Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Dr. Rob McCleland. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Rob, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.
Dr. McCleland: 00:00 And I said, there are 21 nations left to go. If you do that, there’s no training organization and the history of the world that has trained inside the borders of every country of the world, and if you hire me, we’re going to get that done. He said, Rob, I don’t think it can be done because there’s some really hard, how are you going to do that inside the borders of North Korea and Somalians and places like that, and I don’t know what happened. Something came over me. I looked him in the eyes and said John, if you hire me, we will either get reach every nation of the world or when they find my body. It will be pointed in that direction.
Doug Smith: 00:35 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 195
Speaker 3: 00:40 This is the L3 Leadership podcast. Now here’s your host, Doug Smith.
Doug Smith: 00:51 Welcome to another episode of L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s interview. You’ll hear my interview with Rob Mccleland if you’re unfamiliar with Rob, he has quite the leadership resume. He’s currently the CEO of Leader Tribe. He’s the director of leadership development at Victory World Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s also the past president of the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation and so much more, and in the interview, I love that Rob shares a story about how he convinced John Maxwell to hire him to reach every nation through his nonprofit equip and how Rob was able to accomplish that in just three years. In fact, here’s what John Maxwell has said about Rob. He said our goal was to reach every nation in the world, and when we handed the ball to Rob, he took us over the goal line.
Doug Smith: 01:35 I love that. Not only we hear that story, we also talk about leadership development, overcoming personal issues. We take rob, do the lightning round, and so much more. So you’re going to love this interview, but before we dive in, just a few announcements. I want to encourage each of you to become a member of L3 Leadership, and I’ll just say this, that if you’ve ever wanted your life and leadership to go to the next level, if you’ve ever desired to be surrounded with a community of leaders that will encourage you, challenge you, hold you accountable, help you reach your potential and cause you to make a bigger impact than you need to become a member of L3 Leadership. When you become a member, you’ll have the ability to join one of our mastermind groups. You’ll have access to our community of over 125 leaders access to the tools and resources you need to take your life and leadership to the next level and so much more. So stop doing life alone as a leader and join a community of leaders that will help you thrive. To learn more about membership, go to L3leadership.org/ membership.
Doug Smith: 02:30 I also want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and would love the opportunity to connect with you. You can find out more at Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. With that being said, let’s dive right into the interview with Rob. Enjoy it, and I will be back at the end with a few announcements here. Rob, thank you so much for being willing to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with telling us a little bit about
Doug Smith: 03:00 who you are and what you do.
Rob McCleland: Appreciate it so much. Great to be with you and your listeners. I’m so thankful as well. I’ve recently started a podcast and so the opportunity that we have to serve the greater public and help people out there. Anyway, I can do that. Count me in. So my name is rob. I grew up in a small town in Oroville, California. Really rough childhood even though I didn’t realize it at the time. So my mom was married and divorced four times by the time I was in sixth grade, a kind of rough, different guy in the house every night when the bars closed, but I didn’t think I had a terrible childhood. That was the only one I knew. I was just sort of, that’s how life was for me and the people who lived on that side of town. Uh, looking back, I did have some issues in life that came from that that later I had to, deal with and work through and get some of the counseling on.
Dr. McCleland: 03:49 Having said that, I always grew up fairly positive person and when I look back now, one of the things I’m most thankful for is I had some athletic ability and I always had good coaches in my life. So I was one of those guys that during each of the seasons, football season, then onto basketball season. Then finally in the summer baseball season, I was always on a team somewhere. So I have these coaches that were kicking my rear for me and I had some really good, strong male influence in my life. And the good peer group to hang out with, a long, long time after that I learned a term called prevenient grace, and that’s kind of grace in your life, keeping you from ruining your life when you could have or should have. And I saw a lot of other people who were sort of in those same scenarios who didn’t come out of it with the same degree of, of health today.
Dr. McCleland: 04:36 So as a result of that in my background, I’ve been this kind of kid who just wanted to be an overcomer, who one part of that was bad. I always felt like I had to prove myself. So it was full of myself in a prideful little so-and-so. Having said that later, I’m going through some brokenness, but always having this, this hope to achieve and to not necessarily be successful, but to overcome whatever it was in my life that was holding me back. has served me well through the rest of life. So eventually he got a college degree, met and married the most incredible woman in the history of the world. Believable. You go on my facebook page and you see her, you’ll say now she’s not older than him. She’s a little bit older than me, but she is awesome. And we’ve journeyed together 32 years now, went on, did some, had some opportunities to work in some, some local church settings with some outstanding leaders.
Dr. McCleland: 05:35 Guys like the CEO of JC Penney was on the board and one of the churches I was in and those guys took me under their wings and encouraged me to go to Grad School, actually helped pay for Grad school. So I went onto the masters, really fell in love with learning and ended up with a Ph.D. in organizational leadership. And so for the last two decades, I’ve been running companies both on the for-profit nonprofit side and serving people wherever I can. So I’m a full-on leadership ship geek and that’s why I started the leader tribe podcast.
