like I mean, to me, it sounds like you’re rolling the dice more than you’re truly invested in, in being circumspect and learning in seeking out advice.
CK LIN 1:08:51
Yeah, one of the things I harp upon and then thank you for sharing that, by the way, I really want the listeners to get is there’s such value: mentally physically spiritually emotionally, economically, relational Lee, financially, to surround yourself with their wise counsel. peers, people want the best for you people with experience people who are wise people who can call you on bullshit. Yes. Because ultimately we all have blind spots. I don’t care how smart how motivated how hard working you are, how gifted you are, how talented you are, doesn’t matter. You if you as long as you a human being there’s no one that is omniscient. Yeah, and has Omni presence just impossible. So such value in doing that. Is there anything else from your point of view? Is it that’s like a pivotal investment opportunities for growth, to uncover one’s blind spot Your point of view, another books, resources, seminars or whatever it may be like critical things that if they are your son in law, let’s say or daughter in law, let’s say they’re doing this business thing, and they’re growing the company’s doing well. What advice would you give them to say, hey, here is a number of venues that you should look into as a way to help you uncover your blind spot.
Unknown Speaker 1:10:28
Again, I don’t think there’s any single bullet silver bullet, you know, it’s a you need to have an inquisitive mind. I think, you know, reinforcing what you just said, you need to absolutely understand that you don’t know it all. And you don’t, and it’s actually I think it’s a greater weakness to pretend to pretend that you I think it’s a greater weakness that you try and pretend that you know it all, then that you actually demonstrate the authenticity and courage to say, you know, I don’t And, you know, to go in search of and, and so, you know, I mean, you’re going to find the number of venues, there’s lots of offerings out there, sometimes they’ll be hammered on your door and you get sick of them. But, you know, it’s the read, you know, read extensively, any specific one folder open mind. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of the San view executive summaries because I get you can found through a book in four or five pages, you know, and I mean, there’s lots of summary services of that nature. You know, they’ll give you the, you know, the highlights of all the latest books and so on, which, you know, hold an open mind, whereas this ongoing, you know, search, you know, search out the coaches and I think more than anything, you know, engage your friends in ways that invite them you know, cultivate friendships that that that are based on openness and respect and calling each other On near bullshit, because, you know, if it’s if I’m not going to do anything, but put lipstick on you every time I see you, I’m not really serving you very well, you know, if I think you’re making a mistake, you know, the quality of the friendship and the quality of the dialogue should be one that says, you know, if anything, you know, our friendship should be strengthened because I care enough about you to actually call you on your Bs, rather than than just to watch you step off the edge of that cliff. And so I’m big on this concept called care Foundation, which says, Look at I care enough about you to actually confront you and your bullshit,
CK LIN 1:12:36
a loving challenge. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 1:12:38
it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be your friend and hopefully, you know, demonstrates that I have the courage and I care deeply enough about you to want to offer my, my opinion and, you know, and so to come to that point, I mean, those books, and those advisory boards and all the rest of those things, I mean, they’re they’re offering you nothing more than information They’re not deciding for you. But to make a decision based on a wealth of information, rather than the blind spots that we spoke of earlier is going to have you in a better place. And I’m not suggesting for a moment that you constantly need to go in search of that other piece of data before you can make a decision. Because you need to make decisions. But,
CK LIN 1:13:24
you know, you can never have enough data to make that perfect decision is not possible, either.
