Positive Influence Leadership with Glenn and Michael Parker

Glenn Parker is an internationally recognized facilitator and leadership development expert having authored 16 books; joined too by his son, Michael Parker, Managing Director of Rockefeller Capital Management. Between them they wrote the best-selling book: Positive Influence leader. In this show learn about:

  • What a positive influence leader is
  • The four types/styles of a positive influence leader
  • How negative experiences can still be a positive influence
  • Why self-awareness is a massive contributor to positive influence

The Leadership Hacker News 

Steve Rush: In the news today, we’re going to consider the notion of influence and feeling positive. But of course, as leaders, it’s our absolute responsibility to demonstrate positivity and help influence people in the right way. But how much of that focus do we really turn on ourselves? When was the last time you were a positive influence on you? As leaders we’ll be coaching her colleagues, helping them find new ways of working and unlocking their potential. The one coach that I’d like you to pay attention to today is the one that you wake up within the morning, that’s the voice in your head. It’s the first voice you listened to when you wake up and it tells you to go to the bathroom, brush your teeth or whatever your routine is. It’s also the last voice you hear when you go to sleep. Telling you what’s hanging over from the day or what you can look forward to tomorrow and rather scarily, it’s also the voice in your head that you’ll listen to last when you leave this mortal planet. So, we need that voice in our had to be a positive force in our life and our work. So, take a deep breath, open your eyes, look up, smile. Everything’s going to be all right.

Positivity and self-talk can really unlock great positive influence in ourselves, which infects others around us. But this notion is easier said than done. We have to practice; we have to be disciplined and we have to train. And I wanted to share a story with you of something I’ve shifted in my life this year in response to the environment and the lockdown, has been a real positive influence in the way I do things. My morning routine for 2021 has really shifted. I wake up 45 minutes earlier than I did in 2020. And in that time when I wake up, I spend 10 minutes or so in yoga and stretching, I spend a further 10 minutes in meditation, often 15 minutes, and then I read some positive interviews or articles or a flip through a few pages of my book that I’m currently reading. Then I skip into the next part of my routine to take my dog Casper for a 30 to 40 minute walk every day, this 90 minute or so of my morning schedule has completely reformed how I think. And it’s definitely helped become a positive influence, not just for me, but for those around me, what I also then noticed is in me feeling positive, it helped me with random acts of kindness and insights and help and support that may not have been quite natural to me prior to my new routines. So, with the random act of kindness week, having just passed, it’s now time to go outside of your comfort zone, be loud with yourself, positivity and your kindness to others.

By focusing on yourself first, everything is not going to be just fine. Everything is going to be amazing and explore the good in you. That’s been the Leadership Hacker News. Love to hear your stories, insights information, so please get in touch.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Joining me on the show today is a father and son duo, Michael and Glenn Parker. Michael is a senior executive of 25 years, is a global thought leader. Currently managing director for Rockefeller Capital. Glenn is an author of 16 books. Who’s internationally recognized as a thought leader, leadership facilitator and consultant, and collectively they’ve written the book Positive Influence. Michael, Glenn, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Glenn Parker: Great to be here, looking forward to the conversation.

Michael Parker: Thank you Steve, appreciate the opportunity.

Steve Rush: So as a father and son duo, you are our first father and son duo on the show and delighted that we have the opportunity to speak with you today. What drew you together in this moment to put pen to paper?

Glenn Parker: Well, actually. I had something happened to me that was kind of a seminal moment, a man who had been a client of mine for almost 20 years, which as you know, Steve is quite unusual to work with someone for that long. But I notice that he had passed away and it was going to be a Memorial for him. And so, I was sort of stunned, then I started to think about our relationship and the impact that he had had on me. And I realized that he had been a very significant, positive influence on my life and my career. I went to the Memorial; I knew his family somewhat because later we became friends. And I got a chance to share some of the stories about him and they all said to me, oh yeah, that’s Bill, that’s exactly him. And so, I thought a little bit about it and I thought I can’t be the only person that’s had a person in their life that’s been a significant positive influence. And I said, gee, I think there’s a book there. There’s something I would like to write. I’d like to research it, and I think I’d like to write it. So, I came home and the first person I called was Michael. Who’s obviously not only my son, but somebody that, you know, I’m very close with. And I respect a great deal for his experience and knowledge. And he’s very much in tune with the literature of leadership and management and organizations. And I ran this idea by him and he said, I’d read that book. And I said, hmm, how would you like to write that book with me? And he said, I would love it. And that’s how we got started on this journey. So, it’s been, you know, it’s been a wonderful, it’s been a wonderful experience and happy to share that with you Steve.

