A Server's Journey

Leading Leaders: Mike Wagner on Unlocking Your Creative Capacity

September 12, 2018
A Server's Journey
Leading Leaders: Mike Wagner on Unlocking Your Creative Capacity
Chapters
A Server's Journey
Leading Leaders: Mike Wagner on Unlocking Your Creative Capacity
Sep 12, 2018
Rocky DeStefano
Mike Wagner talks how to lead leaders to inspire and motivate the people around him.
Show Notes Transcript

Mike Wagner joins the 20th edition of A Server’s Journey and recites what led him to create White Rabbit Group, a leadership consulting firm that focuses on timeless solutions to unlocking creative capacity in people. Learn how to be a connected leader, how you can use “May I” instead of “Can I” to forego respect, and how to leverage your differences to work collaboratively in the marketplace. Take a deep dive into the leadership rabbit hole to discover the next level of your business culture and success.

Speaker 1:
0:10
Welcome to this edition of a survivor's journey with rocky Destefano, the foundation of the show is it everybody is leading something or someone that's the name of the show is a survivor's journey. Thanks Larry, and I hope that everyone listening will be able to walk this journey of leadership with us and again, it's really exciting, Larry, how much the servers moments are starting to catch on. I think partly because you're starting to do more, which I think is part of the success here. And Larry, I liked, I really liked your most recent servers moment which talked about the quote that was on President Reagan's desk at the White House. Yeah. And so what was that one again? There's no limit to what a man can do or worry. You can go if he doesn't care who gets the credit, which is awesome. That's amazing. You know, I think it speaks a lot to his thought that if you surround yourself with great people that are smarter than you, great things can happen.
Speaker 1:
1:09
Well, you know, I've been an entrepreneur most of my life and I've tried to do many things, but you always need to have people with you. That's right. You can't just do this by yourself. Yeah. And you know, you guys, I'm a big nerd and I think Larry, you are too. You know, these are things that like that quote should be up somewhere in your office if you're a leader because it's a good reminder of, hey, this is what I should subscribe to. Do I have room in my office and put it on the wall. Your office is very crowded with a lot of years of memorabilia, but I think you have room for disc this quote. Yes. I'll get that sucker up there. Hey. Uh, at the guest today, I understand that you have invited someone that you actually used to work with Larry.
Speaker 1:
1:51
So we're hoping to find out maybe a Smidgen of dirt. Well, it, it's, it's a gentleman named Michael Wagner and Mike is the founder and senior facilitator of the white rabbit group, which is a leadership formation company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa with offices in Washington DC. He's also co host of the true leader podcast, another podcast, or try and hey, great from the great state of Iowa, which is wonderful. That's where my wife is from. So they produce great things. Well, you know, as a disclaimer here, one reason why I want to hear from Mike is that he and I used to work together. Absolutely. And so, you know, from the servers journey standpoint, I want to find out if I was a server or just a rotten old micromanager back then. Uh, do you, do you have an idea of what are we going to be surprised? Well, you know, you never know. You think you're doing something right. That's right. So, you know, well, and it could have been right for the time. So, Hey Larry, we're going to go into our next epic moments in leadership. Last week I think we were talking about Eisenhower,
Speaker 2:
3:00
absolute, another military person, but a Robert Granit tells us a story about admiral chance stir Nimitz. Yes. Who was also in the, in the world war two in the US Navy. And he was responsible for the midway white. She was just adamant, I mean, it was the epic, one of the most epic battles of a World War II. Right. And I understand that was a fluke two because the guy that was supposed to do it was sick or something and he couldn't do it. So they put Nimitz in. Yeah. You know, it's funny how sometimes our best laid plans of mice and men and they had planned for another person, but it was actually ended up being Nimitz that, uh, actually run a ran this operation the greatest maybe one episode aviator adults yell. Yeah. Well, okay. So after three weeks after the battle of flying back to Washington DC, flying into San Francisco to confer with a Washington superiors and Nimitz is shaken but not an injured.
Speaker 2:
4:06
When is seaplane? Which while it was flying, struck a, a floating debris in the water. Yeah. And it flipped over actually. And so they actually, the airplane capsized. Yeah. Which is, I had to be a scary moment. Yeah. So, but he was, he got out, he stepped onto a small boat where he stood and watched the rescue operations. And then there was a coxswain who kind of barked at him and said, sit down you. And that was before he noticed with horror is his foe pla. And then he tried to stumble over apologies. And this is where Nimitz steps up with great moments in leadership. Yeah. What's he say? He said, stick to your guns sailor. Uh, you were quite right. So yeah, never forget it's moments like that, you know, I think that reveal a w who a great leader is a, he was putting his place, he had the ability to say, shut your mouth or do you know who I am or any of those things.
