L3 Leadership Podcast Transcriptions: Dr. Leslie Braksick On What It Takes To Be In Executive Leadership, Stay There, And Eventually To Transition Well

By April 5, 2018Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Dr. Leslie Braksick, Co-Founder of My Next Season.  It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Leslie, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.

Leslie Braksick: 00:00 So my three tips for selling are very simple care really care and show you care so you know, if you care, you learn about the client before you ever walk in the door. If you really care, you understand what they’ve tried, what hasn’t worked, what has worked, what would be unique, and if you show you care then you were willing to do whatever it takes to really help them irrespective of its benefit of its impact on you from a sales standpoint.

Doug Smith: 00:29 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 189

00:34 This is the L3 Leadership podcast and now he was your host, Doug Smith.

Doug Smith: 00:45 What’s up everyone and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I’m your host. In this episode, you’re going to get to hear my interview with Dr. Leslie Braksick She is co-founder and managing partner of My Next Season, a company whose mission is to provide a bridge for retiring executives to transition from a corporate career oriented around productivity to a life season anchored in purpose. Professionally. Leslie is a veteran CEO coach in which your work often involves preparing EVP for csuite succession, including coaching them, joining their early years at the helm or coaching clients have included senior-most executives at General Electric, Bell Atlantic, Exxon Mobil, Hj Heinz, and so many other companies. She’s an entrepreneur, a consultant, author, educator, keynote speaker, and a board member. And on a personal level, she is a wife, a mother, a community leader, and philanthropist. She has quite the wet resume, uh, but she backs it up with her life.

Doug Smith: 01:38 She is an incredible leader and absolutely love being able to interview her in this part of the interview. This interview is actually going to be broken into two parts. In part one, you’ll hear us talk about executive leadership. We talked about sales succession, her advice to leaders, uh, moving onto their next season and so much more. You’re going to love this. And then in part two that you can listen to an episode one 90, you’ll hear our lightning round with Leslie as well as your thoughts on faith, money and many other personal subjects. But before we dive into the interview, just a few announcements. First, I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They’re jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura, and I got her engagement and wedding rings do Henne Jewelers and we just think they are awesome. Not only did they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people.

Doug Smith: 02:22 In fact, they give every engaged couple of that comes through their store, a book to help them prepare for their marriage. And Laura and I just think that’s awesome. And so if your need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com I also want to encourage you to become a member of L3 Leadership. And let me just ask you this, have you ever wanted to be surrounded by a community of leaders that will encourage you, challenge you, help train you and hold you accountable? I know that I have, in fact, that’s exactly why we created L3 Leadership. We created a community of leaders who will do all of those things. They’ll encourage you, they’ll challenge you, they’ll train you and the hold you accountable. When you become a member of L3 Leadership, you’ll have the ability to join or launch one of our mastermind groups. You’ll have access to our community of over 100 leaders, and you’ll have access to the tools and resources you need to take your life and leadership to the next level. To learn more about membership, go to L3leadership.org/membership. With that being said, that’s dive right into the interview with Dr. Braksick and I will be back at the end with a few announcements.

Doug Smith: 03:22 Thank you, Leslie, for being willing to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with you telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Leslie Braksick: 03:27 Great. Leslie Braksick and I work as an executive advisor with my next season. We are a company that helps people to make their transitions in life, and most especially out of corporate jobs, busy, busy lives into figuring out what they want to do next.

Doug Smith: 03:47 Yeah. And I’m just curious, can you give us a short overview of maybe what you’ve done in the past and a little bit of your journey?

Leslie Braksick: 03:52 Yeah, so from 1993 to 2014, I led a company called CLG Continuous Learning Group. I started that company in 1993 it’s a management consulting firm and we help companies execute large scale strategies, merger integrations and large scale change. And probably the last 10 to 15 years of that, I specialized in leadership and executive coaching and advising and executive succession, CEO Succession. So we had a firm, a big company and that company’s still very successful, that works with large companies on leadership development and strategy execution. And my role was as it’s I’m co founder and CEO, chairman of the board and also as a lead consultant and business developer.

Doug Smith: 04:41 You got your work with some pretty big names, both organizations, and individuals, correct, absolutely. Namedrop but yeah, when you told me on the phone like, okay, that’s what we’re sharing.

