Mark Mears Helps Us Join the Purposeful Growth Revolution

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In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with author and Chief Growth Officer Mark Mears on the steps we need to take to grow as leaders and leave a lasting legacy.

A few reasons why he is awesome — he is the Chief Growth Officer for LEAF Growth Ventures LLC, helping individuals, teams and brands maximize their growth potential. He is the author of the book The Purposeful Growth Revolution – Four Ways to Grow from Leader to Legacy Builder. He has a few decades of experience in executive-level marketing roles with organizations such as PepsiCo/Pizza Hut, JCPenney, NBC/Universal among others.

Connect with, and learn more about Mark on his…

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KEY TAKEAWAYS 

  • The L.E.A.F. Model as a Framework for Leadership
  • Impact of COVID on Workplace Reflection
  • Empowerment through Listening and Valuing Team Members
  • Uprising and Revolution in Workplaces
  • The Role of Organizations in Supporting Leadership
  • The Importance of Alignment in Organizations
  • Sustainability of the Revolution through Service

“The real legacy isn’t about leaving your name on a plaque. It’s about how you’ve helped others grow, how you’ve planted seeds of growth and development in your team.”

Mark Mears

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today we have Mark Mears, and here is why he is… Awesome. He is the chief growth officer for Leaf Growth Ventures, LLC, helping individuals, teams, and brands maximize their growth potential. He’s the author of the book, The Purposeful Growth Revolution -4 Ways to Grow from Leader to Legacy Builder.

And he’s got a few decades of experience in executive level marketing roles under his belt with organizations like PepsiCo, Pizza Hut, JC Penny, NBC Universal. NBC universal among very many others. And today we’re talking about growth with purpose in the workplace. Hello, Mark.

Mark Mears: Russ. How are you?

Russel Lolacher: I’m delightful, sir. I’m looking forward to getting into this.

I I’ve looked, read, reviewed, dug into your book, excited to get into this. And I know. Oh, you, you are a man after my own heart. You have this alliteration thing that I’m just as a communications nerd that you used as a tool in here for memory thing, memorizing things. Love! Anyway, getting into all this things about L.E.A.F. and so forth, but first I want to get into the thing that I have to ask every one of my guests, which is…

What’s your best or worst employee experience, Mark?

Mark Mears: Wow. That’s a good one. I’ve had many, many really positive ones and I’ve had some stinkers as well. So I think what I’ll, I’ll do is start with the stinker. And, I don’t want to give the company name, but I will tell you it was my dream job. And it was a nightmare though, to work with a certain person.

And I, I believe that words matter. We’re going to talk about that throughout our discussion today. So I don’t ever let someone call me a boss. I asked them to call me a leader, but that’s only if I’ve earned it. Boss is a title that may be just, you know, something on your business card. And if you are truly a boss, it won’t be on that card very long because you’ll be out the door or you’ll have people leave you.

Well, I had a boss, super smart guy, and he wanted to make sure you knew that. We had weekly kind of report out meetings with everybody in this big kind of U-shaped room and everybody on a Tuesday got their numbers, usually that morning. And had to report what their division did and, and what they were going to do different next time.

And it was every week, right? So, he though would get the reports for everybody a couple days earlier. So he had the opportunity of time to go dig into the numbers. And so in the meeting, he would ask very leading questions. And if you didn’t have the answer exactly the way he wanted to hear it, he would undress you in front of everybody and make you feel about this small.

And so I remember it happened to me one time. I’m usually pretty on my numbers and pretty, you know quick to say if I don’t know something, I don’t know, but I’ll find out. And usually that wasn’t good enough, but at least I was being truthful. One particular day, I don’t know, man, maybe it was just my number got called and I got undressed in front of everybody.

And then after the meeting, he calls me into his office and says, Hey Mark, way to take it. I said, what do you mean, way to take it? He goes, don’t worry. It’s not personal. That’s just my theater. My theater. Using me as a punching bag in front of everyone and using somebody else and somebody else and somebody else to create this aura of superiority.

Like I know your business better than you do. You know, just, you know, march in line. And again, literally a dream job, but a nightmare working experience.

Russel Lolacher: Was it ever resolved or was that just the way that person was going to quote unquote lead for the rest of his career? Or did you move on? Like, was that ever, was there ever a resolution to that?

Mark Mears: Sure. I left. Because it was, he wasn’t going to change. And I wasn’t going to put up with it. Because I knew what excellence in leadership looked like having been on the other side of it and having several leaders, true leaders, not managers, not bosses, but true leaders who I looked up to, who did earn the title every day.

