Monday, January 25, 2010

Candace Klein: Consultant at Property Advisors and
President of Mayor Mallory’s Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet

Candace Klein

Bio
:
Candace serves as a consultant for economic and community real estate development projects at Property Advisors. She has worked as a lobbyist advocating for children and families with Kentucky and Ohio state legislatures, lobbied for small business with teh Kentucky legislature, directed and led volunteer and agency advocacy efforts and also organized community leaders and executives for advocacy visits to Washington DC. She expects her Juris Doctor from Chase College of Law in 2008.

Candace is very involved in the community. She currently serves as President of Mayor Mallory's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet. She is a steering committe member of LEGACY, a founding member of United Way Young Leaders Society and a graduate of Leadership North Kentucky.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Candace: A leader listens as well as she speaks, takes advice as often (if not more) than she offers it. A leader is thirsty for knowledge, and realizes that,at all times, she still has much to learn.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Candace: My mother, my peers, and those in the community who I truly respect.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Candace: Knowing that I, in some way, have inspired someone else to become a leader.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Candace: I am bothered most when my intentions are questioned, when a person sees my genuine passion for the community in some way as being selfish.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Candace: My biggest challenge is maintaining my sense of self while living up to others expectations. I am a free spirit by nature, and sometimes it is difficult not to stifle that.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Candace: I had significant health problems in 2003, causing me to make some major life decision changes and to alter some future plans. This taught me, however, how short life is and how minor my problems are in the grand scheme. I have learned through this experience not to take myself too seriously, and to live every day as if tomorrow is not guaranteed.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Candace: I admit that I am a big self-help addict. I am currently reading “Appreciative Inquiry” (a gift from a dear friend), and just picked up “From Good to Great” (suggestion from another dear friend). I will forever be a student, and like to learn practical applications for improving my skills and interactions with others.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Candace: My vision is simple. A friend once told me that our region needs a slammed door. Imagine having an in-depth conversation with someone and suddenly hearing a door slam behind you. You stop and look to see who has entered the room, and if only for a brief moment, you have the chance to change the direction of your conversation. I would like to help slam the door for Cincinnati, to create an initiative, a movement so big that it slams the door on our conversation and, if just for a moment, allows us to change our perception and conversation to one of pride for our community…to one where we feel we are the most competitive region in the world.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Candace: I see myself leading my company (as in-house council and partner) and leading my community through public service of some sort (on the road to Governor of Kentucky in 2027). As long as my daily work is promoting the greater good of our region, I will be happy in whatever position I hold in five years.

Closing remarks (from Herman): Wow! I absolutely love your "slammed door" vision for the city. Max De Pree once said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” Hearing a door slam behind you (for a leader) brings them back to reality when they are lost in the mundane and the ineffective. So, allow me to say "Thank you" for endeavoring to "slam door for Cincinnati". In between, let us continue to be of service to society. Thanks for modeling first class leadership - and good luck on your "Road to the Governor's Mansion" - 2027.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ernest Britton:
Chief Community Officer,
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Ernest Britton
Bio: Ernest Britton is a community arts educator with 24 years in the field. Currently, he serves as the Chief Community Officer for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center but spent his first seven year's there as Director of External Affairs. Ernest is responsible for recruitment and retention of 300 volunteers, a six resident performing arts series, a national speakers bureau, monthly community dialogues with local nonprofit partners as well as two national conferences: one on youth and the other on the Underground Railroad. Ernest earned his BA in Arts Management and an MA in Communication. He is an alum of both Eastern Michigan and The Ohio State Universities. He is a native of Cincinnati, an avid raquetball player and the proud father of a 20yo sophmore at Wilmington College in Ohio who plays football for the "Fighting Quakers."

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Ernest: A leader is someone with a vision of what ought to be; the courage to pursue that vision; the intelligence to realize that other’s contributions will make it stronger; and then the perserverance to stay focused on the end goal for the longterm: vision, courage, cooperation and perseverance.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Ernest: My parents for creating a vision; Ed Rigaud and John Pepper for showing me how you bring others into a vision; My Uncle Samuel Britton for teaching me the perseverance to pursue your dream no matter the risks.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Ernest: The satisfaction of the people I work with. Their sense of accomplishment makes me proud I played a small part.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Ernest: People who don’t trust in the best of one another—always looking for a replacement talent or someone to blame.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Ernest: Matching talents to needs but when you see their satisfaction in the accomplishment it is more than worth it.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Ernest: Calvin Day, a Kroger executive who gave me my first job out of college, not because I was qualified but because I was “qualifiable.” I never stopped believing him.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Ernest: Favorite book is Wicked. It’s fun and ultimately speaks to uses of fear vs inspiration in leadership. A current read while a year old is, “It’s my party too” by Christine Todd Whitman.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Ernest: Finding a way to partner at the beginning of projects instead of just as the end. The Community is often left out of the process until the major decisions are made. We do better at some projects but not as well as we are capable of making happen.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Ernest: Continuing to provide leadership in the areas of community development through Arts & Cultural services.