Speaker 2:
5:06
And he didn't. He took the time, Larry, to remind the officer, or sorry, the uh, the Coxswain, hey, stay the course. Because what you were saying was correct. So he took instruction. Well, you know, well that's our epic moment in leadership. Yes, absolutely. And that's another great one. You know, it's good that we're starting to find a lot better ones and set up some, some negatives. Yeah. Well I thought I like to have the positive as well as the negative. Absolutely. Because you can learn from the negative sometimes as well. Yes, we can. Well listen, I pulled that out of the archives. Something from about our guests from 1975. Right. As I said, he used to work for me and he used to do the sign on for a radio station in Lincoln, Nebraska for me. And let
Speaker 1:
5:58
me hear it here. He went on the air and Mike Wagner did the official sign on. This is Kbh l FM Stereo in Lincoln, Nebraska. We now wish you God's blessings and begin broadcasting with inspirational music for your enjoyment. I forgot to tell you that Mike was a graduate student at the University of Nebraska at his time. Here we go. So go big red and he still attends home games and Lincoln. I'm sure he's got his season pass. Yes, I am going to, as a a Buckeye Fan, I'm going to resist the urge to say what our record is recently against Nebraska because I fear for Scott Frost. I, I do. I think the Thai could be turning for big rat here. Well, like what more can I say? It seems like Larry knows you, but you know, I kind of want to get to know you a little bit better. Uh, I, I do respect that you're a big 10 fan by the way.
Speaker 1:
6:57
Uh, I'm, I'm a, I'm a Buckeye fan and I'm blank and I'm going to resist saying anything about our current record against you because I truly fear Scott Frost as a code. So I think the tide's turning the buckeyes play the cornhuskers I was in Columbus, Ohio and the only place I could get the game was in agreement with the local sports bar, a jazz. So I served for the experience and the humiliation. It was good. It was necessary. It humbled me. And so I think I'm ready to tackle the challenge again. So I tell you what the next opportunity I tell you what our podcasts being located here in Orlando. Scott Frost is a legend here. People love here and uh, I'm excited for that. He gets to go back to his Alma Mater, although I am a little bit sad and fearful, so watch out. So, um, okay.
Speaker 1:
8:04
First off, I, I'd love to say, so you worked with layer, you graduated from u of n what, what came next for you? What will be next for me? Yes. I'm from the University of Nebraska. I ended up going to Dallas theological seminary. Oh Wow. Great. And spent four years acquiring my master's degree, so, you know, four years at university, Nebraska for years for what's called a t h, m or master of theology degree. And then I've asked her for 14 years, uh, helping small churches and starting new churches. Uh, did that until I moved into the market place about 25 years ago. Okay. So now I have to ask you, one of my favorite speakers ever is Dr Howard Hendricks, who told, I believe at the Dallas theological seminary. Did you get a chance to meet him or listened to him or. Yes, I was really
Speaker 3:
8:56
fortunate. Uh, Dr Hendricks Taught Bible study methods, an incredibly transformative class. I've never really experienced anything like this and uh, his, his teaching on how to approach the Bible, um, and really unpack the scriptures a was so amazing to me because I wanted that. But did not know how to do that. Literally, you would end a, uh, a lecture, there may be 200 students in a classroom and Hendrix would finish and product would walk out and we would still be sitting there processing what he said. No, just stunned us into submission and a amaze us with what we needed to know in any was. I'm such a fireplug he was from the Philadelphia area. He was a wonderful communicator.
Speaker 2:
9:45
You know, he, uh, I, it's so weird you say that because, uh, we, I work with chick filet and for many years he was one of their favorite guest and many times I would sit there and hear something he would say and just really listened to the same message over and over again because it was such a powerful message of, uh, and, and it really served as a kick in the pants to get going. Uh, he, he is truly an amazing man.
Speaker 3:
10:14
Yeah. Truly. So that was a tremendous blessing. He was a great time for years spent studying the Bible, what could be better. Right. And so I'm very thankful for my education.
Speaker 2:
10:23
So okay, now, so you kind of caught us up a little bit, now you're into the marketplace, talk about what you did, what company you were with or or form.
Speaker 3:
10:31
Okay. So what happens next is I decide to move into the marketplace and I asked my brothers, I'm the oldest of three boys and they're both doctors of pharmacy and they're successful guys and I love them to pieces and I said, guys, what could I do for a living that people might pay for? And of course they are smart Alex. and they said, well, nothing really have no marketable skills. I mean we don't need Greek and Hebrew. These are the Martin brothers, right? These are true brothers, right? So totally. So my youngest brother, Scott said you ought to examine the possibility of working for this new startup company called Saturn. They're trying to reinvent the dysfunctional industry of car sales. And then that was my next opportunity. I spent three years working with them first as a sales consultant and then doing training, teaching people how to do consultative sales, both Saturn way on the floor of our showroom
Speaker 2:
11:28
now. Now, that must've been a great part of, uh, uh, of, of your history to be involved with Saturn. Really at the very beginning, they were exciting beyond belief and still have a cult like following.
