A Server's Journey

Kalos: Sean Blackburn on Empowering Your Team

May 30, 2018
A Server's Journey
Kalos: Sean Blackburn on Empowering Your Team
Chapters
A Server's Journey
Kalos: Sean Blackburn on Empowering Your Team
May 30, 2018
Rocky DeStefano
Join producers and Sean Blackburn in talking about why it's so important to "bring yourself truly" in a workplace with integrity.
Show Notes Transcript

Former Chick-fil-A leader Sean Blackburn talks servant leadership, integrity, and having fun in the workplace. Find out how “the fastest chicken breader this side of the Mississippi” transformed his Chick-fil-a leadership competencies into adding value to a completely different kind of business. 

Speaker 1:
0:00
Hello,
Speaker 2:
0:03
welcome to this edition of a survivor's journey with rocky desta, phonto. Rocky has been a server since its early days working behind the counter to chick filet in south Florida. Today. He has a successful restaurant of his own rocky, has called upon by chick fil a to help them develop staff training around the control being a server himself. He loves to talk about leaving yourself a few, many, and an organization. Recently Rocky was honored to be selected for some service awards in the Greater Orlando Market. First he received the Chamber of Commerce citizens of Year award, and then cornerstone hospice presented him with the man of the year. He was surprised and honored by these accolades. Rocky, it's time for you to step forth. You know, Larry, you make me sound a lot better than what I really am, but I appreciate that you are there. And today we have a special guest that we're hoping to have on our show on a weekly basis and so I'm going to be introducing how we, how we are going to be a. oh no, not a week. Weekly, weekly. Oh, okay. Consistent. But yes, consistent with, right. We are going to introduce you to Sean Blackburn and Sean and I have a very long and some would say a jaded history in a good, funny way. Alright, let's welcome shawn
Speaker 1:
1:24
the show. Oh Wow. We
Speaker 2:
1:30
nothing's. Nothing expired here. How much did that cost, larry? We're on a tight budget. All right guys, please go back to the other room than a live studio audience. Sean talked to us a little bit about yourself. Tell us a little bit about who you are and your family and kind of what you do. Yeah, so I'm, I'm the random guy that rocky decided to have on the podcast and he said sitting in the back to sit in the back room. He is. So I'm from the local Orlando area as well. Grew up here, born and raised Floridian and I'm married, so I've got a wonderful wife, Lauren, and I am a sales manager at a dynamic h Vac company here in the Orlando area. You have to say that dynamic. That's right. And most are not. But I can tell you that this one is.
Speaker 2:
2:17
Yeah, yeah. No, it's an exciting spot to work. So, you know, I'd love to read. I love history, I just love to do podcasting. That's also a passion of mine, so certainly happy to be here with you guys today. I'll. Thanks John very much. We are excited to have you. We're hoping that Sean can class up the joint a little bit and uh, how does one get into the h V, a c Gig? How do you get into that? It's like anything else. It's who you know is for the most part. So I was going to a church and um, I was in a small group and a family member of the leader of the small group was looking for a guy to jump in with this company and the rest is history. So it's the old adage, it's not what you know, it's who you.
Speaker 2:
2:59
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, Sean has a little bit of a checkered past here because he did work at chick filet with us and I can tell you that sean was one of my favorite all time team members and leaders that we had on our store. Wow. What Sean, how do you go from chick filet to air conditioning? Uh, yeah, so let's see how to explain that one. Um, one thing that rocky he always talked about was talent in transition and I think it's one of the things that I think sets them apart from a lot of people who have kind of a short sighted. Um, so some people have kind of a short sided view of the talent that's with them and they want to hoard them and keep them within the whole time. Rocky always basically said I'm here for you and was a servant to his employees and with somebody who I could always trust him as a confidant and you know, somebody, somebody that would always have my best interests at heart, even above his business interest.
Speaker 2:
3:58
And so I really appreciated that. And so yeah, it was kind of random, the jump to HVHC I'm super glad that I did it. Now I'm in rocky was a great boss and we had a lot of fun throw in some chicken and sometimes a bit too much. He's definitely correct about that. Um, you know, the amazing thing is rocky got involved with Shrek fully and he w he was sold on the product. I mean, it's, you'd always say it's not selling chicken, but it's, but it's your investment in the people that you work with. Absolutely. About helping people. For sure. Yeah. No, in rocky was exemplary in that. And so yeah, it was kind of a random jump at the time, but, uh, it was one that I worked with rocky through and he kind of groomed me into a, honestly the leader that I am today and a lot of ways, um, so I can attribute a lot of my success to his investment into me.
