Today was the longest distance. We cycled an “Iowa-century” which in the cornfields means 108 miles. Check out these great pictures of Team Moxie in Motion!
Since I’m in the middle of a cornfield with only an iPhone, I can only take pictures this trip. Fortunately Chrissy, the Director of PR/Marketing at LifeMoxie, will take all of the pictures I send via text and post them here each day. I’ve set up the blog posts in advance and she’s making sure you get the great pictures. Thank you Chrissy!
Here is the proud Moxie in Motion Team!!
Some more pictures from Day 1:
Read more about Team Moxie in Motion’s RAGBRAI adventure here.
While I’m not cycling across the country or up the coast this summer, I am cycling across the state of Iowa. Unlike my other adventures, this one has attracted over 10,000 people to traverse the same cornfields. Wish I could say I had something to do with it, but it’s all about the legacy of RAGBRAI. We’re just pedaling it forward.
Here are some interesting facts:
- RAGBRAI: Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa
- Started in 1973 by two reporters at the Des Moines Register
- Now the oldest, largest, and longest bicycle touring event in the world
- Begins at the Missouri River and ends at the Mississippi River
- The 7-day route changes yearly
- Towns in Iowa apply for the privilege to be a “host community” and welcome the cyclists into their town overnight
- 8,500 week-long cyclists traverse the entire route and 1,500 day-riders jump in each day
- Lance Armstrong is joining the ride this year
- RAGBRAI is listed as one of America’s 100 Best Adventures by National Geographic
How the Legacy of RAGBRAI Applies to Leaders
Imagine Iowa is a company. Two people – John Karras and Don Kaul (pictured here) – worked for Iowa and decided to do something different to bring some energy and enthusiasm to Iowa (the “company”). Do you think they set out to create such an epic legacy for Iowa intentionally or inadvertently?
At first the ride was just a pilot, held at the end of August. But people gave feedback – they were taking their kids back to school and could they hold the event earlier in the summer? So the ride was moved up earlier and earlier until one year it landed on the last week of July. 2013 marks the ride’s 41st birthday. Its reputation for being one of the best adventures is magnetic. People from all over the world descend upon Iowa to participate. That was one helluva successful pilot!
Imagine the towns are like departments. Each year they apply to serve as the “host communities” because of the honor of carrying on the legacy and because of the economic boom for their residents (“employees”). Imagine if the legacy you create today kindled actions in leaders in departments or teams everywhere and their actions fueled the organization’s legacy with great pride.
The Legacy of Leaders
Did John and Don have any idea they were creating a remarkable event? Did they set out on their bikes to create their legacy as leaders? Probably not.
But remarkable leaders and remarkable legacies are created only through remarkable experiences. And we can intentionally create those every day – at any moment we choose. That’s what John and Don did. That’s what you can do.
What remarkable experience are you going to create today, this week, this month, or this year? Share with the Moxie in Motion community
This entire week I’ll be sharing pictures of the remarkable experience Team Moxie in Motion is intentionally creating through the cornfields of Iowa. Stay tuned!
“What do you think?” This mantra was cited by the last two CEOs interviewed for the “Corner Office” section in the Sunday New York Times.
J.W. Marriott Jr.
For J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., executive chairman and former CEO of Marriott International, the phrase he uses is, “What do you think we should do?”
Bill learned this from President Eisenhower. Ike was visiting one Christmas when Bill had just completed school. The adults were deciding whether to go quail hunting in the cold or to sit by the fire. Eisenhower turned to the young Marriott and asked “What do you think we should do?”
In that moment Bill recognized the President’s strategy for getting along with others and executing as a leader - by including people in his decision-making process. Marriott quickly adopted the President’s question “What do you think we should do?” to foster his own inclusive decision-making throughout his career as a leader.
For Jenna Fagnan, president of tequila manufacturer Tequila Avión, the question is, “So what do you think you should do?”
Fagnan learned this from one of her first mentors – her boss. Early in her career, Fagnan worked for a man who always challenged her with this question. She would go into his office and dump a situation on his lap. He would invariably ask, “So what do you think you should do?”