Speaker 3:
11:43
Yeah. It was really strange. I mean, people were amazed. At one point we invited a car owners to come to Spring Hill, Tennessee where we had our, our manufacturing plant. We have 56,000 people come for a weekend of a, of a celebration and the rest of the car industry had created a technical term for what we did. They called it bizarre. They said they had never seen anything like it. No one would come to a manufacturing plant to see where their cars were made, but Saturn had that going on.
Speaker 2:
12:19
Wow, that's awesome. I drove a Saturn, so I'm there. Yeah, it was a great. That was the type of car I wanted and when I first got married and I was desperate for a Saturn, several things held me back, mostly income, but you know, I love the idea of a Saturn.
Speaker 3:
12:35
Yep. So that was three years there and then I was at a little league baseball game watching my son play ball and struck up a conversation with one of the parents turned out that they were part of a startup Internet web development company and they asked me if I would consider and working with them and being a business development person salesperson for them. They said they were really good at what they did, but not so good at telling people about it. And um, so I, I took that on as a challenge and worked with a, um, a wonderful web development company called spindles three systems here in the des Moines area for five years and served as an internet business strategist. Eventually ended up having a, you know, a consultant's role where I worked with large companies like wells fargo to help them build their online business strategies.
Speaker 2:
13:28
Oh Wow. So now, uh, now at that point where you currently living in Des Moines or did you move there for the job?
Speaker 3:
13:35
No, I had, I was already living here in Des Moines. And um, um, it was, it was one of those things you, you think back to even the education with a Dallas seminary and profit Hendrix, you know, learning how to learn. And so I was able to teach myself internet business models and it was that, that, that wonderful transition moment when when websites were moving from kind of brochure sites to actually online business functionality and the guys I were working with were relationship database experts so they could build that functionality. They used to have a hard time explaining to people why, you know, a 17 year old kid could no longer make a website for them. They really need it. People met deep it professional skills and um, it was wonderful. It was a wonderful opportunity. Taught myself a internet business modeling and a spoke for them around the country. And it was great.
Speaker 2:
14:28
So now that was really at the really, I mean the very start of ecommerce and I mean, you know, kind of the predecessor of what we see now where no one goes to a store anymore of them. Sure they are buying online. Is that correct? Is that Kinda what you were?
Speaker 3:
14:41
Totally, yeah. We were building online stores that were being built from scratch. We were building back in interfaces between companies and lending companies like wells Fargo. It was all that kind of exciting moment when all of that was beginning to take place. Wow,
Speaker 2:
15:01
that's awesome. And by the way, des Moines is a great. It's an underrated city. Uh, my, my wife is from Davenport, Iowa. Iowa has a very, very close close part of my heart, but a boy demoing is just a wonderful up and coming city.
Speaker 3:
15:18
It is. It's not turned out to be a wonderful place for my family and for my grandkids now.
Speaker 2:
15:24
Really enjoy living in des Moines. Right. Okay. So talk about what was next, how long were you with, with, with that company. And then.
Speaker 3:
15:31
So I worked with them for five years and precipitating events, uh, went in for an annual exam and the doctor said I had a heart murmur and I, I'd never had one of those before. And he said, well, we'll check it out. Sometimes you get a little older and a little leak develops what turned out. I had a severe tear in one of my heart valves and um, he said you're probably about 30 days from dying unless we do something. Uh, and I was asymptomatic. I had no symptoms. I felt fine. I was working, you know, just like I wasted work. And so that was great. So within a couple of weeks I ended up having that five and a half hour open heart surgery to repair my heartfelt. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Wow.
Speaker 2:
16:18
Jesus moment in a way. Right? But now this is kind of a come to Jesus moment. You're probably thinking, okay, what am I doing? What, what do I want to do? What I want to finish my legacy with is, is that Kinda what you were going through?
Speaker 3:
16:32
That's rocky. That's a great way to say it. It, it was really a turning point. And so what happened for me was I came back out of Cardio Rehab. Everybody in industry where I was working was great to me, but I said this is insane, but I really feel like I want to do something different now. So, um, what I wanted to do is take all the threats of my life and background, uh, from everything I had done a ministry at Church lies all I'd studied, all the things that I'd learned at Saturn. Then working with various large companies around the country was spend history, bring it all together and turn it into something that I didn't know what it was going to be. So I left and I started a company called White Rabid Group of 15 years ago.
Speaker 2:
17:22
Okay. So now I have to ask, where did you get the name? White Rabbit.
Speaker 3:
17:29
Well, first of all, I wanted you to ask if I would have called it wagner consulting, you would've said one more smart Alec and thinks he knows everything. Yes. I. So white rabbit really comes from Alice in wonderland and at the beginning of the book, Alice is said to be a, in a, in a pasture, reading a book with too many words and she's kind of stuck and it wasn't until the white rabbit comes along that things kind of get exciting. So we look at our clients as good companies who wanted to go to the next level, especially in their leadership and, um, were the white rabbit that takes him down the rabbit hole and take some to a brand new place of performance. So that's, that's who we are, really rabid group. That sounds interesting. So, uh, so, uh, how long did it take you to get into this?
