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SS 72 – Important Leadership TouchPoints with Doug Conant

Episode: 72

Guest: Doug Conant

iTunes: Stream Episode

Jason Hartman invites Doug Conant, the author of TouchPoints, to the Solomon Success show. Doug served as a CEO and President of the Campbell Soup Company for 10 years and has a lot of interesting insight on how you can be a better leader for your team. Today’s lesson is about effective leadership or servant leadership as referred in the Bible. Join us today as we learn about the effective tactics of building a closer and more authentic relationship with your employees.

 

Key Takeaways:
1:45 – True leadership inspires people to take action on their own accord.
5:35 – What were some of the challenges Doug encountered when he was the CEO of Campbell’s?
10:15 – If you can create 3-5 healthy interactions a day, you can change your contribution profile in a major way.
15:40 – Doug shares a negative TouchPoint experience and then shares a positive one.
22:00 – As a leader, you have to have character and confidence trust among your team.
22:58 – Ronald Reagan was an excellent communicator and could instill trust on a mass scale.
26:15 – How did Ronald Reagan do this?
29:30 – Final thoughts? We can all do better. Do a little better today than you did yesterday.

 

Tweetables:

“To be a truly great leader, we must become the servant.”

“In corporate cultures, you’re pretty much trained to find everything wrong.”

“Listen, frame, and advance and try and do a little better today than you did yesterday.”

 

Mentioned In This Episode:
TouchPoints by Doug Conant
http://conantleadership.com/

 

Transcript

Jason Hartman:
Hi there, it’s Jason Hartman your host and thank you for joining me for another episode of the Solomon Success show with Biblical wisdom for business and investing. Let’s go to today’s lesson and then I’ll come back on and then we’ll have our main portion with our guest relating to that lesson.

Announcer:
The topic of leadership is one of the highest selling genre in bookstores, in seminars, and online. What’s most surprising about leadership is the image of what most people have of it is completely opposite of what successful leadership actually is. Most people visual leadership in terms of contemporary top-down authoritarian method of corporate control. Power decision makers in charge of super conglomerate corporations are heralded as great leaders because of the huge amount of financial resources that are under their control.

However, this is not the model of leadership that is the most successful or that we should seek to emulate. Leadership that is based on positional or financial authority is ultimately hallow. True leadership is the ability to inspire other people to take action on their own accord. The best leaders show people how to live well by living well themselves. This mindset is sometime referred to as servant leadership and is the fundamental under pinning of living a Biblical life.

One of the best and authoritative sources to learn about leadership is from the holy scriptures. In the 22nd chapter of Luke. St. Luke the Evangelist wrote, “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was regarded as the greatest and He said to them, the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors, but not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you becomes as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

What we can learn from the words of Christ is that we should not seek to lord our authority over people through either our positions of power or our financial resources. To be a truly great leader, we must become the servant. This drastically contradicts the contemporary authority ethos of leadership, but it is what great leaders always have and always will do. One of the experts whom Jason Hartman has worked with on this topic is Doug Conant. In his book TouchPoints, he outlines how small interactions create the opportunity for true leadership.

TouchPoints involved using the head, heart, and hands to connect with and transform employees through listening, understanding, and helping people advance their interactions in a significantly more effective way. By learning the insights of TouchPoints interactions, each of us can become more effective leader of the people around us.

Jason:
That was today’s lesson. Let’s get to our guest, but before we do that. Please regardless of what platform you’re listening to us on, whether it’ll be iTunes, Stitcher Radio or SoundCloud. Please go write us a review, we’d really appreciate that and check out the free resources at our website SolomonSuccess.com. Here’s today main segment.

It’s my pleasure to welcome Doug Conant to the show. He is the author of ToughPoints and he’s got some amazing insights that may seem rather obvious to most people, however there’s always new ways to apply them and be more effective in life and leadership and I think you’ll hear a real transformative message here today. Doug, welcome, how are you?

Doug Conant:
I’m great. Thank you for having me.

Jason:
Well, the pleasure is all mine. Well, give us a little bit of information about your background and then let’s dive into ToughPoints.

Doug:
Well, my background really has come off of the corporate world. Less than two years ago I retired after over 10 years of Chief Executive Office of the Campbell soup company. Prior to that I found a career in consumer products with General Mills, Kraft, and Bisco and revved up my career with Campbell soup company in Camden, New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia. Along the way I’ve been heavily involved in all kinds corporate activity, but a lot of non-profit activity. So, my focus today and my focus going forward quite frankly is all about helping to improve the quality of leadership in the 21st. Sharing my experiences and trying to encourage lean into the notion of being more effective as leaderships in everyday life.