Doug Smith: 06:07 And your story, I didn’t, I just wanted to have a little bit deeper. So you talked about, you’ve always had this internal drive, so maybe and you had, you were fortunate enough to have good mentors around, but you said that your childhood was, was all that you knew, but eventually looking back, you realized that that left some huge holes and deficits in your life. Now I know you have a passion for, for fatherless kids, but I’m just curious, how did you start to recognize and deal with those deficits, because a lot of people have them. One, they never become self-aware about them, and two, they don’t know how to deal with them. So I’m just curious, how did you become healthy as a leader and start to deal with those things?
Dr. McCleland: 06:39 As far as becoming healthy as a leader, I’m going to say the jury’s still out on that. You’d have to talk to my wife. However. Yeah,
Dr. McCleland: 06:52 I did ask the question, why am I like this a lot of times and as a result of asking questions like that, I was willing to explore some of the parts on the inside. For example, real quick example. I was, I always wanted to hang around with the most popular kids in the school, but I mean if you’re a super poor kid and, people in that school know where you’re coming from and sort of what’s holding you back. They knew of my family situation and who my mom was in that little town. I always felt like I had this chip on my shoulder. Not, I wasn’t angry, but I always wanted to overcome that and to try to prove myself well, what that led to is in all these different scenarios trying to prove myself that I’m the best or I’m worthy of love or that I’m more and, you have enough people who were saying, dude, what, is it with you?
Dr. McCleland: 07:42 Why do you always trying to prove yourself or show yourself being that great? Well, since I hadn’t really received love and unconditional love or caring at that point in my life, I thought, well, I guess you have to earn it. And so I’ll go out and try to do that. And, it was through some of those hard lessons and some faithful people around me who could, especially, you know, I became a person of faith to, to find out someone like me could actually be loved and forgiven. I just thought truly, I thought that’s too good to be true, that that couldn’t be true and not really, I think was the biggest healing. And it’s been a good journey from there. A couple of really good books along the way as well. One of them that will think of in just a moment, it’s the one that everyone on staff who went on staff with crew had to read back in the day. Billy Graham does the forward on it and my friend Richard Ryerson’s doing a mastermind on it. But it has to do with having to prove yourself. And so I’ll come up with that title. Just finding out that I don’t have to prove myself. I just get to serve people and love people and do all I can.
Doug Smith: 08:48 Now that’s actually a perfect segue into what I want to talk about on our Precall. We were talking about your time that you spent it equip, which is one of John Maxwell’s organizations and I thought it was so interesting. I want you to share the story that you shared with me about the interview that you had with him that essentially got you the job because you talked about earning yourself, but it seems like you’ve overcome that, but there’s a confidence about you now and who you are as a leader and what you bring to the table and so can you share that story with people and then I have a few follow up questions to this story.
Dr. McCleland: 09:17 Yeah I’d love to. I led an incredible organization out in California where we had churches and hospitals and schools on five continents and as a result of that, I had the privilege of making sure that we’re doing leadership development in those places and so I looked around and I found the easiest to understand and work with leadership material that was out there was John Maxwell’s. So there was some that were more academic. There were some that were more in detail, but as far as working with the average person in these different contexts, John’s stuff was the best way. I got fully in. I went down, I met with the Equip team, I looked at theirs and I said, hey, I’d like to begin using your resources and I’d like to do a pilot project and actually buy the rights to them, and so we had some two or three conversations going back and forth and as a result of that I kind of became friends with the team.
Dr. McCleland: 10:21 Well, one thing I did is I took their resources and I tried a pilot project that works really well and I sent them the results. Now fast forward two or three years later, they’re president at the time was a guy named John Hall. He was stepping down and so they needed to look for a new president. Well John and Mark Cole, who’s a dear friend who you’ve had on this podcast. They began saying, okay, in the future, do we want to just keep going the same direction or do when a change some of the ways that we’re doing things. They thought, you know what? We do want to change it a little bit, and as a result of that, one of the things that they really wanted to change was they wanted to have more people involved. I’m not just when the trainers were there, but making sure that they were had some accountability back and forth during the time between the different trainings inEquip.
Dr. McCleland: 11:12 Okay, so I had done that pilot project, sent them the results. All of a sudden they’re going to make that change on one of their senior vice presidents, a guy names Doug Carter said, well, hey, there’s a guy named Rob who did that and we have the results. They looked at the results and John Maxwell said, hey, I want to talk to this guy, and so we started talking back and forth and all of a sudden he decided he wanted to interview me to become the next executive director of Equip. Okay. That was way too long and I apologize to everybody, but now we’re at the table we’re at Pebble Beach, sitting straight across from me as John Maxwell. I’m to my left is Mark Cole. To My right is I’m Tom Mullins and so phenomenal leaders all. And so I’m sitting there just repping a baby, bringing it scared to death, heart beating out of my chest.