Speaker 3:
18:18
Uh, you know, I started off just talking about some of the things I had learned in the last eight years. I spoke on assumption, um, and then what we began to see my son, I ended up working alongside me. He graduated from Iowa State University. Uh, and uh, he said he wanted to work with me, which was a blessing and surprise me, you never think your kids are going to want to work with you. Um, my, my oldest daughter just started working for me again and I was completely shocked when she asked to work for me, but it is amazing. It's like nothing else I can remember ever have imagined for sure. So I'm sure you were proud of that. I am. His gifts are so different than mine that he really is very complimentary, completes my lack of abilities. But anyhow, um, as we began to work together, he began to recognize Dan, I think we see a growing leadership crisis.
Speaker 3:
19:19
We see organizations that are really struggling at executing operational things but also really struggling and learning how to serve their customers and their clients. And so I, he said, I think there's a, there's a leadership issue that's really profound here. And then what we would begin to see was an merging talent war where companies couldn't keep the brightest and the best they can attract them. And then we began to study engagement in organizations like Gallup, you know, we're pointing out and shown over and over again that we have incredibly low engagement numbers. Okay. So now you, you truly are now. I'm excited. Okay. So you really getting me excited here because, uh, and I think we've shared some of this with you. You know, we, we had this philosophy that there, there is a right leadership style and that right leadership style as being this true servant leader to the peoples and that if you can pull this off, if you can figure it out and if it comes out as a sincere party, you, you can really address some of these issues you're talking about.
Speaker 3:
20:27
And we've been shocked to see some of the numbers about engagement and about how money's good. But great leaders are great. People are leaving organizations that are paying really well because they're not getting other things that they need. So it sounds like you really found that niche and that's what we've landed yet. Um, for example, there's an author, he's a professor at Stanford Business School. His name is Jeffrey Pfeifer and um, he's done a bunch of research on this, so one of the things I'll often challenge people to think through is what I call them numbers play where I put some numbers in front of him and asked them what do you think that number means? So the first one that comes from pfeiffer's research is 24 point $5,000,000,000 a year and people kind of struggled to figure out what that means. And finally I'll share. And what it is, is it's the amount of money spent every year on leadership training and development in America. Wow. 20 four point $5,000,000,000 a year spent on leadership training.
Speaker 2:
21:32
So we should have it all figured out, right? We should be great leaders,
Speaker 3:
21:38
at least what the next number I put up rocky is 70 percent of all employees. And some people will guess that because they know about the issues, but what that means is, excuse me, what that is, is 70 percent of all employees showed up today for work, either partially engaged or actively not engaged. Wow. Wow. That's amazing. And that's not a number that's changed for over 20 years is Gallup as measured by engagement scores. And so what I'm saying is there's this gap between what we spent on leadership training and what we're getting and we haven't been able to move the needle. The last number I like to challenge people with is one third of all employees. And they go, what's that? What's that? Okay, USA Today, you know, commissioned a survey asking people why they leave businesses. Here's what they came up with, which was stunning. One third of all employees reported to USA Today that they would forego a pay raise if you would fire their boss.
Speaker 2:
22:44
Oh my gosh. Wow. Wow. Yeah, that's a scary, scary stat right there.
Speaker 3:
22:50
And Gallup and their research says that one out of two people when they leave, they leave because of their manager, their leader. So back to your point, something about the way we lead it just is out of whack is not in alignment with who we are meant to be and how we're meant to take care of people.
Speaker 2:
23:09
Well, and so servant leadership makes sense. You know, what I find crazy is that so, so my, my team is built really of high school, College Age kids that are cutting their teeth. They're learning their trade and it's a wonderful part there. Does so invigorated, so excited about things. And you know, I love working with that staff. What I've noticed is, because, you know, we, we kind of have a, um, a, a kind of a term we use at our store which is talent in transition and so we understand that the best thing we can do is we can hang onto a person until their next big life change. And for most of the people it's when they graduate and they get their dream job. What I'm finding, what's disturbing me and part of the reason why Larry and I started the podcast is so these, I'm talking to these people that have achieved what they went to school for. They were so excited. They were amazing leaders with us who are now completely disenchanted and actually are there saying, I miss this environment. And some are even coming back and saying, can you, can you find a way to pay me enough to be part of this? And it's, it's scary to me instead of making me feel good, it actually scares me for where we're at as a society, I think. And, and, and as a group of leaders,
Speaker 3:
24:32
well, rocky, you and Larry have landed on our mission. Our mission is to change that reality for people in the general marketplace. Okay, great. Are Pockets of greatness where servant leadership is practiced and it's a blessing when it happens and you know what? We want to change that. That's our mission district. Create a community of leaders and a growing community who is committed to leading in a fresh and different way that rises out of their willingness to serve others. That is, we call the connected leader.