Steve Rush: Awesome, yeah. And Michael, from your perspective, this was your first attempt at writing with somebody alongside you who’s got loads and loads of experience in writing. How was it for you?

Michael Parker: Comforting. Full disclosure, Steve, the timing was great because I needed something to do. I was on a garden leave, just very recently was entered into a garden leave for about six months. So, the timing was outstanding and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done this on my own. It takes a lot of courage. I’ve learned a lot from the whole experience. And of course, on top of it being able to do with my father, who’s one of my influences, positive influences and someone I admire, as he said, we’re very close. And of course, on top of that, I loved the idea and the concept. So, you know, there were, you know, six or seven or eight things that just came together as a real positive and a great opportunity and timing was outstanding, so I was excited about it.

Steve Rush: Awesome, that’s great news. And what wonderful thing to have as a legacy between father and son as well. So, I congratulate you on that.

Glenn Parker: Thank you.

Michael Parker: Yeah, thanks.

Steve Rush: So, the book Positive Influence focuses on the various elements of what it takes to be a positive influence leader. So as a starting point Glenn, maybe you can give us a sense of what is a positive influence leader?

Glenn Parker: Let me answer that question by telling you a story, another sort of personal story. And by the way this gives you a hint as to what the heart of the book is. It’s a series of stories from which we drew very specific conclusions. So, I take you back to my very first job out of graduate school, my very first boss and my very first performance evaluation meeting. So, I’m meeting with Larry and the meetings going well, he thinks I’ve done a good job. And I should say, parenthetically that my job essentially involved doing research and writing reports, pretty boring stuff, but, you know, God, I was good at boring. And so, we get to a point in the performance appraisal, where you talk about your development plan, what are you going to do going forward?

So, he says to me, Glenn, you know, what’s in the future for you? What would you like to do? Well, I had been seeing and listening to the group across the hall who were doing leadership training for the organization, and they seem to be having lot of fun. They were traveling all over and coming back with stories of what happened in these programs and of course travel stories. And I thought, gee, that would be a lot of fun. So, I said, what I’d like to do is to be able to observe a class and as part of my development plan. So, Larry said, well, as a matter of fact, I’m traveling next week and I’m going to be conducting two of these leadership training workshops. Why don’t you come along with me? He said, the one thing though, Glenn is that I really can’t justify your travel experiences unless you teach something.

I said, teach something? Well, you know, my lip started to quiver and I thought, well, Larry, I don’t know anything. How could I teach something? He said, don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. And he did, and we did. And I did, and it went very well. I only taught two hours on the afternoon of the second day. So, it was a pretty secure kind of experience. And essentially what Larry did is he kind of positioned me to be successful. And I thought to myself at the end of this, this is what I want to do. So, what Larry had done in the way of being a positive influence leader was to helped me find my true morph, my purpose, this is what I should be doing. He saw something in me, Steve, that I didn’t see in myself, there was something there that I could do and I could do it pretty well. And so, he essentially became, I didn’t realize that at the time what he was doing, but it was profound upon reflection as we thought about these kinds of experiences. So, yeah, that was a good example. It’s a good example of one of the types of positive influence leaders that we’ve come upon.

Steve Rush: And it’s a great story, and I quite liked the whole thing that it doesn’t have to be a transformational moment. It doesn’t have to be this seminal moment of inspiring people. It just needs to be somebody that puts you into a place that allows you to be successful, right?