Dr. McCleland: 12:00 But I would just thankful to be at the table is a lot of fun. And John started talking. I said, hey, John, before we really get into it, if you’re not committed to reaching every nation of the world, then I’m probably not going to be your guy. This isn’t going to be a good fit. He’s like, well, what are you talking about? I said, well, as you know, you have reached a lot of nations. You’ve actually reached 175. There was only 196 in the world. You’re 21 nation short. But two or three years ago you were 21 nations short and the year before that 21 nations short, here’s what you don’t know. Every time the former president John Hole has come through town, I took him out to a steak dinner and we talked and I said, what’s the hardest nation left? Give it to me.
Dr. McCleland: 12:42 I’ll go help go reach it for you. It’s got to be some stan-country right now where they’ll kill you if they find out about you, but they’ve got computers there and we know people at Microsoft and they can get us in as Microsoft employees and, and so, give us the hardest one. Let’s do this. And I kept kind of what I would call getting the Heisman. You know, how the Heisman has his arms stuck out to defend himself. Hold keeps giving me the Heisman, kind of going yeah, no, we got this, we got this. And so I’m looking at John telling him the story, and I said, there are 21 nations left to go. If you do that, there’s no training organization in the history of the world that has trained inside the borders of every country of the world. And if you hire me, we’re going to get that done.
Dr. McCleland: 13:24 He said, Rob, I don’t think it can be done because there’s some really hard, how are you going to do that inside the borders of North Korea and Somalia and places like that, and I don’t know what happened. Something came over me. I looked him in the eyes and said, if you hire me, we will either get reach every nation of the world or when they find my body, it will be pointed in that direction and I can’t even believe these words are coming out of my mouth. Talking back and he kind of laughed and he kind of looks over at Mark Cole. Mark’s kind of shrugging and he it looks over at Tom Mullins and coaches kind of shrugging. It looks back at me and says, okay, you’re hired. Let’s do this. Can you get it done in three years? I’m going like, wait. It took us 17 years to get this done.
Dr. McCleland: 14:07 Just those. These are the hardest ones. Three years, are you kidding me? And so I looked him right in the eye and said, yes sir, we’ll get it done. I’m panicking on the inside thing. What have I done? Well, here’s the great part, I walked out from that breakfast and we were at the Inn at Spanish Bay, Long Hallway, walk down, got in the elevator, nobody else’s in the elevator. The doors closed and I did this coolest, happy dance of all time. I don’t know if there were cameras in that elevator, but I’m going like, yeah, who brought it? That’s having so much fun because I was scared to death. I had prayed and prayed and prayed, trusted God for strength. My wife was praying and I overcame that fear and had an unbelievable outstanding run with John. What a privilege to serve somebody like him and to serve in one of his organizations and that thing that we had to get done in three years. We got it done in 18 months. And then we came up with a new strategy that was super effective. And by God’s grace we invited all the board, everybody, the last nation that we did,
Dr. McCleland: 15:12 we, I, I had been saving this one little nation called Curabody. It’s way down in the South Pacific. We could got there anytime. It wasn’t dangerous at all, but I saved that because I knew we’d never get the board to go to Somalia. Right. But what we did is we saved that and then we had this huge celebration. We invited everyone, took about 60 people and went to Fiji and brought the island people from Kiribati over, did the training there and celebrated the first organization to train inside the borders of every country of the world. It was a great day.
Doug Smith: 15:42 Can you talk to senior leaders or maybe leaders that are listening to this that are visionaries that want to attract a Rob, right? I’m sure people listening to. So that was a home run higher for the John Maxwell team. And what is it about John and what would your advice be to visionary leaders to attract quality talent such as yourself, to carry out the vision that God or, or the vision of the organization, but I’d put it in their heart.
Dr. McCleland: 16:06 Great. Great question. And it’s really a bifurcated right down the middle. And so I hope the executive leaders listening to this, we’ll get this in their hearts. Everybody says, Hey, I want to get a great leader for my organization, and they should. I mean, you think of any area of your organization, your team that’s going pretty well right now. You’d say, I have a great leader in that area. Any area that’s going poorly and say, hey, I need to find somebody to lead that area so we all want good strong leaders, but what happens is they want to go get somebody who’s a great strong leader and then they want to come in and then they micromanage them or tell them what to do and so you have to decide in your heart if you’re an executive leader, do you want somebody who is going to do what you tell them to do or do you want to get somebody in there that’s so good
Dr. McCleland: 16:52 you can empower them and they’ll actually challenge you back. They’re not going to use your authority. They’re not going to go off the rails or anything like that. They’ll be under the authority that they’re placed under, but are you willing to turn them loose and let them come up with things to do and areas to do it and that you would have never thought of, so are you going to tell them what to do or you’re going to say, I really, after a three or six month time, making sure that we’ve got the same core values, we understand the same things and really empowering this person to get it done and either one of those were the right answer. Now you know we might be sitting here going, well, do you have to empower them? Otherwise, what’s. No, that’s not the. If you have the type of personality that ultimately you have to have some control that then just let them know that because there are a ton of awesome leaders out there who are just saying, man, if I could just have somebody and they would tell me what to do, I would get it done for them and they love doing that and they need that kind of.