Closing remarks (from Herman): It's true Ernest, leaders who don't trust each other, or their people, will never accomplish much. Trust is the glue that holds the many facets of leadership together. Without trust it is impossible to accomplish all that leaders are called to do. Leadership expert John Maxwell, in his bestselling book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership says, "Trust makes leadership possible. That is the Law of Solid Ground" (pg 58). John points out that a leader must be standing on solid ground with her people before she can influence them. I like to say that trust separates the credible leaders from the frauds. We've seen so many corporate leaders break the Law of Solid Ground over the past couple of years and all have ended up messing up their organizations and people's lives. John concludes this law by saying, "No leader can break trust with his people and expect to keep influencing them. Trust is the foundation of leadership. Violate the Law of Solid Ground and you're through as a leader." (pg 65).

Monday, January 11, 2010

John Keuffer:
Executive Director, The Light Foundation and Founder of Teen Response

John Keuffer
Bio:: John is the Executive Director of The Light Foundation and Founder of Teen Response Inc. Through his work at both organizations, he strives to empower young people to reach their highest potential. He is co-host of Cincinnati's first and longest running radio talk show for teens on WCIN 1480AM. John has earned numerous awards, including Top 30 National Social Entrepreneurs by Youth Service America and Top 100 National Social Entrepreneurs by MTV. He motivates an average of 30,000 youth per year and is the author of two books, Dare To Fail Strive to Succeed: 8 Steps for Positive Youth Growth and Ancient Scrolls of Adiel: A Financial Parable of Success. John serves as President of the St. Cecilia Parish Council and is a board member of Friendship Reading Center of Mt. Auburn. He is a member of a number of enterprising initiatives that include the NFL Alumni Cincinnati Chapter and Ohio Association of Child & Youth Care Professionals.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
John: "A leader isn’t based upon a title, quite a few non-executives have more leadership ability than those who have a title. A leader is a person others desire to follow because they exhibit qualities others believe in."

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
John: "My father, Parish Pastor, Zig Ziglar and Robert Kiyosaki."

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
John: "I won’t call myself a leader. I am an innovator. I'm willing to go and do things others are not. I am not afraid of failure, in fact, I embrace it as a learning tool for success."

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
John: "I dislike dishonesty and disrespect for others time. I prefer people who are direct rather than someone who beats around the bush. The one thing that truly drives me crazy are those people who do not return calls, or respond to emails in a timely manner. This shows a complete disrespect for the other person."

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?



John: "Maintaining the energy and drive to keep going despite obstacles. Developing a quality team of people who share the same drive, passion and self-motivation needed to succeed."




FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
John: "Zig Ziglar impact me first. I have been lucky to correspond with him since 1996. Robert Kiyosaki inspired me to start reading again and reading a lot. He also inspired me to look at finances in a completely different way. This motivated me to work with young people to teach them financial literacy skills."

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
John: "“To Kill A Mockingbird” is my favorite fiction book. I am a big fan of all of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series, as well as all of the Zig Ziglar books. I am currently reading Larry Winget’s book called “Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life.”"

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
John: "Cincinnati is really suffering from a lack of a unified leadership and goals. Everything in Cincinnati is sporadic and does not seem to be focused. My vision would be to see a true Economic Development Plan that was incorporate and established by a unified group of leaders."

Closing remarks (from Herman): "Thanks John. I was hooked when you said, "The one thing that truly drives me crazy are those people who do not return calls, or respond to emails in a timely manner." In their critically acclaimed book, The Leadership Challenge, Barry Posner and James Kouzes say that the essence of leadership is credibility. They write, "Leaders must be ever diligent in guarding their credibility ... In any circumstance, credibility is one of the hardest attributes to earn. And it is the most fragile of human qualities. It's earned minute by minute, hour by hour, month by month, year by year. But it can be lost in very short order if not attended to" (pgs 28 -29)."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nancy Spivey:
Vice President, Workforce and Education Solutions for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Nancy A. Spivey
Bio: Nancy A. Spivey serves as liaison between the education and business community and is dedicated to ensuring the continued success of the economy and the workers in Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati region. The American Council of Chamber Executives (ACCE) designated Nancy as Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) in 2006. Less than 500 chamber executives have earned this designation the past 38 years. She has also earned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM) designation. Her leadership roles include appointment to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and chair of its Access Committee, member, Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, and member, Junior Achievement of Greater Cincinnati/OKI Partners. She is a native of Bright, Indiana, a resident of Erlanger, Kentucky, wife to husband Rob and mother to two young adults, Malachi and Morgan.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Nancy: A leader is someone that others desire to emulate. A leader causes positive change and often takes steps that others might find impossible or unimaginable.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Nancy: Doris Wedge, a woman who was a true leader when I worked for an Oklahoma Career Technical School. She was humble, giving, patient, and self-sacrificing, working for the betterment of the organization and for the people being served.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Nancy: Knowing that a bit of what I’m accomplishing will leave a lasting impact on this community.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Nancy: I have 3--individuals whose work is self-centered, those who carry a negative vibe and those who can’t see that what they do and don’t do impacts others.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Nancy: The feeling that sometimes I am treading through swampy, moss-filled waters and no one is following behind.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Nancy: My children. Parenting is the ultimate test for a leader—the example you set is so critical.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Nancy: Favorite books include Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Gilda Radner’s book It’s Always Something. I’m currently reading Strengths Finder.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Nancy: I believe the “can do” leaders should be given the luxury of time and resources to gather together and develop a positive roadmap for taking this city where we know it can be. The “can’t or won’t do” leaders should allow positive change to happen.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Nancy: I will continue to play a part in leaving a positive mark on my community and on the public that I serve.

