Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript
Friday, November 20, 2009

Tom Terry:       Good evening.

Karen Wilson: ...
annually recognizing an established leader who embodies the
                 principles and practices of transformational ...
atmosphere in which others can put a dent in the universe is the
                    leader’s creative act.” Each of us he...
the time because the statistics change in this changing world that
                    we have. And yet, not only do we fa...
Yet, this creation is not a solo act. Hence, solo wasn’t …

P:               Solo.

Judith Wright:   … solo. Very good. An...
reflect and to mark this in a moment of thankfulness as an
                    invocation or if you could use this as a me...

Tom Terry:       So, dinner was good. Very good. I’d like to – I’d like to introduce our
Bob Wright:      And I’d like to think that there is one common bond that we all have
                 otherwise, you woul...
vision of how we can be better. A vision of how we can help
                 humanity emerge.

                 One of our...
work, if we don’t seek to keep ourselves, you know, in tip top
                 shape, to step into the unknown, we’re goi...
Bob Wright:      Ron has been a fantastic help. I call him, you know, I’m saying,
                 “Ron, does this really ...
with team de L‘lle [Phonetic] [01:48:25], would you stand up, team?
                 They have helped us reach out to the ...

Brad Anderson:   Hi. Thanks. I have been walking around the – for the last few
                 months hunch o...
that, we’re also sitting by dif – and this – I’m going to share with you
                 sort of some of Best Buy life ex...
that this is a – if you can imagine, this is a company that is – that’s
                 15 years old. It’s has seven stor...
Brad Anderson:   And I know this is bad. They sold us the product that we sold
                 because they wanted us as ...
work in the history of the consumer electronics industry. They
                 priced all the goods in their stores to 10...
out how to manage a store and we found Accenture Consulting
                 which told us that almost everything we did w...
integrity of knowing you can trust each other, really good foundation
                 to have sitting inside the organiza...
or saying and feeling and felt they wanted to see next. And then so
                 they had a value that I didn’t have.
try to pick a few areas and go in depth. So, please write whatever
                 questions you have or issues you would...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript, Friday Evening


Published on

A transcript of the Transformational Leadership Symposium Friday evening talks.

Published in: Career, Business, Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript, Friday Evening

  1. 1. Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript Friday, November 20, 2009 Tom Terry: Good evening. Karen Wilson: Hello everybody. Tom Terry: Good evening and welcome. Thank you all for coming to what promises to be an exciting and important symposium. I’m Tom Terry and along with my co-host, Karen Wilson, we’ll be hosting you tonight and tomorrow. This weekend’s symposium is being put on by the Foundation for Transformational Leadership. In the room tonight, we have an exciting representative body of leaders. We have – we have CEOs of national corporations, we have entrepreneurs on their way to earning their first million, we have the heads of national education organizations along with ministers who are here to transform their congregations. We have a director of a national leadership association as well as the head of a national musical education association. We have board members from national firms as well as FAP leaders in the healthcare industry. And they’re all here together with one common purpose namely: to be their very best as the head leader organizations into the future successfully adapting, transforming, and succeeding at fulfilling their missions, maximizing service to their constituents, developing their staffs, furthering their own personal development, and indeed ultimately transforming themselves and the world. Karen? Karen Wilson: Thank you, Tom. Welcome everybody. I just want to tell you a little bit about the Wright Foundation for Transformational Leadership. It’s a 5013C organization. It promotes the study, development, expanding recognition, and the impact of transformational leadership. The foundation front; graduate research, transformational leadership awards, education loans, scholarships, and symposia to support the development and dissemination of cutting edge forward thinking human performance technology, philosophy and methodology. That word was hard to get out there. The foundation sponsors for transformational leadership award as well as the transformational leadership symposium that were at presently. The transformational leadership award was created to promote the study and application of transformational leadership by Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 1
  2. 2. annually recognizing an established leader who embodies the principles and practices of transformational leadership. The annual transformational leadership symposium aims to bring together FAP leaders as well as those aimed at living the principles of transformational leadership. The goal of the symposium is to develop transformational leadership as well as raise the awareness of the need for the transformational leadership in our world. In the arena of graduate research, the foundation provides loans and scholarships for student of the Wright Indus – Institute for the realization of human potential offering masters and doctor degrees in human development. Tom Terry: I’d like to introduce our first speaker this evening. Dr. Judith Wright is an educator, lifestyle’s expert, inspirational speaker, best-selling author, and corporate consultant. Judith began her career in Academia where she designed a cutting-edge program enabling adults with disabilities to attend college as well as a model research program for children with developmental disabilities. A trailblazer in human development, she co-founded the Wright Leadership Institute, the Wright Foundation for Transformational Leadership and the Wright Institute for the realization of human potential offering, as Karen just said, masters and doctor degrees for transformational leaders. Judith coaches and trains sea-level executives on achieving career success and living meaningful lives. She is the author of the One Decision and the Soft Addiction Solution book and has appeared on over 70 TV programs including ABC’s 20/20, the Today Show, Oprah, and Good Morning America. Please help me welcome, Dr. Judith Wright. [Applause] Judith Wright: Thank you. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Karen. Thank all of you. Would you keep your applause for Tom and Karen and all of you that are gathered here. I like to thank all of us for being here. Thank you. [Applause] Judith Wright: So, I want to find out are transformed yet? Does it happened because that is what we’re gathered here for today and I’ve been – to set context for the climate for transformation. And I want to share this quote by Warren Bennis, “Devising and maintaining an Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 2