Speaker 2:
4:48
So I certainly am always grateful for that. And he kind of took what I did and did the opposite. It works really well. But, you know, Sean was a, the rare person, uh, he in some ways almost struggled because he had so many opportunities. He was really gifted in a lot of ways. Definitely a lot more gifted than I was at his age. And Larry, we talked a little bit about, about my struggles, uh, becoming a leader. But John was kind of blessed with just some really great tools, uh, and he just had a great heart so he could have been just as easily an owner operator of a chick fil a as he could be in his, in his, in his industry that he's in right now. So it was fun and interesting to talk Sean, talk with Sean and through that and figure out kind of what he felt like he was being led to.
Speaker 2:
5:37
Sean, talk to me a little bit about, um, everybody's on a leadership journey and we talked about that a lot. Um, and then I know you understand the role of leadership, but what, what do you think makes somebody a good leader? I mean not to bury the lead, but I, I mean, I think it definitely is servant leadership and I think that that's one thing that I loved about the chick years was learning about that. Um, yeah. So yeah, being a servant first is always going to trump anything else in my mind. Um, it, it, it's going to be able to open up doors that are previously close to you. If you, if you come to it with an attitude of servant Servant Hood First,
Speaker 3:
6:16
yeah, I would agree with that. I, you know, we talk about, uh, many people are leaders but great leaders are different now, you know, and, and it's not really about their position and it's definitely not, um, that someone is simply good at their job. Sean was both those things. He had a position of leadership with our store and he was really great at his job, but you know, it's just a chicken bro to the side of the Mississippi, you know, we have to kind of test that, you know, that, that no, that's definitely, definitely was in the past. We're not sure if that can be verified now. No, no, definitely not now. No. It takes a lot of practice to get that, to get that down now. But you know that the thing that I always loved about Shaun when he was at our store is, you know, he had, he had a real, he was always compelled. He had an unshakable desire to serve other people. And so, uh, his leadership, it spoke out loudest when we were coming off a real troubled situation, whether it was a crazy day with several call outs, he always had the ability to rally the troops and just get them excited about, okay, yeah man, that was difficult. Let's get going here and let's make something great happen from this point. And so I always really appreciated Sean and his leadership like that.
Speaker 2:
7:31
Thanks sir. Okay, I appreciate that. Yeah, it's a, it's a lot of fun. I, I would say the servant hood is absolutely first on the list, but leadership is a lot about having fun. And to me that's uh, something that I always try to bring to any sort of situation, whether I'm a leader or the follower and the situation that's, you know, we all have jobs we all have work to do. We all have things that we want to accomplish. Why don't we enjoy it. Right, right. Absolutely. What was one of the things that you did at chick filet that just stood out in your mind? Um, I mean it's a self evaluation is always tough.
Speaker 2:
8:08
I think that I, I think that the results that I got mostly came through setting up people to succeed around me. Um, so doing the best that I could to get the best out of, you know, whoever came in for this shift, whoever came in for that shift, you know, the staff that you have is the staff that you have, but if you hone them and motivate them the right way, then you can get a lot better results. So it certainly wasn't that I was doing something special. I think that I did get sometimes people's better days because of the way that I approach things and now I'm not trying to sound arrogant or anything like that. I think that's one of the skills that I have, but it's, you know, I'm weak and plenty of other areas. So.
Speaker 3:
8:50
Well, I would definitely agree with you there. Sean. What was always interesting about you is I felt like, um, you had the requisite skills people respected you because they knew that you were able to, to, um, perform the job, but what they really were drawn to is your leadership character. Because we talk about great leaders being different and we talk about this idea of servant leadership and I think more than anything, the people that worked for you and with you, they, they knew you cared and they knew that you genuinely wanted them to succeed. And that's like, you know, it's almost like a drug man when people do that, they can't get enough of it. Yeah, absolutely. And it's hard to fake. Yeah. And it's definitely hard to fake that, Sean.