Dr. McCleland: 17:49 And then there are other people like dude, if you micromanage me one more time, I’m going to kill you. You know? And so ensuring that you understand what you’re really looking for and then going and finding the best person you can in that. Now I will give you one other little hint. For those executive leaders who are listening, the type who’s sort of the empowering you’re gonna find somebody, they’re probably going to be a type A personality. Those types of people, they love rewards and so figuring me out even early on saying, Hey, here’s what we want to do. We want to blow this up. I want to treat you like a partner as much as an employee and this figure out how you can benefit from this as well. Those are the usually type A personalities that’s going go a long way. At least the ones I hire, I noticed that that’s more important to them. And so it’s really a benefit knowing that type of thing going into the beginning of the relationship.
Doug Smith: 18:38 It sounds like, and correct me if I’m wrong, so when, when we were talking about the story, it sounds like once you completed that mission, you knew about yourself that you have to be a part of something that’s like, Hey, here’s my mission, I’m going to go, I’m going to complete it, and then you have to move onto another mission. Is that true? And if so, how can people keep engaged or what advice do you have senior leaders when it comes to letting Rob go, so to speak to their next season?
Dr. McCleland: 19:03 Super question. I wasn’t like that as a result of that experience or from working with John, I was like that previously and my wife and I went and moved to Washington DC and started the University in Washington DC only because people said it could never be done. And it’s like, I’m sorry, did you say God couldn’t do something? That’s how I hear those things. And so to me, I don’t want to work on anything in my life that’s easier, that can be explained easily. I want to work on something that it’s going to take unbelievable effort, great strategy, but more than anything else, sort of this supernatural, miraculous, come on God, we can do this and see great things happen. So that’s the type of person I am. The good news is that they knew what they were getting when they hired me because they did Mark
Dr. McCleland: 19:48 Cole specifically did a super thorough job and all the interviews, the pre-interviews before I ever sat down with John at Pebble beach. And so as a result of that, what I’m doing is I’m saying, what’s the next big thing here in equip as far as empower me and let’s take on the world. And at that point, they didn’t have the next big thing in Equip. Here’s how insightful and, and how beautiful it worked out because of Mark Cole leadership. I had gone to John and I said, Hey John, I think you’re, you’re still missing one part of your kingdom. And that’s the word that I used and he’s like, what are you talking about? And I said, hey, you’ve got this a nonprofit, it’s called Equip, but you’re also the number one consultant for GMC or the number one consultant for Delta. You’re the number one consultant for Microsoft and you can list a whole bunch of other corporations because John’s unbelievable, right?
Dr. McCleland: 20:37 I said, you know, every one of those have corporate foundations, but not one has ever given even one penny to Equip. And he said, I don’t think that’s true. I said, no, some of their leaders have personally but out of their corporate foundation they have. You said, why is that? And I said, because equip is a faith-based nonprofit. And a lot of corporates, including things like the Gates Foundation, they don’t give funds primarily to faith-based, philanthropys. Otherwise. Everyone in their entire organization who went to church would be saying, excuse me, can you give money to my church or whatever else it is. And so most of the foundations that they’ve, put something in there that would keep them from just giving all the money away to ministries if it’s a corporate foundation. So John said, what would I do, what should I do?
Dr. McCleland: 21:22 And I said, if I were you, I’d start a new nonprofit. He said, what would you call it? I said, if it’s man, I call it the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation and start that and allow a giving mechanism. And I said you’d only be able to use the funds towards what the core values were and what you set up in the, in the original documents for that. I said, but take this for example, you go over to Africa and you take the whole team over there and we do a training for some government in Africa and while we’re there we can do a whole bunch of stuff under the Equip umbrella so that all of the transportation costs and things like that were handled through the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation. And it was all used accordingly because everybody there was involved in it. Yet now we can stay an extra few days on the Equip Leadership, it would cost one 10th the price, and he goes, well how would you do that? And I said, well you start the new family. He goes, what can you do that? And I said I could, and he said great, and so all of a sudden Mark Cole’s challenging me for this next big thing that’s out there that couldn’t be done. And so they were really, really fantastic with me always helping me find the right lane to stay in where I could go do something that hadn’t been done before and trust God for big things.
Doug Smith: 22:33 That’s incredible. That is absolutely brilliant too. I want to talk about it. So let’s rewind your life 20 years. Talk about developing leaders. I know you have a passion for that. What in your opinion, what’s the best way to grow and develop leaders in their twenties, thirties, forties. So they can end up in positions like you’re making an impact you are?
Dr. McCleland: 22:53 I’m like you and I’m sure like a ton of your listeners. I’ll often have people come and say, Hey, would you mentor me? I want to be mentored by you and, and I have a standard answer and that answer is no. And, and I say, no, the answer is no. And I said, but I might change my mind. And so I said, before I go any further, look me in the eyes, what is my answer? And they said, your answer is no. I said that’s correct. My answer is no. However, if I don’t hear from you for at least 10 days, I don’t want to hear from you from 10 days, but between 10 and 15 days from now, you send me one page, piece of paper and email and it says, here’s what mentoring means to me. Here’s what I think the voids are in my life.