  3. 3. atmosphere in which others can put a dent in the universe is the leader’s creative act.” Each of us here has their own reason for being here, our own dent in the universe whether it’s to deal with the challenges in our businesses or our organizations in this economic climate or it is – if it’s to be – perhaps, we’re in a stall or a growth’s berg or a free fall or a rot. I’m looking to see what you’re responding to as I said those. [Laughing] Judith Wright: Or perhaps we’re facing personal challenges or relationship stresses or family ordeals or perhaps, it’s just the challenge to lead our business or organization that’s turning out to be much different than the organization we began with. And what that calls from us is for us to learn and grow and transform. But perhaps what we’re also looking for is a possibility of aligning our practices with our values or even to remember what those values are. Or perhaps it’s to dream a bigger dream or retouching the hunger that we have to leave a greater legacy, to create a more positive future or perhaps it’s all of the above. Yet, it’s our very being here that brings us the vast resources and renewal of all the others who share our care and our concerns and our fears and our hopes and our desires, who all yearn for something more and are willing to do something about it to make that happen. There are those of us gathered here who sensed the climate for transformation is upon us and it’s compelling us to respond. A world that is changing in an unforeseen ways. [Music playing 00:41:20 to 00:44:14] Judith Wright: Wow! [Laughing] Judith Wright: You know, I’m thinking what will Best Buy sell that computer for? [Laughing] Judith Wright: I guess we’ll have to hang around and find out. And many of you may have seen this as this from YouTube. Its been virally transmitted all over the world and I think it’s over 7 million people who’ve been doing this to really – and the figures are updated all Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 3
  4. 4. the time because the statistics change in this changing world that we have. And yet, not only do we face this technological changes and this exponential growth of this reality that we’ve just seen, we also face significant social challenges. And I want to invite us to consider what those are and what are role is as a transformational leader. There’s a poet and cultural historian, William Irwin Thompson, who provides perspective on this, on our role of this time in history. He says, “For the first time, in human evolution, the individual life is long enough and cultural transformation swift enough that the individual mind is now a constituent player in the global transformation of human culture.” So, let’s look at that more fully and delve into what is it that we face in our job, in the global transformation of human culture? [Video Playing at 00:45:47 to 00:46:49] Judith Wright: Well, let us take advantage of those immense possibilities and create a future beyond our positive imagining. Not change for change sake alone but change because it’s our very nature to learn, to grow, to develop, to transform, to become that which we have not yet become. The existentialists tell us that we have a choice in any moment to do that which we’ve already done or just step into the unknown, to do that which we’d never done before, which will then help us become who we’ve never become before. And that then caused this existential anxiety. The very thought change that when we do face that, we can experience what they remind us, of existential freedom and existential joy. Recent neuroscience research reveals that our brains are happiest when we embark on something new, that our brains thrive on novelty, lighting up when we connect new ideas or solutions and create new structures and new ways of being. It’s when we activate this magnificent seeking, this hardwired into our brains that we’re wired to be curious, to engage, to grow, to change, to innovate, to make a difference, to be part of something greater, to matter. And in fact, the neurosciences have discovered that we have a center for altruism within our own brain, which lights up when we know that we’re contributing and making a difference for others. And it is this center that’s transformational leaders tap into, into themselves, into their followers. And it’s when we do this, when we tap into that part of us that loves to contribute, to make a difference, to be part of something, that we are our most human and perhaps our most divine. Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 4
