The Executive Leader's Perspective on 21st Century Leadership!

The Circle of Change Leadership Conference Executive Leader's Spotlight!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Executive Interview with Tru Pettigrew

Senior Vice President at Octagon 

Mr. Pettigrew is the Senior Vice President at Octagon where he leads the urban lifestyle and multicultural marketing division. This group was formed to offer Fortune 500 companies, as well as boutique brands, strategic marketing solutions and creative lifestyle using their unique knowledge and deep understanding of today’s urban and multicultural consumer. Whether he’s engaging with consumers to gain valuable insights or educating Fortune 500 clients on consumer motivations, Tru provides an accurate reflection of today’s multicultural world.
For the past decade, Tru has been recognized as a respected authority on the urban lifestyle, multicultural marketing industry, is an exceptional presenter on this influential and emerging market, and has led innovative campaigns for high-profile clients such as Reebok, Nike, and Ford to name a few. Mr. Pettigrew has also appeared on CNN, CBS Marketwatch, NBC News, and has been featured in prominent publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, the Boston Globe, Fast Company and Fortune Magazine. For this month’s executive interview on leadership, please welcome Tru Pettigrew!
Every generation has a set of leaders that define that generation.  Based on your experience with this emerging generation in urban America, what specific individuals do you believe exemplify what it means to be an effective leader with this specific demographic?
They are obviously not “emerging” but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge our President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama as two of the most influential and impactful leaders we have seen in recent generations overall. But specific to urban America, which I will address as it relates to emerging leaders most influential to the multicultural mainstream of the millennial generation, I would say Aaraon Arnold (CEO of Music is My Business), Tiffany R. Wareen (SVP/CDO Omnicom Group & Founder of ADColor), and Steve Pearson (Manager IBM corporate Affairs).
Based on your research of this emerging generation in America, what do you believe will be their biggest challenge in the next 5-10 years?
I believe one of the biggest challenges for the emerging generation will be implementing programs, campaigns and initiatives that still require buy-in and approval from decision makers who still view the market place through ethnic and/or cultural segmentation. The emerging generation is a more diverse and inclusive generation and they approach solutions through a more holistic and total market view which inherently is more inclusive of diverse cultures, lifestyles interests and backgrounds. It will be a challenge to bridge that gap and way of thinking. Many of their predecessors are comfortable with and accustomed to segmenting, separating and segregating. It’s like going from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
If you had the responsibility to develop these next set of leaders in America for the future problems discussed in the previous question, what specific leadership skills do you believe are most important for these emerging leaders to develop in the 21st Century in order to overcome these challenges?
That’s easy and will always be the same in my opinion. The Five C’s of Leadership which are Competence, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, and Concern.
Are there any special “secrets” which have enabled you to succeed as a leader in your area of expertise that many colleges may not teach student leaders?
I don’t know how much of a secret it is, but I believe understanding the importance of service is critical to being an effective leader. As a leader, you are ultimately a servant. It is your responsibility to establish a vision which is in the best interest of the group, team or organization. Set goals and objectives to achieve that vision. And then leverage the gifts and talents of the team to ensure that everyone wins. You are ultimately responsible for inspiring and empowering each individual to win in their specific role, task or discipline so that the team wins as a whole. That is best accomplished when you view your leadership position from a service perspective.
You have been very successful in your career.  What personal values have enabled you to succeed as a mentor and leader within your professional area of expertise?
When thinking of values that have helped me to succeed, I would say my faith first and foremost. Without being in a meaningful relationship with God, nothing that has been accomplished through me would be possible. I would also include integrity, honesty, and work ethic as important values that have contributed to my success. Along with the five C’s of leadership listed above of course!
You have a strong passion for developing powerful men of the 21st Century.  Based on your personal experience and work, what are some specific things that leaders can do in order develop these types of men in our communities and nation?
One of the things that I have been blessed to have stewardship over is an initiative that me and a few other men have in place called Rap Sessions and Barbershop Rap Sessions. They are essentially forums where men come together to discuss topics and issues that affect men. We then share experiences and solutions with one another to equip and empower each other with the insight and information necessary to overcome various challenges and become the leaders we were intended to be. (Iron sharpening Iron). So to answer the question we need talk to one another more; men don’t talk. We need to share our experiences with one another and uplift and edify more versus cut down and condemn. We need to hold each other accountable but not judge. It’s all about inspiring and empowering through our words AND our actions.
If one of our future leaders was interested in interning or working with you, what specific skills should they bring to the table?
 Strong written and verbal communication skills, Savvy in DSM (Digital, Social & Mobile) and great client service skills.
What is one final word of advice that you would like to leave people with who desire to reach their fullest potential in life and become effective leaders in the 21st Century?
My final word of advice to help people reach their fullest potential is to put God first. Additionally, this will help you to identify your calling/purpose. Once you have identified your purpose, I encourage you to walk in your purpose. We all have God given gifts and talents and the gifts we were given are in the areas where we were supposed to serve.  And when we pursue careers in the areas in which we are gifted, then we will obviously excel in that discipline and those are typically things we like to do. So when we do what we like – we like what we do! Put God first and walk in your purpose!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Executive Perspectives Interview with David Coleman - America's Dating Doctor