Glenn Parker: Exactly, and I love to hear your story, Steve, you know, a person in your life, but the key thing is, and I think this is sort of important is that he did position me to be successful. He didn’t say to me, which he could have. Glenn, look, why don’t you teach this two-day workshop? I’ll sit in the back of the room, observe, give you feedback. No, he didn’t do that. Because that would have been way too much, and I wouldn’t have been ready for that. He recognized that again and put me in a position to be successful, giving me something that I knew, I knew well, I do could do. And it was a limited experience and I could get that aha moment. So, but Steve, maybe you’ve had someone in your life that did something similar may not have been this, but something where somebody was supportive or they taught you something that you needed to know.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s a great prod and I love to share it with you. So, I had my first leadership role when I was 24 years old and my first team were all very, quite misogynistic, white males, all old enough to be my dad. And none of them really want it to be in the business I was leading. And I’ve just been very successful in my financial services role. And as a result of taking the new role had to take a back step. So, there was no commission and bonuses. It was was now back to a salary and I was in a leadership space and I’d done my math on how much money I needed to earn to replace and what my sales figures needed to be, and my quality figures needed to be. And I felt presented with this real solution of I’m going to fail at this. I’m never going to be able to achieved this. And I went in to see my new boss who just joined the business at a very similar time, his name is Ted Wood. And I said to Ted, I’ve just worked my numbers through Ted. And with this bunch, I need to do 176% of sales plan. I need to do 150% of this. I need to do 130% of that, and you know what? I said, I think I’ve been really, you know, tucked up here. And his words to me was, Steve you wanted to be a leader, go lead. And it kind of shocked me because I wasn’t expecting this, this solution. I was expecting to feed me with loads of ideas and ingenuity. And he said, just go away and work out a plan. So, I came back a few days later with my plan.

I said, here you go Ted, I’ve worked it out. In order to do this 176% of the plan, I’m going to have to do these things, these things, these guys have never done it before, it’s impossible. He said, so how are you going to do those things? I haven’t work it yet. He said, go in, work that out. I come back a couple of days later. And I said, right, in order to do these things, I need to do all of these other things. And he kept pushing and prodding me back into my place of, until I got to that level of thinking that really unlocked the specific daily tasks and activities and things, I needed to do to really make a difference. And Ted won’t know this. In fact, you know, if he listens to this, you’ll probably feel surprised at that, but that was the biggest learn in a very early leadership lesson for me, because it’s about being really thoughtful and really granular at the small things that you can do to enable the big things and long story short, 18 months later, this bunch of diehards who didn’t really want to be there, all but one, we’re having a great time.

And the one that wasn’t there, we decided that it wasn’t right for him either. They were all hitting their numbers and their sales plans. And we had a fabulous relationship together as a team of a new rookie leader, you know, and that’s my example of that positive influence.

Glenn Parker: Yeah, that’s a great story. It’s a good example where a person doesn’t necessarily, they kind of teach what you need to know, push you to come up with the answers yourself. And so, you have that, you have that moment where you realize, yeah, this is what I really should be doing. So, you know, again, to us, that would be somebody we would call a teacher positive influence leader. Kind of teaches you by sort of that kind of Socratic method of self-discovery and figuring it out for yourself. Does that make sense, Michael?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Michael Parker: Indeed.

Steve Rush: And Michael you come up with lots of research to find that there’s not just this one type of positive influence, but there are actually four. Maybe between you, you can spin through what do they mean how would we know which one of a positive leader I’ve either been influenced by or could be?

Michael Parker: There’s a story behind how we got to the four types that we can get into. But to bring it to your point, there are in fact, I think going into it, we thought there might be, Steve had a hypothesis. There may be just one universal style of positive influence leadership, but in fact, it’s all four. One is supportive, and that’s the, you know, the person or the leader that says I’m here for you. I believe in you; I’ve got your back and they get you to believe that you can do it. And they allow you to do things yourself but they need to be encouraged. And we have a number of examples of that, you know, successful person who says that their mother encouraged, nudged, pushed them, pushed her and got her to believe in herself and do the things that they never dreamed of doing. Who said, you know, don’t let anyone stop you from doing something that you’ve never done before. And there are a number of stories that we unearthed through the interviews. And the interviews that we did throughout, but supportive is, is one example.