Speaker 2:
25:03
That is a breath of fresh air for sure. Um, and, and I'm sure in some ways, and I'm sure part of it has to do a s, you know, stemming from your health issue. This is your, this is your legacy piece. You want to lead this place a better, a better environment than, than kind of what you're seeing right now.
Speaker 3:
25:23
Yeah. There's one right here. This is our why.
Speaker 2:
25:26
So. So talk to me about, you know that there was a, there's a term that I kind of read about where it says one-on-one leadership, when the work is complex and collaborative to talk about what you mean by that.
Speaker 3:
25:38
Well, what we began, again, we always start by listening and trying to just observe and listen and let our clients teach us and what we began to see us this, we saw a number of companies where they were doing very complex work. For example, sometimes they're doing things in the cloud where the client company and the company that they're trying to serve their customer company, they have teams of people trying to do very complex work and set it up in a cloud based system and what happens is they do it wrong because they can't hear each other. They can't connect with one another. They don't know how to listen. They don't know how to set aside inquiry or set aside advocating for a solution. So they, they end up doing a ton of rework and millions of dollars in some of the companies I've served are being wasted in rework because they just don't know how to collaborate. And so we're working with equipping people in the skills to, to actually serve customers and clients when the work is collaborative but complex. And increasingly that's the case for many people
Speaker 2:
26:55
and these are very bright people. You're working with it. It's not like they but, but there's a disconnect sometimes around how do you serve
Speaker 3:
27:03
people? Yes, exactly. And just even how to slow down, create a context of respect so bad people can disclose what's really happening. Uh, as you know, people are like icebergs, a lot of what's going on, but it's important as below the surface and that's true in any setting, Nathan, in the marketplace and um, you have the whole, even just the respect thing is a kind of a breakthrough for people. Um, one of my favorite stories is how demonstrating respect can open up a whole new collaborative opportunity with another person. Um, I was at a fast food restaurant. What's normally called a fast food restaurant late at night, um, and uh, I went in and I asked, um, you know, for a sandwich and um, I always try never to use, uh, I try never to use a language that is demeaning but always respectful. So, so for example, it's a small thing, but it's a subtle thing.
Speaker 3:
28:11
So, uh, I never say, you know, can I have the, um, the extra value meal, for example, because the word can I is what you say to an inanimate object, like a vending machine. Okay. Wow. We would never say that to a person. I walk up to a vending machines that can I get a pepsi out of it or a coke out of it. So I always use may I. So I was late night, I woke up, I visit with this person and I said, may I have an extra value meal as an example? And it just stunned him into quiet. He looked at me, big smile comes over his face and he says, well, yes you may. And so right away we have an opportunity to connect. Um, he comes back as my order, rings it up and I know it's supposed to be eight or $9 instead. It's like $5. And I said, you've made a mistake here. I know what it was supposed to be. He said, no, no, I'm, I'm, I'm the nighttime manager. And for people who treat people with respect, they get respect, discount.
Speaker 2:
29:23
Oh Wow. Wow. That is a great story. And I can tell you and, and you know, being in that industry, it's, it's often alarming the lack of civility that, that people have known each other. Yeah, yeah. Wow. That's a great story. That is a great. And that alone
Speaker 4:
29:42
is I'm a beginning place for how to do complex collaborative work and um, and then you begin going into some of the ways we talk and communicate with each other and how we serve others. And so that's um, that's been a big, big, big piece of our work for the last six years.
Speaker 2:
30:01
Why? You know, it's, it's really interesting to hear you talk about language and the power of language. You know, we'd been a, and I think this is coming from much brighter, in fact, it may have come from you. I wonder if you've worked with chick fil a before because they teach a lot about the language that we use with our customers and with our team and they actually cite the, um, instead of saying, can I get you a refill if you use the term, may I or you know, just slight variations, but they have a powerful impact on people.
Speaker 4:
30:33
Well, I'm a words guy, you know, so I studied Greek and Hebrew and I was taught by people that say, you know, be careful when you use a word, make sure you use the right word, not the almost right word. Yes. And learned that with Larry in the radio world and learned that at seminary. I learned that in working with people on the floor of Saturn. And um, I haven't worked with chick filet love to someday, but it is, it is a desert out there in terms of servant hood. And so it's very refreshing when you, when you begin to have a team of people or an individual who knows how to do this,
Speaker 2:
31:10
that is fantastic.
Speaker 1:
31:12
So it's, it's exciting that you've reached the pinnacle of success that you have today, but was there anytime that you know, was success always thing from the start, you know, when you started, did you have some ups and downs too?
Speaker 4:
31:27
Well, I would never use the word clinical success at this, but let's say that I am a, I have more clarity as to what I'm on earth to do. So that feels successful. Yes. No, there's a, there was a lot of times there. It's, um, it's, it took an immense amount of time of listening, trying to understand.
Speaker 1:
31:50
And for me, um, the challenge was how do I, how do I discover what value looks like in the marketplace? You know, I had been trained primarily for church ministry. I knew that world. Um, I thought there was a struggle.
