Real-Time Appreciation

In our On Leadership interview with Shawn Achor, author of Big Potential, he shares a remarkable insight about how renowned financial leaders rarely recreate the same performance and level of returns when they spin out or leave the firm where they produced the stellar results that earned them fame and massive financial earnings.

His research and conclusions point directly to the fact that when they left the organization that provided them the platform for such results, they also left their immediate teams behind. It was likely the original team that provided support, probably not fully acknowledged by anyone, that can’t be recreated. At least not exactly.

This is such a valuable reminder to all of us to value and show our appreciation, in real-time, to the members of our teams that help to build our results, reputations, and successes.

So, in the wise words of Dr. Stephen R. Covey that urged us to “Be a light not a judge. Be a model not a critic,” I’ll go first.

Prior to my current role with FranklinCovey as the executive vice president of thought leadership and the host of our On Leadership with Scott Miller podcast series, I spent eight years as our chief marketing officer. In those years, our brand evolved substantially, our client base grew exponentially, and our market cap and stock price more than doubled.

Not too shabby.

I contributed to that. And so did the members of FranklinCovey’s corporate marketing team who surrounded me in the early days. The team has grown substantially since my appointment as CMO nearly ten years ago, but here are some early team members I’d like to recognize.

Mike Elwell – The most talented and creative designer I have ever worked with, or ever will in the future. His attention to detail and sincere desire to make other people look great is unmatched.

Jennifer Coons – A nearly 25-year FranklinCovey associate, she has some of the broadest skills of anyone I know. Her calm, deliberative style is what’s nearly singlehandedly allowed our company’s brand and marketing power to grow, under numerous marketing leaders—and she’s shrewdly outlasted them all!

Meg Hackett – Trained as a journalist from a top ten university, she serves as the backbone of everything significant that is authored by our firm, including books, columns, articles, and blogs. Meg’s institutional knowledge about our organization’s content and intellectual property is rivaled by no one.

Jimmy McDermott – Not only the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, James (I call him James just to annoy him) has also nurtured our global support for more than 100,000 client facilitators with amazingly regenerated creativity and built our live event channels that thrive in an ever-changing environment. Did I mention how nice he is? He’s the perfect balance of what Dr. Covey termed “Character and Competence.”

Todd Musig – My alter ego, Todd is quiet, contemplative, calm, and deliberate and never claims the spotlight. His ability to balance my urgency-addicted personality with his own strong bias to action has greatly contributed to my brand and success. Todd is the associate every firm values, and perhaps undervalues, often because of their tireless work ethic, absent the grandstanding, isn’t always noticed like some others claiming the credit. Todd, for the record: I noticed.

Amber Rackham and Brandon Stone – I group them together only because their interrelated collaboration for the last decade has allowed the firm to build the most enduring partnership with an external alliance I know of. The reach and distribution that partnership has provided FranklinCovey is nothing less than astounding. And it’s all done with little fanfare, in the midst of numerous system changes and evolving tech platforms. Like pull-your-hair-out platform changes. These two colleagues are of immense value to our company and our clients. Plus they’re both fine people and loyal friends to me. When you meet people you feel “have your back,” it’s a treasure you never turn your own back on.

Kimberly Tosti – Talk about a heads-down workhorse, Kim closes her door and generates mind-blowing volumes of results, all while contributing to the health and culture of the team. She’s 100% an energy infuser, 0% an energy depleter. Every leader’s dream colleague, and friend. And this girl can sing!

Curtis Morley – Savant-level technical competency. Really the Johnny Appleseed of FranklinCovey as it came to developing our web properties, social media, and online presence. Plus the kindest, hardest-working guy I know. Soon to be a bestselling author as well. Connect to him on LinkedIn.

Charlie Lynch – Took Curtis’s early work and built our digital assets to levels we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) on our own. Remarkably competent and fearless when it comes to challenging norms. Also the only guy I know in corporate Utah who can pull off a custom suit with white sneakers.

Ryan Muir – Whose job I retooled every quarter for his first three years on the team and only had one response when he learned of my next hair-brained request: OK! Ryan’s emotional agility and intellectual nimbleness will eventually transform him into an in-demand CMO. The human manifestation of Moore’s Law. Watch and be amazed.

Sydney Eichers – The most disciplined and collaborative member of the team, Sydney brings joy and focus to everything and everyone she associates with. Some roles are more high-profile than others, and some are more valuable than others. Sydney’s role is the latter. Nearly singlehandedly, this lady has built, rebuilt, and rebuilt again our database capabilities, and for that she has my admiration and invitation to join me on any go-forward venture. Class act!

Curtis Bateman – Like Todd, my alter ego. Wise. Intentional. Not an impulsive bone in his body. His discipline and dedication to solving problems is his hallmark. And his steep career ascent in the company is the earned result of taking on every thankless project around and crushing it. Every time. Time and time again. The guy should write a book on building a great career.