Dr. McCleland: 23:33 Here’s what I’m hoping would result as what would come to pass as a result of our mentoring time. And here’s what I promised to bring to the table. And then here’s what I would like you to provide. I will look at. And then I’ll take you out to Starbucks and we’ll discuss it and I’ll even buy the Starbucks. And I said, so what’s the answer? And they say no, and I said, but I might change my mind, what would it take? And then they run through that and I say, yeah, that’s good. I just want to look at you in the eye and tell you less than one out of 10 do I ever get something from. And 100 percent of those I ended up mentoring. Now I hope they don’t all hear this podcast, hey, this is easy, but what mentoring means so many different things to different people.
Dr. McCleland: 24:17 The average person out there when they say, would you mentor me? What they’re really saying is what you’re going to be free coaching. And the answer is no, I’m not going to do that. I want, if I’m going to invest in somebody’s life, I want to know that they’re 10 x in my investment in their own life. And then I will help guide that and love that. What I do is I pour courage into people. I am a courage freak. I’ve seen how courage has changed my life and stepping out, encourage and having a little bit of courage and I remind people all the time, there is no such thing as a need for courage if there’s not fear when people go, well, I’m scared. Well, great. That means it’s going to take courage if you’re not scared, there’s no courage that’s needed. And so there are all these different things in our life changes and we’d like to make becoming the type of person we want to be. But that would be hard. Yeah, it would be. It’s going to take some courage. And so if I can be with people and help shape their lives and, and do that, I don’t care if it’s, if they’re the twenties or thirties or forties or even people my age, I’m in a, I’m 57, I believe right now. I don’t know, I still think I’m in my thirties.
Dr. McCleland: 25:21 Yeah, mirror would belie that. But my heart and mind, it’s young and I think it’s probably because I get to hang out with somebody, young people. But I really would, would, say, my heart for that and what I want to see as people who are willing to be overcomers in their own life and willing to put in the effort to get there.
Doug Smith: 25:39 You may have already answered this, but in those meetings, you say that you give people courage. I always like to ask leaders, what’s the most valuable use of your time and resources when it comes to developing others? Is it primarily the encouragement and the courage that you pass on, or would you say other things?
Dr. McCleland: 25:54 Yeah, I think I heard recently as the moment this podcast is being recorded. First Lady, Barbara Bush is 92 years old and she’s about to die. So she might’ve died earlier today or she’s going to die, you know, certainly soon. And I was reading an article about her and they said she is an unvarnished purveyor of truth and I thought, you know what, as soon as my wife heard that, she’s like, yeah, that’s you. What I am. As I just described myself as I’m a truth teller and you, most people don’t like to hear the truth, but the real leaders want to hear the truth. They just don’t have anyone who’s going to have enough guts to say it. For example, if I’m meeting with somebody and say, hey, I’d really like to do this and say why? And they give me the answers, I’d say, have you thought about this yet?
Dr. McCleland: 26:43 I said, hey, you can do that if you want, but there’s no future in that. I said, here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to prove yourself right? You’re gonna fight them. You’re going to be all defensive, even approved that you are right. But in the end, it’s not gonna help you win friends and influence people. People are just going to say, yeah, he’s the type of person who always has to be right. So instead of that, what’s it gonna take for you to overlook that or forgive that person even though you know that you’re the one who’s wrong. And they’re like, well, of course, once the truth is known, then I won’t have to defend myself, but right now I have to. But I have found that most of the time defending ourselves, there’s no end game in that because let’s suppose somebody told me something bad about you.
Dr. McCleland: 27:30 And then they went on and they told me something bad about somebody else. First thing I would do is I would go like, excuse me, why does this person feel like they have to share bad things about everybody? I would never think that about you. I would think that about the person telling me why are they about that? If you’re really a bad person that’s going to be seen in your action. All I have to do is look at who you are and who you’ve had on your podcast and, at your young age to be as consistent as you have been, it’s just really amazing. So I think anyone who’s gonna say something bad about someone like you, they’re going to have to deal with me. And I better be careful because I’m an unvarnished purveyor of truth.
Doug Smith: 28:08 I love that. If someone’s listening to this, like you said, you might get a lot of emails with one-pagers because people want to spend time with you, but you recently developed an organization called Leader Tribe and people can actually access you and get your content on a consistent basis. Can you talk about Leader Tribe, what it is, why you created it, and how do I add value to my listeners.