Speaker 4:
32:06
It was painful, but it was, it was a matter of just determination and staying with it. And in using the basic foundational principles that are about taking care of people in a plane to the marketplace. And I found out that was the journey. That's where I was supposed to go.
Speaker 2:
32:25
What, what do you like most about, about this company in the business that you're in?
Speaker 4:
32:30
Well, there's a con. I mean, I'm the founder of the company so I'm not going to complain to but myself. Yes. And you must really. Well, I'm sure what I like most is I'm never bored. Uh, literally I am constantly learning. So part of the metaphor that I've used in terms of my other jobs, why would I leave these other positions was the metaphor of graduation. Um, I have learned what I was supposed to learn while I was here. I'm thankful for it, but my future is to simply learn the same lessons or maybe move to another place. And so whenever I left another position or another company, it was always graduation with white rabbit group. Uh, it's, it's so dynamic. And the challenges are so fresh and unpredictable that I am never feeling like I've learned everything. I need to learn that there is, there are fresh opportunities and because of the role I play, I can set aside time to learn things and go deep dive.
Speaker 4:
33:41
So every three to four months they do deep dives into various areas of interest. Like for example, visual learning. I spent four months studying visual learning because I saw that most of my client companies were word heavy and they weren't really talking very well to each other. So under the say how could you draw pictures and explain your pictures to each other and use that as a compliment to your words. So I can do that. And um, you know, I do these deep dives that allow me to, uh, you know, always stay like I'm learning something new.
Speaker 2:
34:15
That's right. Which is exciting because, you know, I, I can tell you take this very serious and I can tell that it's wonderful that you get to earn a living doing something you truly enjoy. But I kind of get the feeling that this is your heart regardless of whether you are earning living either.
Speaker 4:
34:35
So job, living out their calling of the mission. And I think that's probably even behind my answer I gave earlier, is really living out your sense of calling and mission in life is what I enjoyed the most about my work.
Speaker 2:
34:51
So, so I have to ask this because I, because I have an idea of at least a start, but who, who has influenced your life the most and why did you get to this point where you felt like this was what you needed to do?
Speaker 4:
35:04
Well, no, that's a great question. I'm definitely, we've already mentioned hendricks. He never knew me. I was one among many students at the time, um, but he was a tremendous influence and I've had authors, some bookish fellow, so I'm always hanging out at bookstores. Yeah, we are too. So those are, those are some of my influences. Um, at one point in my ministry life I was able to spend a lot of time with an author named Warren Wiersbe. A lot of people know because he was a pastor at Moody Church in Chicago. And Warren was a tremendous influence on me. Um, those are really the kind of the biblical foundations that I learned there. And they are models now for me, I'm in the marketplace, uh, you know, I don't want to make Larry feel too bad here, but I definitely saw a courageous man who had a vision and kph l the radio station that he founded and started.
Speaker 4:
36:12
I've just never been around a person who, um, had a, this will happen mindset. I had seen it a little bit into the sports world. I, I played college football and things like that. I've never seen it in the business world until I met Larry. Yeah, I think that that's one of his greatest strengths is he's able to really make you feel like, hey, this is gonna work. This will happen. And I, and I saw it firsthand at a time when I didn't even know what he was talking about half the time talking about this thing called Contemporary Christian music. And I'm going, I was raised a little bit better. I'm not sure I know what you're talking about. Lutheran church is not known for their contemporary Christian music. Seventies with the radio station was being broke. And so I was just stunned at that and that was a tremendous influence on my life in terms of a marketplace person who had a vision that was worth pursuing a that was Christ on or he, here we go, let's make this happen. Wow, that's great. And this is, she leery, you are coming across very well here. And I was looking for a little dirt on Larry, you know, but you know, there's plenty of it out there.
Speaker 4:
37:31
You'll have to, you'll have to hire somebody else, you know, if you want to see Mike, you can see him on the Internet because he did a Ted talk in De Moines, right? Yeah. It's a ted x, which means it was a regional ted talk. I don't want people to think it was one of the big, you know, ted events. But yes, I did, uh, I did a presentation called the positive power of being strange, uh, which was a part of a Ted talk here in the Des Moines area. That is fantastic. And it's an honor to be asked to do anything with the Ted talks. I am not a public speaker and every time I try to be who's going to be. Yeah, well, every time I try to be I'm reminded that I'm not, so I'm always, I'm always impressed with people that that can get up there and really share an idea and do a well rocky. All you need to do is do it over and over again and you'll get better at it. My friends in high school, I'm sure it will be shocked to see what I do now. It was pretty quiet and pretty retiring, so yeah, they wouldn't assume that I could speak front of a large group.
Speaker 2:
38:36
And you've got me worried about every word I say. Now I know, right? I'm trying to be cautious. Yes. Hey, um, but you know, this is normally a segment that we did a little bit later, but, but I kinda want to pause and ask, can you tell it because I'm a book sky to in fact, I've been heavily influenced by Patrick Lencioni and Donald Miller and some other great authors and I, I'm like, you. Every word speaks volumes to me and you know, I think back to some of my greatest compliments have come in the form of a written a word because I can, I can go back to that when I'm feeling down or unsure of myself. It. Is there a favorite book that you had that maybe one that is either popular or not, but that has really influenced you and you think everybody should read?