Jason:
Your 10 year at Campbell soup as CEO started in 2001, correct?

Doug:
Yes, January 8th, 2001. Seems like yesterday!

Jason:
But it’s actually quite a few years ago. Campbell’s is such an iconic brand, you know, for well over 100 years of history. Were there any big challenges when you came aboard? I haven’t followed the history of that company too much, but what were some of the things and you probably incorporated them in the TouchPoints book and philosophy, I assume.

Doug:
Yes, a lot of the thinking that’s captured in our book TouchPoints was born out of my experience at Campbell Soup Company. Campbell Soup Company is an iconic company. It’s about 10 billion dollars in sales with 20,000 employees. Products sold in a 120 countries. We were very committed to having and during proposition of our company. It’s over 140 years old, only have 11 CEO over those 140 series. I was the 11th and it was a troubled company. We had lost half our market value on one year, which is unheard of by a large food company and we had a very toxic work environment as business was falling apart for a variety of reasons. Employees were very disaffected. I was challenged and make sure we had the right strategy and rebuild the organization top to bottom, which is what we did.

As we did that, TouchPoints became an obvious critical part of what I had to do. I had to reconnect people to this notion that as community we could do something special. We can focus in winning in the market place, but also creating a winning workplace where they could thrive and prosper and as a result over a decade, we dramatically improved our market place performance, but more importantly we created a highly engaged culture where every employee felt valued and challenged to do their best work and they felt as if people at the company had their back and not a better feeling when you’re working in a tough environment is to feel like you’re not doing it alone.

Jason:
Just a little background on Campbell’s. How many employees and I’m curious, was that workforce unionized? Probably unionized I assume, right?

Doug:
Well, we have 20,000 employees globally. There were pockets of union activity, but by enlarge, no, we weren’t heavily unionized. We were forced on meeting the needs of our employees to such an extent that they never felt the need to unionize and by enlarge we did that, but we did have some union activity and we negatived through that typically pretty effectively in my decade there.

Jason:
You say TouchPoints is really, you know, by the way the subtitle of the book is Creating Power Leadership Connect in the Smallest of Moments and you say it’s a blinding glimpse of the obvious, but maybe not really that obvious, is it?

Doug:
Well, no, you know, today most employees, most people in general feel as if they’re getting a sip of water from the fire hydrant from life. They’re having 200 to 400 interactions a day either via email, Twitter, text messaging, phone calls, people stopping by their office, and the list goes on and on and on and as a result, they struggle with, “How do I navigate this crazy life?” And that’s a good question. So, if I go around the country, this issue is, seems to be the biggest issues of the day in most corporate cultures and quite honestly in the non-profit federal sector too. These people are overwhelmed with all these interactions.

So, what we tried to do with TouchPoints is say, don’t think of the 400 interactions, think about the next interaction you have and how you can be more effective in the moment there, so effective that you’re able to more efficient with it as well and more helpful to the other person. So, we created this notion of TouchPoints and we said, you know, there’s three things you need to do. You need to listen and tap into what’s coming at you in the moment, you need to make sure you can understand the context of the decision, and then you need to help the person to advance it.

So, we challenged people to bring out ‘how can I help’ mentalities for work, listen careful, frame the issue, and advance. Listen, frame, and advance, Listen, frame, and advance, and then when the interaction is over you say, ‘how did it go?’ And what we have found is when people just focus on the moment and try to be helpful in an earnest way, they can attraction with their life again and make an attraction with their co-workers.

We have found that if you can just advance 3 to 5 more interactions in a significantly more healthy way than you did yesterday out of the 200 to 400 you have, 3 to 5 more interaction in a more healthy way, you can change your contribution profile and your place of work or at home! And that’s what we encourage people to do, take this simple approach and apply it everyday in a disciplined way and they can start to lead a much more fulfilling life.

Jason:
One of the phrases you just mentioned, just even having that phrase occurred to oneself is probably a huge step forward and the phrase is, ‘contribution profile’. Very interesting. Yeah.

Doug:
Well, it’s all about how can I help. If you were to go to my website at http://ConantLeadership.com/. I just picked 10 TouchPoints in my life where somebody said the right thing, the right way, at just the right time and I carry it with me today. In fact, of all the education I’ve had in college graduate school, continuing education, of course, they’ve been wonderful and I’m a better person for it, but quite frankly, those 10 TouchPoints which when I add it all up and I say all the words together it’s about 40 seconds or it’s about 6 words at TouchPoints. Those small TouchPoints, they actually guide my life.