Doug Smith: 04:49 Just to give people perspective.

Leslie Braksick: Yeah. Well, our biggest clients, there were companies like Chevron, Bell, Atlantic backdoor, um, Exxon mobile. Um, Cigna, you know, so, and I worked at the senior-most levels of Heinz, those companies. So yeah, I’ve had a tremendous opportunity to work with some amazing people, on their leadership and on their efforts to boldly lead their companies.

Doug Smith: 05:16 Yeah. So, so you’ve got an opportunity to work with all these people. I’m just curious with your personal journey, what do you wish people knew about what it took for you to get to there, where you’re actually able to enter into some of the biggest companies in the world and, manage and help manage their leadership?

Leslie Braksick: 05:30 You know, I think it’s a matter of having something that people need and being the best at it, which I know sounds really simple, but, you know, I interviewed with, I came out of college with a Ph.D. in organizational behavior. I interviewed with two of the largest consulting firms. I won’t name them. And I encountered what I would call mild unethical kind of aspects in those interviews. So the first one I went to, they said, well, here’s what we sell to the client, but here’s what we actually do. So, you know, we sell, we get these big contracts because we sell our big names and our most senior people are very well known. But where you would fit is you’re going to actually, you know, kind of do the work because that’s how we make our money is that we have more junior people sort of deliver the work.

Leslie Braksick: 06:15 They didn’t say it that bluntly, but that’s an effect what they were saying. And so I said, Oh, you know, that just seems unethical to me. Right. I didn’t think to myself that. And so, and then I thought, hmm. And I also had another offer from another big consulting firm and they said, um, well, um, they talked about teamwork and collaboration and how important was that everybody worked well together. And then I went from meeting with one partner to interviewing with an ex-partner who proceeded to trash the guy I just met with. And I thought, oh my gosh, there no evidence of, you know, and he’s like, he’s kind of an ass, but really you’d be working part of my team and my team’s great. And I thought, oh my gosh, you know, I thought this was all about culture and respecting one another.

Leslie Braksick: 06:58 So I left there thinking, if I just ran an ethical shop and was great at what we did, you know, we were great and that we could just really and delivered value to the client in the way we told them we might actually differentiate ourselves. And we did. We did 1.2 million in revenue our first year in 1993. We doubled every year after that. And it really was because we were focusing on something that others weren’t. And we did it well and that really propelled us. And the same thing is happening at My Next Season. We’re in a space that people hadn’t really thought about or entered and we’re doing it well. So

Doug Smith: 07:34 So you just started something and obviously did very well. Can you talk to entrepreneurs and send me to this? What advice do you have? So you’ve started two companies now they’ve both gone very well very fast. For someone who has an idea, they’re saying, hey, I wanna, I wanna launch this. What advice would you have to them to get off the ground running?

Leslie Braksick: 07:53 Well, I was fortunate in the sense that I had a chance to almost sample what I was trying to do with my target market before I launched the company. So, I had been asked, you know, when, when you, when you see an opportunity and a need, the extent to which you can try and fill that need almost unofficially, you actually learn a lot about the space in the market. So I had people coming to me for a year with a second company and My Next Season saying, I know we haven’t talked for five or 10 years, but nobody knew me better than you, can you, which should I do? I’m, I’m 58. I’m never expected to be retiring 58. I’m healthy. I can’t, I’m worried about being home with my spouse all the time. I don’t really have any hobbies. So I was able to be helpful to them while I was still doing my other job, but I was learning the space.

Leslie Braksick: 08:41 So I think one of the most important things for entrepreneurs is to really to know your space and the extent which you can sample or play in it even a little bit so you can become sensitive to pricing who the buyers are, what the nuances are, what your competitors are doing. All of that helps you to really, when you launch, to be very clear about your differential and how you’re unique. And in a strange way, those interviews I talked about were hugely impactful to me in terms of what we did. I said, if we are brutally honest about what we do and how we do it and we’re well-priced and we deliver value for that, we will differentiate ourselves in the consulting marketplace that’s full of a lot of used car salesman that promise things and don’t deliver. So let’s just, you know, promise, let’s deliver or exceed expectations and you know, count on that. And that’s what we did.