Our Executive Leader’s Perspective interview this week is with David Coleman. Mr. Coleman is known worldwide as The Dating Doctor™ and has been honored 13 times as The Speaker of the Year and was recently honored as the 2011 Entertainer of the Year and 2011 Male Performer of the Year by Campus Activities Magazine. His best seller, Date Smart, has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide and his previous works, Making Relationships Matter! and 101 Great Dates continues to impact lives worldwide. David has been featured in such fine publications as Us Magazine, Glamour, Celebrity Living, Mademoiselle, Women's World, Cosmo, ESPN Magazine, The USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has been featured on CNN as well as on all major television networks and on hundreds of radio stations worldwide. David has spoken live to more than 2,000,000 people in all 50 states, Canada and Europe and has impacted another 50,000,000 people through his appearances on radio, television, the internet and in print. Audience members at more than 2,500 college campuses, military installations, corporations, conferences, single's organizations, churches, and civic groups have experienced his energetic and entertaining programs.
As speaker who travels worldwide, what is the most important leadership quality that student leaders must develop in college?
The most important leadership quality that student leaders must develop in college is an ability to make decisions with Courageous Conviction. In other words, college students must understand that leadership is not about the position they hold, it's about how well they perform in every unique situation that arises and how as an elected or selected leader on campus they meet the demands of the task at hand and the people they represent with courage, integrity and honor.

Who is your greatest leader of all-time?
The greatest leader of all-time to me is former president John F. Kennedy. When asked to run for Vice President, he replied, "If I accept second place when first place is available, I will have a tendency to accept second place the rest of my life." Essentially, what John F. Kennedy taught me as a leader is that I should always strive to give my best in everything I do and pursue the best things in life and never settle for less. Second place is acceptable, but only after giving 110% and aspiring to be the best that I can be in life and everything I do.

As the president of a highly successful speaking and entertainment agency, what are the keys to developing a strong team as a leader?

To develop a strong team around you, it is extremely important to select highly qualified and motivated people, train them well, pay them fairly, inspire them, empower them, and then stay out of their way and allow them to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

It is important to surround yourself with people who share "One Heartbeat," which is a sincere desire to exceed all expectations and surpass all goals without one ounce of interest in who gets the credit. The team. The team. The team. 

What are some networking strategies that leaders can use to develop positive relationships with others?

One of my top young speakers, Hoan Do, says it best when he educates students to, "Stop Networking and Start Connecting". Networking is about meeting people in mass without ever utilizing the strengths one another possesses, while connecting is about developing meaningful relationships with others where both parties can serve as a resource for one another.

As leaders, if you are going to effectively network with others, not only is it important to courageously step out of your comfort zone to meet a wide variety of people, but its vitally important that your personal interaction is a meaningful and memorable experience with the person with whom you are connecting.

Since it is Valentine's Day and you are "The Dating Doctor," what are some tips you can offer during this time of year?