The teacher, in fact. I just came across an article about Kobe Bryant, where a number of players were fortunate enough to be invited to a special camp that he put on for a subset of young elite up and coming players. And many of them talked about what a great teacher he is, that he brought them inside of his training methodology and how he became the great player. So, the teacher leader is someone who teaches you, the things you need to learn, but they also create in you a desire to learn. And my first boss was like that. He did not, at that time, it wasn’t enough for him to be supportive. He looked at me and said, you really don’t know what you’re doing. I need to teach you how to do this job. And so, they teach you the skills and the knowledge, but also how to do things the right way. And so, as I mentioned, Mike, who was a former boss of mine, the first boss I ever had, who said, you know, he had to show me sort of the roadmap step by step of how to really function in a job I hadn’t never done before. So that’s the second, the teacher.

The motivator or the motivating leader is, is the third. And that’s someone who inspires or pushes or maybe even pulls you to take action to find your purpose or your true north, you know, Martin Luther King was one of these motivating, great motivating leader, who helped people take action around their purpose. That part of people that are essential to who they are. The motivator, I think, sees something in people that they oftentimes don’t see themselves or maybe they weren’t ready to see it. So, I think that’s the third. And then role model is the fourth, and that’s a person who provides a great example, a powerful example from which we can learn how to be successful. And you may choose to try to closely emulate the person or by extracting certain traits, integrating them into your style. I mentioned Kobe Bryant, interesting to bring it together. Kobe Bryant said that Michael Jordan was his single biggest influence in life. And he said, he wouldn’t be here. Wouldn’t have made it the way that he did without him, but yet he didn’t meet him until he was a successful player. And what he said was, I grew up wanting to be him.

I tried to copy everything that he did and everything that I saw and, you know, it turned out, he Jordan had influenced an entire generation of players just as a role model, not as a teacher, but it really has a role model. They wanted to be him from their childhood.

Steve Rush: Right.

Michael Parker: So, the effective role model is just very aware that people are watching is my favorite part about doing research for role model is, that the effective role model is aware that people are watching and they’re aware that their actions must be aligned with their words. They walk the walk, talk the talk, so those are the four Steve.

Steve Rush: I guess not everybody can be as lucky, as fortunate as us in having those positive experiences. And there’ll be people that have maybe had a few leaders in their life who have been less positive and more negative influences. How do you deal with that?

Glenn Parker: Yeah, we came across a number of people who told us about negative experiences, some of them were horrendous. I mean, some of them were really hard to believe and hard to realize that they could be overcome. For example, Jerry. He actually went on to have a long career as an engineer in engineering management. Engineering manager with GE, but he told us about an experience when he was in high school, where he went to talk to the career counselor about what he wanted to do. And he’s told her, he said, I want to go to college and I want to have a double major in engineering and economics. And she gave him that look, like really, you. Now, I should say that because this is, you know, in some part of his story is that he’s an African-American man. And he said, yes, I do. And he went onto college. He graduated with a double major in economics and engineering, went on to have a long career as first as an engineer with General Electric, and then as an engineering manager. And I said to him, Jerry, do you think that she said that to you or she gave you that look because you’re African-American? He said, no. She was just bad at her job.

Steve Rush: Right.

Glenn Parker: And I said, did you ever go back to school? Some people go back, you know, Alumni day and so on, and speak to her. He said, no. He said, I didn’t need to. So, one of the coping strategies that we got from Jerry and a number of other people was, they went set out to prove the person wrong. The person that said, you’ll never make it, you know, you’re not very good in math. You know, not many women make it in that field. Their strategy is to say, yeah, you know what, I’m going to prove you wrong. And a number of people had that, a certain amount of grit involved in that strategy. Sometimes you’re in a negative experience and you cannot extract yourself from it.

Steve Rush: Yeah. I guess the negative experience is still a positive influence, right?