And so I knew what excellence looked like. And I just didn’t feel like I fit in, in that culture. So I did move on.

Russel Lolacher: It’s funny. So having done this show for almost a hundred episodes and hearing you talk to that story, it just relates to me about that double edged sword of knowing what good leadership looks like. Cause it’s, it’s just like you’ve said, it’s like, I know too much. Now I know what good leadership is supposed to look like, so I’m less…

Mark Mears: Exactly.

Russel Lolacher: tolerant. Yeah. I’m like, is ignorance better? Nah, but at the same time, it hurts because you’re a lot more sensitive to how it should be. Or could be done. Oh, knowledge is not always that great.

Mark Mears: Well, and you know it, it, it really goes back to this command and control style of management. And I’ll call it management, not leadership because it came about, I believe as a result of GIs coming back from World War Two. You know, in the late forties and into the fifties when the businesses were booming and they were trained with that.

Well, in the army, you have to have that type of command and control style. Lives are at stake, but in the workplace you’re dealing with human beings and it’s not necessarily life or death. Although some leaders want to make you feel like it is. And so we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So those of us of a certain age, we tolerated it as just that status quo.

You know, you don’t bring that weak crap in here. You keep all that at home, you put your nose to the grindstone, and if you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming back in on Sunday, you know, kind of attitude. Right? And today you know, I think it was trending with millennials and now Gen Z in that direction, but really COVID gave us all a bit of a time out to reflect deeply on not only what, but who matters most in our lives.

I mean, we were sequestered in our homes and shelter in place and we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And this wasn’t a red or blue thing, a white or black things, this was a global thing. And everyone was trying to figure it out. And maybe we got COVID ourself. Maybe a family member, maybe some of our family members or close circle was hospitalized or God forbid, even maybe died as a result.

So I think now you know, people are less tolerant of that command and control style. And it’s not because I think so. It’s because the Sloan School of Management at MIT did a survey of 34 million people who left the workforce during COVID and ask them a simple question. Why? The number one answer, Russ, over 10 times greater than the second most given answer was toxic work environment. It’s as if people were saying, I’m mad as hell. I’m not going to take it anymore. The old Broadcast News line. So the new world of work is changing on purpose and so we’re going to get into that discussion of what does that mean? And, and, and what can leaders do to maybe learn or possibly unlearn behaviors that are no longer working in the new world of work.

Russel Lolacher: But before we get into your insights into purposeful growth, I have a question that kind of jumped out at me in regards to the purpose of this book, because you talk about legacy building and I find legacy, an odd, interesting word when it comes to the workplace, because a lot of people may even associate it with ego more than anything else is like, I want to stamp on this company. It comes from somebody at the top of the C suite. That’s like, what is my legacy that I will leave behind? When that frontline staff is like, I don’t give a crap about your legacy. I just want to get a home or I just want to get my day’s work.

So what is, what do you mean when you talk about legacy?

Mark Mears: I’m really glad you brought that up Russ, because you know, when I talk about words matter, so do the perception of the word and the definition, right? Cause a lot of people think of legacy, they think of bequeathing something after someone’s passed on. Right? And that my legacy is what I leave. And then what you mentioned is it could be ego driven.

If someone is ego driven, they may be like, well, I really want to put my stamp on this, and this is my baby, and blah, blah, blah. But what I’m talking about is a more humble, servant leader approach. Leaving things better than when you found it is never a bad thing. Making people better because you help mentor them, you invested in them, you planted seeds in them and you watered and fertilized it and you watched it grow.

Those are kind of the definitions of legacy that I’m talking about. So if we think about this L.E.A.F. model, leadership represents… and it stands for leadership, engagement, accountability, and fulfillment. So picture a four circle Venn diagram where each of these kind of processes are inner intertwined, but all revolving around purposeful growth.

So leadership represents the seed and the roots, just like in a, in a company. It’s all about establishing a strong root system so the plant can have a foundation, a strong foundation to grow. And the end result of that process is alignment. Then if you have that, you don’t really got a stump. So you have to have the trunk, the branches and the system of nourishment, which is called Sabia in Spanish that translates to English is lifeblood.

What’s the lifeblood of any organization? Its people. And so you want to engage people through their heart, their head, their hands and their habits. In a way that leads to empowerment because we know empowered people are more invested in the outcome will maybe donate more discretionary effort because they have a stake in the, in the game.

They’re empowered to be the very best they can be. Well, that then leads to accountability, which is the leaf and the fruit. It all came about because of a fig tree in my backyard. And I’ll tell you the backstory, in a quick moment. But, you know, I was unceremoniously let go from a position where I was the president of an organization that was part of a publicly traded company.