Doug Smith: 09:40 Can you talk about sales and pricing. Again, we were just talking before about revenue streams and you were having friends come to you saying, hey, you know, I don’t have to do with this next season. I mean do you just, is it just, okay, I’m going to charge everyone. How do you figure out pricing and do you have any sales advice again to do 1.2 million in your first year? Were you the chief salesperson that year? Did you continue to be throughout the

Leslie Braksick: 10:00 I’ve always been. spent, and that’s something I mean I’d say that’s something I’ve learned. I’ve always spend the number one or number two salesperson in every, in both companies. I think that you have greater passion, wisdom, insight than anyone else does and to think that you can delegate that. I know you need to scale and so you’re going to have sales team and sales folks, but you have to stay close to them because you have, you have a passion that as the founder of the company that is unique and your insights and your, your relentless commitment to that space is unique. So you can bring wisdom to people who maybe are charged with, business development or other tasks. So, I think, I think as a factual matter, the founders always going to play a key role in business development. You know, in terms of pricing, ironically, I’ve always been on the high side of pricing, you know, and I’ve always tried to differentiate it based on value. So I’ve never been in a commodity sales business where I’m competing on the low end of pricing. I’ve always been at the high end to say it’s going to be extraordinarily, the value is going to be extraordinary.

Doug Smith: 11:05 And that was intentional, upfront, correct.

Leslie Braksick: Correct, yes,

Leslie Braksick: 11:10 correct. And, you know, and we will deliver, we will deliver on that. And, part of my objective at, actually at both companies, we’ve never had a sales person. So I feel that if you’re excellent at what you do, then you should be able to grow based on referral, and some marketing. But I, we really have never had, you know, salesforce or huge marketing budget. We’ve really relied on referral, and an active referral network, which is risky. But I feel in our space, if we’re not that great that people are bragging about us, then we’ve got get better.

Doug Smith: 11:54 Yeah. Any sales tips for the actual sale and close so you actually get a meeting, whether it was a referral or you just reaching out someone, any tips for that meeting and actually pitching yourself?

Leslie Braksick: 12:04 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I went back to my three biggest sales that I’d ever made in my career. I went back to them years later because one in particular, I, you know, objectively I shouldn’t have gotten, I was 27 I went up against a white-haired southern speaking gentleman who was my role model for most of my life. No, but close, close, like this big name. Like, so here I am 27 I may have even had been pregnant at the time. I Dunno. I mean I was definitely young and inexperienced and here he walks in with his books, a stack of his magazines that his firm published, you know, he’s got a very expensive suit on. I probably ran a Talbot’s the night before, you know, I mean there was just every reason in the world that he should have won that contract and I shouldn’t have.

Leslie Braksick: 12:51 He was, he was my role model. I read everything he rode. I, I wanted to work for him when I graduated and he had no interest in hiring me. And so, you know, so I won that contract and I went back and I asked why. I mean I was thrilled, but I was shocked because it was a big contract and they said, you got to your third transparency back in the day, those we used Acetates, overhead projectors. Okay. So they said you got to your third transparency, we asked a question, you shut off the projector, you went to the flip chart, you grab it and you never went back. And from that moment on, it was all about us and not about you. And we sampled your consulting style and your commitment to our needs being met ahead of any of your own. And we knew that’s what we would be getting if we hired you.

Leslie Braksick: 13:44 And your competitor was very much about a sales pitch and, you were about helping us. So my three tips for selling or very simple care, really care, and show you care. So if you care, you learn about the client before you ever walk in the door. If you really care, you understand what they’ve tried, what hasn’t worked, what has worked, what would be unique. And if you show you care, then you were willing to do whatever it takes to really help them irrespective of its benefit, of its impact on you from a sales standpoint. So it needs to always be about the client and the person you’re selling to, not about you. And if you can demonstrate that to the client, they will, reward that with unending business because they know that you’re really trying to help them.

Doug Smith: 14:35 That reminds me of my wife. She’s very similar to if that’s awesome. So I want to talk a little bit about leadership shift development. You’ve spent a lot of time in this space. In fact, you wrote a book called preparing CEOs for success. What I wish I knew and so I’ll just leave this open-ended. What do you wish you knew?

Leslie Braksick: 14:51 Oh boy, what do I wish I knew as a leader?

Doug Smith: I mean as far as the whole book, what you wish you knew. I’m just curious.

Leslie Braksick: So what the CEOs wish they knew?Okay.