  5. 5. Yet, this creation is not a solo act. Hence, solo wasn’t … P: Solo. Judith Wright: … solo. Very good. And the lone ranger wasn’t … P: Alone. Judith Wright: … alone [laughs]. Good. Because neuroscience research tells us there is no single neuron and there is no single brain. There is no neuron that exists by itself and there is no human brain that exists by itself. Our social brains are connected as if in a special kind of Wifi and yet, there’s no password. [Laughing] Judith Wright: We are interconnected in ways we perhaps have sensed but not fully fathomed. Also, with the social brains that we have and what the neuroscience is revealing to us, studies show that we are able to connect emotionally and with empathy and through mirror neurons to be able to anticipate the intention of others and to be able to sense what’s going on with them. It’s beautiful gift that we’ve been given. However, they also show that our moods are as contagious as a cold. I think we all know what that’s like but when someone is in a negative mood and when someone is inspiring and how does – that it’s catching. But also, what they’ve found that’s also contagious is our inspiration and our enthusiasm and our hope. Far from the independent creatures than we imagine ourselves to be, we are interconnected brain to brain and heart to heart. Neuroscientists have discovered that our emotions are process through our brains and our body, through our minds and our hearts. Our brains, our very selves are designed to interact, to complete each other, to solve problems together, to create solutions and possibilities, to learn from one another and inspire one another, to support each other, comfort each other, to call each other to our highest, and it’s through this call that we come together in these transformational times. To explore the possibilities that are open to us as transformational leaders and may we be consciously contagious and share inspiration with one another. And I offer that as our invitation through the rest of this symposium. And before we move on, I’ll let you nourish your bodies and your minds and your hearts both with your food and the interaction with one another at your table, I’d like to take a moment to pause and to Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 5
  6. 6. reflect and to mark this in a moment of thankfulness as an invocation or if you could use this as a meditation or thought or just a moment for contemplation or reflection or whatever is most meaningful to you. And some of you might use it as a prayer. To the Holy Mystery and the Creator of all, if it is as it is said that we are made in the image of the Creator, let us claim that birthright and strengthen our ability to create not only to react or to limit our potential. And let us understand that creation is an ongoing process of continual transformation and may we remember that transformation is different for all of us from where we are to where we will be is determined by where we are and where we begin. May we recognize that our hungers are the same yet, how we choose to fulfill those may differ. May we learn to honor each other’s differences and find the divine synergy as we celebrate the unique gifts that each person is to us. May we remember that we are all one under the same Creator and that we will live and thrive together or suffer unnecessary pains alone. May we know that we lead not only in our positions but by how we lead our lives. May we lead with truth, wisdom, genuineness, and inspiration. May we have the courage to walk our talk, you know, and sometimes even just talk our talk would be a good start. May we cultivate the climate of transformation within our businesses and our organizations for our employees, our vendors, our communities, and perhaps most importantly, ourselves. Dear Creator, may you support us in creating the condition conducive for our transformation and activate our yearning, help us to shake free of our rigidity or limiting dogma to be willing to question our beliefs, to see anew, to learn and grow, to contribute and be contributed to, to change, and to transform, and for us to be the change that we wished to see in the world. And may you guide us as we each and everyone of us make our dent in the universe. Amen. So be it. Let’s rock! [Laughing] Judith Wright: Thank you. [Applause] [Break at 00:54:00 to 01:36:10] Tom Terry: How is dinner? Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 6
  7. 7. [Applause] Tom Terry: So, dinner was good. Very good. I’d like to – I’d like to introduce our next speaker. It’s Dr. Bob Wright. Bob Wright is a highly successful entrepreneur, executive coach, corporate consultant, and a leading thinker and program developer in the areas of human potential and human emergence technologies. Identified as a top executive coach by Crain’s Chicago Business, his research and empowering models of leadership has helped sea-level executives and entrepreneurs build, grow and thrive in businesses with purpose, mission, and high performance cultures. Dr. Wright has developed an internationally recognized model of human development and authored numerous articles and books including Beyond Time Management: Business with Purpose. He is the co-founder of the Wright Institute for the Realization of Human Potential as well as the Wright Leadership Institute, and the Wright Foundation for Transformational Leadership. Tonight, he will provide us with an overview of transformational leadership. So, Bob come on up. [Applause] Bob Wright: Thank you, Tom. And thank you everybody. Thank you so much for coming from New York, Connecticut, where else? Dallas, where? P: Michigan. Bob Wright: Michigan. P: Colorado. Bob Wright: Colorado. P: Houston. Bob Wright: Houston. P: Northbrook. Bob Wright: Northbrook. Yes. Washington, Washington, D.C., Connecticut. Okay. Give yourselves a hand. Thank you very much. [Applause] Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 7
  8. 8. Bob Wright: And I’d like to think that there is one common bond that we all have otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, which is that we want to do what we do better and we want to be better leaders so that we can bring the best out in the people that we’re with. And I want to thank you especially for being here because it isn’t everybody who is willing to admit that they have something to learn. They certainly aren’t necessarily willing to travel so far and to come and bring themselves with people they don’t necessarily know and look at who they are. That’s one of the key aspects of a transformational leader. A transformational leader is willing to look at who he or she is. Another key aspect of a transformational leader is a transformational leader believes in mutuality. Our speaker tonight is one of the most decent, fantastic men I know. He had just gotten done getting crucified by a Wall Street crew for a big buy-back. I come in and I don’t know anything but I have an opinion as does most everyone around him. [Laughing] Bob Wright: I’m very free to tell him my opinion after he has just gotten done dealing with some of the financial heavyweights of the planet. With absolute and total respect and sensitivity, he listened to me and tolerated me. Give him a hand for that. Brad Anderson. [Applause] Bob Wright: And so, transformational leaders know that their power comes from others. They aren’t out there looking for someone to demonstrate how powerful they are. They’re more interested in helping you see how powerful you are. And you’re all here, I believe with that level of mission. Would you give yourselves a hand please? [Applause] Bob Wright: We’d like to see this be an incubator. We would like to see you leave here inspired in such a way that you have the courage to step even further into your commitments to mutuality, further into your commitments to empowering other people because none of us is done. Every time I’ve been allowed to interview Brad for hours and hours and hours and I learned more every time I’m with him. And I would hope that we would all be able to say that by the time we leave here tomorrow evening that we’ve all shared and learned from each other and that we come out of here with a vision. A Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 8