Closing remarks (from Herman): I was nodding my head and saying "Aha" as I thought about your biggest challenge being "the feeling that sometimes you are treading through swampy, moss-filled waters and no one is following behind". All leaders experience this feeling, particularly when they are trying to establish momentum, initiate change or create buy-in for an organization or group's vision. Someone once said that it's lonely at the top. I think the main challenge of a leader during seasons of loneliness is to avoid disengaging from the organization. In a 2002 survey by Starwood Hotels and Resorts of 401 executives who play golf, it was discovered that 10% had called in sick to play a round. The reason? They had arrived at that place of "treading through swampy, moss-filled waters and no one was following behind". Read the full article here - Bummed Execs. Well Nancy, thanks for taking time for the interview. We look forward to seeing you continue making a positive impact in our community and beyond it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dr. Terri Maue: Director of Academics
Cincinnati Campus Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Bio: Dr. Terri Maue is Director of Academics at the Cincinnati campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She also serves the university as Discipline Chair for English and Humanities. Terri has been married to her high school sweetheart Eddie for 40 years and is the mother of 38-year-old Chuck and grandmother of 13-year-old Chuckie. She and Eddie live on five acres of beautiful, rolling, wooded land with their dogs, Max and George, and cats, Cindy and Tiger. Terri has been a practicing meditator for almost 50 years. (You’d think she’d have it right by now J.) She is the author of short stories, poems, essays, and a novel-in-progress. Most recently, her essay titled ‘Dad’s Legacy’ was featured in WVXU’s series This I Believe.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Terri: A leader is someone other people want to follow; that’s the simplest definition. But a good leader is someone worthy of being followed. A good leader is that rare combination of integrity, true concern for the well being of others, and skill in producing desired results. Integrity because without it, a person is a charlatan or worse, rudderless, swayed by opinion or circumstances, unable to guide herself, much less others. True concern for the well being of others because it is a great responsibility to exert an influence on another person and such responsibility should never be taken lightly. Skill in producing desired results because without skill, even the most beneficial goals remain unmanifest. All three are necessary. Integrity without concern can lead to narcissism. Concern without integrity can lead to the end justifying the means. Integrity and concern without skill can lead to frustration and burnout. And skill without integrity and concern can lead to selling one’s soul.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Terri: Jesus, the Buddha, the African Goddess Oya, and the Bodhisattva Tara, also known as Kwan Yin. Jesus because he was the first to teach me about living according to one’s values. The Buddha because he taught me how to see the human condition with compassion and clarity. Oya because she taught me that shaking things up is sometimes a good thing. Tara/Kwan Yin because she hears the cries of the world and pours healing compassion on suffering human beings.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Terri: My greatest joy is when I accomplish an objective by getting people to work together. I strongly believe that ‘we are all in this together’ and a ‘victory’ that comes at the price of a ‘loser’ is no victory at all, only a future problem festering.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Terri: People who use their rhetorical skill to mislead. I’m a writer and an English professor, and I deeply love and respect the power of words. I abhor the way language is so often used to mislead people. It is a violation of integrity to write or speak in a way that maintains adherence to the letter of truth but not to the spirit. We are responsible for the perceptions we create.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Terri: I’m not comfortable dealing with confrontation, and it can knock me off balance. Thankfully, I am learning some skillful ways to handle aggressive, confrontational people.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Terri: Personally, my dad has had a profound impact on me. He was an engineer with many professional accomplishments, but first and foremost, he was a great father to me and my nine brothers and sisters. He taught me the value of family and the preciousness of sharing our lives. As my older brother said when we celebrated Mom and Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary, he showed us ‘the Face of Love.’

Professionally, I’ve had managers who have taught me by their example what not to do. They have had a great impact on me. I am extremely fortunate to work right now for a person who is teaching me what to do. He is an outstanding manager, a person who is so mild mannered that it is easy to underestimate him. Yet he achieves his goals, and he has provided me with guidance and opportunities to grow in my professional life. When I grow up, I want to be just like him!

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Terri: I have two kinds of favorite books. I love books that awaken in me the awe of living on this incredible planet among all these beautiful beings. I’m not talking about airy-fairy stuff; I’m talking about science, physics and nature. ‘The Tao of Physics’ by Fritjof Capra is still one of my favorites. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said the miracle is not that we walk on water, but that we walk. He’s right.