Dr. McCleland: 28:28 Yeah so, Leader Tribe. What I did is I started blogging, but with my blogs, I try to keep it real for sure, but if you listen to my podcast, I have this cool little intro music and I’m old school so it’s got a little Wiki, Wiki, Wiki, you know, we’re having fun with this thing and it says, Hey, this is relevant research and ready for action. Apply these and you will grow. Here’s your daily dose of growth with Dr. Robin Mccleland. Align. Yay. Okay, and then I come on to some stupid pocket. No, I’m just kidding. It’s not everything I do. I want to be involved in the research. Okay. That’s just who I am. So what happens is there’s so much great research out there and it’s on Stanford University site or on the University of Michigan. Don’t. Here’s the problem, it’s recording a bunch of academic Mumbo jumbo.
Dr. McCleland: 29:14 Now God’s given me the kind of mind and I have a Ph.D. and I finished at the top of my class and I understand all of that stuff and as I read it I say, why do they try to sound so smart? Why can’t you just put the cookies on the lowest shelf and make this helpful to people? So what I do is I take all of that type of research and I say, what did they really learn and how can it be applied in the growing leader’s life? And then I do a seven to the nine-minute podcast every day on that. So I started leader about a year and a half ago just doing it in blog form. And then in some videos, because I have a, a, a face for radio. However, I get excited and my energy comes across and video. So I go ahead and that I did these videos.
Dr. McCleland: 29:56 I stopped doing that at about the beginning of this year to get the podcast launched and now within about two weeks I’m going to go back to both of those, so Leader Tribe is something that you can do every single day. It’s called your daily dose of growth where there’s a fun little research study, get one application point, you start to apply it, that kind of supplements a lot of the business I consult with some of the leading countries in the United States specifically with their C Suite and helping them get organizational alignment at the top and, and I’m expensive, but I looked the CFO and the eye and I say, if what you’re paying me to do, if I don’t bring you at least three times as much value as what you’ve paid me, then I beg you to let me give you your money back. And
Dr. McCleland: 30:43 that’s exactly how I say it. I beg you why? Because I’m not in this to make money. I’m in this to add value. Well, Leader Tribes all about adding value plus in the, I will monetize it because I still have this. I started Leadertribe.org, and that’s the nonprofit side. I want to take leadership principles to millions and millions and millions of 15 to 25 year olds in third world countries who could never pay for it and doing that by developing a certain kind of app and in a daily, just think about this, about 40 percent of the world will never read beyond the fourth or fifth grade level. Okay? They’re never going to buy a John Maxwell book. They’re never going to buy them. Posner, The Truth About Leadership, which is one of my favorite leadership books at all times, where are they going to learn leadership? Well, there are more cell phones in the world today than there are toothbrushes.
Dr. McCleland: 31:33 By far, 99 percent of the world’s population now lives within range of a cell tower. Anywhere in the world. You go into some little village, they don’t have any food. They don’t have their teeth, but they all walking around with their little cellphones. It’s unbelievable. You know, that’s just the world we live in today, and so I thought they’re going to learn leadership one thumb at a time. If somebody will bring it to them because they’re not able to pay for it, and so that’s why I started the nonprofit and what I want to do. I want to be in heaven someday and have millions and millions of people go like, Oh, you’re the dude who and it’s not going to be me. It’s not going to be talking. It’s just going to be really good. Leadership principles put at their level and to help them do good for the world.
Doug Smith: 32:15 That’s fantastic. And I will include links to all of that in the show notes. If you’re listening to this and want to connect to, I will or you can just visit the show notes and connect with Rob there. With the time that we have left, I want to dive into what I call the lightning round. Just a bunch of fun questions that I’d like to ask leaders. Let’s just dive right in. What is one belief or behavior that’s changed your life?
Dr. McCleland: 32:34 I think it is working in spurts instead of working longterm. So the whole idea of the tomato timer and saying, if I have one hour to work, I’m going to spend about five minutes preparing for that work, 40 minutes working out as hard as I possibly can, no interruptions, no cell phones, no nothing, focused time, and then I’m going to rest for the next 15 minutes or do something crazy and fun and then I’m going to spend the next hour the same way. If you do that for two hours, you’ll get done more than the average person will in eight hours. And it’s all based in science and research.
Doug Smith: 33:07 Do you plan your days out daily, weekly, monthly? What does your calendar look like?
Dr. McCleland: 33:13 Nightly. So basically every night, I, you’re going to win tomorrow, tonight. And so tonight is when I’m going to spend and it only takes at this point about five minutes, but to make sure I have my day ready to go tomorrow. Most people work on what I call OPA, other people’s agendas. Your email, that’s other people’s agendas. Every time we look at your email, you feel like, Oh, I’m busy and I’m responding and I’m doing my work. No, you’re not. You’re doing something for somebody else. What is it that you have to get done? What is it that your agenda? What’s going to make you a champion person, and if you can have some of those sprints that I just talked about, working in focused times and do that before you ever check your email. My hero in this is a guy named James Clear. JamesClear.com. He’s got a half a million people reading his letter now he’s. He’s awesome. And what James Clear, he doesn’t even look at his phone or email until noon every day. Okay. He’s my hero. I’m not there, not him, but someday I’m going to hope to be there because I want to be a productive person who does good for the world.