Doug Smith: Like what, what have you learned, I guess, and again, I can edit it, this question. Okay.

Doug Smith: 15:07 So again, you get to spend, I guess I’ll just leave this open-ended. So you get to spend time with a ton of CEOS. You are a great CEO. What have you learned about leadership development at the executive level?

Leslie Braksick: 15:17 Yeah, I think the research actually bears this out too, that the grid the most, contributing aspect to growth. In other words, if you were to plot the pitch of a line, if you were to plot a person’s leadership growth, most people progress at a very gradual, but there are people who have researched, well, there’s some that have a steeper line, right? They go into a bigger job sooner, they have greater success early on. What’s the difference between those that just kind of plod along gradually and those that have a steeper pitch to the line. And they found two things. One, they were given stretch assignments. So they were, they were, you know, or they sought stretch assignments, things that were beyond what they had already demonstrated their capability to do. And they had a mentor or a coach. They had somebody who was there that they could talk to to get advice, but also who would give them honest feedback.

Leslie Braksick: 16:10 So the keys to leadership development, and we found this even with a book when I asked the CEOs because they were all 27 sitting CEOs that were interviewed for the book of the biggest companies in our country. You know, General Electric, Bank of America, Bechdel, Johnson and Johnson, Chevron, you know, so big corporate, Clorox, big corporate CEOs, Fedex. And the most interesting thing when I asked what was critical to their development was many of them pointed to their overseas assignments. And they said what was unique about that is that I didn’t have a mothership to help me. I was on my own. I was uncomfortable because I was in many cases, it wasn’t my first language. They were kind of in effect rules or cultural aspects that were operating around me that were unfamiliar to me and I had to go it on my own and I made mistakes and I made mistakes safely because I didn’t have anybody watching me. So they pointed to, in effect the same thing that the research shows, which is stretch assignments with feedback. You know, both positive and constructive was really the critical thing for, to accelerate a leader’s development.

Doug Smith: 17:20 So once a leader develops in and maybe they get to BCO or they get an executive office, I’m just curious, what does it actually take to be successful with that level? We see a lot of turnover in that space. For the CEO’s you’ve interacted with it have lasted, what makes them, what characteristics they?

Leslie Braksick: 17:37 Yeah, I think there are several things. One, it really, it starts with an awareness of who your stakeholders are. And as CEO you have many, in some cases you have your funders and some cases, you know, you have your own leadership team, you have your the organization at large, you have your customers, you have your suppliers, you may have the government, you know, or whoever governs the space that you’re operating in. And so you really need to bring an awareness of all of those aspects because you have to ensure that you’re doing all of those things well or that you have people in place. So I think the first thing is an awareness of who you’re really, what your, constellation of, of stakeholders or influences. Secondly, the hardest thing and the greatest failure point for most executives is learning, to lead through others, leading leaders.

Leslie Braksick: 18:35 Most, you know, we grow up as supervisors and managers and then you know, directors or you know, operating heads where we are still directing the strategy and the goals and we are directing the people who execute that. When you’re an executive you are leading through others. So you have to be, you have to shift from being somebody who drives task completion to someone who influences others, very different skill set. So you almost have to fall out of love with managing task completion and fall in love with being a great mentor, a great coach, an early identifier of how things are going. You know, you have to change how you spend your time, where you spend your time and in many people have don’t make that shift and that’s where they fail as leaders because they still want to get in, fix it themselves

Doug Smith: 19:31 So talk to someone in that position. And really that could probably be at any level, right where they have to grow. What advice would you have for them to just start making that in? I thought it was interesting you talked about their use of time at that level. What do you believe as a leader is the most valuable use of their time and resources?

Leslie Braksick: 19:46 It’s absolutely coaching others, coaching and mentoring others. There is no, there is such and listening. One of the things that happen to people as they get more senior, as they shut off their avenues for receiving feedback. So you know, we can’t operate on intentionality. We also need to understand effect, right? So, so leaders intend to things to happen in a particular way, but usually, there’s some unintended effect of their actions that they need to make sure they hear about and learn about so that they can take further action. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s negative, but it’s always there and him, and I think the biggest mistake leaders make is they shut down the avenues for feedback receipt. And every CEO we interviewed in the for the book commented on that. Some would say, I grew up with these people in the company. We went on vacations together, our families were. But when I had those three letters after my name, everything changed. You know, they talked to me differently, they treated me differently and it just happens. But a big part of it is then you say, therefore, what do you need to do to make sure that you don’t shut down those lines of communication? So, I would say it’s, you know, understanding your stakeholders. It’s how you spend your time. It’s also making sure that you are listening as well as fulfilling your obligations to lead well.