The other kind of book I love is the one that reminds me of my potential as a human being. I just read ‘The Success Principles’ by Jack Canfield, the author of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul.’ ‘The Success Principles’ is a blueprint for achieving one’s vision and goals, and it relies not so much on techniques as on aligning oneself with one’s truest desire. How do I wish, in my heart of hearts, to spend this one precious life I have? What gives me the deepest joy? The most profound satisfaction? The answers to these questions provide the touchstone for living an authentic life. It’s so easy in our modern world to get caught up in all that we feel we should do or must do. I am grateful to find a book that reminds me that life is about more than that, that the desires of my heart are my direct connection to the best contribution I can make to the quality of my life and the life of all beings. I also love reading Ken Wilber’s work. I’m listening to an audio course right now called ‘Kosmic Consciousness.’ It lays out an extraordinary map of the evolution of human consciousness. (Kosmic with a ‘k’ includes consciousness and spirit as well as the physical universe.)

And for fun, I love to read a good mystery novel, like ‘Playing for the Ashes’ by Elizabeth George.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Terri: Although I live 40 miles north of Cincinnati, just outside of Morrow, proximity to the city still means that the quality of life there impacts me. I am so saddened to hear of all the violence and economic struggle. Call me na├»ve but I think what’s missing is trust, trust that people from different social, economic, and educational strata will work together for the greatest good for everyone. Imagine how different our lives would be if we started from the standpoint that no matter what the other person does, he or she is doing it because he or she wants the best for everyone, including me. It seems all too often that we start from the adversarial position, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine what life could be like if we agreed from the outset to give each other the benefit of the doubt

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Terri: Five years from today, I see myself more engaged than ever in fulfilling my purpose as I presently understand it: to use my creativity and imagination to write and teach so that we all take care of each other and every person flowers.

Closing remarks (from Herman): I like how you closed the interview by talking of your continued engagement in using your creativity and imagination to write and teach, "... so that we all take care of each other and every person flowers." I normally contribute at 100bloggers.com and my last post there was on how we can flower in life. Here's the link: The Secret to Blossoming in Life. I agree with you regarding confrontation. Our lives are in constant motion. Motion causes friction. What I've learnt is that self-confrontation should precede the confrontation of others. I have to make sure that my spirit is right before I confront another human being. It's important to start on a positive note, clearly outline the problem then encourage a response. I have to demonstrate that I understand the other person's position by repeating what they said (this does not necessarily mean that I agree with them). The next step would be to explain what was wrong and indicate the desired action to be taken. A lot of people get emotional and this never helps in fixing the problem. Through the confrontation, I try to reiterate the positive aspects of the person. At the end of it all, I lay the issue to rest and put it in the past. True confrontation, I've learnt, leads to growth. Thanks for such a wonderful interview. This is truly first class!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Andre Harper: Cincinnati City Council Candidate

Andre Harper
Bio
:
Andre Harper is the youngest endorsed candidate for Cincinnati City Council. He is a decorated army veteran and graduate of Florida A&M University. He has received numerous awards for his service to Cincinnati, including the Cincinnati Business Courier’s “40 Under 40” for 2005 and “Emerging Leader” by Applause magazine in 2004. He is looking forward to bringing strong as well as visionary leadership to Cincinnati while leading the Queen City into its next golden era. Andre has served as a trustee at Smart Money Community Services and Oaktree Elementary. He holds leadership positions in Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc, New School Cincinnati (Young Professionals), and The Lincoln Douglass Republican Club. He is active in the Hamilton County Republican Party and was appointed a precinct supervisor. He’s the Sigma Beta Club Advisor (Fraternity youth auxiliary). He spends time explaining the importance of black male leadership development while providing an example. He coordinated the Sigma Bazaar clothing drive that collected over 11,000 garments given away to Cincinnati residents. It was covered by local radio, television, and print media.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Andre: I would define a leader as someone who understands that leadership and service are inseparable. This person understands the plight of those that they lead. A leader should inspire others to reach beyond their potential.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Andre: I have had many influences as a leader including Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Vince McMahon, and scores of others.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Andre: The greatest joy I get from leadership is watching someone that I have led become a leader. While in college I started an organization called Men of Impact which was designed to help young black men develop leadership by getting them involved in campus activities. I am proud to say that every one of them has graduated and they still call me to tell me how much of an “impact” I had on their lives.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Andre: My biggest pet peeve as a leader is unrealistic expectations. Some people believe that a leader should be perfect and free of human error. Once an error is made, people love to watch the mighty fall.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Andre: My biggest challenge as a leader is the time commitment. I am always working when others are not. My days are longer because I have to balance life, career and leadership responsibilities.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Andre: The person who impacted my life the most as a leader was my mother. It’s not because she is the world’s greatest leader, but because she allowed me to see her strengths and weaknesses so that I can learn from her life.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Andre: I love reference books and social commentary. I like to consult them in times of need. I am currently reading Enough by Juan Williams.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Andre: My vision for business and community leadership for Cincinnati is collaboration. Cincinnati has some of the brightest corporate and civic minds in the country. The public and private sector should not compete. Each has its place. Government should create the atmosphere for business to thrive. When businesses are thriving, then government will be happy because of healthy revenue.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Andre: In five years, I see myself in Cincinnati working in the community and enjoying my family. I love helping others and helping people to maximize their lives.