Glenn Parker: Yeah, you can learn from it and go on to turn it into, as you say, a positive influence. Your parents are your parents, and sometimes parents are not that positive or you’re in a job and you can’t afford to leave that job. You don’t have another option. So, you’ve got to deal with this particular boss. In one instance, Mindy, someone we interviewed for the book, her first real job was in a women’s health clinic. And the boss consistently fostered conflict among the employees. She also rarely listened to any ideas for many employees about how to improve services for the women that were coming to the clinic. It was a difficult and bad experience, but Mindy could not afford at that point to leave. So, she took it all in and later when she got a chance to run her own organization. She now, by the way runs a very successful program for women who have been physically and sexually abused. She took all of that in and said, when it’s my turn to become a leader of an organization, I’m going to do exactly the opposite. So, you learn by saying, no, I want to do it completely opposite. And a number of people learn from that type of experience, and there’s three or four other ways of dealing with negative influences that we describe in the book, which you get some idea that people were able to develop coping strategies that got them through the experience and actually made them better coming out the other end.

Steve Rush: I guess, one thing that I perhaps want to explore with you, and maybe it’s one for you Michael. In the corporate world that you’re in today. How much of this do you put down to just having high levels of self-awareness first around how you’re impacting on others in the leadership space?

Michael Parker: How much of this is about self-awareness?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Michael Parker: It’s a big part, if not everything, you know, I was just thinking about, towards the end of the year we’re talking about, you know, compensation and promotions and rewards and recognition. I try to remind myself, you know, on a regular basis that every opportunity I have to give away the credit to the people on our team who are really doing a lot of the heavy lifting but get very little of the recognition reward because, you know, if I recognize or go out of my way to put the success of the team out in front, I’ll get the credit anyway. I don’t need to go after the credit myself, because people around me are successful and they’re doing great work and we highlight them as the leader, you get the credit anyway. So, I think there’s a good example of being aware, because the people that are doing a lot of the hard work, make the leader look good, quickly become resentful, even if they’re being paid well for not being recognized. And that’s a great example, this time of year, we just be aware of what kind of leader you are and setting that example. That’s a great example of being a role model. I have a great individual contributor on my team who is trying to emerge as a leader. And that was an example of something that I passed on to her. I said, now you have people reporting to you. But I can’t tell how they’re doing. You never promote them. You don’t talk about them.

Steve Rush: Yes.

Michael Parker: There’s a good example of awareness that fits into one of our styles as a role model.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Glenn Parker: Michael wasn’t Mark say to you, one of the things that he lives by is take all the blame and none of the credit.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Michael Parker: Yeah. I think that’s a good leadership hack too. Let’s give away the credit where you can, and certainly, you know, assume the blame when you have to, but I bring that up to you, Steve, just because we just could have passed through this period of time where those opportunities we’re literally being teed up. It’s an easy one, frankly, to be a great role model when you’re giving away credit and highlighting the people around.

Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely right. So, if I’m a leader and I’m setting out on my journey and I want to have much more of a positive influence in my team, is there somewhere that you would direct me in terms of where should I start this journey?

Michael Parker: Read our book.

Glenn Parker: [laughing], read the book and there’s a number of things in the book and I’ll start with one simple thing. An organization that I know they love the book a lot and the person gave it to everybody on their team. And what they’re doing is reading it in sections, reading it by chapter and at the end of every chapter. And you may have noticed this Steve, there review questions to help people reflect on what they learned from the chapter and how they can apply it to their current work situation. So, what this person is doing is every week, the members of the team are expected to read a chapter, and then they come in prepared to discuss those particular four or five questions that are at the end of each of the chapters. So, they’re doing this kind of slowly.  A more robust kind of way of learning, how to be a positive influence leader is at the back of the book is a self-assessment survey that where you can answer a series of 18 items and you get a score for which of the four styles that Michael described is your primary style. And so that will tell you what you’re particularly good at now. And it may also tell you some areas that maybe you want to improve on and build on. What we know from this approach is that all of us have the capability of being and utilizing all four of the styles. We just happen to use one or perhaps two more often than others, something that we call your primary style. At the same time, we’re also about to publish a 360 version of that survey so that you can, in a team building class or in a leadership development program, you can do your self-assessment, but also give the 360 version of it to colleagues, people on your team, your bosses, your peers in the organization, other stakeholders, and they fill it out on you, how they see you, how they perceive your style, how they perceive your strengths, how they perceive the areas that you might want to improve upon. And you use that as part of a self-development plan. You can do it with a coach. You can do it with a team. You can do it as part of a leadership development class. So yeah, there’s lots of ways that you can learn how to be, to first understand who you are and then learn how to be a more effective, positive influence leader. And we’ve provided not only the book, but supplementary materials that support that effort.