Speaker 2:
9:32
Yeah. And I mean it. Genuineness is key to all of this. So that's something that I'm learning and growing with a lot, you know, there's plenty of days that I have that I'm not ready to be the sort of leader that I need to be in a given situation. So learning how to still be genuine in those moments. A super important, um, you know, I think that genuineness is something that is so missing in our society. Um, you know, there's a lot of fronting, there's a lot of walls up and that people have. And so it's super important to be able to bring yourself truly. And, and that sounds kind of cheesy to me, even as I say it, but it, it, I have found that it's really key to my performance is being present with myself, my own emotions and being ready to serve people and try and get the best out of them as well.
Speaker 3:
10:20
Yeah. I, I tend to think of like leadership, you know, we've all seen the picture of the iceberg and you see kind of like the little bit that's sticking out of the water and that really is, as far as for a leader, that's really your skills. But then there's that whole piece underneath that's all the character. And I think those are the things you're talking about. And you know, the unfortunate thing, one of my favorite verses is in psalms 78 and it said, David shepherded his people with integrity of heart and with skillful hands. He led them. And what I always liked that verse four, his because he had the skill without a doubt, he was one of the greatest kings of Israel. But it started with a matter of the heart. It started with his character. And, uh, I think the world is littered with, um, leaders that didn't have character. I mean, look at Lance Armstrong. I mean, my gosh, that guy was a but one of the greatest cyclist ever. He would have won many tour de Frances by his own hard work, but that wasn't enough. He had to dope and he ended up a really. All that was taken away.
Speaker 2:
11:27
Well, Sean, where are you today? You have left chick fully and you are in the. A Hac? Yeah. I can't say it's okay. We say air conditioning business because again, you're, you're missing out on the heat and the ventilation AC each va. So problem. MoSt people know us as, as an air conditioning company. So we live in Florida. All we really care about. That's true. That's very true. That and the humidity removal his. So yeah. Um, I am a sales manager and project manager for kalos services. Uh, we are a licensed hvc contractor as well as an electrical pluMbing in general contractor as well. So we do a lot of commercial work throughout the state, uh, for companies like a walmart when dixie whole foods as well as in our local area. I'm in central Florida, we serve homeowners everyday. Um, what I love about kalo says the catchphrase I'm kalos is actually a greek word, the greek word in the bible for integrity.
Speaker 2:
12:29
So did not know that. Yeah, neither did I until I started. so that's, that's what the, not the country, but the, uh, the company is built on his, um, his integrity doing right by our customers even if it hurts us and when we make a mistake owning it. So I love it. So I work mostly as a residential and light commercial estimator and consultant for people as they're looking to replace their ac system and slash or improve it and do that for businesses and residential customers in our area. So that's what I'm up to now. You've gone from chick filet, we're, it's a, you're working one shift and it's constantly go, go, go, go. Right now you're kind of like an independent person. Yeah. A lot of my day is, uh, is self led. Um, and so it's very, it's a very different job, that's For sure.
Speaker 2:
13:14
It's a, it's a position that took some getting used to. So it's a, it's an entrepreneurial in a sense. That's one thing that I love about it. I also have a really great support staff, um, who helps us and as a company we all help each other a lot. Our ownership is a fantastic. The other managers that I work with are great as well. So I'm just going to see how many people are you working with on a day to day basis? Yeah. So todAy, for example, just as an example, it's starting to get a little bit warmer here in Florida, so it's starting to pick back up for us. We had three jobs today, there's two guys on each one of those jobs, a lead installer and a helper. Then we've got a, uh, a manager of those guys specifically for their skill. and then I'm obviously interacting with different customers, you know, at least five or six on a daily basis and pretty much answering phone calls and emails all day as well.
Speaker 2:
14:01
Some. Yeah, you and sean, There's one thing that I, I kind of had a question about because we spoke about it in a previous episode and that is, it doesn't always matter what you do as my tissue matter who you do with, and I know that brian is, is your, I guess he's a company, is he president of the company? He's a vice president, so him and him and bob or are the two owners of the company? Correct. So Talk with me about him because I know that you're impressed with him and, and, and you mentioned the word dynamic hvc companies. Yeah, absolutely. I'm curious as to what makes that b cell. yeah. And so one of the main things is that we have multiple trades as I mentioned. um, so there's a ton of experience in between brian and bob both in their ability to just tackle a project from a holistic standpoint.