And we were a division that they wanted to invest capital in if we were to help grow it. And we did but unfortunately we had done it a little sooner than they thought and they decided, well, why don’t we strike while the iron’s hot? And so they ended up selling this to a new owner. Well, that new owner came in after months of courtship and promises of keeping me and my team and this, that, the other thing, the deal closed on a Friday and that Monday morning at eight o’clock, I’m out the door.

We’ll take it from here. Okay. I learned a really valuable lesson about corporate America in that moment. Well, we lived in Southern California at the time, and we had a fig tree in our backyard that was this is like February 21st, maybe about 10 years ago. And that is about the time that spring starts to emerge.

Well, after that happened that Monday morning, the next day, I take the dog out after a fitful night of sleep and Russ as God is my witness, as the sun was coming up over the wall on our backyard and it shone on that fig tree and on one branch was a tiny little green sprig of a leaf just starting to emerge.

It was there I got this epiphany that leaf is not only a symbol of growth and rebirth, but it’s also now an acronym and I saw it as leadership, engagement, accountability, and fulfillment. So that fig tree only knows how to be a fig tree. It’s accountable for its genus as a fig tree. And it’s designed to grow fig leaves, because we all know that from science in high school, if you weren’t asleep like I probably was, all growth happens through the leaf of a tree, through the magic of photosynthesis.

Well, its purpose is to grow fig leaves so that fig tree can grow strong and tall, but also bear fig fruit. That fruit is not only sustenance for people and animals, but in it, it has seeds. Which we’ll get to in a minute. And then the F stands for fulfillment, which is really the ecosystem. It’s the sun, the soil, the rain that allows that photosynthesis to occur.

It’s a nurturing environment. Much like the culture, or I’ll get around to saying community instead of culture here in a minute, of an organization that would allow that fig tree or that human being to be the very best they can be. So then, when you think about that, and you think about our Four Seasons, you think also about the seeds.

So I believe those who bear the most fruit have the opportunity, and I’ll even say the responsibility, to scatter the most seeds and that will help leave a legacy of growth behind for new trees to grow. So it’s not the ego driven. I want to leave a legacy because I want my name on a building or on a plaque or something.

It’s about not waiting till I’m dead. But every day, how can I be more purposeful in helping to mentor, invest in grow, provide opportunities for the people that. Work with me, not for me, their team members, not employees or random employee ID numbers or workers or staffers because words matter. And if you’ve ever played team sports, Russ, that feeling of being on a team, wearing a jersey with your number, having a position, having other people count on you and you count on others is unmatched.

And that is how I believe teams should work. In the workplace. So that’s kind of the L.E.A.F. model at a high level. I hope that answers your question about my definition of legacy, because I want to help leaders actually become legacy builders. Going beyond leading just projects and things, but, but really again, investing in their team members to where they are better because of that leader.

Russel Lolacher: True, but see here, I’m going to put my Negative Nelly hat on for a minute because I just love saying the word Negative Nelly. Truth be said, you’re talking about a type of leadership that doesn’t always exist in organizations because leadership could be very much… You’re talking about a mindset. You’re talking about trying to improve the workplace, but there are some leaders that know that their leadership is defined as fixing somebody else’s problem, going to the next meeting. It’s much more about that. And they don’t have time to to, to engage with their staff, the other than to go, go do that thing I need you to go do, I’ll go talk to you when you’re done doing it. Like that’s, that’s leadership to them. So how do you shift a mind into this way of thinking when they’re just like, you know what? I would love to, if I had five minutes to take a course, to develop my time. If I had this, if I had that, because mindset is always the hardest thing to change, you could get tactics all you like…

Mark Mears: Right.

Russel Lolacher: But it’s that mind shift that scares me.

Mark Mears: Yeah. No, that’s a great point. And, and as we know, you control your mind. I mean, unless you’re brainwashed, you get to control your mind. You get to control today. I want to show up different. Why? Well, because I’ve seen several members of my team leave. And, and I know that we’re in a labor issue and shortage right now.

I know that there is quiet quitting going on. There’s the historic levels, low levels of engagement, according to Gallup state of the annual global workplace study. And, and so that’s not a good thing. So are you going to learn something new? Or are you going to choose to maybe unlearn behaviors that no longer serve you and your team?

And like anything, like AI that’s coming at us rapidly, are you going to cling to old ways of thinking and, or are you going to adapt when new ways of thinking come in. It’s just like technology. But now management, it’s got to be leadership. It can’t just be managing projects and timelines and budgets.