Steve Rush: Awesome, that’s great idea. And also, of course, it’s not just as easy as saying, I’m going to do some reading. I’m going to do some reflecting. I’m going to put some things in place. You are only of course, a positive influence if somebody’s in receipt of you and your experiences tells you, you are. So that whole kind of closing that feedback and re-evaluating and setting and going again, I suspect this part of that, right?

Glenn Parker: That’s exactly right.

Steve Rush: So, this is the chance of, and part of the show for me to hack into your superb leadership minds and thinking. So, I’m going to ask each of you in turn to tell me what are your top three leadership hacks. So, I’m going to kick off with you first, Michael.

Michael Parker: Yeah, the one I just said, which is give away the credit.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Michael Parker: This is a big one, I think, as you mature as a leader, when you go from sort of contributor to leader, it’s a tough one, depending on how you’re wired. But if you give her, if she reports to you, you get the credit for her anyway, all right. If you care that much about praise and your people do really well, you’ll be praised because of them. You chose them, you develop them, you cultivated relationships, you built them up as great performers. You get the credit anyway. But more importantly, I think there’s a greater reward. And seeing the people around, get rewarded, get recognized, promoted, and credit, so that a big one. When I look at our group, you know, core principles, one of our core principles Steve is, focused on results, not on activity. We say this up front when we’re interviewing people and we naturally will turn some people off, which is good. I say this to folks in interviews that are considering an opportunity with us and compensate for results and outcomes, not effort in our mind is a table stake, it’s not a differentiator. Effort is expected, I don’t need to be reminded how hard people work. I know they’re working hard because I expect them to work hard. It’s the result that matters more than their effort. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the journey. The journey is one of the great rewards, but it’s results versus effort, and activity I’ll take results. Those are the two most important.  Third I’d say with each member of our team, we try to find out what motivates people by getting to know them. So, we find that they fall into a variety of categories. Monetary reward, recognition, promotability, being included in key decisions. In the absence of knowing what motivates people. It’s really hard to know how to lead and manage them because you may or may not be pushing the right buttons. And if you push the right buttons, you get people to rise to the occasion and follow you, so those are my three.

Steve Rush: Awesome. They’re really great hacks and great learning. So, thank you for sharing Michael. Glenn how about you?

Glenn Parker: I’m going to focus on teams because I think as you know, Steve.

Steve Rush: A lot of your work, right? Is on teams.

Glenn Parker: Yeah, a lot of work was on teams, building teams. I start with the basics, which is goals, objectives, and plans. Set goals, develop specific objectives and develop plans to achieve those goals and reach those objectives. Number two, involve the team in that process. Plan is only as good as the involvement and the commitment of the team to those plans. And the only way to really get that is to involve them in the process. So, it becomes their plan, their goals. And the third is very much related to that. And it is empower the team, empower the employees so that once the goals are set, the objectives are in place, the plan has been developed. There’s a budget for it, empower the team to take action within the scope of all of that, so that they are taking responsibility for the achievement of that. And that is, you know, I belief in them that I think tracks to a lot of the things that Michael said on his hacks.

Steve Rush: Great stuff, love it. The next part of our show, we call this Hack to Attack. So, this is typically where something hasn’t worked out at all well, maybe even screwed up and it could be in your life or your work, but as a result of the experience and the learning that’s come from it, it now serves you as a positive in your life and work. What would be yours Michael?