There’s no i don’t know that there’s any perfect decision, you know, and there’s, there’s lots of writings on how much is enough and so on and so forth. But, again, it’s somewhat circumstantial in nature, but you know, just read a lot. Listen, a lot. Look in the mirror, a whole bunch, you know. And when you find that, you know, you can truly admit to yourself that I’m scared or there’s some shit that I don’t know. Then Then go talk to somebody about it, you know, engage someone with the proper level of confidentiality and circumspect miss that you can truly talk about that and work through that. Because it may be, you know, it may be a technical issue, or it may just be an issue of, you know, that art of leadership that you know that you’re breaking new ground every single time. You you grow the company to the next stage. And so, this is new territory and, you know, being able to speak with someone about that, you know, and to invest in yourself in that way, is really crucial, because I’ve seen too many instances where that incredibly talented entrepreneur actually becomes the boat anchor that limits the success of the corporation. And that’s a tragedy because the the technology could be outstanding. And you know, it’s, it’s the ego and the leadership that get in the way. And if you’re looking for, you know, some particular elevated multiple The odds of you getting it are pretty, quite diminished. If you’re not able to get out of your own way and figure out how to allow this to succeed. You know, early days, it’s probably about you, there’s a lot of ego around and ownership around the technology. And that’s, that’s admirable. If you can’t progress beyond the fact that that at a certain point that technology can no longer be about you, it needs to be about, you know, its growth and its implementation, then you’re probably going to stumble.
Let’s wrap up with a couple of questions. So you had talked about the importance of finding the right, counsel, coach? Can you give us some criteria of findings to right person when your point of view or persons
Unknown Speaker 1:15:51
Yeah. So, I mean, I, you know, I don’t I don’t know that. So persons, I’m fine with you. I’m By no means am I making any kind of a plug here, I think you need to, you need to find somebody that’s going to know who you respect to begin with, you need to find somebody who’s probably got a few scars, because they’ve, you know, they’ve been on both the upside and the downside of what’s going on and they’ve survived and they’ve sustained their integrity throughout all of that. Integrity is huge. How do you value that? How do you evaluate integrity? Well, I mean, I think a resume can, you know, give you a certain element of it, you can you can look for references and, you know, those sorts of things, which I would hope everybody would do. But then, you know, ultimately, you’re gonna sit down with that individual and determine whether there’s a connection, you know, like, hopefully, it’s, I’m never going to sit with you and lecture you. And I’m actually I’m gonna ask you more questions than ever provide answers as a coach, you know, the, the, I serve as an instrument of exploration, to help you identify the things that you you need to know and so that’s That’s where you need to come from is, you know, do you believe you can trust them? Is there a fit, you actually even feel that you can work with them? Do you have something to learn from the individual is there? You know, is, is there are their suite of references that speak to the leadership and the integrity and, and so on. So, you know, it’s going to depend a little bit on the nature of the fix that you’re looking for, is it? Is it on the leadership organizational growth path? Or is it on a technological growth path or, you know, there’s any number of resources but again, you know, give real consideration to the type of individual or the type of organization via Vistage or something of that nature that you’re going to, that you’re going to step into, because it’ll, you’ll have a dramatic impact on on how you’re going to succeed.
CK LIN 1:17:55
Thank you, Jim, so much for sharing your wisdom, share your experience, and especially from Very unique point of view the military background. I think you share with us a lot. I know that I keep trying to get the tactical, right because I know my audience. And you’re also sharing between the lines, I hope people who are listening to this really hear between the lines, the wisdom that Jim and share from his rich experience in the military in the corporate world, as a human being, so thank you so much. If people are interested in following up with you, is there a website? Is there a social handle? Where can they follow up with you? I know you also writing a book as well, if you can give us a sneak peek?
Unknown Speaker 1:18:35
Yeah, so a sneak peek, still playing a little bit with a title but in essence is going to be, you know, the common thread and the common thread is people. You know, through the success that I enjoyed in the military as a senior, senior commander, senior executive, and then moving into large multinational corporations and then working with entrepreneurs. You know, what I can say with my hand on my heart and complete conviction is that the The common thread to success is always people and your ability to lead them and to earn their trust and respect and and the reciprocal of that. And so you know, I’m hoping to have it done here in q1 of next year it’s been been quite a journey writing it in a very enjoyable and waiting for you. Yeah and so you know, I do run a small consulting firm that boutique. What you see is what you get or what you hear is what you get and it’s Jim at high flight exec.com is the is the the email address and or gym Donna he at gmail. com. And, you know, even if you just want to grab a virtual coffee at some point, I’d love to love to engage at any point.
CK LIN 1:19:47
Thank you, Jim. Really appreciate it.
JIM DONIHEE 1:19:49
My privilege. Thank you.
CK LIN 1:19:50
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