  9. 9. vision of how we can be better. A vision of how we can help humanity emerge. One of our key speakers tomorrow is Don Beck, a foremost change expert in the world as far as I know. He architected South Africa’s leaving behind of a [Indiscernible] [01:41:05]. He kept South Africa from fragmenting into different companies, countries. I see I got corporations on the brink. You know, he – he could do that because he can speak with different people no matter who they are, what their – whatever their language is and that’s what a transformational leader seeks to do. We all fall short and transformational leaders know that we fall short and one of the blessings we’re going to have tonight is here, Brad Anderson willing to talk about ways he’s fallen short, which to me indicates what a big man he is and what a fantastic blessing he is to us and to the planet. Don Beck is going to talk to you about understanding human evolution. He’s going to talk to you about understanding how people move from one stage in their development to the next. And as transformational leaders, we’re not looking at telling you what a company should look like. We’re not interested in telling you what you should look like. What we’re interested in is helping you engage in questions that will invite the people around you to engage intellectually in what they’re doing. That will invite them to engage with their hearts and their minds and take full responsibility for the inspirational visions that you create happening. One of those – one of those fantastic stories that I found out from Brad – how many of you know about Brad’s hospital beds and his tombstones? Nobody – nobody know about – okay. Good. So, Brad – Brad has one of these qualities that transformational leaders have which is that he’s never complacent. You’re going to understand that after he’s done talking why he’s never complacent. But one of the things that he did is he was talking to his company constantly about what – who was dead and he was talking about other firms that they were competition that were sick. And his new products group came up and say, “Would you mind if we did something?” And he said, “What do you mean?” And he – they said, “Well, we’d really like to set the reception area as a hospital. We want to put hospital beds up with all of the sick businesses in our industry and then we’d also like to have a graveyard with tombstones for all the businesses that have died, that we’ve move beyond to do what you’ve been trying to do which is to provide a reminder to us that if we don’t stay ahead of the curb, if we don’t stay humble, if we don’t Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 9
  10. 10. work, if we don’t seek to keep ourselves, you know, in tip top shape, to step into the unknown, we’re going to end up sick in one of those hospital beds and then in one – under one of those headstones.” I can consider that to be transformational leadership. He didn’t say, “Will somebody do this?” It didn’t even occurred to him that someone would take his message, make it tangible in a way that empowered him and the entire company to come to grip with who they were in the moment so that they could step into that next radiant emergent self that they could be. So, let’s give them and everybody Best Buy another hand on that. [Applause] Bob Wright: Because one of the first things Brad is going to tell you tonight is he’s going to tell you that it’s not about him. He’s going to tell you it’s about Dick Smith and if he does that I’m going to tell you and steal his lines. Yes. [Laughing] Bob Wright: Do you know that at Best Buy as recently as 1996, ’97, a young person could come in to one of their stores and start working and two years later, have the keys to one of the $25 million operation? What year was it? What – I get it wrong? Could still happen. Oh, excuse me. I stand corrected. It still happens today. It can still happen. But that – that’s not a mistake. It’s because they believe in people and they do the most important aspect of what transformational leaders do, which is called individualized consideration. Now tomorrow morning, Ron Riggio, the co-author of the book Transformational Leadership is going to give us the history of transformational leadership. He’s going to tell us what the key traits of transformational leaders are and then we’re going to break down into groups and we’re going to actually think about what those traits would look like and behavior for us and then we’re going to finish his session with one specific transformational behavior that we would like to engage in more. And if we’re lucky and we get done in time, he’ll tell us about his most recent research on authenticity. Really important job. Would you stand for us, Ron? [Applause] Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 10