Michael Parker: You know, this one I’m not sure is the perfect fit to your question. But I just think because I am in it, its fluid and it’s happening in our lives and maybe significant things is the pandemic. So, one of the things that happened in our businesses, we learned how as individuals and as teams and as a company to adapt. The entire world was hit with this, so everyone’s impacted. Businesses are impacted, some of them much more severely than others. I work in New York and ordinarily, I still go in once a week and I see the damage that’s been caused, and what I think is the greatest city in the world. And it’s disheartening to say the least, but we work. We’re fortunate, we’re in a business where we can not only survive, but we can thrive. We didn’t know that when the pandemic began to take hold, we had no idea. We were in a panic like everyone else, but here’s the specific thing that we learned, Steve, which was, how to optimize, sophisticated but previously underutilized technology? Still maintain and build relationships and our business. So, we were hit with this crisis. It’s still going on, it’s fluid, but now we’re at a place where if it never changed, like if it never worked out materially better, and I know it will, we could continue to run our business and thrive. We’re in a people business, a relationship business, but we can actually continue to run and grow a business, utilizing people, process and technology in spite of a of an unforeseen crisis and pandemic.

Steve Rush: It’s all a learning, isn’t it? And at the time when you’re in the crisis, you in that moment, it often doesn’t feel like learning. It just feels like existing or getting through or coping, but it is a learn, right?

Michael Parker: The only unfortunate thing is, as I say that, I also know, as I mention being in New York. I also know that not every business is afforded the same ability, which is really unfortunate.

Steve Rush: Get that, yeah. Glen, how about you? What’s your Hack to Attack?

Glenn Parker: So, I’m going to make my personal and take you back to my early years when I was just entering college. I had ended up having a pretty bad experience initially because I had the idea that I was a great basketball player and I did nothing but play basketball. I practiced, I played and then I watched other games and that’s pretty much what I did for most of my freshman year in college. So as a result, I ended up being on academic probation at the end of the first semester. It was a, you know, it was a horrible experience, but I had this view and I loved playing basketball. I loved watching bad. I love practicing basketball. I’m probably just not a college student. This college is not for me. And I think I’m going to quit and do something else. You know, I told my mother and my mother said, no, you’re not, you’re not going to do this. So, she said, no, you’re going to go back to college. You’re going to limit the amount of basketball you play. I don’t want to take this away from you, but you’re going to go back to college and you’re going to go to class, because I wasn’t going to class and I wasn’t studying. And as a result, I did very badly. So, what I learned from this whole experience was, that I could do both. And so, it really had a profound experience impact on me because, you know, my mother would not let me, just give up on things because my mother happened to be a teacher. So, she knew that I was smart enough to do this work. It took me a long time to get my grade point average up to where it was reasonable enough that I could even think about going to graduate school, which I eventually did, but it was a long haul up. You know, I learned some things, actually I can talk about when you’re, you know, your question about what would be advice to my 21-year-old self.

Steve Rush: Lets go about it now.

Glenn Parker: You cannot succeed unless you put the work in, you cannot succeed unless you put the work in. I was not only a good basketball player, which I really wasn’t. I really wasn’t that good, but I also thought I was a very good student and didn’t have to study and I could still get good grades. What I realized from that experience, in order to be successful, you need to put the work in. And the other thing that I learned was you can bounce back from adversity. You need resilience, you need support. You need to be what we now all call grit. You need to have that something within you. One of my favorite quotes is from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who’s wrote a book called The Change Masters. And when she says everything looks like a failure in the middle, everything looks like a failure in the middle because she said, you know, there’s rah-ra. It just feels great when we’re kicking off a project or releasing a product or starting a new business. And at the end we celebrate the results of it. It’s kind of like college, you know, looking forward to college and at the end we graduate and there’s a lot of celebration. In the middle, it’s pretty tough. The people who are really successful are the people that can get through, and over, and under, and deal with those obstacles that come up. And this is something that Michael and I share a lot, which is, I might not be the smartest person in the room, but there’s nobody in that room that’s going to outwork me.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Glenn Parker: Am I right Mike?

Michael Parker: Indeed.