Doug Smith: 21:17 Yeah. I’m just curious on the journey to leadership, what advice would you give your kids? Not that they aspire to be a CEO, but what advice would you give your kids when it comes to pursuing their career and their dreams?

Leslie Braksick: 21:29 Yeah it’s play above the rim, you know, be the first one in and the last one to leave.  You know, just out, out, effort outperforms because you care and because you want to contribute to the company’s benefit and um, and you know, so it’sreally be great at what you do. And if you take that, that means that you are if you care that much about the company, you’re helping others to succeed, you’re making sure the customer’s taken care of you, do what you’re asked to do. And then some you identify, you bring solutions, not just issues. You know, it’s, it’s really that you’re doing everything you can do to help that company be successful. Because the cream of the crop always, you know, the cream always rises, right? And, it’s not, I believe it’s more of a meritocracy than what people sometimes are willing to acknowledge. I think that hard work and contribution to success gets readily rewarded. I’ve never seen the top performers let go anywhere.

Doug Smith: 22:35 So I’m curious, is she talking about top performers? You spend time with CEOs and spending time with you? It’s very evident that family is a value of yours and you value family a lot. I’m just curious as you look under the hood, it’s a year’s life of a lot of them lost their families? And what would your advice be because you’ve obviously done a great job keeping your family looks like. What advice do you have for just people with that balance so they don’t lose their family while pursuing their career or lose their leadership track while also building a great family?

Leslie Braksick: 23:05 Yeah, I think there’s no such thing as work-life balance. I think that we’re in a constant state of imbalance. And so, therefore, to be successful in both of those equations, you have to communicate constantly. You have to be aware of the priorities of the moment because sometimes you’re making sacrifices on the family side to honor a work commitment or to get a big sales contract or to speak at a conference or whatever it is you have to do. You might miss some things personally that’s hard. But there are other times when you, your child is sick or they’re playing an important match or they’re going to perform on stage, or they just need you and you’re going to, you’re going to fail to fulfill some obligation or expectation on the work side. And that’s okay. And so I think we, my personal experiences is, that I’ve tried to be my very best in both. I’ve probably disappointed on both sides of the equation and that’s hard. But I, I’ve just tried to, honor both with my best, but it also means disappointing on both sides at times. And you try and pick those carefully and sometimes you get it right and sometimes you just don’t.

Doug Smith: 24:26 That’s great. I want to go back to, to a leader’s life. So now you have this organization called My Next Season. Your Next Season you wrote a book called Your Next Season. I love the tagline, Advice for Executives on Transitioning from Intense Careers to Fulfilling Next Seasons. I do want to talk about next seasons for executives, but I’m curious while they’re still at work. What have you learned about leadership transition and helping leaders transition well as they move in, whether they move onto a new job at retirement?

Leslie Braksick: 24:52 Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think I don’t think people fully appreciate that their legacy, a big part of their legacy is how successful their successors are. So the first thing in transition isn’t help to everything you can to ensure that the person who follows you and your job is wildly successful. You will be a hero if you do that. And so many people don’t attend to that well enough and they somehow feel if that person can’t do all the things that they did, it just proves how great they were. That’s not the case. If you love the company and you want to be great at succession, help your successor be wildly successful.

Doug Smith: 25:31 If you don’t mind me interrupting, do you find that often that the CEO or the executive picks their own successor?

Doug Smith: 25:39 Or is better know that board or an outside party helps pick that person?

Leslie Braksick: No, there’s usually in my world there’s, it’s always an outside, it’s a board. I mean this, this CEO or sitting person has influence on that. But it’s, it’s more senior people or the board that makes the choice that makes the decision and they should certainly influence it. But the problem is most of us would try and replicate ourselves, but it may not be what is best for the company in the season that it’s in or what it’s heading into. So, and the board is oftentimes in a more objective, has more objective lens to that then the sitting CEO does.