Doug Smith: 34:13 If you could put a quote on a billboard for everyone to read, what would it say?
Dr. McCleland: 34:17 It would say the number one job of a leader is to accurately define reality, and that’s from a guy who used to be CEO of Herman Miller. Basically what he’s saying is, if we’re going to lead some situation, you get into a room with leaders and I say, we’re gonna. Take this hill. We’re going to launch these new products. They have all these huge grandiose visions and it’s like, excuse me, you can’t even show up for a meeting on time. What are you talking about? And so what we have to do as accurately define reality, where are we right now? Where are we really not where we want to be, but where are we really? And that is usually so depressing, but when everybody can agree, this is where we are now, as you begin to take the future and take it by storm, you can see progress in that keeps people motivated. Number one job of a leader is to accurately define reality.
Doug Smith: It sounds like you’re pretty good at that.
Dr. McCleland: 35:11 I think my team would think so.
Doug Smith: What’s the best purchase you’ve made in the last year? For $100 or less.
Dr. McCleland: 35:14 You know what, when I saw that question I thought, I’m not sure. Probably some book, but for about a $130, it was the airpods.
Doug Smith: 35:21 You got to be kidding me. I’m not exaggerating. I threw that question in probably six months ago. I don’t think I’ve had one response that wasn’t airpods.
Dr. McCleland: 35:32 Here’s what you just learned. If you’re listening to this podcast and you see these things, no, don’t you lose them? They don’t really. They are unbelievable. They’re game changers. And so go get airpods.
Doug Smith: 35:43 What are the top two or three books that you find yourself giving away most often?
Dr. McCleland: 35:47 Giving away. Most often what am I giving way is John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, but not just the book, the old really cool leather version of it because I got a huge employee discount when I worked for him. So I bought a ton of them and I give them away a lot, but more apart from just on the gift giving side. Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage where he took the five dysfunctions of a team death by meeting getting naked and all of those books and put them into one. It’s the first book he did that’s nonfiction by far the best organizational leadership book in the history of the world. I give that one away often. And also The Truth About Leadership, which I referenced earlier. Really cool story on how that book even changed the past that you can talk about it at a different time.
Doug Smith: 36:32 Sure. Other than your own, what are the top one or two podcasts that you listen to on a consistent basis?
Dr. McCleland: 36:37 Yeah. I, I used to listen to Michael Hyatts more and he’s got a little more NPR. The information is better than ever, but I just don’t like that style. As you can tell from my personality. You know what if I have a podcast and I can put it on two x with his new style and this and really fast and that would be a little better, but I am just such a huge Michael Hyatt Fan. I think he’s by far the best blogger on the internet, a wonderful guy. I’ve been with them four or five times in a small group setting and he’s the real deal. So anything that he does is great. I also listened to Tim Ferriss. I get a little dose of reality with him. Comes from a totally different worldview, but I love how vulnerable he is and I think if all leaders can be that vulnerable with all have followings like he does.
Doug Smith: 37:21 Yeah. What do you wish people knew about your journey that they may not know after listening to you?
Dr. McCleland: 37:28 I think that
Dr. McCleland: 37:30 you sound like, wow, Rob’s got a big personality and he’s all excited and he goes on with life, that was born out of a ton of pain and brokenness. And so what I am now is this is who I am when I get to be exactly who God made me to be, but this person was hidden under a whole lot of layers of hurt and pain and things that needed to be forgiven and people I needed to forgive. Last week on my podcast, it was forgiveness week, Monday through Friday podcast. Guess what? Every single one of them came from, either Harvard or Stanford or Wharton. Harvard dedicated an entire month of it’s a Harvard business review to forgiveness. Why? Because when you have for if you don’t have forgiveness, it’s like you’ve drank poison to try to punish somebody else, and so that’s what they say in their magazine, and so we went all through that and seeing that being uncovered in my life and finally getting that poison out of my system. Now I get to be the happy, crazy person that I am.
Doug Smith: 38:31 What’s the greatest challenge in your life right now when it comes to leadership?
Dr. McCleland: Right now, I think it
Dr. McCleland: 38:36 is making sure that I am manifesting the kind of life that is taking advantage of the very best opportunities because I don’t lack for opportunities in my life, I had the most blessed life that I’m aware of. I live in a house. I want if you offered me, here’s a 30 bedroom mansion up on a hill, we’d love to give it to you, and then I said, okay, do I have to live in it or could I sell? And they go, no, you have to live in. I’m like, yeah, no thanks. We love our house. We built a kitchen and put a house around it. It’s awesome. I love my wife. I love my garage. I love the people that I get to interact with in life and the opportunities I have. I don’t want to sound prideful, but probably two and a half months ago, given an opportunity to take a look at a very high-level CEO position here in Atlanta, wouldn’t have even had to move. And I wrote them a very quick two sentence email saying, I’m in the enviable position of having everything I want, exactly how I want it. And so I pray that you’ll find the right person, but it’s not me. And so I don’t want more money. What I want to do is make my life count investing when it to be significant because I’ve loved and invested in other people.