  11. 11. Bob Wright: Ron has been a fantastic help. I call him, you know, I’m saying, “Ron, does this really makes sense the way we’re putting these things together?” And every once in a while, I feel like we’re falling apart, he talks me through it over and over again. So, he’s been an incredibly big help. And then in the afternoon, we’re going to have Don Beck as I told you, the foremost expert on change at a national level. He’s worked with NFL teams, financial firms. He’s currently working with Tony Blair in London, literally in England on the British self-esteem. So, would you stand up, Don? Yes. [Applause] Bob Wright: And you meet my lovely bride. She’s going to take us through here research into the internal journey of the transformational leader. You’re going to understand why some companies break down and some companies move ahead as far as the internal journey of the leader goes with that. Would you stand up, Judith? [Applause] Bob Wright: And I’m going to carry her bags on that one. Okay. So – and I’d like to – while acknowledging people, I’d like you to help me acknowledge Tom Terry and Karen. Terry, would you stand up there, our platinum sponsors tonight, Tom and Karen. [Applause] Bob Wright: We couldn’t be here without them. We wouldn’t have the nerve to do this without their muscle behind us. Karen Wilson, would you stand up? Oh, there you are. Give her a hand. Thank you. They’re platinum sponsors. [Applause] Bob Wright: And I’m going to call several names to have them stand up and ask them to do it all in sequence then we’ll give them applause. David of [Phonetic] [01:48:04] Communications, Clad-Rex Steel Coding, James Buckner, the Delves Group, Smith Economics Group, and we want to give special thanks to Med Architects. They put this whole thing together for us. They’re running tonight. They move us way beyond what we could do on our own. And Forward Progress Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 11
  12. 12. with team de L‘lle [Phonetic] [01:48:25], would you stand up, team? They have helped us reach out to the world on this. Would you give them all a big hand. Thank you. [Applause] Bob Wright: Well, I think I’ve said pretty much what – what I wanted to say. I’m going add a couple of things about our next speaker. He’s going to by the way book in the weekend. He’s going to talk tonight and then at the end of the day tomorrow, he’s going to talk again. And we’re going to take what we worked on during the day and we’re going to apply it to Best Buy to go deeper into our analysis of Best Buy so each of us can go deep – more deeply into the analysis of who we are and what we’re doing so that we can take away the most potent service possible. After the weekend, you’ll have an opportunity to take Ron Riggio’s transformational leadership assessment yourself and if you’re feeling particularly committed, you can have your direct reports rate you too. [Laughing] Bob Wright: And Ron will help you analyze that and strategize what you’re going to do from there. Give him a hand on that. [Applause] Bob Wright: And I couldn’t say enough about – about Don Beck. Don is just amazing with his ability to analyze things. You’ll know that after tomorrow but you’re going to be able to take Don’s online test to assess your readiness for change and what the culture is that you bring with you wherever you go. And if you’re particularly courageous, you can have your direct reports also rate – they’re actually be rating themselves and you get a feel for your culture from the foremost expert in my opinion on corporate culture in the world. Don Beck, give him a hand. [Applause] Bob Wright: A man who is totally open to learning, totally open to growing with just the biggest heart and had been a massive blessing to all of us and you’ll realize and I’m thrilled to share him with you as a blessing this weekend. Would you help me welcome Brad Anderson? Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 12
  13. 13. [Applause] Brad Anderson: Hi. Thanks. I have been walking around the – for the last few months hunch over because I’ve got a severe back problem. Excuse my bad speech. But [laughs] the a – as a matter of fact, I was walking in New York last week and I looked in a – in a window and I saw this poor old man stumbling along the street and realized it was me and I was just so – anyway – and Bob, thank you so much for that wonderful introduction. I – actually, we were just talking before – earlier this evening and I – I’m in fact, starting to understand him which is really a [laughing] it’s really quite – I’m not sure whether it’s good or terrifying. It’s like wooh because I’ve known for years and it’s – it’s quite a journey. Anyway, the – many of you I think, you’d probably experienced some degree of chronic pain and there’s nothing like going through a board meeting in chronic pain. I got it. That’s a – there’s a new level of pain I had and I’m not a very well-disciplined person as much as anyone who knows me knows. And so, I was sitting in a compensation committee on a board on Wednesday. Yes, thank you. I appreciate that laughter [laughs]. You know. Imagine severe back pain and a compensation committee meeting. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: And a – and in a turbulent times that we’re in, you got this – this tremendous – you know, almost everybody has got some unique problem they’ve never faced before and really tough kind of circumstances. And then you have the formal formats of what is – what’s the right thing to do from a compensation standpoint. And I couldn’t care about that more from my own leadership experience because I believe it is 100% about people. And compensation is one of the most powerful things we’ve got to sort of say what our values are back to the people who work for us. But I’m – in the process of listening to the discussion and getting angrier and angrier and I’m not sure whether it’s the back pain or what I’m hearing but I’m just – I’m getting more frustrated and knowing that I also don’t know how to articulate what I’m feeling. But essentially what the discussion was, how do we get the right compensation to the leaders of this organization that is not so much that we’ll be criticized from and for paying them but is appropriate to motivate them. We have no idea what the hell we should be doing because the environment is moving so quickly on us. And – and I’m thinking, “Well, there’s a much bigger than that problem.” which Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 13