There are many dating tips that I could offer leaders during this time of the year, but if I had to choose three tips for this season, these are the four tips that I would offer on Valentine's Day.

#1: Don't forget about the Holiday. This is a special day, and men are wise to remember that many women define romance as performing an ordinary act of love/kindness at an unexpected time. Being creative and caring FAR outweighs how much you spend.

#2: Instead of giving your significant other a gift on Valentine's Day, present it on February 13th along with a handwritten note that says, "No one as special as you should have to wait another day".

#3: Never give your significant other a gift that infers that at some point they will be using it on or for you. "Here is that wonderful non-stick cookware, hair cutting sheers and vacuum cleaner!"

#4: Go on a progressive dinner date that includes an appetizer at one restaurant, a dinner at another restaurant, and dessert at a special place to close out the night.

What has been the greatest lesson you have learned as a leader?

The greatest lesson that I have learned as a leader is that people will support what they help create. When I personally develop ideas without the input of others, it is almost always universally rejected, but when I develop ideas with my team, amazing things happen. Include your top team members in major decisions and major progress will follow.

What is the key to dealing with relationship conflict as a leader?
If you have relationship conflict with another person, here are four specific things that I encourage every leader to do in order to bring closure to the conflict.
#1: Address the conflict tactfully with facts and not with lots of emotion.
#2: Develop a minimum of three standards that both parties can agree to and live by following the conflict.
#3: Set realistic and measurable goals as a team that will enable the both of you to avoid these extreme conflicting situations again within your relationship or organization.
#4: If the conflict cannot be resolved, then rectify the situation as fairly as possible. At the end of the day, both parties will not be perfectly happy, but the situation will be over and a fresh start can ensue.
What final word of advice you would like to leave with leaders to desire to succeed in the 21stCentury?

My final word of advice for leaders who desire to succeed is, "You never get a wasted day back, so take full advantage of every moment of every single day and if you don't believe this to be the best day of your life or the best day you have EVER had, imagine missing it."

Not only do I hope that you were able to receive some great words of wisdom from this interview, but I am so thankful that David Coleman agreed to take time out of his very busy schedule to talk about his leadership experience as an international speaker and corporate leader.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Executive Leader's Perspective Interview with Kymberly Garrett!

Our Executive Leader’s Perspective interview this week is with Kymberly Garrett, an amazing leader, consultant, and expert who has over 30 years of experience working as an Human Resources Professional for major companies and organizations such as the Hyatt Corporation, Oakwood Worldwide, Unicare, and Wellcare to name a few.
As a leadership/business consultant to several top level executives within business, what are the top five leadership skills student leaders must develop if they desire to become a future CEO or Senior Executive?
As the bar continues to shift and refocus ... I am seeing that the critical competencies on Leadership readiness include the following:
Critical Thinking:Information comes in droves today. Being able to sift through mountains of data in order to facilitate informed decision making will require honing critical thinking skills to the point of almost a science. Those that haven't developed this will find themselves, left behind the pack due it lack of readiness.
Intellectual Curiosity: Not only within their organizations but what’s happening in the world around them! Take a lesson from Sears. They started as one of the original mail order catalog companies. Really, the precursor to online shopping. Yet they are lagging behind instead of leading the pack...their original founders were curious about the world they lived in and created a business solution from that curiosity. The current leadership lost that ability and now, sadly, Sears is not doing very well.. This currency will prove invaluable to a forward thinking Leader instead of someone riding the coattails of yesterday's business model.
Extraordinary listening ability: Being able to synthesize information that Leaders disseminate is critical in today's new economy. Listening to the immediate team members but also to the external buzz will once again create a well-rounded Leader whose ego will allow thought compilation.
Subject Matter Expertise: Broad skills are definitely important to future leaders but their foundation should be built upon a strong basis of expertise. Whether it’s in Technology, Business, Marketing or Operations...being known as a Specialist will prove to be key to your future success. Leaders gain credibility when they are seen as having an area of expertise and just as important...keeping up/staying relevant in that area!
Excellent People Engagement: Leaders have one thing in common...a Following! This derives from crafting strong AND authentic relationship building. Taking the time to "be interested" in WHO others are will go along way when critical support is needed. This is from the first level employee all the way to the Directors of the Board.
What has been your greatest leadership lesson as a senior executive within the business industry?
The importance of relying on others. I was brought up in the business world to cultivate a rising star mentality. Not a good path..and one that I have learned many hard lessons. Much more important to the overall success of an organization and my colleagues is to have ambition for the overall vs. yourself. A well-oiled machine will create the kind of success that we all hope for individually .. but so much more gratifying and sustainable.
What is the number one thing that is most important for students to know about in the 21stCentury job market?
There are still great opportunities created or vacated everyday but as students become first job is critical for them to have researched, rehearsed and readied their professional story so that they can shine above the rest of the pack. This job market is so different than any other time. There are four generations in the workplace at one time...and three for sure that are in the same talent pool. The distinction of ones abilities needs to be told in a succinct and validated manner.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Executive Interview with Shannon Deegan