Speaker 4:
39:24
Oh Wow. There's so many, so I won't forget. Remember them all. I think that from a marketplace perspective, one of the first books that was really influential in my life was a Peter St East book, the fifth discipline, and that was about how to create learning organization.
Speaker 2:
39:45
Okay. I, I've actually heard of that, but I've not read it.
Speaker 4:
39:48
Uh, I was walking to a major corporation once with a friend and giving me a tour and everyone in that corporation had a copy of that book on their desk. And I turned to the person who was leading the tour and I said, this is an amazing place. Everywhere I go, I see people reading and especially reading this book and the person giving the tour smiled and said, well, we're not really reading it. Uh, one of the senior leaders bought several cases of it and gave it to everybody. But I, I thought, okay, this is important books. I have read that a couple of times really bad. You did. Again, a marketplace book is secular book, but really helpful. Peter Block has been really helpful. Uh, one of his books that I really liked was the answer to how is yes and uh, I found that really genuinely insightful in terms of how do you get past people who want to struggle with pragmatic questions like, where else is this happened, how else has just been done?
Speaker 4:
40:54
How much time will it take? How much money, what require rather than start with the yes, what is it, the thing we must do? And, uh, Peter Block's book was very influential there again, a secular book, but a very helpful book. Um, there's not as many books a written from a Christian worldview a yet there are starting to emerge in the marketplace. Uh, but servant leadership, which I have read and really valued a lot of the art of leadership, uh, my Max depree if you're familiar with that, a really, he was the CEO of Herman Miller Furniture Company. Very good book, very good book on servant leadership and I think that there's one somewhere by, by Mike Wagner. We haven't read yet, but I think it's kind of like at some point, well, you know, people have asked so we'll see what happens. It's just that discipline of sitting down and writing. Well, uh, you know, I, I've enjoyed our talk here and I think I've learned, yeah,
Speaker 1:
42:04
quite a lot. We do, if you know, before we go we kind of have a fun segment and we call it this one or that one and if you don't mind playing along, it's nothing too controversial but we, we put, we just mentioned to people and we kind of want to get your feel for who you like better and kind of maybe why going with us. Alright. So first one is going to be Elon musk or Richard Branson.
Speaker 4:
42:36
I like when people say, oh, my cousin made them, I know them both. I think my first blush is primarily because of the technology and the visionary thing, and especially the trip to Mars. I grew up with star trek in 1968, launched, you know, 67, 68 that first season. And I said, you know, by the time I met in college, we will have starships and we'll be going to Mars. That's Elon musk or a steve jobs or bill gates. Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs. Partly because, uh, I read John scully's biography where he talks about recruiting jobs, our jobs recruiting him and I love jobs. How we recruited John Sculley to be the CEO. Uh, maybe you've heard it. It's a well known illustration at one point in their recruitment job said to John scully, who was the head of Pepsi at the time or Pepsi Co said to him, do you want to spend the rest of your lifestyle in sugar water or do you want to change the world?
Speaker 4:
43:43
That is a hard, a hard question to answer and not go to apple to work on. And, and scully said at that point job, just drop that question, got out of the car to take his plane back to California. And I knew I was leaving Pepsi to go work with that. That is an awesome story. So definitely Steve Jobs. All right. Steven Spielberg or Walt Disney. Oh, well, what was famously difficult to work with. Um, but I think I would go with Walt. I know there were stories of his brother Roy saying how difficult it was, but Walter was, um, he was an amazingly determined person. A, his work in Kansas City is a animator just as visionary to try things and make it happen. Yeah. I'm a Walt Disney guy.
Speaker 2:
44:36
Well, and then, you know, his, his belief in the culture aspect of an organization. I think he was so ahead of his time that, you know, uh, uh, uh, entity, a business can have a culture and it can be leaving, you know, living and breathing and they still teach it to this day.
Speaker 4:
44:53
Good point. And um, you know, the whole idea of using a metaphor to kind of introduce the culture with cast members and things like that. That was brilliant. That was brilliant. Visual communicator. Great.
Speaker 2:
45:05
Yeah, I thought you might like his use of language. My soon to be son in law is going through their management training right now and I'm amazed at some of the things that he's sharing with me about. They're very conscious of what they're saying and, and, and why they're saying it, which is a beautiful thing. Words matter. Words matter. Okay. We got two more here real quick and I'm going to go star wars or star trek
Speaker 4:
45:30
trek star trek just because it's where I started, right? Yeah, it was definitely where I started. Okay. And that, this goal, I do have the unique distinction. I went to star wars when I was in Lincoln, Nebraska and I was working with a company that did fire alarms and we decided to take the afternoon off the guy who was working with and his name James Kirk. So I saw, I saw star wars for the first time.