One of those TouchPoints was only four words, how can I help? It occurred to me when I was fired from my job and the outplacement guy, every time he answered the phone he would say, “Hello, this is Neil McKanna, how can I help?” Since that day, gosh, it was 27 years ago, I have gone into every interaction saying, in my mind, saying, “Hello, I’m Doug Conant, how can I help? How can I contribute?” And the more focused on raising my contribution profile, the more I flourished in my work experience, so I just encourage other people to try and do the same thing.

Jason:
Yeah, that’s a great question to ask. It’s a great context to just come from that point of view of the
‘how can I help’ point of view. Can you give us any examples of, you know, maybe an interaction where someone might do this and increase their contribution profile and when you mentioned that, when you were talking about that. It made me a few keywords in relationships that I have and how literally even a text message to someone saying the right thing at the sensibly right time makes a whole difference in the relationship and friendship for years to come. It’s incredible!

Doug:
Yeah, Jason, it’s an amazing thing. The best way for people to grasp the concept is when I’m speaking with an audience, we get to a point very early in the presentation where I just ask them to close their eyes and think about someone who has had a profound influence on them in their life, a teacher, a couch, occasionally a boss, typically it isn’t; a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or a good friend and I ask them to close their eyes and imagine that person is sitting there with them now and then I ask them to think about the moment where that person was totally there for them that they were listening carefully to what was going on, they were totally there for them, and they found a way to say just the right thing in just the right way in just the right time and then I encourage people in the audience to tern to the person next to them and share that experience with them and then I encourage to share back. It takes about 2 minutes.

Everyone has a story about, for example my story about ‘how I can help’. I’m sure you have a story. Everybody has a story and then I challenge these people, I say, now that is the essence of TouchPoints and my challenge to you is try to be that person for the people with whom you live and work and as people reflect on that, they get it and they get it in the marrow of their bones, because they’ve lived it. They’ve had people that have had that kind of profound impact on that in small moments, not big long lectures. Most of us don’t have those kinds of experiences that create traction in our lives. I

t’s those people that were there for us and said just the right thing at just the right time in just the right way and I just challenge people to be more like that with the people whom you live and work and you don’t need to go any further than that and then the challenge is to bring the discipline to it, to try and behave that way a little more today than you did yesterday. You don’t have to get all the way to bright, but you do have to do a little better today than you did yesterday.

Jason:
Just that constant progress, that movement in the right direction can make such a difference. Do you profile in the book any sample interactions? Like, it would be good to sort of compare the wrong way to do it and the right way to do it type of thing. I’m probably putting you on a spot, so I apologize, but if you can think of an example I think it’ll be helpful for the listeners.

Doug:
The 10 that I have that are sampled in one of my videos on my website ConantLeadership.com, one of them was a horrible example. I mean, was a negative experience. All TouchPoints are not positive experiences. In one case, I went into one day, I’ve been working for this company for nearly 10 years and the acting Vice President of marketing had me come to his office when I came to work that day and he said, “Your job has been eliminated. You need to be out of here by noon.” And he couldn’t look me in the eye and here, I nearly had 10 years of my career was over in a snap and I had to go home to my wife, my two small children, my very large mortgage feeling every bit the victim and in that moment, I was devasted and I was bitter and that was a negative TouchPoint.

That same day I was sent to an outplacement counselor who I had first said, “I’m not going to see him.” I was so angry, but then I called him later in the day because I realized I was really having trouble processing all of this and it was my friend Neil McKenna, a guy who went on to become my friend who said, “Neil McKenna, how can I help? Come right over. I want to hear all about it. Let’s get to work on this, right away.” I had one of the best experiences in my life. The same day I had one of the worst experiences of my career. Those were two TouchPoints.

The first TouchPoint has influenced how I felt with people in difficult situation for the balance of my life time where I have said I would never treat as poorly as I felt treated in that moment and it has guided me in a direction more thoughtful, still being tough minded on issues, but tenderhearted with people and then the second interaction, you know, McKenna as I’ve shared earlier in this conversation, has influenced how I try and bring a ‘how can I help’ attitude to everything I do. So, those are two small interactions that I had with others. One was negative, one was positive, that have had a guiding influence in my life.

Jason:
Very good and things that you’ll remember, yeah.