Closing remarks (from Herman): What a marvelous interview, Andre! You are right on! Leaders are 'always working when others are not' yet, as you say, most people have 'unrealistic expectations' of their leaders, expecting them to be 'perfect and free of human error'. Leaders work more than non-leaders because they are committed to improving the lives of those they interact with. More importantly, the leader has to set aside time for his or her own personal growth because this is the key to influencing others and impacting society positively. Followers, therefore, need to have realistic expectations because leaders are not super-human. Thanks for sharing your marvelous insight. Good luck as you continue to lead the Queen City into its next golden era.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Scott Kadish:
Partner-In-Charge, Ulmer & Berne, LLP

Scott P. Kadish

Bio: Scott Kadish is an attorney with Ulmer & Berne. He is the partner-in-charge of the company's Cincinnati office. As a result of his leadership in the representation of landlords and tenants in the development and lease up of shopping centers, he chairs the Shopping Center Group. Scott has earned numerous distinctions including being named a “Leading Lawyer” in Real Estate in a survey of lawyers by Cincy Business magazine and an "Ohio Super Lawyer" in a survey of Ohio lawyers by Law & Politics and Cincinnati magazines. He has authored numerous publications and is an Adjunct Professor of Real Estate Law at the University of Cincinnati.


FCL: How would you define a leader?
Scott: A leader is anyone who works hard, treats others the way they would want to be treated and lives with integrity.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Scott: Casey Stengel. Casey was a famous baseball player and manager with a great sense of humor. It’s always important to keep a sense of humor about your own importance. Almost no one is irreplaceable.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Scott: Seeing others assume leadership positions so that we can work as equals.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Scott: Group meetings that go on way longer than necessary.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Scott: To act the way I would want others to act.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Scott: My wife – she keeps me grounded and has much better common sense and judgment than I.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Scott: I like sports books. Sports is a great diversion and there are so many great lessons to be learned and analogies to be made to business. I am currently reading Moneyball.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Scott: We should obviously be working to raise the economic tide for all so that everyone can experience economic security.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Scott: At my desk working. I have a five year old son and so I’ll be right here 15 years from now.

Closing remarks (from Herman): Scott, thanks for being a difference maker. Our appreciation to your wife for influencing your leadership through her common sense and good judgement. I agree with you regarding your biggest pet peeve. Unless properly executed, meetings can be a terrible waste of resources. John Kenneth Galbraith once said, "Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything". In July 2004, I was invited to train the Direct Professionals Association of Tennessee on how to have effective meetings. I mentioned six key things that we need to recognize in order to have effective meetings: 1. recognize what undermines good meetings, 2. recognize meeting killers and how to handle them, 3. recognize the need for an agenda, 4. recognize every member's role, 5. recognize the value of time, and 6. recognize the need for evaluation and follow-up. Let's continue to work towards better meetings. Thanks again for being a first class leader!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Matthew Fenton:
Founder and President of Three Deuce Branding

Bio: Matthew Fenton is the founder and president of Three Deuce Branding, a consultancy that helps brands and businesses make the most of the hand they're dealt. Since 1997, Three Deuce has consulted with and trained over 100 companies, helping them to define clear visions and create bold strategic ideas. Matthew authors "That Branding Thing," a column that appears monthly in the Cincinnati Business Courier. His blog, also called "That Branding Thing," can be viewed at http://www.thatbrandingthing.com/. Cincinnati magazine chose Matthew as a member of Cincinnati’s “Creative Class,” and the Business Courier named him to the 2003 Class of “Forty Under 40.” Matthew's other passions include soccer, travel, music, and reading most everything he can get his hands on. He is an avid poker player and has competed in the World Series of Poker.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Matthew: A leader is someone with a vision for a better tomorrow, and the ability to convince at least one person to help make that vision a reality.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Matthew: I'm most influenced by people who have touched my life in some way. Many, many people have given me examples to follow; these would include my parents, my friends, and certain clients, teachers, professors and bosses.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Matthew: Helping others grow, and thereby growing myself.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Matthew: That some people would rather impede progress than create something positive.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Matthew: Time, which is ultimately a matter of prioritization. Sometimes I struggle with the fact that I can't do everything I'd like to do. I have to choose, so I need to choose wisely.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Matthew:
My parents, without question. My father was a welder and my mother was not working when they had four children between 1966 and 1972. By the time I was 12, my father had risen to the director level at a regional utility company. Somehow, they saved enough money to put all four of us through college, a pledge which I will pass down to my children. From them, I learned that there's no substitute for a good work ethic, and that what matters is not what you own but who you are.