  14. 14. that, we’re also sitting by dif – and this – I’m going to share with you sort of some of Best Buy life experience. In my life experience, we’re – that means we’re sitting on something very precious, which is we’re sitting on a place in time in which we may have an opportunity to do better than we’d ever done before in our lives and discover a completely new way to take an existing resource and use that resource. And that we’re – there are two things that we will find out in that journey. Number one is, the insight to know what to do. We couldn’t begin to figure out who it was we had to discover, who it was who may have most of the time existed inside the company. And number two was, in order to do it, we’re going to have to follow something that is something we already know to be wrong. That that insight and that voice is going to tell us to go do something in the most powerful way possible that everything in our industry’s experience tells us it’s stupid. That for me operationally has been the lesson of experience I had for 36 years at Best Buy. And I want to share how and sort of try to do as briefly as possible because I know we’re very time- compressed but try to share some of those key lessons where maybe you can kind of see where is as strange as that position and believe me when I said it at the board, it did not get clear eyes when I was looking at one’s friend that describe it. One person did. But the – my life experience is one of the strangest dreams I could have imagined and some of you, I know, in the room have heard it so I’m not going to go through but with as little as I possibly can to still make this clear. But I’m somebody that was a lousy high school student, told not to go to college because I wasn’t smart enough, who – I went to seminary because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and stumbled into a business clear-up from being a clerk in a store which was then Sound of Music that came best Buy. And I only got a business opportunity chance because completely out of character, I got mad enough to ask for an opportunity to run a business in a point of absolute crisis where what was then a $4 million company losing $200,000 a year that couldn’t make it’s payroll that the owner decided to take a wild bet on me as one of the two people to try to transform the company. And the – so, everything about that journey, it was not prepared for, not expected, and not based on any known fact. As a matter of fact, the antithesis of what you probably should do if you went to any education about what to do in a crisis. I don’t – I did – what I’ve never gotten a chance to do in speech like this is tell what I did actually when I got a chance to lead, which is – Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 14
  15. 15. that this is a – if you can imagine, this is a company that is – that’s 15 years old. It’s has seven stores, actually nine, two out state stores and seven stores in the Twin Cities. It’s the number three, this is an exciting business position for all of you who want to get [Indiscernible] [01:56:17]. It’s the number three seller of heaviest [Phonetic] [01:56:20] audio equipment to people in the Twin Cities. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: And surprisingly, it’s in bad shape. It has a lot of employees who have long tenure, has relatively low turnover rate because it’s the racing and drug era, of cocaine era and there is another way to make a lot of money. And the consumer electronics industry is a very good place to find people to sell product to. If you’re making – so many of our people had second careers. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: And so, we had guys who were making $13,000 a year and driving Corvettes. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: Anyway, I wasn’t smart enough to be one of those. So this is – anyway. The – but – so – anyway, the – when I got a chance to get – out of that, I got a chance to get into the office and see if we could turn around this company, which had so many problems you couldn’t believe. But it had one huge asset that I didn’t understand at the time which was its founder and I got the chance to meet its founder, a guy named, Dick Schulze. And he believed in two things, were two things that are obvious about his character. One of which is, he – a little – he thought he was building a $50 million company and that we were on the way to building a $50 million company. And two, he was a man of tremendous personal integrity. Found it in a set of beliefs. Now, I had no imagination to think he was anything but crazy about the $50 million company but I liked and admired him as a human being and I trusted him. And we set aside and we came – we thought, “What are we going to do? How are we going to figure out how to develop a viable company?” We were so bad that the number one consumer electronics company in our area sold us the goods we sold. We didn’t have any money so we had to buy it as we sold it. [Laughing Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 15
  16. 16. Brad Anderson: And I know this is bad. They sold us the product that we sold because they wanted us as a competitor. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: That’s true. And – but anyway. So, we had to come up with – you had to break the rules, right? There was only one – you had to completely do something that was the opposite of what you know how to do. And so, the standard in this – for all time in that industry, the standard had been, you advertise one thing in the paper and you had to commission sales staff and they sold them something else. And the reason you did is you took the most sexy product you possibly had, you put in the newspaper and that would attract the most customers but you – and you sold it at such a lower price you couldn’t possibly make money. But then you told the customer when they came in very effectively that it was a terrible piece of junk and there was a really good product that was available for the customer if they just bought a different brand. And that was the way that the whole industry was formatted to make money. Well, I thought, what if we told the customer the truth? What if we told the customer, “No, this actually – the thing we put in the paper that has no margin in it, is actually good.” Now, we could do that and nobody else could. Why? Because we weren’t making any money. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: So, we did and [Indiscernible] [01:59:27] went three years we put the other company that was – out of business, the one that we’d been buying from. The next – I’m going to tell you basically, the four most dangerous crises Best Buy had in its life for about a little over 40 years of staying in business at all. The next thing that happens – very quickly, just to bring up speed, I’m going to go from 1979 to 1989. In 1984, we opened the first Best Buy store. It does more business than the whole chains has ever done in its life. And we all of a sudden start opening a whole bunch of Best Buy stores and we grow from $4 million to about $250,000 in few years. And we think we’re smart all of a sudden [laughs]. You know, we went from idiots to brilliant. And in the – unfortunately, that attracted somebody with money ranging geographic presence, experience in the business and lots of intelligence. And they came into the two primary markets we were in, in Minneapolis and Milwaukee and did the thing that always Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 16