Our Executive Leader’s Perspective interview this week is with Shannon Deegan, Director of People Operations, Central Staffing, and Business Development at Google.
As a leader within Google, what are the top five leadership qualities that you search for in potential student leaders?
We look for a diverse range of qualities in our student candidates, so this is definitely not a hard and fast list, but if I was to name five leadership qualities we look for, I would pick:
  • Demonstrated leadership and setting/achieving big goals
  • A keen sense of when to lead and when to follow
  • Integrity
  • Success dealing with adversity and challenges
  • Diverse skill sets and breadth of knowledge
What are the greatest words of wisdom you have ever received in your career about leadership? 
When I first started out, the greatest words of wisdom I received were "always act with integrity, never sacrifice your values and be true to who you are as a person."  One of the best things about working at Google is that I get to be the same person at work as I am at home.  People are happiest in their careers when they can be their true selves and they are doing the right thing.  Find companies and roles that do that for you, and feel comfortable pushing back if something ever goes against your core values.
If a student desires to become a future executive one day after graduation, what leadership qualities should they focus their efforts on right now?
Being well-rounded is one of the best things you can do to become a better leader.  Try as many things as you can to find out what you love to do, build up a diverse skillset, make new connections and step outside of your comfort zone.  As you diversify your resume, you'll also learn to work well with many different types of people and communication styles.
It's also essential to understand how your company and industry work.  Don't get siloed in your role.  For example, if you work in Sales at Google, you should know how the engineering behind the advertising works, how our products work, and understand our overall business goals. Having this breadth of knowledge makes you a more valuable and versatile contributor and a better future leader.
What leader has had the greatest impact on your life? Please tell me why this leader had such a great impact on your life?
First and foremost, I had amazing parents and family.  Outside the home, my hockey coaches were the primary leaders in my life.  One college coach in particular pushed me to stretch myself on and off the ice.  He expected us to be students first and athletes second, and encouraged us to meet people outside the team to make strong connections across campus. These ties have been invaluable personally and professionally, and his support helped me start a diverse and fulfilling career path.
How do you see leadership changing in the next 10-15 years?
I think we're already seeing a shift in how people view and experience the workplace.  It wasn't long ago that people had totally separate work personalities and personal lives.  I see that going away -- more and more, people want to be themselves all the time.  We want to work with people we like and respect.  The next generation of leaders will need to be better at bringing their true selves into the workplace and earning the respect of their teams.  Leadership will be more about relationships, influence and trust and less about telling people what to do.  I also think that leaders will have more responsibility to make sure their teams are happy and have the tools they need to be successful.
As a leader in your area of expertise, what has been the greatest leadership challenge that you have been required to overcome in order to succeed in your profession?
My greatest challenge was becoming a Human Resources leader at Google with no previous HR background.  I wanted to build trust and bring value to my team quickly, so I had to learn fast.  As much as I wanted to lead, I found the best way to get up to speed was to be comfortable relying on them as the experts.  It actually helped us form strong bonds and enabled them to make important decisions.
What final word of advice do you have for graduating students who desire to enter your area of expertise?
Don't worry if you're not sure what career you want yet. This is the perfect opportunity for you to learn new things and build up a diverse skill set.  Go after the things that interest you right now.  Keep exploring, learning and growing as much as you can.  I see a lot of young people put too much pressure on themselves -- your first job may not be your dream role, but it will open up other doors.  You shouldn't sweat where to work right after college.  It is the first step on a long road, you'll have lots of additional opportunities and decisions as you go!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Executive Interview with Lonnie McGowen