I also remember my parents telling me at a very early age (and many times since) that it didn't matter to them if I grew up to be a garbage collector, as long as I was the best garbage collector I knew how to be. That pointed out to me the importance of both personal responsibility and integrity.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Matthew: Great question! We all need to read more. The most significant book I've read is "Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor Frankl, which details Frankl's experiences in the Nazi death camps, and his subsequent development of logotherapy, the third Viennese school of psychotherapy. This book came to me at a time I was going through some significant personal change. That was 12 years ago; I've read it at least once a year since then, and have probably given 10 copies away to friends. Frankl: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Otherwise, I usually have at least two books open. Today, they are Sidney Poitier's "The Measure of a Man," and "One of a Kind," by Nolan Dalla, a biography of Stu Ungar, who many believe to be the best gin and tournament poker player that ever lived. His is a cautionary tale. Had you asked another day, it might have been some combination of fiction, humor (Steve Martin and James Thurber are favorites), philosophy, biography, history, branding and business books, and poker texts.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Matthew:
I think the lack of a vision for this city has been the #1 failure of our leadership for the two decades I've lived here. There's no cohesion, no consistency. My hope is that a leader will emerge who can articulate a vision – as well as inspire and unite this city's people and marshal our considerable resources.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Matthew: Some people find this surprising, but I've never had any kind of "five-year plan" for myself. That's not to say I don't have some pretty concrete goals for my business and personal life. But I've always trusted my gut when at a crossroads, and it's served me pretty well. Today, I'm inspired by my work and those around me and I intend for that to be the case in five years.

Closing remarks (from Herman): Absolutely phenomenal, Matthew! I like what your parents said to you: ..."that it didn't matter to them if (you) grew up to be a garbage collector, as long as (you were) the best garbage collector (you) knew how to be". My dad used to tell me, "If you are going to dig trenches, get into that ditch and do an excellent job so that your dirty and dusty handiwork will be recognized as the masterpiece of a genius... Love your work... Never ever perform for the accolades of other men but commit to unleashing your personal potential". I want to pass the same heritage and legacy to my family. I'm currently reading a wonderful book by Mark Sanborn titled, The Fred Factor. In this little book filled with marvelous leadership nuggets, Mark outlines four principles that can enable us to bring our very best to the table - every day. The four principles are 1. Everyone makes a difference. 2. Everything is built on relationships. 3. You must continually create value for others. 4. You can reinvent yourself regularly. Abraham Lincoln said, "Whatever you are, be a good one". As Tom Peters would say, let's continue to pursue the Wow! Thanks Matthew for taking the time for a great interview.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jennifer Goodin:
Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati

Jennifer Goodin
Bio:
Jennifer has been Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati – a “home away from home” for families with hospitalized children – for the past nine years. In 2006, Ronald McDonald House received the Non-Profit of the Year award from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as well as the Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau. Jennifer has also served as Grants Manager at Welcome House and Administration and Development Director at First Step Home. During her 14 years in not-for-profit administration, she has helped to raise over $30 million.
Jennifer is a volunteer with Josh Cares, the Wyoming Junior Women’s Club and with ProKids, where she is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working with abused and neglected children. Jennifer attended Miami University and earned Master’s degrees in journalism and health education from The Ohio State University. She is a member of Leadership Cincinnati Class XXX. She and her husband, Steve, both former Peace Corps volunteers, have two young daughters, Hadley and Beatrice.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Jennifer: Leaders are people with a clear vision for the future who involve the right people, share their passion, help shape the work ahead, answer questions along the way, and recognize and appreciate everyone’s contributions.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Jennifer: I’m lucky to benefit from the ideas and support of some wonderful peers – including Tracy Cook from ProKids, Ron Hitzler from Shriner’s Hospital and my fellow executive directors from other Ronald McDonald Houses in the Midwest. I am also influenced by the leaders at our partner in care, Cincinnati Children’s. Their leadership staff is incredibly talented, driven and passionate about their work.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Jennifer: My greatest joy is that each member of our team loves coming to work each day, as we all have a shared appreciation of working together for the greater good. There’s nothing more rewarding than loving your job, knowing it makes a difference and enjoying your colleagues.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Jennifer: Without a doubt, it’s poor writing skills and not making sure one’s work is perfect before sending it out. I think every piece of communication we send – even emails – reflects our mission and our professionalism. As a former copy editor, nothing drives me crazier than seeing “it’s” when it should be “its” or “there” when it should be “their.” My other pet peeve is weak handshakes.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Jennifer: It’s finding enough time in the day to get to everything. Before I had kids I used to work more hours, but now the work/life balance is more important to me. I try to prioritize daily and realize I’ll never even come close to crossing out everything on my to-do list.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Jennifer: My husband, Steve. He’s a great sounding board and problem solver. I also admire how he can address any conflict immediately and directly. I tend to be conflict-averse, but he helps me to realize how conflict can be productive.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Jennifer: Right now I’m reading “About Alice” by Calvin Trillin, a writer for The New Yorker. It’s a short, loving memoir of his wife. Since time constraints make it hard for me to devour long novels, my favorite books are the ones I read with my daughters at bedtime – “Goodnight Moon,” “I Lost My Bear” and “Love You Forever” are a few of our favorites.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Jennifer: My hope is that we continue to work together to help those less fortunate, question what doesn’t feel right and appreciate the joys of our city. I also think that if you’re going to gripe about a problem, you should be willing to do your part to help address it.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Jennifer: I can see myself still leading Ronald McDonald House, but hopefully also doing more writing on the side and taking more frequent vacations!