She realized that in those moments, her boss was wearing a mentor hat. He could have easily said, “Here’s what I think you should do.” He knew the answer, but by including her in the process, he forced her to think for herself and grow as an individual and as a leader.
Susan Docherty, the head of the US Sales, Service, and Marketing team at General Motors, shared a similar approach in her interview a few years ago in the Corner Office of the Sunday New York Times. She intentionally involves others in decisions, even when she already has an opinion and knows where she wants the decision to go. She relentlessly inquires, “What do you think? What would you do?” She is often rewarded with a fresh perspective and new insights from people who are not as close to the situation as she is.
Why does “What do you think?” work?
Because people support that which they help create. They crave control. They want to be respected and heard. And they want to make a difference.
When we dictate, mandate, and command others, people lose interest. They are not vested in the success of our decisions. They often have a different idea or perspective, but we were too busy railroading them with our decision to ask. By dictating the outcome, we, in essence, reveal that we don’t really care what they have to contribute. And by not asking, we communicate that we don’t really respect or appreciate their perspective enough to stop and listen.
Alternatively, by simply asking the question, “What do you think?” we share the decision with other people, offering them the opportunity to help create the outcome. This inevitably fuels engagement and enthusiasm, not to mention, ownership and accountability.
Ultimately, people show up every day hoping their work matters. When we stop and ask people “What do you you think?” we are communicating to them, “You matter. Your perspective is important. You can make a difference in this decision.” As leaders, this is our job.
What do you think? What would you do? I’d love to hear your perspective.
The Impact of a Mentor
Following business school, Ilene was responsible for acquisitions at Tenneco when a self-appointed mentor saw potential in her. He recognized her intellect, ambition, and focus, and challenged her to run those businesses she was acquiring. He put her in a job bigger than her and committed to helping her hone her business skills. Today she is on Fortune magazine’s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business as the President/CEO of a Fortune 500 company with $6.2 billion in net sales.
Ilene’s Commitment to Being a Mentoring CEO
Ilene excites people with opportunity as her Mentor did for her. She is committed to:
- Seeing potential in others where they don’t see it themselves
- Stretching people who demonstrate talent, people skills, and drive
- Putting people into roles they’re not quite ready for
- Allowing people to grow into those big roles
- Offering young managers an opportunity to share with the board how they’re creating value for the company
Her Belief in the Lasting Impact of Mentoring
Ilene believes that people carry their mentoring experiences with them. “I’m not just hiring the person sitting there. I’m hiring the four people who mentored him. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s successful in their role today who hasn’t been mentored by somebody.”
In each interview, she asks:
- Who mentored you?
- Who did you learn from?
- What was their expertise?
- What companies did they work for?
What can we do to become a Mentoring Leader like Ilene?
- Make a list of your own Mentors and acknowledge their influence on your success
- Discover people’s list of influencers
- Work to earn a spot on their list
- See what they don’t see in themselves
- Take a risk on their potential
- Push people into their uncomfortable
- Allow people to surprise you
It takes a true Mentoring Leader to leverage the NY Times spotlight to mentor aspiring, inspiring, and expiring leaders everywhere. Thank you, Ilene, for influencing each of us to make a difference by leading with a mentoring manner.
Ilene’s message is beautifully encapsulated in Author Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s powerful quotation:
“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”
Leaders get people talking. Great leaders challenge our perspectives and create the controversy that kindles change. And the best leaders intentionally embrace the risks that accompany such controversy.
That’s exactly what the COO of Facebook is doing.
Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In hits the bookstores this week and it’s already causing a commotion. Here’s the hullabaloo: she advocates that girls and women are responsible for embracing leadership opportunities as soon as possible, but many women are upset that she is setting unrealistic standards and letting corporations off the hook.
Without even seeing a copy, here’s what I like instantly: Sheryl’s intentional leadership.