Our Executive Leader’s Perspective interview this week is with Lonnie McGowen, Human Resources Manager for Sherwin Williams, a Fortune 500 company which is the largest producer of paints and coatings in the US. 
What is the number one mistake student leaders must avoid when they go in for an interview and start a new job?
 The number one mistake that student leaders must avoid when they go in for an interview and start a new job is not doing their research about the company before the actual interview.  Most often, student leaders come into an interview not knowing the background of the company.  This lack of knowledge about the company causes campus recruiters to be less inclined to hire the student because it shows a lack of concern about the company and their desire for the position.
Some great questions that students can ask themselves about a company before they participate in the interview are:
1)      When was the company they are interviewing for created?
2)      Who started the company they are interviewing for?
3)      Why did the individual start the company they are interviewing for?
4)      What types of roles and duties am I actually interviewing for within the company?

What is the key to obtaining a promotion within a new company? 
There are several keys to getting a promotion in your job.  The first key factor towards obtaining a promotion on the job is being able to get along with everyone.  As an employee of any company, it is important to do your job well and it is vital that you have a good working relationship with your peers, direct reports, and supervisor.  Many times, people have a difficult time climbing up the company ladder because they have damaged relationships.
The second key factor towards obtaining a promotion on the job is past work experience and behavior.  Ultimately, relationships are very important, but your work performance, behavior, and ability to complete your duties and goals in a timely manner can play a huge role in your future with the company.  So, make sure that you do your job well, bring a positive attitude to the workplace, and display great levels of responsibility if you desire to obtain a promotion within a new company.  
As an HR Manager that actually hires student leaders, what are the top leadership skills and experiences you search for in potential candidates? 
There are several key leadership skills that I look for in student leaders, but the first skill  that I search for in potential employees is adaptability.  Essentially, if you can't adapt to the circumstances around you, it will be difficult for you to survive in the doggy dog world of business.  Typically, as a leader or employee within any company, you rarely have a choice in the team members who you work with or the supervisor you will report to. So, if you can't adapt, it will be hard for you to survive any job venture. 
The second key leadership skill that I search for in potential employees is conflict management skills.  This skill set is important because conflicts will always arise in some aspect of your life and leaders who are unable to manage conflict well can lead to hostile work environments, hire turnover rates, and low productivity among employees.  On the other hand, leaders that are able to effectively manage conflict can turn negative situations into positive outcomes and results for the company.  So, as a student leader, make sure you perfect this skill set while you are in college so that you can separate yourself as a leader within a future company or organization.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Executive Interview with Yolanda Harris

Our Executive Leader’s Perspective interview this week is with Yolanda Harris, President of The Keynote Group, a full-service Speaker Management company staffed with the industry's most knowledgeable professionals.
What is the number one thing student leaders should do during the first week of the year to prepare themselves for an amazing 2012?
PLAN. We hear again and again how important it is to write goals, yet this simple task gets pushed aside. As a student leader, you’ve got to ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish this year? Get better grades, stretch yourself to learn something new, intern at a company, or contribute your time to help others be better in life. What are your goals, when will you achieve them, and who will hold you accountable?

What are the some leadership/career skills that executives are searching for in this next set of leaders from the younger generation?
The most important skills that I believe executives are searching for in the younger generation is an ability to listen, communicate effectively, be open to what others can show you, and share your creativity in positive ways. 
In order to have your ideas heard as a leader, you must be a hard worker, you must  have patience, you must never give up, and you must stay determined to your ideas and growth in learning.