Closing remarks (from Herman): Wow! There are lots of superb nuggets in this interview. Lots of leaders experience a variety of challenges in work/life balance, particularly prioritizing activities. As an Economics student in college I learnt about an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the population. His observation has now been applied to productivity by many management thinkers, who say that 80% of our productivity comes from 20% of our activities. Leaders, therefore, should focus on the 20% that brings in the most reward. In other words, we should do more of the right things. To assist us in doing this many of us create to-do lists. But I think we also need stop-doing lists. To-do lists allow us to pursue that which we desire. Stop-doing lists allow us to cut-out activities that are unproductive. Thanks Jennifer. I'm rooting for you to do more writing and take more vacations over the next five years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vince Costello:
Director of International Services
Cincinnati Area Chapter American Red Cross

Bio: Vince Costello has 34 years of tracing experience and is an expert in family reunification. He has served as a disaster welfare inquiry officer (DWI) on numerous national disasters, including five hurricanes, four floods and the Oakland Hills, Ca. Fire in 1991. As a DWI officer, Costello is responsible for locating and determining the health and welfare of immediate family members affected by a disaster. Costello began his career with the American Red Cross as a volunteer in college. He progressed steadily, serving as a casework specialist, casework supervisor and director of Social Services, a position he held for 13 years. His passion for International Services led to his appointment as Director of International Services in 1999. The position and the department were created in 1999 after he returned from Kosovo/Macedonia where he served with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a Tracing delegate in the Albanian, Serbian, and Roma refugee camps.

FCL: How would you define a leader?
Vince: A leader is a person that inspires others to do the best they can, is respectful of people’s values, makes the hard decisions, and accepts responsibility for the results.

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Vince:
When I think of those who have had influence on me I think of those who have enabled me to be who I am today. I would have never accomplished what I have without the help, guidance, encouragement, and patience of people who have been a part of my life. That includes those who have taken an interest in me as a person, accepted who I was in spite of my short comings, and believed in me at times when I didn’t believe in me. I could not name them all for fear of leaving someone out. I will tell you that no one becomes a leader without the help of others in their lives.

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Vince:
Seeing the effect I have made on those that I have worked with. It may sound corny, but seeing how people have benefited from what you have shared with them is really valuable to what I do. I had people in my life that made a difference in how I came to be what I am today and I hope I can be thought of in that way because of what I may have done for others that I have had contact with during my career.

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Vince:
People who do not take responsibility for their behavior really irritate me. We all make mistakes every day. I make a least a dozen before noon each day. We learn by our mistakes and grow. People need to take risks and when they do they make mistakes, grow and learn form their mistakes. It took me a long time to realize that myself, and I guess now that I realize how it prevented me from growing I hate to see others make that same mistake.

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Vince:
I view a leader as a person that empowers others around them to do the best they can. I don’t have all the answers and never will. I want those that have ideas to express them and bring them to the table. In the past I have seen people complain about what they don’t like about a situation, but will not make any move to change it. Then there are those that want you to give them the answers. I may have my answer but it is just that my answer. People need to find their own answer and put it out, whether good, bad or indifferent. Getting people to take ownership of their environment and their lives is so important. Giving me a solid plan that you believe in is better than me suggesting a plan that I have come up.

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Vince: There have been many people who have impacted my life at different times and it would be unfair for me to single out just one as different people impacted me in important ways through different stages in my life. I would not be doing what I do today and have accomplished what I have without the help of a few very devoted people who I would consider leaders and who were a major part of my life as a very young child. At six months old my parents were told I had Cerebral Palsy on my entire left side which affects my motor and speech skills. My parents were also told I might not ever walk or talk. Because of the devotion of the staff at the Cerebral Center in Bergen County New Jersey who worked with me five days a week until I started school and later I never saw myself as being different or unable to do anything a “normal” person could do. They encouraged me every day to do my best and I would have never been able to believe in myself the way they did if it had not been for them. They enabled me believe in myself which helped me later to accomplish much in my life. Walking and talking are far from a problem for me today.

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Vince:
Over the years my interest in reading has varied, but from a fictional perspective I have always had a fondness for those authors that can keep me guessing as to where the story line is going and how it will be brought to a final conclusion. In that vein I am currently reading a fictional work that captures the plight of a young person that has gone missing. At the same time in a non- fictional perspective I cannot resist the books that deal with humanity of people and what we as citizens of the world can do to make improvements to their plight. Saying that I am also reading “The Poor Always Pay Back”, The Grameen II Story which shows how small loans to the poorest people in the world can help reduce poverty, bring a sense of confidence to people and change to their plight in the world.

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Vince:
I would hope the business and community leaders of Cincinnati can come together as a vital force and transform our metropolitan area into a recognized international community. We have numerous ethic groups and international representatives living in our community that if brought together in a planned way could put Cincinnati on the map and create a culture of true diversity.

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Vince:
My hope and vision in five years is that I am actively involved in a humanitarian organization either locally or overseas learning and doing what I can to assist the vulnerable people in the world. I realize that may sound quite outlandish, but having worked for the American Red Cross for 34 years I cannot imagine doing something much different than what I am doing now. As a teenager someone suggested that if I wanted to see the world I should join the military. Instead I joined the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, saw the world and never needed to carry a gun. I have gone into places around the world where people were leaving because of war or disaster and made life long friends with people of all walks of life, varied races, ethnic and political backgrounds. With all that in mind I have had the opportunity to truly grow as a person and would like to view myself as a citizen of the world if there is such a term.