You have to do all that. Those are the entry fees or the green fees. If you’re a golfer, right? But now you’ve got to take on this higher responsibility and maybe, think differently, invest in yourself. If you’re not getting this, you know education in your workplace. Oh, I don’t know. There’s a pretty darn good book called the Purposeful Growth Revolution: 4 Ways to Grow from Leader to Legacy Builder that you can invest in.

And you can also invest in your team members by, by listening, you know. And when I say putting the human back and human resources, all we need is love. We need to bring love in the workplace. Now, Russ, it’s not the kind of love that’s going to get you a quick call from HR and escort out of the building.

It is a model which stands for Listen, Observe, Value, and Empower. So listening to people, I’m sure most leaders have one on one meetings or team meetings or report outs of some kind. Getting people one on one is especially important in this new hybrid world of work where you may not be in the same room.

So that’s a challenge in and of itself, but being able to listen to them and creating a safe space for them to feel comfortable being vulnerable, telling you what’s really going on with them, with their lives, with their work, with their coworkers, with you as their leader. And then also listen to the same things that they’re not saying. Ask good questions. Like a lot of people are, are, are having mental health issues and it’s now becoming more okay to talk about it. Or maybe they’ve got a sick kid who’s got about to go in for surgery and they’re worried about that. Or maybe they’re going through a divorce and they’re having personal issues at home. Those are the kind of things that as a leader, if you know that, you can provide a little more empathy, a little more grace a little more human and then observe them. And, and I don’t mean observe them in a standoffish way, but coach and mentor them. I hate that whole outdated, archaic annual performance appraisal. It sounds like cattle or something or real estate, right?

I mean, I happen to live in Kansas City where the Chiefs are a pretty big deal. Andy Reid’s the coach. He doesn’t wait till the end of the season to provide advice and counsel and coaching. They’re doing it on the field every day and they’re doing it in film sessions and they’re doing it in real time because they know that’s the way to get the best out of each other on the team.

So observing and then valuing them. Of course we want to do reward and recognition in person and in private, but that’s not the only way to show value, that you value someone. Maybe invest in their training. Maybe, AI is a big deal and some people are freaked out about it. Maybe you want to invest in some courses so they can learn how to incorporate it into your business.

Or, or maybe it’s about now, like we’re talking about learning how maybe direct reports to you who lead other people, maybe investing in how they can learn how to be better leaders and legacy builders. There’s a lot of ways to add, you know, or to see people in a more valuable way. And then finally empower them, you know, remember when we were kids learning how to ride a bike?

At some point you take the training wheels off. At some point, you start down, you know, the hill with the bike and you might fall down a time or two and mom or dad puts you back on. And then by the time you’re, you’re pedaling, the sense of freedom that you feel when you finally can do something without somebody guiding you or micromanaging you.

That’s what I mean by empowerment. So if you listen to someone, observe them on a deeper level, you invest in them and demonstrating value and you empower them to be the very best they’re capable, capable of being, you will get after some of the most stated answers from the Gallup Global State of the Workplace Study that says, here are areas where engagement is declining. And see if these sound familiar to you, Russ.

Clarity of expectations, connection to the mission or purpose of the company, opportunities to learn and grow, opportunities to do what they say employees, I say team members do best. And feeling cared about at work. Those all sound pretty humanistic, right? And I’m not asking people to be someone they’re not capable of being.

We’re all capable of being humans because we’re all humans. And we all know the golden rule of treating others the way we would want to be treated. So it’s really not harder than that, but it is about adopting a learning mindset, being humble to know that you don’t know what you don’t know, or you need to unlearn things that no longer serve you.

And that word serve is important. Be of service to your team as if you are there for them versus they are there for you. You will be surprised at how much your team’s going to love you and how much they’re going to be engaged and how much they’re going to be productive and how long they’ll stay versus the other way around, which we’ve seen the end of that movie, and it’s not pretty.

Russel Lolacher: In the L.E.A.F. model, how do you overcome resistance? Because you can do whatever you like within your team, but you don’t control culture necessarily within your entire organization. You might be able to control culture within yours. You may read this book and have this own little model of what you’re doing, but how do we overcome, or as you love your acronyms, the F.U.D.D. of it all, the fear, uncertainty, doubt, and delay.

Like, how do you get through that roadblock to this other end.

Mark Mears: Yeah, great question Russ. I think that the key is you got to start somewhere. It’s easy. You know, I’ve had several level, C level positions. And and I always said, you know, I want I want the marketing and menu team when I worked with restaurants, but the marketing team when I worked with others, I want us to lead the way. Because we’re the kind of standard bearers for the brand, because I actually think there are four brands in one to go back to that four circle Venn diagram. There’s the personal brand, which is getting a lot more attention these days than ever before. We’re all human beings and whole people. We need to be able to bring up.