Speaker 2:
46:01
[inaudible] James or Hurricane? Yeah. Alright. This is the last one, and this, this could be a little bit hard for you, but Tom Osborne or Scott Frost.
Speaker 4:
46:11
Oh my. Well, I'm going to go with Scott Frost answer and then his answer would be Tom Osborne. I like. I like how you play that. That's very good. Yes, yes, yes. I, uh, when I was pastoring did do one team chapel for Tom Osborne. It was great because you got to sit with the coaching staff and then like at the 50 yard line is the pastor who did the chapel and it was outstanding. I sat next to a hospital and I said, what's your secret? He said, well, it's not much of a secret, but I'll share it with you. He said, I'm at this level, Mike's Charters and my opponent starters are about the same in terms of athletic ability. My secret is I know sometime during the game one of my guys is going down, one of their guys is going down. I just make sure that there's no dropoff when my replacement comes in. So I'm about depth and system and that's. He said, that's how I built this. That was, that was his quick answer that day when I asked him,
Speaker 2:
47:19
wow, no, but the idea of having a deep benches is it, it's profound whether you're running a football team or a business.
Speaker 4:
47:27
Well, yeah, or military. You think about anybody that really has to create a sustainable, resilient organization and depth is really crucial. We, I'm kind of going back to our leadership model. We found out, um, through a colleague that one of the, one of the measures of success in terms of leadership that comes from the, uh, the US military, they have three measures and so the three measures of this, first of all, fulfill the mission of the organization. I think that makes sense. We all see that. Second thing is connect with the people that work with you, so that makes sense as well. The third make more leaders. And so the question I asked every leader that I need, every senior business owner that I talked to is, uh, how do you make leaders in this place and how good are you at it? Those, those are my two favorite questions to ask and I've not really gotten a good answer yet from anybody.
Speaker 2:
48:28
Yeah. You need to come to Clermont, Florida and work with rock and he'll get you the answers. I'm sure you know, we are going to rocky. Might have more than a few answers. Yes. No, actually you, what, what I've been left with here is a lot, a lot of good questions. In fact, you know, Mike, I would love to have you back on at some point. I feel like there's a depth of, of your experience and, and honestly what you're doing, it just resonates so much with my cell phone with Larry. I know you used the term. It's a desert out there and again, it excited me and it scared me in the same breath because I, I have been the product of great leadership that has built into me and breathe life in me and made me feel valued. And then I've been um, under terrible leaders who just couldn't figure it out.
Speaker 2:
49:19
And I think it's the greatest challenge facing a, uh, you know, for sure American business, but, but I really think it has, um, you know, we take it seriously that if we can change in this component, if people can feel valued and, and enjoy their work, then that bleeds into every area of their life, how they treat their family, how they treat the person at chick filet when they go in at night and they say, may I instead of I, you know, I just, I feel like it's it, you know, this is your legacy piece and it's so important. So I would love to have you back on at some point.
Speaker 4:
49:56
It'd be an honor. I love the conversation. My mind is racing.
Speaker 2:
50:00
Well that's good. Mine too. Hey Mike, I really, really appreciate you coming on the show today and I thank you for kind of giving us just so much to think about. And I've written down three or four concepts I've written down Jeff Pfeiffer. I've got to get that, uh, that, that study. I, you know, I can't wait to read about
Speaker 4:
50:21
the title of his book is Leadership Bs. Oh Gosh, I love that. Like I said, he's a professor
Speaker 1:
50:28
at Stanford Business School in California. Geez, I, you know, I'm going to buy chips for the leadership bs to me at the time. That's exactly it. Yes. Well, Mike, I want to thank you for joining us from the White Rabbit Group and uh, again I just thank you so much for being on the servers journey and thanks to Larry for being the connector reaching out to me from many years past to the present. Thanks Larry. My pleasure. Always they want to thank everyone for joining with us today here on its servers journey. If you like what you heard, remember you can subscribe to the podcast and you can hear all of what rocky wants to share and you can learn more about Mike Wagner. By the way, Mike, how do we contact you? Best way is to go to our website and it is simply white rabbit group.com. Okay. And you're available.
Speaker 1:
51:20
You are available. You could take more clients, right? I am. I also speak around the country. I was just in Jacksonville not too long ago, so I'm happy to speak, but most of my work is living laboratory work inside organizations, working with people, installing a servant leadership culture. If you have some additional comments you'd like to make or some questions for the program, please let us know. You can put it with the bottom of our website and we'll get your email and you can tell us what you like or you don't like about a server journey and rocky. Until next time. I'm. You're ever faithful companion. Yes, you are. My Very. Hey, you're my birth to my Ernie Larry. So now that I know Ernie and I grew up with those, you know, we are all on this journey and, and I believe it's how you serve while you're in this role and that's why every week we share a server's journey with you. I'm rocky destefano. Thanks for joining with us. As together we learned to be better leaders.