Doug:
As a CEO, I was always looking for how can I connect with people in a positive way and reinforce things that they’re doing right, because in corporate cultures, you’re pretty much trained to find everything wrong. I can find a busted number in a spreadsheet like no one else, but you know, we need to also celebrate what’s going right.

So, every day when I was CEO of Campbell, virtually everyday, I would write 10-20 hand written thank you notes, no more 50 words typically to all around the world who had done something right, who had delivered a project on time and on budget or who had done some extraordinary when we had the Japanese tsunami or the tsunami in the Philippines or whatever it was. So, I would send out 6 days a week 10-20 notes over 10 years. When I retired, we added all the notes up and it turned out I sent over 30,000 notes to employees and we only had 20,000 employees.

Jason:
So you touched them more than once.

Doug:
I had touched them in personal way, it was hand written, I didn’t want them thinking some CEO is having somebody email them for them and I kept the close script to that and people felt like I was connecting with them. I was paying attention. I was reinforcing the behaviors that we were looking to get in the company in terms of performance, they were not gratuitous, but they were saying, look, we’re paying attention, we value what you’re doing, the more I leaned into that, the more I saw employees lean into their work and feel as if they were valued. So, that was a simple way that I created positive TouchPoints to counter balance all the other stuff we had to do, which was make a lot of tough calls.

Jason:
So, that’s a great TouchPoint. I mean, that isn’t very scalable, but it is very accumulative, so very powerfully obviously hand written note, etc, but what are some of the – you know, at times, Doug, you definitely got to use a TouchPoints in a massive media format. I mean, CEOs have to do that, media personalities have to do it, politicians have to do it. Do you have any advice for mass media TouchPoints even if it’s someone holding a sales meeting for ten employees, it doesn’t have to be a giant corporate leader or political or celebrity figure, but just to TouchPoint when it’s not one on one.

Doug:
I have some guiding thoughts on that. Here are a couple of them. First of all, make it personal. If you want people to take their work personally and really lean into the work, they need to believe they’re connecting with you on a personal way. So, in whatever communication you choose to have, whatever format it is, in fact, the more you have to lean into social media formats, the more you have to be ever thoughtful about how you can make it personal. The second saying is that people can smell a rat a mile away, don’t play games. You have to show up in an authentic way as well as a personal way and if you want to have a credibility over time, people have to believe is what you see is what you get and you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do.

So, you have to show with great authenticity, if you make it personal and if you show up with great authenticity, those are kind of the, those are the dues to get into the game. I mean, that’s the anti, then you have to show up with confidence. If you really want to have influence over time, they have to believe that you know what you’re doing, you know, when my wife was in theater years ago and she – if you’re in theater you work nights and weekends when other people aren’t working, so I would come home, I would have to help out with our children and I had to cook dinner.

Now, they thought I was a person of good character and, you know, I was a pretty good father, and they did know that I couldn’t cook worth a hoot, so they couldn’t count on me for dinner. I didn’t have a lot of credibility there. So, it was a reminder to me that you gotta, if you really want to have influence of people and you want to inspire confidence, you have to have two things. You have to have character. You have to show up in a person and authentic way, but you also have to know what you’re doing and if you don’t, you have to acknowledge that.

Jason:
Right, right.

Doug:
So, as a leader, those are the things you need to bring to the party if you want to start having impact with people in the moment through TouchPoints. You have to show up in a truly authentic way and you have to know what you’re doing.

Jason:
Yeah, character trust and competence trust, both of those are just so, so important. Are there any examples you can think of in the mass media world from leaders in whatever position, you know, media life, political life, corporate life that have in a speech for example successfully used TouchPoints in a positive way and really connected and inspired their audience?

Doug:
Well, in my lifetime, we had one particular President who was good at connecting with people and there were a group of people that called him the great communicator.

Jason:
Yes, good old Ronny.

Doug:
Ronald Reagan, who could connect with people in a deeply personal way. He had enormous credibility with everyday man and woman. He brought the conversations on to a level that was approachable by those people. He showed up in an authentic way and by enlarge, he lend a life where he did what he said he was going to do and those are simple rules to live by, but that’s the cost of doing business today. We have a very jaundiced, jaded perspective of leaders today and I think the challenge for leaders today is to show up in a truly authentic way and Ronald Reagan would be the guy I would go to who touched people in a way that I haven’t seen many other political leaders, quite frankly, before or since connect. To me, he was the gold standard when he came to mass media.