We feel safe bringing our whole self to work. Then there’s the internal brand. So if the, if the personal brand asked the question, who am I? The internal brand is the, you know, is the enterprise, it’s the internal team members that comprise that collective we. Which asks the question, what do we stand for?

And then there is the external brand, which most people think is the only brand. It’s not that it’s, you know, pointed at the customer or community. And then ask the question, what value is exchanged? Because I believe all… Marketing is about a value exchange. What do I get for what do I pay? And then finally there is now in more and more in vogue, the employer brand, which asked the question, do I belong here?

So if you have those four as stakeholders and you understand that in your sphere of influence, All we would ask you to do as a leader is control what you can control. You’re right. You know, I can’t control what operations or finance or HR or IT or training or, you know, any other department does. But what I can control is what my team does.

And how we provide that beacon of light that says it can be done and others say, I want that too. And I also work with my peers in HR, in operations, in training, you know, to, to work collectively on this greater good, not just in the marketing team that I might lead. So I use the word community versus culture.

A culture is not a bad thing, but I think it’s often misused and ill defined. Think about a culture as a place that you might just merely feel like you’re part of. But a community is a place where you might feel like you belong in. And that sense of belonging is the trick. And so important. We’re, you know, we’re talking about DEI today and we should.

We need to make even more progress. But diversity, when you think about it, just gets you in the room. Equity gives you an equal voice. Inclusion gives you a seat at the table. All those are good, but if someone doesn’t feel they belong? They’re most likely not going to feel safe enough to be vulnerable to give of their very best because they don’t want to rock the boat.

Maybe it took them a long time to get in that room. And so who wins in that scenario? You’re not getting the best out of your team member. And they may have great ideas, but that F.U.D.D. that you talked about which is a chapter in my book, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and delay. They may be fearful. What if I fail?

What if I say something stupid, uncertain? Am I willing to give up my maybe unsatisfying status quo to risk what I feel I’m truly called for? And then doubt those kind of background voices that are like wet cement that can harden if you let them. And you listen to ’em instead of fighting through them, and then delay is that paralysis as it can happen with all three of the above?

Well, I’m just gonna give myself a shot of dopamine and make myself feel good in the moment and I’ll, I’ll deal with all that later. Well, I’ve come up with the antidote to F.U.D.D., Russ. It’s Faith overcomes fear. Hope overcomes uncertainty. Belief overcomes doubt. And action, indeed purposeful action, can overcome the paralysis of delay.

So you got to start somewhere. You got to know what you’re doing. You got to listen to people. You got to tell them what you’re doing so that they understand what marks showing up different at work these days. What’s gotten into him? I kind of like him better, but I don’t know why. And being vulnerable to say, Hey guys I don’t have all this figured out yet, but here’s what I do know.

I’m not sure I’ve been leading in a way that’s really true to my own ethos. And I think I’ve been passing along some behaviors that maybe I’ve learned the hard way, thinking that’s just status quo. I’m going to show up different and I’m going to ask you to give me grace as I work through this. I’m going to ask you for feedback and I want it to be honest.

Because I truly want to be your leader and I also want to leave a legacy of leadership so that you can take this and do likewise with your directs, your team members. Right? And so now let’s let’s work on this together.

Russel Lolacher: You and I both know that leaders are in any level of the organization. There is no title. It is a responsibility. It is a chosen responsibility, not something that is bestowed upon you. I love when people ask me if I’m a great leader. I’m like ask my staff, like I, They’re the, they’re the, they’re the ones that’ll tell you whether I’m a good leader or not because are they being led or they…, anyway. The reason I bring that specific thing up is purposeful growth, as you’ve explained it, I hear a lot of individual talk. I hear a lot of growth talk. around teams. But what is the organization’s role when it comes to supporting or not supporting something like this? So the whole organization may have all these leaders at all this level, but as I sort of mentioned before, if they’re not on board, but what can they be doing to support this kind of work?

Mark Mears: They should be leading it, first of all. And, and But, but here’s what I do know, having been in several C suites, power kind of likes to stay in power. And people don’t necessarily like being told that what they’re doing isn’t working. So just like most revolutions, they bubble up from the people.

So there’s a reason why I said the purposeful growth revolution. Because there’s three definitions, and I want to hit them real quick. The first one is an uprising of the people. I think of the American Revolution, French Revolution, people feeling oppressed rise up. Well, I just mentioned that MIT study about people revolting.