Kyle Shennum – Not my alter ego, but in some ways my twin. Well intended. Hard working. Indefatigable. Up for any task. Kyle was an invaluable member of our team and his departure was a loss. His entrepreneurial spirit will pay off in spades and I’m certain someday I will be working for him. The best compliment I could pay him.

Tom Tosti – If Kyle is my younger twin, Tom is my older twin. Vulnerable, collaborative, curious, innovative, and sometimes misunderstood. Tom’s contribution in building our business always is implemented first through the lens of the client. He sees everything through the clients’ eyes; their needs, their results, their successes. This comes from decades of trial and error in his own ventures, and he is a linchpin in our company’s future success.

Lori North – She competes with Jimmy for the most positive, kind, and generous person I know. Up for anything. The word “no” doesn’t exist in her vocabulary. Lori has broad experience in sales, client support, and business development, and it’s through this lens she keeps this team of well-intended marketers, many without much direct sales experience, focused on what works and steers them clear of what won’t. I want to be more like Lori next time around.

Cheryl Anderson and Kara Foster – I put them together because their tenure makes them superb historians, librarians, and ambassadors for the firm. If they don’t know the answer to your question, they will in 15 minutes. Unparalleled in their internal company networks, these two ladies have built bridges that keep Marketing tied to every other division in the firm. I’d liken them to the E.F. Huttons of FranklinCovey.

Travis Rust – Looking for a reboot to MacGyver? Travis would be cast for sure. The guy can do anything. Produce a radio program? Check. Produce a podcast? Check. Produce a video? Check. Produce a webcast, write a column, edit any document? Check. Manage and execute Scott Miller’s next outrageous idea? Check. Check. Check.

Deb Lund – A force of nature. Public relations expert extraordinaire. Writer. Publicist. Guide. Confidante. This woman knows everyone, and everyone knows Deb. Breast cancer survivor and best friend to everyone, she has reinvented not only her own brand but how public relations thrive in each evolving market disruption.

Jon Lofgren – Without exception, the person with the least guile I’ve ever encountered. A talented social media expert, Jon somehow manages to influence without much formal authority, or budget, or staff, or positional power. I could learn a few things from Jon. A few dozen things. He is what Dr. Covey would call a Principle-Centered Leader. BAM!

Annie Oswald – An expert in getting stuff done. Annie has been a close friend and writing partner with nearly every one of our authors and is the force behind all of our bestselling books. Our company hasn’t sold over 60 million books by accident. Jack Welch, the famed former CEO of GE, once said one of the qualities he values most in leaders is those who can look around corners. Annie is a periscope. Not only a trend identifier in the publishing world, but she is also a trendsetter. Hands off, people, she’s ours to keep!

Bryan Holbrook – Is there an age cap to being a tech wunderkind? If so, Bryan has shattered it. His technical skill as it relates to carrying forward the firm’s digital strategy is unmatched. His bandwidth, in terms of landing multiple planes simultaneously, is exhausting. Perhaps though what I admire most about him is his ability to live a balanced life. Enormous professional contribution tempered with a multi-dimensional personal life. This is especially challenging when your focus is on the constantly evolving world of technology and your checklist is never fully checked off.

Zach Kristensen – If our team had a vote on the most likable colleague, I would have been soundly eliminated in the first round, and Zach would have scored a unanimous sweep. This gentleman is not only supreme in managing big egos (not just mine) but is learning and growing in massive leaps. Look for Zach to be an influential thought leader someday. Like the non-fiction version of James Patterson. We will all say, “We knew him when...”

Matt Murdoch – Currently the leader of Corporate Marketing, Matt and I have very different skills, personalities, and goals. And that’s a good thing, as the team needed a break—both a break from and a break with... me. Matt leads by example with respect to a prodigious work ethic, an inclusive and calm demeanor, and a focus that even J.Lo would envy. If I’m the tornado, Matt is the Red Cross. He’s also Gumby in terms of the flexibility in his skills and is always pushing his own limits and contributions.

Becky Williams – With a contagious personality, Becky is the valuable, steady hand at the helm of our public programs registration team. Always a kind word. Always a positive attitude. This is a colleague who brings everyone around her up. She leaves people better off through every interaction—including the thousands of clients she works with annually on the phone. That’s not always easy when you’re solving people’s expectations and problems—but Becky’s batting average is the envy of everyone.

Emma DeClue – No flash, just results. Emma represents Dr. Covey’s concept of P/PC balance as well as anyone I know. P = Production and PC = Production Capability. She can, and she does, do her job well. Some can, but actually don’t do their jobs. Emma is the perfect combination of talent deployed, achieving a result. Consistently.

Perhaps this blog was more for me than you. Forgive me—Shawn Achor just inspired me to remember who brung me to the dance.

It’s been a great dance and to each of you—thank you for making me look so good, and when I didn’t look so good, thank you for putting your arms around me and buoying me for the next adventure.

Now it’s your turn. Who’s on your list?

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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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