- She didn’t need to write the book – she’s already wildly successful
- She didn’t need the money – she’s already worth $500 million
- She didn’t need the publicity – she’s already on Forbes’ list of most powerful women
- She didn’t need a hobby – she’s already busy as the COO and mother of two
But she chose to take action on a significant issue. From her perch at the top of Silicon Valley, she sees a dearth of woman in leadership. And for that to change, Sheryl is cognizant that she needs to challenge our perspective, in the face of inevitable criticism and denigration. And she is in a perfect position to do so.
Thank you, Sheryl, for taking action where others don’t, for embracing risk where others won’t, and for showing us what great leaders do: intentionally spark an important dialogue for change.
Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon, was fired last week. That’s an enormous blow for anyone’s ego, let alone a CEO’s. I would have expected cognitive dissonance to prevail causing him to blame circumstances and point fingers as he headed out the door.
His humble good-bye memo to Groupon employees is the epitome of what we crave in leaders everywhere.
The highlights: (Click to read the entire memo.)
Accountability: I’m responsible
- “I was fired today. If you’re wondering why…you haven’t been paying attention. As CEO, I’m accountable.”
Humility: It’s me not you
- “You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance.”
Appreciation: It was a privilege to work with you
- “I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company.”
- “I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you.”
Commitment: I’m going to learn from this
- “I’ll now take some time to decompress and then I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.”
Courage: Put customers first
- “There’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer.”
- “My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition for what’s best for our customers. Don’t waste this opportunity.”
Vulnerability: I care
- “I will miss you terribly.”
What a fabulous recipe for every leader to digest before we get fired:
Accountability + Humility + Appreciation + Commitment + Courage + Vulnerability.
Andrew has modeled for the rest of us how to be a leader in life regardless of where we are on the corporate ladder.
As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Thank you, Andrew, for lending us your shoulders.
Random acts of kindness… at a burger joint?
Apparently it’s in the recipe at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
Founded in 1969 with 32,000 “team members” serving “guests” at 450 restaurants, they insist they’re not in the burger business.
They’re in the people business, serving burgers.
But this team takes even that unusual perspective to a whole new level.
Red Robin team members regularly and intentionally bestow random acts of kindness on their guests. They’ve named these above-and-beyond deeds and gestures “Unbridled Acts.”
They’ve even dedicated a section on the company website called “Unbridled Acts” to showcase and spotlight these random acts of kindness, and to gush about how the Red Robin team members make a difference, not just serve burgers.
165 Stories and Counting
Here are just a few of the more than 165 stories spotlighted so far:
- A young boy at the Aurora CO restaurant lost his wallet with the $300 he had been saving for 2 years. When team found the wallet, the money was gone, so they pooled their money together and replaced the money the boy lost.
- A woman dining at the Monroe WA restaurant accidentally threw out an important keycard to her daughter’s daycare. She called later when she realized her mistake and the team dug through all of the bags of garbage to find it for her.
- A manager in a Red Robins uniform from the Indian Lake TN restaurant was in line at Walgreens behind a family that was debating about which items they could afford that night. The manager randomly purchased all the items the family needed, including diapers, formula, food, and medicine.
- A mom called to ask if the team at the Orchard Park NY restaurant would surprise her son with a song that night at dinner before he was deployed to Afghanistan. The team not only sang, they had a specially decorated table, complimentary appetizers, and a huge thank you card signed by the entire team.
Why are hourly employees at Red Robin voluntarily and unabashedly scattering kindness?
Because they can. Because it makes their work matter. And because bosses all the way to the top are applauding them vociferously for doing so.
And why are leaders at Red Robin encouraging this kind of behavior?
Because it makes customers want to come back again and again. Because it makes employees want to keep showing up. And because they get it – we reap the culture we sow.
We can create a culture like Red Robin
Aren’t we all in the people business?
Regardless of what our organization sells, we all serve people. We serve people with our products and with our services. We serve employees with a job. We serve each other
with our leadership and collegiality. We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the people.
And don’t we all reap the culture we sow?
We cultivate the environment that we then have to work in. Like Newton’s 3rd law of motion, what we put out comes back in equal force.
Our culture choice
So like the insightful leaders and the enthusiastic team members at Red Robin, every day we get to choose …
1. create a culture riddled with complacency and mediocrity
2. cultivate one rippling with unbridled acts of generosity and scattered kindness.