Speaker 2:
14:50
BuT the other thing too is, um, brian is, I would say one of the top in the world, a trainer of actual hvc technicians. Wow. Um, so he's a, an industry leader in that sense. he has a huge audience and a in a huge, a growing base of people who look to him for leadership within the industry. So it's really fun. We have a lot of manufacturers who, who rub elbows with us and um, you know, uh, who are always visiting our company and looking for ways to partner with us. So that's a lot of fun. And then in general it's, I'm impressed just by the character portion and that's one thing that I loved about my time at chick fil a as well as, you know, even at the highest levels. I waS impressed with the character of the people that I was with.
Speaker 2:
15:36
And that's something that's, you know, an incredible value for me for sure. And in something that, you know, I know that my, you know, all of us work hard at our jobs and we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. And so I like knowing that, yoU know, that my hard work is obviously benefiting me and my family and the income that I'm able to earn a living. But also knowing that I'm doing it for people who have a strong sense of integrity. Um, that's, that's what I love. So talk to me
Speaker 3:
16:03
about your interactions with brian. Do you, what does he do that may be, would be a little bit different or something that you would say set some apart as a servant leader?
Speaker 2:
16:13
It's funny, we actually sat down and were the two of us, um, talked with someone say who is potentially interviewing or looking to come on board with us. and uh, brian, brian's response and a lot of ways was a asking questions of that person and saying, you know, how, how would you improve this business? Because in general, he, and I think that he's learned this over the years. I've been with the company for quite a few years now and he's gotten, I think better and better at this. And one thing that I think is really key for him is that he puts the right person in the right spot and then he lets that person really take it and own it and trust them. Um, and so that's something that I really respect about his leadership style. Um, yeah, it, it's, it's completely different from a lot of construction and sort of industries where, um, you know, there's a lot of industries where this is the case where someone hoards, uh, you know, the responsibility and they become a bottleneck for the organization. Brian has completely, almost flat lined to the hierarchical structure that you would normally have in a company. And I think that's one of the reasons we've grown immensely over the last three or four years. That's one of the main reasons why I think.
Speaker 3:
17:22
Yeah. And, and I love to hear that because, you know, I like our, my feeling has always been the, the bigger you get into an organization as a servant leader, it really just means that you're serving more people. And you know what I love that, that you're saying is yeah, he's hiring people to do a task to, to use their hand to do something, but he gets his free brain in the, in the, in the process. And he's basically saying, hey, how can you
Speaker 2:
17:50
add value to this organization? What would you do that changes that? And that's a different. First of all, it's, it's gutsy. You have to be open to hearing anything they might say. no, it takes some trust for sure. And he's very empowering. Like I said, he's, he's a trainer at heart and so he loves training people on the skill of air conditioning. And so it, you know, a lot of times in my chick-filet days, our member, um, you Know, back in, was it jimmy collins? Is that his name? I remember one of the things that he would say is, if you're not making chicken, you better be supporting someone who's making chicken. Amen. And, uh, and so I've brought that to almost any place that I go, you know, there's a certain couple of main things that you have to focus on and then you have to support those people who are doing that.
Speaker 2:
18:33
Yeah. YoU have to find a way to, you know, uh, elbert einstein, one of my favorite quotes is strive not to be a success but rather to be of value. And I think that what it sounds like is brian's got that innately built into the organization and. Right, absolutely. I know in a day in and day out when, when I'm doing it well, it's, I'm constantly asking myself, how do I add value to these people because I know everybody's working hard and you know, not always in the easiest of circumstances to. Right. So that's great. Um, brian is a younger guy too, right? Yeah. So that's. How do you think that he came to that point so quickly? I don't know. We'll have to have him on the show for sure. Definitely. This was a total set of segue right there. There you go. Rocky. Just trying to get more guests on the program.