Jason:
I couldn’t agree more. When I listen to his speeches, I literally sometimes get goosebumps. He’s such an effectively communicator, but I say, it’s before my time, but Jack Kennedy was also quite inspiring like that, so you’ve got both sides of the aisle there.

Doug:
I actually I thought Bobby Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy was showing up in a more authentic way. Jack was incredibly inspiring and we going to go to the moon and we were going to do extraordinary things, Bobby Kennedy, to me, was touching people on a much more personal and earnest way. In my opinion, he was an amazing communicator. So, it’s not about political parties, it’s about authenticity and doing it in away that connects with the hearts and minds of people. In our book on TouchPoints we say you gotta do three things. You gotta connect with the head and the heart and you gotta use your hands in terms of developing the practices to be more effective over time. So, it’s head, heart, and hands and if you can do that on three dimensions you can connect with people in a meaningful way.

Jason:
Sure, sure. You know, just one more thing on the political spectrum, so many people say that Clinton was very effective like that and I never saw it in Clinton, I just didn’t get the greatness of Clinton’s charisma that some people comment on. Would love your feedback on that. I just never saw in him like everybody else seemed to.

Doug:
I don’t pass judgment on people. He was clearly highly effective with a lot of people who found his earnest approach to conversation resonate with them and he clearly did connect with people. I mean, he was elected twice and he had an approval rating that was extraordinary, you know, it would be hard to argue.

Jason:
Well, I know. I have friends who have met him who are critical of him and don’t like him politically, but say, you know, you meet that guy in person and he’s just a likeable guy. So, obviously something was working there. I kind of missed that one, but when you dissect these great, great, communicators going back to Reagan. Any thoughts on how Reagan did it? I mean, I think he appeared to be a common very relatable person. He used metaphor and visual, humor, certainty humor, but humor seems to be a thing that is not available to everybody. Some people have it and some don’t when it comes to humor at least as far as I can see, but humor is a very good technique to open doors and create TouchPoints, isn’t it?

Doug:
Well, I connect it back to our TouchPoint model. We’ll use Reagan as the example, you felt as if Reagan would come into every moment with this, ‘I want to be helpful’ kind of mindset, ‘how can I help?’ and people felt heard by him. He would listen intently and then he would frame issues in a way that made the people say, okay, you get it, and then he tried to make things a little better today than he did yesterday and Ronald Reagan I would argue had a wonderful continuous improvement mindset with a very aspirational model for how the world could be.

He was just trying to be helpful everyday and my observation that was somewhat unmistakeable and people kind of looked at him in general saying what you see is what you get, you gotta just a regular guy who is listening to us, who is showing that he understand the issues that we feel are important, and he’s trying to make things a little better today, and he’s with us. I found that apply the same listen, frame, and advance mindset and bringing how can I help mentality to the work, Ronald Reagan was incredibly effective.

I also saw that quite frankly with FDR and we can go beyond that, you can also find that with Ghandi and Mother Teresa and a variety of other leaders around the world. They all bring that how can I help mindset to the world that people grasp, they are all wonderful listeners, they make sure they understand the issue, and they just try and advance things in a way that works for them, authentically. I think it’s a simple model, it’s not a new model, but it’s this notion of how can I help, listen, frame, and advance and then ask yourself how did it go and try and do a little better today than you did yesterday. In today’s chaotic times, I think it’s easier to go back to things that are eloquently simple and get to the far side of complexity and get to things that are approachable and you can actually bring to life in your everyday life and that’s the power of TouchPoints.

Jason:
Yeah, very important. Most definitely very important. You know, if you look at that in the high-tech world, certainty Apple has brought simplicity and I think people are craving that kind of simplicity and that high touch thinking. No question about it. Well, the website ContantLeadership.com. Of course, the book is available in all the usual places I’m sure, right?

Doug:
Yes, absolutely. Amazon. Anywhere. You can’t miss it and we also provide information on the website.

Jason:
New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Good work. I think it’s high time the market place have a book like TouchPoints and anything else you’d like to say in closing?

Doug:
No, I guess the observation. Yes, there is. I guess my observation is that we can all do better and if we want to have a better world, we all have to lean into that notion and we all have to try and do a little better today than we did yesterday in terms of working shoulder to shoulder with people in our work community and our lives to make things a little better. We bring that continuous improvement mindset to the world, this notion of, you know, we can do better; in my opinion, we will.

Jason:
Fantastic. Well Doug Conant, thank you so much for joining us today.

Doug:
Best of luck to you, Jason. Thank you very much.

Announcer:
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.hartmanmedia.com or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.