Glenn Parker: Yeah.

Michael Parker: The one thing you can control, right? Is effort.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Glenn Parker: Yeah.

Steve Rush: And if you look at all of the historic really successful leaders and whatever size business, whatever type, whatever sector, you cannot substitute hard work for anything else, right?

Michael Parker: Yeah. It’s the one thing in your control, but most people don’t do it.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so Michael, what would be your advice to you at 21?

Michael Parker: Yes, this one is of interest because it’s also a current topic. I just went through a process of interviewing about 15 different candidates, roughly that age. It had been a while since I interviewed people of this age. And so, I was struck by the number of things. The majority of the candidates that I interviewed first came from very good schools, in some cases, top schools and of those, they largely had very good grades and of those they had, you know, just enough on their resume, in terms of extracurricular activities. That if I looked at those three things, I couldn’t really tell any of them apart, which was unfortunate because they worked very hard to get into great schools, to get great grades. They’ve done things outside of school and because they’re all following the same, I guess, formula, you couldn’t tell apart. So now you have the interview that may be the last thing that you can use, but it’s material to differentiate. And I would say, here are the three bits of advice, and I’m changing your question a little bit, here’s the advice I would give to a 21-year-old interviewing for a job.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Michael Parker: Because I know this is what I wish someone would have told me this when I was that age. But I would want to know this. I think number one, if you’re going to interview with multiple people for a job, make sure you know who that person is that you’re speaking to. It’s a simple Google exercise. I can do it, anyone could do it, right. It’s not that complicated, and I was struck by how little they actually knew about me.

Glenn Parker: Right.

Michael Parker: And I don’t view that as narcissistic. I mean, you’re speaking to someone who’s has an influence over whether you got a job or not, I want know who they are. Two, is as also struck by how little they actually knew about the company. And I don’t mean balance sheet information. I mean, just basic, what’s the proposition of the company. What do they do? And what’s their differentiator? What’s their value proposition? Still highly educated, very bright people who didn’t do the work. And then three, when I would turn the interview around to ask the candidate, what questions do you have for me? In large part, the questions were, what can we do for them? How will we help them and their careers? It’s sound like JFK quote opportunity. To me, I see it very differently. I think you should be asking the question; how can I help you? What help do you need? How could a candidate like me help you? Like, what is it that you need? And how could I help fill that opportunity? Because I mean, the truth be told, what do I really care about what we can do for their career? If I’m interviewing and I’m trying to fill a need. The opportunity will help your career. Don’t manage it, right. It’ll organically help you. So those are my three things.

Steve Rush: Brilliant stuff. So final thing for us is to make sure that we can help folks connect with you so that you can carry on the conversations. Where would you like us to send them?

Glenn Parker: Well, there’s a website for the book it’s http://www.thepositiveinfluenceleader.com, thepositiveinfluenceleader.com, you can email us there. We’re both on LinkedIn and we’ve been posting a great deal on LinkedIn about positive influence. Like we just posted a wonderful review in the OD network journal of the book that was quite extensive and very powerful. If you want to get the book, it’s available in paperback and also Kindle version on Amazon, of course, we also would love to hear your stories of positive influence. Kind of things, examples that we gave you here. We’d love to hear your stories cause we’re collecting them now. And when you go to the website, thepositiveinfluenceleader.com, you’ll see, there’s a blog called stories of positive influence. We’d love to hear your story. Again, email either one of us, you know, you can send in your story couple of hundred words to your experience with a positive influence leader or a negative influence leader and how you overcame or coped with it.

Steve Rush: Awesome. We’ll also make sure that all of those links are all in the show notes as well. So literally as people are finished listing, they can click in and connect with you as well. It just goes to me to say, honestly, it’s been a delight to have you both on the show.

Glenn Parker: Yes.

Steve Rush: Michael, Glenn, thank you ever so much for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Michael Parker: It was a privilege. Thank you, Steve. I appreciate the opportunity.

Glenn Parker: Yeah, thanks for the opportunity, Steve. This was a wonderful conversation.

Steve Rush: Thank you very much both.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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