And you heard about the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting. It’s from that toxic work environment. Okay, so it’s happening, and as a senior leader, you have to be aware of that, and if you’re not, you’re tone deaf. The second definition is a dramatic change in the status quo. You think during COVID we’ve had a little change in the status quo?

With now a hybrid workplace, some people saying, I hell no, I won’t go back to work, I’m staying remote. Others are saying, I really need that environment, to feel like I’m connected to feel like I am in community and some people are like, I feel both ways. So maybe 3 days a week, 2 days a week. I think we’re going to go to a 4 day work week at some point, like they’re testing in the UK.

But that’s a sidebar. The 3rd definition is a circular object orbiting another. And so I’ll say that circular object is us. We need to be whole people. And so I look at that four circle Venn diagram to say there’s four realms of service. Spiritual, relational, personal, and professional. And so having that sense of safety that I can be who I am and I don’t have to, you know, just wear a smile or a mask, is, is really, an important way that the leadership team in an organization should create that sense of community, not just a culture that says we’re going to have snacks brought in or a food truck or you know, we’re going to play games.

Yeah. Some of that’s really good, but it’s not part of a broader strategy of really listening and saying, what would it take for us to create a community? Versus just a culture and that should come from the senior leadership team, but if it doesn’t, I’m suggesting that all is not lost. That’s where that uprising the people come from. That’s where it can bubble up and a good leader goes, wow. I saw Russ. His team loves him. They seem like they’re working, you know longer hours maybe or harder or just they’re more productive and they seem like they’re really happy doing what they’re doing and some of them are raising their hand saying, I want, I want extra projects.

I want more chances to learn and grow. We’re not seeing that on my team. We’re not seeing that on Sally’s team. What’s he doing that we can learn from? And you know, it should come both ways. It should start with the top. And that’s where the very first part of the, the leadership is, is about clarity.

Of, of your mission, vision and values, and then it gets to connection. How do you connect it to your business priorities? Like how you make money? Cause if you don’t connect it, all you’re doing is having a few posters that people salute when they walk in the door that are a bunch of empty platitudes.

So you have to be able to connect them. And then, then you have to be able to communicate. I like to say from the boardroom to the break room, it has to just be roll off the tongue, second nature. Right? And then you have to inspire a commitment for people to now want to make those plans come to life that then leads to engagement of hardheaded hands and habits that then leads to accountability and fulfillment and that whole process.

But it starts with that alignment. Getting everybody aligned is like If you’ve ever seen a rowing team, like a really good college team, maybe the Olympics. I remember going to the Olympics in Atlanta back in 1996 and we were actually staying on a houseboat in Lake Lanier. And so we went to a few races and I saw these hulking athletes in these small little skulls and different shapes and sizes.

But they all had their oars in the water and were rowing together to a common cadence, which is called swing, where actually the boat lifts out of the water and a rowing friend of mine said, Yeah, that’s called swing. So I don’t know if that’s where you heard getting the swing of it comes from, but I don’t, it comes from, I don’t know, I don’t know.

But all I know is you see an organization that’s totally aligned top to bottom. They know who they are, what they stand for. They know how to connect it to their business priorities. They know how to communicate it up, down, sideways across all stakeholders. And then they’re committed to making the plan come to life.

That’s when you know, you’ve got really a great organization.

Russel Lolacher: But every revolution needs to be sustained, Mark. It can’t be a one off. So I’m kind of asking maybe even you in how you would recommend people sustain this purposeful growth revolution. I know you use a lot of quotes in the book as a way of inspiring and getting people to maybe think maybe, so is it, is it looking outside yourself?

Is it pulling the energy from your team? Like how would you recommend to get this mind shift shift and sustain this mind shift? How would you go about doing it?

Mark Mears: Yeah, this is not some, um, you know, flavor of the month, fly by night concept. It’s been with us forever and Simon Sinek came up with this whole start with why movement several years ago is as part of a famous TED talk, essentially, people want to know why you do what you do before they carry how you do it, or even what you do. And he calls it his magic circles, which is like a, like a bullseye and why is right there in the middle. Concentric circle approach. My approach is we should start with who, and specifically who we serve. And if you think about it, and he’s a marketing guy, so I don’t know why he didn’t come up with this. But in marketing, we’re always taught, you know, you start with your target audience. You don’t just come out with a, you know, a coat and a bunch of watches and say, which one do you want?

You have to find out who are you talking to and what are their needs and wants that you have a product or service that could can make a positive connection? It’s that value exchange I was talking about earlier. So starting with who and specifically who you serve is why this is sustainable. Because when you think about it again, who we are as whole people? I also believe who we serve is equal in that four circle Venn diagram approach.