  17. 17. work in the history of the consumer electronics industry. They priced all the goods in their stores to 10% over cost in those two markets because there was nobody that could function at 10% over cost. So, we – we did what we called concept two, tried it actually in out market and eventually brought it back to the core, which was we stripped out consumer – we could strip out commission sales people. We made the entire store essentially grab and go. We found a way to breakeven at 10% over cost. And within three years, they were out of business because it had such a gravitational pull. Now, I’m sure it’s reckoning how – we also nearly died when we did that because the suppliers weren’t happy about – lots of other stuff happened and we didn’t make any money for or a very little money for quite a while but we survived and we continue to grow the company. And it turned out to be – that the reason that Best Buy today is about a $50 billion company and far bigger than any other company in our industry in the world. And actually, one of the largest retailers in the world. And it’s – the reason that we got the chance to do that was a crisis and what we could do – what was com – for certain wrong. Third thing that happened to us, the next near death experience happened in 1996, in the end of 1996. And by this time, we’ve grown from $250 million to $7 billion in sales and we’re making about $70 million a year on a good year, which we thought was good at that time. Financial institutions weren’t so sure of that but we sure thought it was. But – and all of a sudden, Intel decided to change its chip, it’s mother chip in a new computer in January. Well, as a retailer who makes all your money – that 70 million was all made in December – who makes it all in December and you – if you sell a computer, it’s going to be worth a third less than it was worth literally within 30 days. We literally had to make the determination to go through the December season without selling computers, which is about a third of our business. So, all of a sudden now, we can’t pay our suppliers and we’re back into another near death experience. But that caused us, out of desperation, to do something that our founder at one point had said, if we had – any of us ever needed a fire is immediately for which is to look outside the company for expertise. And we wound up finding – actually Sue worked for a company – she now works for Best Buy but she worked for one of the companies [Indiscernible] [02:03:06]. We found a human resource company based in Chicago called RHR, which helped us managed – figured Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 17
  18. 18. out how to manage a store and we found Accenture Consulting which told us that almost everything we did was stupid and proved it to us. [Laughing] Brad Anderson: And so, we – very simply that meant things like we used to buy in a store because everybody else in our industry did. So we thought that meant it was smart. We would buy if – if JVC made a VCR that was just the same as Panasonic, it was just the same as Sony, that was just the same – we just sort everybody’s product in our stores. And we thought that’s great for the consumer because they can make an infinite amount of choice. What Accenture did is show us how much it cost us to do that and why it also confused the customer and caused fewer people to buy. And believe it or not, when we tried it, even though we knew for sure it was wrong, it was right. And all of a sudden, the company that couldn’t make any money, now started to make a lot of money literally within that year. And we went from not being to pay our suppliers to a span of where we’re all of a sudden very, very successful for quite a few years sustainingly. Now, the next major crisis was induced by my becoming CEO [laughs]. Sorry. Yes, most of you can probably figure that out already, why that would be a problem but – and this had to do with under – the underpinning of all of these, if you go back to the core, the foundation that we really build the company on, what we started with – we had this huge asset in our founder and naiveté in part of our founder in that he had in addition to having this and personal integrity, he also believed that people could do anything. So, we did things like when we opened in Milwaukee, the big company in Milwaukee must have figured that we were going to come in Minneapolis. So, when we opened in Milwaukee we decided we would open in Milwaukee the end of August. And we got opened with three brand new stores in Milwaukee in November, which included tearing down a hotel to build one of them. Actually, if you talk to people that are plumbers in Milwaukee or to this day and as them what was the most amazing thing they ever did in their life, almost for sure if they were closed to this, they will tell you this was the most amazing thing. But we found a way to do it and that actually then – once your founder finds that out then he thinks it’s even worse than what he imagines. But the power behind the imagination of what people can do, huge energy they have in the organization even when it’s dangerous, the huge energy they in the organization. And the Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 18