Doug Smith: 26:17 Do you have any ideal length of time for that succession? So once a successor specs, how long do you find it on average takes actually equip that person and hand off the company before the leader leaves?

Leslie Braksick: 26:27 Yeah, I think, I think it’s somewhere between three and six months, you know, I think, in six months is probably too long. But in some cases, it might not be too long. It depends on really where the strategy is of the company. So sometimes the outgoing person can play a role that’s materially helpful to the company and that sometimes takes longer. So if I work with a lot of global companies and so if they are able to go out and actually touch some of the global customers with a new person or they’re able to, you know, to really help that transition happened well relationally with governmental leaders or key customers, sometimes that longer transition time frame can be helpful. But they get in the way very quickly. They need to, you know, they need to physically leave the office. The office needs to be, the new person needs to sit physically in that office.

Leslie Braksick: 27:18 The other person needs to go to another area or away, which is hard. It’s really hard for them to do that well, but it’s necessary that that person is in charge and is clearly the leader. And the transition should only be as long as the business requires. And I would go on to say that I think too often the timeframe for succession is determined by the outgoing person. And that’s a mistake. It that’s not the determinant of length of time. And, and, and how you, how you achieve that to happen. Well, is by doing something like my next season. And I say that not as a pitch, but more as a fact, the single greatest variable that makes outgoing leaders difficult to, to move on or to help them is because they don’t know what they’re gonna do next. If they were leaning in hard with something that excited them about what they’re going to do next, they’re going to get to achieve things and make things happen and find time for things that they love. They would lean in hard and go there quickly, happily. But usually they’re just holding on to what they had and they’re a little more reluctant to move on. And it’s really because they haven’t figured out what they’re going to do next. So it’s a key piece to solve for them. And then I believe the transition happens more smoothly.

Doug Smith: 28:35 So I’m fascinated to hear you talk about this. So I work at Light of Life, I’m in fundraising and a lot of my donors are reaching that age where they come to me and they’ll be like, Doug, you know, yeah, I did the whole career thing. I made my money, but I’m really want to make a difference. I want to spend the second half of my life making an impact and uh, helped me get involved with xyz. What, what are you finding as you’ve worked with executives on their next season? What are you finding? What are you learning? What’s your, you’re experiencing that

Leslie Braksick: 29:01 You would love the answer. I mean, people want to give back. People want to give back. They want to make a difference. I mean they definitely want to work on their golf game a little, but they know they can’t play golf all the time. So there’s fly fishing, golf, there’s some category of I really want to be better at this than I have ever had time to be. So they, they have that. They want to reconnect with families. I think many of them have guilt or remorse about things they missed and they’re looking to kind of makeup for that a little bit. But they really want to continue to influence things to make a difference, to give back. And they’re excited to do that. We have a whole team and that’s all they do. All they do is match what executives are interested in and what not for profit opportunities exist for them to use their domain skills, with that, not for profit. So, you know, most don’t want to serve in a soup kitchen or pound nails on a house. But if they’re an IT person, they love to help, you know, a large, not for profit work on their IT system or if they’ve been, an executive leader, they love to mentor other not for profit first-time leaders. You know, if they’ve worked in sales, they’re happy to coach on business development. So they want to take what they know and do well and help with that.

Doug Smith: 30:17 Do you find that that actually fulfills them. So you talked about it, I’m sure so much of their value is wrapped up and I was the CEO, I was an executive here. Is it just literally finding something that you can give your all to that kind of causes you to forget, not forget but move on?

Leslie Braksick: 30:34 No, it’s complicated and it takes time. But part of it is because their, their identity and their brand is so tied up in who they’ve been there. They’re a generation that has lived to work. And so when they meet people who are they, they are the blankety-blank of such and such a company. Right? That’s the first thing. So tell me about yourself. They don’t start out by saying, I volunteer for a light of life ministries, or I’m a Christian or I’m a mother of four, or you know, they all start out, I’m the CFO of, or either I’m head of supply chain for, or you know, they are defining themselves based on that. So you have to help them redefine themselves and to get excited about that. And they get there, but they don’t have time to imagine it because they are working tirelessly in service to their employers to the day they walk out the door. So it’s not that they’re incapable of it, they just are so committed to their roles and success in their jobs. They just don’t have the time to think about it. So we talk about the importance of taking a pause and figuring out what they really brings them joy and what they’d like to do before they jump into anything.