And I don’t mean equal in terms of the circles being the same size, possibly never the same size. As a matter of fact, there will be, there will be changes throughout your each season of your life, but it’s spiritual, relational, family, friends, neighbors, communities, it’s professional, it’s your team, it’s your, you know, customers or clients, it’s your business partners, it’s anybody in that business ecosystem could be networking, and then it’s your personal being and that is, you know, mind, body, spirit, soul. If we don’t take care of who we serve, like ourselves, we’re no good to the other three realms of service, right? If we get ill, we work too many hours and get burned out or, you know, have a heart attack, who knows, right? And then if we concentrate too much on our family and not on our professional realm of service, then, then maybe we’re not doing our best at work.

And if there’s a layoffs or whatnot, maybe we make that list or likewise. If we’re putting too much of ourself into our profession and not our you know, relational realm, our family, our friends, so forth, we may have, you know, a situation where we lose our family. And so all of those realms of service are what we start with first. They lead us to our why and you see how making it personal, who you serve. That that creates a sense of duty that usually has a way of sustaining things. And I think back throughout my career to all of the long commutes, to late nights to early morning flights in all kinds of weather to sacrifices that were made.

I, I just always thought of who I serve. So if you can, if you can, you know, in your mind’s eye, envision who you serve, it will help you sustain. Now on a, on a company perspective, when I was the head of sales and promotion at JCPenney, in our executive conference room, we always left one chair empty. That chair was to represent our target audience.

So we were ever in any heated discussion about what our plans were for this or what we should do there. Someone would always stop and say, what would she say, our target audience, about this? Right? So who we served was paramount importance instead of just ego. And here’s what I think. And here’s what you think. It’s about what would she say? And so if you look at things through a different lens, then oftentimes people take time to really do and think through it’s going to give you that staying power when your candles burning on both ends. It’s going to give you that the energy to move forward when, you know, you’re, you’re feeling tired and weary.

And so I, I really believe that is, is again, a human, feeling that, that we need to tap into. And you used the word earlier, it’s a mindset. You control you. And so often we let others control us, and then we play the victim game, or the blame game, or the shame game, or worse, right? We don’t say, I own this.

What am I going to do different as a result? How do I train my mind to be resilient? In the face of pushback, I firmly believe that if I’m growing up into my purpose, and I’m scattering my seeds to help others do likewise, that’s a good. Right? So if people are saying negative things, or maybe it’s their ego, maybe it’s, it’s, you know, you need to address it with them.

Or maybe you just need to not listen to them because they’re in your way to do something that you feel in your heart. And down deep in your soul is the right thing. I’ve actually left positions because I was so convicted and I did my level best to do everything I’m saying. And it just didn’t change.

And I gave you one example. And so I, I think you have to have the courage of your conviction as well to make maybe choices that in the moment might be scary, but might be for your mental health and well being. And ultimately you come out of it usually better because you feel better. About yourself that you stood up and you made a point that was really, really good one.

And life goes on.

Russel Lolacher: I appreciate that, Mark. I’m just trying to wrap my brain around the why versus who thing a little bit because, and I completely agree the importance of the who, cause I’m a comms guy, I was always very much the, but who cares, but like it was always about the, that’s great, but who cares? But the why I feel is more of an internal thing.

Who is more of that? The reason like the, who changes over time, but the why is it doesn’t. Necessarily as much. So would you say they’re as much on par with each? I see them working interchangeably, not really putting one above the other. And I just wanted to be clear on that.

Mark Mears: You’re dead on, again. The model I use throughout the book, Russ, as you know, is this four circle Venn diagram. They’re very much intertwined. The who you serve butts up right next to the why you do what you do, what motivates you, what lights you up and as a leader, wouldn’t I want to know that? And then the how is really how are you unique and different?

I believe we’re all endowed with unique gifts that are different for everybody, or some call them superpowers, right? So how do you invest Transcribed Your time, your talents, your treasures, your triumphs and travails or experiences to, you know, kind of lean in to your, your superpowers, right? How do you do that to, to, to be the best player on the team?

And then finally, your what is actually, what do you do with your job responsibilities? You know, how do you use your, you know, your time, right? And so all of those are intertwined, but all Very importantly, revolving around purposeful growth.

Russel Lolacher: So I’ll ask you a personal question to wrap us up here, Mark.

Mark Mears: Sure.

Russel Lolacher: How has purposeful growth helped you?