Speaker 2:
19:19
Exactly how, however we can we, as I always say, we'd get pretty a stale if it was just larry and I. So we are, I'm definitely excited about having sean a become a bigger part of the show and to become a, a pretty consistent contributor. Um, and the best thing about it is, you know, sean brings the age, the age range down quite a bit. Now larry and I are a little bit older than shawnee's. I resist that remark. He's up firmly and millennial. Uh, and I mean that in every good way possible face for podcasts and you know, so, you know, that's okay. I'm there with you or with you. I don't know. Um, I actually think I'm pretty good looking, so I'm going to go in and say that, but I, I'd like to lie to myself too. We'll get the video
Speaker 4:
20:02
camera. All right
Speaker 2:
20:08
john, we're going to put you on the hot seat and we tried to do this with everybody that we interview. Okay. First we're going to kind of, it's kind of like a this or that. We get to pick, pick your favorite one. So I'm ready. Elan musk or mark zuckerberg. Zuckerberg. Wow. That's a new way to say it. One thing you'll see is that I mess up names. So zuckerberg, is that the correct? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll go a, I'll. Although he did pretty good in the hearings the other day, I'll go, uh, just a lot more imaginative. I would, I would think. Although facebook's, I mean it's a tough one, but he was sitting on a briefcase though. I don't know if he saw that. Yeah, a little booster seat. If he waS. oh my goodness. All right. Donald or barack obama dropped obama.
Speaker 2:
20:50
I kinda thought you might go there. Go there. The first episode while steve jobs or bill gates, I liked jobs is creativity, but he was kind of a jerk. So I think I'll go gates. Gates also. I think gates is pretty underrated from a standpoint of just the amount of things that he could create and the systems that he could create, I think that were absolutely incredible. And he gave a lot of money away. Still is. I'm available by the way. And write a walt disney or steven spielberg a disney. Yeah, absolutely. See, this is a home field advantage. We knew what was going to go there. Yeah, no, absolutely. That's, uh, that's definitely my, my idols and walt disney. Alright. This is going to be a tough one. Dumbledore or gandalf off. It's not even close. Yeah. Okay. Now, what you don't know about sean is that he is a huge, the habit nerd.
Speaker 2:
21:42
I mean, she said giant. You could just, you could have left the hobbit part off of there and just like the nerd part, lord of the rings. Yeah. Yeah. well, yeah, the hobbit, lord of the rings. I like Harry Potter too. But uh, but gandalf's definitely, uh, definitely got them. This is what's great now. It's great to be a nerd today is what I've noticed. It's okay. It's completely okay. Weird culture is mainstream now, right? I'm not, I'm not as much of a nerd as, as something, but yeah, I'm a huge nerd. I and my daughters bring me even more into that shot guy. Shawn, before we close today, I'd love to ask, do you have a leadership quote that you love or that can kinda guide you a little bit? Yeah. Um, let's see. Let me, let me look it up here real quick to get it right.
Speaker 2:
22:26
But um, goes a little something like this. He's going to his computer better than. Okay. So do I want to be feared or loved? That's a good question. Oh, I want both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me. Alright. This is a letter. Do you know where that came from? No, I do not. I think we need to credit it please. Okay. That's a Michael Scott. That's right. Larry, we are going to get you to become one thing that's requirement for this show. We, I don't know if we've shared this with you, but there's a couple series you have to watch. Oh, you have to start with the office. Parks and rec may be up there to say it's up there. Yeah. And then there's one that you like. You've been trying to get me to Watch and trying to get rocky to watch community, but so far I haven't.
Speaker 2:
23:09
I have low. You've got to start with the office and then I think what we may have to do is give me an assignment every week. You know what I did? I did get some of the office when I spent my time in the back room at chick fil a break room table. Yeah. That was there. Which isn't there anymore. I understand now. Now it's not given away to a more federation and well, uh, you know, again, we thank you all for coming this week and we encourage you to come every wednesday and check us out and we're hoping to. I have some really great guests coming up in the future. What not like this guest center was good. Remember to subscribe to the podcast. You know, I think you've got some great guests coming up again next week, right? Yeah, we do. Our first, our first official gasped, a noted author dan turner wrote a book. It's my pleasure and she's going to be joining us. She was a former vp of talent with chick fil a and now she's a vp of sustainability and we're going to ask her exactly what that means because I'm very intrigued and we're looking forward to hearing from her. sean, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, sean, thanks so much guys. Appreciate being here. Until next time, I'm rocky densified on. I hope that together we're gonna make some stories better. Thanks for coming along with me and a servers journey.