Doug Smith: 31:51 Yeah. And I know personally, you give back a lot to the community, you’re very involved and I certainly want to hear a few causes that you’re involved with and that you’re passionate about. But can you talk about getting involved with the board and how can you as an executive add the most value of nonprofits? What’s been your experience as you’ve interacted with other executives on boards? Answer that and we’ll get tot he next one.

Leslie Braksick: 32:12 Yeah, I think you need to really know the heartbeat of the organization that you’re serving. So if you’re, if you’re working, you just need to know it. You need to, I’m on the board at Princeton Theological Seminary, so I have lunch with students, I walk the campus, I sat in on classes, I speak to faculty members, I talked to administrators. I really try and understand the heartbeat of the place. I talked to graduates and alums and you know, I can’t help govern that institution unless I understand it’s pulse, its heartbeat,  so there’s the on-paper mission, vision, purpose, but there’s also the more to it. And the same thing. I’m on the board of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and I spend a lot of time in the hospital, you know, and what’s the patient experience and the family experience and you know, we can’t possibly make decisions that are right for that hospital if we don’t know the hospital. So I just think anyone who wants to be on a board needs to spend time, must be effective on the board, not get on the board but be effective as a board member, needs to fall in love with the organization that they’re serving. And I think you can only do that by sampling it and being in the fabric of it for some period of time.

Doug Smith: 33:25 Young leaders to, to get involved with boards. And where would you encourage them to start if they want to

Doug Smith: 33:28 do that versus just volunteering at a,

Leslie Braksick: I think, you know, boards are, I’ve been trained well by boards. I mean, you know, you go in and you hope you contribute, but I’ve learned a lot. I mean I went on the Pittsburgh Opera Board, I was on a Montessori school board, but not a lot of boards. In my time and on each one of them I’ve learned. I hope I’ve added value. I’ve certainly learned a lot and, and no, but you, you do learn cause there’s, there’s really more seasoned people always around you and you’ll see how things are done and you see what works more effectively and less effectively. So they’re all causes I care about. I mean there’ve been a couple of boards I, I allowed myself to get recruited for and I, I was like, oh I don’t even know if I really love what they stand for.

Leslie Braksick: 34:12 It’s not really me. So I kind of quietly exited. I know why they wanted me on their board. And so I made sense to them but I wasn’t sure that I, they made sense to me. And so I did that for a shorter duration. So I think it’s also important that when you go on a board that not obviously they want you but you want them to because it’s going to take time. So this one board, you know, they met on Saturdays. I really wasn’t, I didn’t love their cause you know, there cause it wasn’t sure philosophically where I fell on it. You know, I again, I understood why I would be attractive to them, but I’m like I’m giving up a Saturday. My son was a toddler and I work full-time Monday through Friday and I thought even though it was only like once a quarter that they met or once every other month, I thought, I do not want to give up another Saturday away from my child for something that I’m really not even sure I’d go to the mat for. So after about a year and a half, I, you know, I discussed that I really needed to come off the board and so, but I did learn a lot on it. So, but what am I learning since you have to love what the organization does because there are sacrifices you have to make to attend meetings and to do work on behalf of the board.

Doug Smith: 35:27 Everyone, thank you so much for listening to our interview with Leslie. I hope you enjoyed it. You can find ways to connect with her and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes at L3leadership.org/189 you can also listen to part two of our interview in episode 190 and if you enjoyed this, I know you will enjoy that, so go ahead and listen to that right now. As always, if you enjoyed the podcast, it would mean the world to me. If you would subscribe and leave a rating and review and share this on social media, it really does help us grow our audience. So thank you for that and thanks again for being a listener. I never take one of you for granted. I want to thank our sponsor Alex Tulandin. Alex as a fulltime realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy.

Doug Smith: 36:09 He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love the opportunity to connect with you. To learn more about Alex. You can go to Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com as always, if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L3 Leadership, simply go to our website at L3leadership.org and sign up for our email list and you will get caught up on everything that we’re doing. And as always, I like to end with a quote, and Ruth Haley Barton said this, I love this. She said, “We set young leaders up for a fall. If we encourage them to envision what they can do before they consider the kind of person they should be”, I’ve been dwelling on that all week. That is so good. Thank you for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.