Mark Mears: You know, that’s a great question, Russ. You’re full of them today, and they’re all all designed to make me think. And I’ll tell you, I came up with a purpose statement. I don’t know how many years ago, maybe five or six. I want to drink my own Kool Aid, right? So that purpose statement is I don’t want to just make money and retire. I want to make a difference and inspire. And that means making a difference in the lives of others. And inspiring them to want to do likewise. So it creates this virtuous cycle of reciprocity. And there is something called the law of reciprocity. And what I call all of this is paying it backward. And again, I like to think a little bit differently.

Most people say, well, didn’t it pay it forward? Well, not if you think about it the way I think about it, which is when I go to Starbucks, not only am I a growth junkie for us, but I’m a. Coffee junkie and I particularly like to go to a Starbucks near where I live and I’ll go to the drive through and I will pay for the car behind me.

I can’t physically pay for the car in front of me, but it is a metaphor to that purpose statement. So when I get up to the counter, I’ll simply say to the, the Starbucks team member partner, I guess they call him, tell the person behind him. Just God bless you. Your debt has been paid. And then I’ll drive off.

I don’t know that person. They don’t know me. I don’t know what kind of day they’re having, but I got to believe that that, that intentional act of kindness, not random, that intentional act of kindness help make their day. And what I’m told is it often creates a chain reaction because the law of reciprocity states that if someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep seated urge to do something nice for somebody else, and oftentimes in greater measure.

So imagine If we created this world where we’re all trying to do something nice for somebody else, and they’re doing something a little nicer, and the next person is doing something a little nicer, think about that ripple effect. And so I often hear when I go back to Starbucks, Oh, you’re that guy. And I’m just like, well, I’m just curious, you know, does the car behind me pay for the car behind them?

They say, Oh, almost every time. And you know, until there’s someone that breaks the chain it, it, it happens and I’m not alone in doing that. I’m not, I’m not looking at patting myself on the back. People could do it at a McDonald or any drive thru, but I just choose to be intentional about that. And that’s part of my discipline at how purpose has shaped me.

I have to drink my own Kool Aid. I have to believe that God put a purpose in Mark Mears to not just make money and retire. I don’t even know how to spell that word, right? But gave me this gift that I hope is coming through to you and your listeners and viewers is the sense of inspiration. That maybe you too might want to practice this again, not random act of kindness of waiting for the spirit to move you, but an intentional act of kindness to where you are by doing so leaving a piece of yourself.

And that’s what I mean by legacy. A piece of yourself is invested in another human being to help make their day or help make them better and help make them want to do likewise.

Russel Lolacher: Mark Mears, I got one last question for you, which is what’s one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work.

Mark Mears: Well, I think humility goes a long way. And oftentimes, and I’ve been guilty of this rust more times than I can count, um, trying to make a point, maybe, you know, sending an email I regret or saying something in a meeting I regret. But I believe going to someone that you maybe had some difficulty with and just being humble and saying, Hey, Listen, Russ you know what I said last week in that meeting, I, I was, you know, I’m passionate about what I care about, but I shouldn’t have said it that way.

And I shouldn’t have said it in front of a group of people I’m here in your office or I’m on the phone or on zoom, wherever I am. And I’m just here to say, I’m sorry. I hope that you will give me some grace and, work with me to where it won’t happen again. And again, I just apologize. I’m sorry.

Thank you. You’ll be amazed at how that disarms people than carrying a grudge and saying, well, I, now I got to write a more terse email because he wrote me back one. And now I’ve got to just lay down the sword, go to the office or find a way to have coffee and just say, look, I’m sorry. I didn’t show up as the best version of myself during that meeting or when I sent that email, I really I blew it.

I want to apologize to you. I hope you’ll accept

Russel Lolacher: That is Mark Mears. He’s the Chief Growth Officer for Leaf Growth Ventures, LLC, and the author of the book, The Purposeful Growth Revolution for Ways to Grow from Leader to Legacy Builder. Thanks so much for being here, Mark.

Mark Mears: Thank you. And if I could just ask your listeners to do one thing for me go to my website at markameers. com. That’s M E A R S, Mark A. Mears. And there you’ll find a free purposeful growth self assessment. It takes about five or six minutes and you can use it as a benchmark to kind of find out where you are with this whole notion of purposeful growth personally, but also maybe how your organization is aligned to support you as we’ve been talking about today.

And then you’ll be able to immediately download a customized report with your results. And that will get you thinking. And maybe you and I can connect on LinkedIn and start a conversation.

Russel Lolacher: I’ll definitely put a link in the show notes for sure, Mark.

Mark Mears: Thanks for us. I appreciate it.

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