Closing remarks (from Herman): This is magnificent Vince! Your work is making a tremendous difference and your leadership is touching so many families and lives! Your answers to the interview questions brought to mind a leadership talk I had given to a group of youth a few months ago. I'd like to reproduce a very shortened version of it here because ittouches on different aspects of your interview. Leadership is in great demand… and not just leadership but great leadership. People are looking for examples that can be followed and consistency in leaders that can be trusted. People are looking for substance in leadership. In order to become the great leaders we could be, I think there are three essential requirements that we must embody:
1. Strive to Be Excellent: Striving toward excellence is the number one pursuit of great leaders. The leader is a leader becomes he or she does things better than most people. Nothing qualifies better more than excellence. Committing yourself to becoming everything you are capable of becoming and you will be a great leader.
2. Look for Ways to Help: Leaders motivate themselves and others by continually looking for ways to help others to improve their lives and achieve their goals. Leaders have a passion for seeing others succeed. They therefore empower those aroudn them with ideas, tools, strategies and key things required to be successful in life. They think beyond themselves to others and how they can help them become successful in life.
3. Model Character and Credibility: The greatest need in leadership today is character and credility. You become a great leader by becoming the kind of person others want to get behind and support in every way. People want to follow believable leaders. They want to see authenticity and crebility in their leaders. They want leaders who will take the high ground and be examples worth emulating. A solid character will make you a great leader.

Thanks Vince! I wish you the very best as you continue to touch the lives of so many people.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chris Downie - Founder/CEO of SparkPeople

Chris Downie


Bio: Chris is the Founder/CEO of SparkPeople.com, one of the largest health and goal setting related websites in the world. Prior to SparkPeople, Chris was one of two original co-founders of Up4Sale.com, an online auction site that was acquired by eBay in 1998 for approximately $100 million. Chris started his career with Procter & Gamble. He now spends much of his time in the SparkPeople Silicon Valley office with his wife and two sons. In his spare time, he loves playing tennis and helping other people reach goals.




Opening Remarks (from Chris): First, here’s a note about my perspective. I’ll answer as an entrepreneur currently building one of the world’s largest health-related websites (with my great team) and also a father of two young boys. So, life is a little crazy now.


FCL: How would you define a leader?
Chris: "I’d define a leader as someone who is able to develop a worthwhile vision, convince others to believe in the vision, develop good strategies for implementing the vision, and then execute like mad to reach success. Different leaders are better at each of these areas. Good leaders recognize their strengths and put themselves in position to use those strengths while surrounding themselves with a team great at other areas."

FCL: Who are your biggest influences as a leader?
Chris:
"Entrepreneurs who build something from nothing but a spark in their head inspire me. eBay Founders Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll are role models because they are using their success from eBay to become a new breed of philanthropists. I consider SparkPeople to be an example of “for-profit social entrepreneurship” similar to what they are doing.

In the corporate world, I worked at Procter & Gamble when John Pepper became CEO and will never forget the standing ovation he received from over 10,000 people."

FCL: What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Chris:
"At SparkPeople, every day people tell me our website has changed their life. It’s a humbling position to be in. For example, a member who has lost 30 pounds on our site said, “This website has permanently improved my entire life.” To see the original leadership vision come alive with the help of an amazing small team in Cincinnati is a great joy!"

FCL: What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Chris:
"I always want things to happen faster."

FCL: What is your biggest challenge as a leader?
Chris:
"I still have a touch of anxiety from childhood, so some aspects of leadership still cause me a lot of stress. So, I do many things like consistent exercise to combat this."

FCL: Who has impacted you the most in your life as a leader?
Chris:
"I’d have to say the members of SparkPeople. Seeing how much a website can truly change someone’s life impacts me every day."

FCL: What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading?
Chris:
"With this company in hyper-growth mode and being the father of two young boys, I don’t get to read much lately. I do read Fortune magazine regularly while riding the exercise bike. A book that has had a great deal of influence on me is Viktor Frankl’s 'Man’s Search for Meaning'."

FCL: What is your vision for business and community leadership in Cincinnati?
Chris:
"I would love to see Cincinnati reach its potential as a city by maximizing the talents of its great people."

FCL: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Chris:
"Wow! This is a hard one. In the internet world, we think in terms of every 3 months so it’s harder to look out that far. But, I’d say my 5-year goals would be:
1. To be a great Dad to my two boys and a good husband
2. I’d like to be the Chairman of the Board of a standalone SparkPeople – a company helping millions of people
3. Enjoying life by continuing to challenge myself to reach many types of goals
4. Sparking other people to maximize their potential and reach goals!"


Closing remarks (from Herman): Chris, this is magnificent stuff. It's true... having a worthwhile vision and developing a team are key components of great leadership. Congratulations on SparkPeople being voted best health site by Business Week's 2006 "Best of the Web". It's great to know a leader whose number one goal is to be a great dad and a good husband. Thanks for modeling first class leadership."