G.J. Hart has served as CEO of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) since August 2011 and previously as CEO of Texas Roadhouse for 10 years. When interviewed by the Business section for the Sunday New York Times, Mr. Hart chose to focus not on his resume but on the courage it takes to be a leader.
His 6 Keys to Leadership
In the interview, he outlined the 6 keys to leadership that he has collected like war wounds:
1. Lead yourself first – know your good qualities and those to work on
2. Dream big – for yourself and your organization
3. Lead with your heart – show people your human side
4. Trust the people you lead – allow people to grow
5. Do the right thing – give people a second chance
6. Serve the people you lead – put the cause before you
It takes courage to talk about leadership courage
Not only does operating this way day after day take courage, but so does talking about courage as an essential leadership skill in the Sunday New York Times!
It’s tempting for leaders to use this kind of spotlight to justify their title and gloat about their accomplishments and wisdom. But instead Mr. Hart chose to authentically share his commitment to lead with courage by leading differently and making a difference.
Why does this take courage?
Because from now on Mr. Hart’s team, his colleagues, and the entire CPK workforce will inevitably scrutinize his actions to see if he is walking his talk.
But maybe that was Mr. Hart’s ulterior motive.
Maybe as he declared his commitment to leading courageously, he was actually accomplishing 2 critical things:
(1) Mr. Hart invited his workforce to hold him accountable to being a courageous leader!
(2) Mr. Hart set the standard and the expectation for every leader at the company.
Raising the bar for CPK leaders and all of us
How could you possibly work for Mr. Hart and operate selfishly and self-servingly, without a mission, self-awareness, heart, trust, or integrity, and expect Mr. Hart to treat you like a CPK leader?
And Mr. Hart didn’t need the New York Times to communicate that message to the senior executive team. I believe he was talking to the leaders at every level of the organization – from the team leaders at headquarters in Playa Vista, California to the restaurant managers and chefs at the 250 restaurants. If you want to lead anything at CPK, Mr. Hart expects nothing short of the courage to make a difference.
In this one interview, he successfully represented the company while setting the standard for leadership at California Pizza Kitchen. It was risky, but it was different and it made a difference for the entire organization and for everyone that read that article. That’s the courage that Mr. Hart is talking about.
Thanks Mr. Hart for walking your talk and raising the bar for leaders everywhere.
Tony Tjan is CEO of Cue Ball, a venture capital firm in Boston. When given the opportunity to be spotlighted in the Business section of the Sunday New York Times, Mr. Tjan chose to focus on his role as a mentor to others.
When a CEO showcases mentoring in an interview in the New York Times about what he considers to be good leading, we know we’ve found a winner!
For those of us wanting to lead like Mr. Tjan, he does not withhold the information. Like a mentoring boss, he shares it.
The 5 Questions
He describes 5 questions that every leader must ask as they mentor others. Inspired by Deepak Chopra and evolved by his partner, Mats Lederhausen, the framework goes as follows:
- What is it that you really want to be and do?
- What are you doing really well that is helping you get there?
- What are you not doing well that is preventing you from getting there?
- What will you do differently tomorrow to meet those challenges?
- How can I help, and where do you need the most help?
Let me simplify it even more:
- Where would you like to go?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- How do you need to change?
- How can I help?
Why the Questions?
By asking these questions, Mr. Tjan says it forces us to eliminate the assumptions that we naturally make about the help that people need.
The series of questions also forces us to pause and recognize that someone is sharing their dreams, not some fickle, insipid ideas to be trampled upon like weeds.
Imagine Working for a Mentoring Boss… Imagine Being One
Can you imagine working for a boss who asks you those questions? How refreshing that would make going to work! You would be working for someone who is working for you.
Now imagine being the boss who asks those questions. How energizing that would make leading! Like a superhero, we would use our powers to save someone from the depths of mediocrity.
Tony Tjan may be the exception, but let him serve as our role model mentor. Even from the pages of the New York Times, he is mentoring those of us who strive to lead exceptionally. Thank you Mr. Tjan!