  19. 19. integrity of knowing you can trust each other, really good foundation to have sitting inside the organization. And then, we started to learn what people really could do and that you couldn’t predict it, right? So, you shouldn’t – I couldn’t predict that I was going to be any good at anything. And that was true for a lot of other people. And we started having things – but actually the core of what you see in Best Buy today that we’re proud of, I got – I was being there for 36 years, I got a chance to see it all birthed. It was all a surprise, almost all of it. Somebody figured out they could do something and through tremendous resistance, almost by the way always, the person who’s got the idea of something they want to do is despised by the rest of us because we weren’t doing it already that way. We would have if it was a good idea. But they’ve got enough tensile strength that they – that they pushed through the organizational discipline to make that happen. Well so now I’m the CEO and what do I know about retailers that have been very successful? And this goes back to your – the reach out hospital. I know they die. And retailers die faster than other places because it’s easier for us to choose. If it’s a steel company, it takes us a while to choose another steel company. It doesn’t – because we got to change supply change, lines and everything else. If you said you don’t like Best Buy, you can find somebody else pretty quickly like tomorrow morning or tonight actually and any time 24 hours you want to try Amazon out. So, that’s – our affection has to be won over and over again, day to day. And what do we know as consumers? I don’t want the same thing I saw last month or last year. I want it to change. So, unless we figured out how to organically change all the time and figure out how to find those voices that we can’t hear very easily, we’re not going to survive nor really should we by the way. So, I became a complete zealot for – that we had to really get out of that core. Human – individual transformation that made it an invitations today with a 170,000 people around the world that every single person potentially could have the story that I had. That they could use their insight not somewhere else in their lives but they could use their insight at Best Buy and they could be heard. Now, that sounds absurd on the face but not so absurd in this era. Not so absurd with the information that most people inside our system if they want to do, they could find out virtually anything that CEO know. And most people know something I didn’t know, which is what the customers, they were experiencing on a day to day basis Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 19
  20. 20. or saying and feeling and felt they wanted to see next. And then so they had a value that I didn’t have. So, embarked on something we called Send Customer-Centricity. We talked about the customer but the real primary target was the employee. How do we find a way using the language of the customer to get the power to the employee to be able to contribute? Now, I really don’t want to lose or bore this audience so I’m not going to take you through the whole – to say the least that I would describe – I was CEO for seven years. That it was seven years of intensely fan warfare internally. And I wind up one of the being, to some folks, the bad guy that – that Intel was to us earlier of Fact Electronics was way back or Highland Electronics was in the late ‘80s because I wanted to – I wanted to push change before we had a change. And I said in my last speech at Best Buy that I had failed, which I believe I did because we didn’t get where I dreamed that we were going to go. But that’s not the same thing as believing we will fail because I don’t at all believe that Best Buy will fail and there are some folks from Best Buy who were part of this so you can ask them directly what’s going on in their lives today. I don’t believe the company is going to fail. And I believe that the tensile strength of that huge value that is sitting there, in the case of Best Buy, 175,000 brands, 175,000 utterly unique people, almost all of whom directly engaged with our customers. What do they know? And what are their dreams? And can you connect what they know with their dreams, with their passion? And have a value system as part of the organization that wants to cherish that instead of smothering. So, that’s the dream for me of Best Buy that’s why I can’t believe how lucky I was that I got to work there for 36 years. And for those of you that are still there and going to make that dream real, it’s where my real enthusiasm is for the future. So anyway, thank you very much. [Applause] Bob Wright: Brad wants you all to know that tomorrow at the end of the day, if you have questions you’ll have a form in your workbook tomorrow where you can write out questions you would like to address to him. I’ll be moderating the questions and we’ll be trying to go in depth to some of the areas that Brad’s talked about and we’ll choose those areas those areas by the questions that you put out the most. So, where we see your interest is strongest, we’ll go there rather than having an open mic and having it bounced all over the place. We’ll Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 20
  21. 21. try to pick a few areas and go in depth. So, please write whatever questions you have or issues you would like to hear Brad address. Tomorrow morning, we have breakfast at 7, 7 to 8 and so we’re going to get started at 8 sharp. We’ll have a couple of minutes of orientation to the – to the day and then Dr. Riggio will take us into the history of transformational leadership, the characteristics of transformational leaders, and then we’re going to do some work on our own. We’ll then go into the theory of evalating [Phonetic] [02:12:19] and basically, what goes on inside of people who are living great lives and what does that looked like when you have a leader? How do you become your best self? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep stepping into that next possibility without waiting until you’re near dead? And I think it sounds like there were enough near death experiences that you did never forgot them and you also want to teach everybody else to face their near death experiences without having – having it be real. So, we’ll do that and then Don Beck is going to take us – we’re going to do a little luncheon assignment. Then Don is going to take us through his fantastic change model and then we’re going to close and tie it all up together again with Brad and ask you to think about what it is that you would like to shift in your life. This is just the beginning for us. We hope that you’ll be joining us in an ongoing conversation about transformational leadership so that each one of us can support the other in being our best. We are now going to have desert and networking. So, comments for me to read. Parking maps are available to make it easy to return to VIP parking tomorrow. So, please pick up a map. That means there’s a place we want you to park. Please join us at 7AM tomorrow. Beautiful hot breakfast. Further opportunity to network. And boy! Have we got people to network with? We will be collecting your name tags tonight as … [End] Transformational Leadership Symposium Transcript 21