Doug Smith: 39:48 Just out of curiosity, to follow up on that, what’s the price you’ve had to pay to get there? Because I’m sure you know people my age listening to that would say, wow, if I could be there when I’m 56 or 57, that’d be a good day. What advice do you have for young people when it comes to paying that price?
Dr. McCleland: 40:02 Yeah, great question. First of all, I don’t have most people, when they think in those terms they want more money. It’s not like I’ve done most of my service within the nonprofit and sound like we have a ton of money, but man, are we happy. And I’d sure hate to, you know, more millionaires per capita commit suicide than people on Welfare. Money does not make you happy. And so the having realized that was good. So the advice I’d give somebody that is more your age say, figure out how you’re wired up a. it’s when you’re in your sweet spot, if you’re driving home from work one day and you’re holding onto the steering wheel with your left hand, with your right hand, you’re going to see that’s what I’m talking about. That was an awesome day. If I can do that, or I mean where you are fully alive. It was the best day you ever had. What did you do that day? Okay, now build a life around doing that. And because I’m going back to the Eldridge quote from a long time ago, Hey, what the world don’t ask, what does the world need? Ask what makes you come alive because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.
Doug Smith: 41:03 When you get to spend time with great leaders, I’m just curious, do you have one or two goto questions that no matter what you ask them, those questions?
Dr. McCleland: 41:10 I do. What I did recently and when I say recently, within the last four days as I thought about that question, and so I’ve just developed for the first time ever seven and excellent questions for engaging conversations that I’m just giving away right now. And it’s because I think people are scared to go up and meet people. They don’t know what question to ask. What’s the all-important follow-up question. And so as of today, I think it’s working that you can text a number and then it will be sent to you. And so if you text the word LeaderTribe, all one-word leader, tribe two, four, four, two, two, two. Then you are getting that little string and it will send you those seven engaging questions. Um, I have a list of 50 questions, but I thought if I did that it would overwhelm people. So I took the top seven.
Doug Smith: 41:55 Can you share one with us?
Dr. McCleland: 41:57 Yeah, I can if I, let’s say I’ve just met you and so everybody else is going to come up to you and go like, oh, hey, I really love your work. I’m a big fan and you’re going, hey, thanks, appreciate it , get me out of here. So I don’t want to be that person. I want to come up and go, hey, you know what, a total pleasure to meet you and ends. I bring your stuff. I was thinking one thing, someone like you, you’ve got to knock a lot of stuff off your bucket list, but what are one or two things that are still on there or what’s one that you’ve knocked off most? Well, all of a sudden they’re going to go like, okay, a thousand people have come up to me, nobody’s asked me that question. Now they have to stop and think a little bit and no matter what they say, you know, I’m going to be following up on it. And usually they’re going to say, what about you? What about your bucket list? And I’m going to say obviously it’s to play Augusta and one of these days somebody’s gonna know like that they engage people, they open up and also they lean towards you instead of leaning away from you.
Doug Smith: 42:52 So talk to all the fanboys that you were talking about. And I would say that a couple of years ago I was one again when I started interviewing leaders, like you, I remember getting so nervous and I’m a lot more comfortable today than I was then. Although if I had interviewed John Maxwell, that’s the one where I think I would just freeze and like fall out of my chair. But talk about the courage it takes to actually go up. And what advice would you have to not be that guy that’s like, hi, can I have your autograph or a picture. I mean maybe just ask them engaging questions, but how do you have that courage?
Dr. McCleland: 43:19 Yeah. So tomorrow is a Wednesday, what the 16th or 17th of April and my podcast tomorrow is about that. I’ve already recorded it at slot and it’s basically a listener question. Wait, I had a guy named Jason from Chicago say, hey, when I have to go talk to the people who are at the VP level or in the c suite, I kind of freeze up and I get nervous., what can I do? And the best, research that’s out there says if you’re thinking of yourself in that scenario is one of the actors and then you tend to fill all the emotions. But instead, if you’ll step back and pretend you are an observer and you saw you going into that person’s office or going up and meeting John Maxwell and if you saw you acting all weird and oh, that’s so nice to meet you. What would you tell that person and say, hey, he’s just a person. He’s awesome, but go talk to them. And so begin to look at this as an observer and outsider and realize, hey, that interaction is going to take place over about 30 seconds to two minutes. Don’t let it ruin 48 hours ahead of time because you were so nervous about it. I think in that 30 seconds to two minutes, what do I have to bring to the table? And if you can get into that mindset, it’s going to go great for you.
Doug Smith: 44:27 That’s so good. If you could go back and have coffee with your 20-year-old self, what would you tell them?
Dr. McCleland: 44:32 I would tell them there’s a lot of things you’re going to want to do in life to make yourself look better and to misrepresent yourself as better than you are. And you need to avoid that temptation. That in the end what you’re trying to do. Let’s suppose I succeeded. Let’s suppose I’m with you and I wanted to impress you and I pull out the best case Rob scenario with no sin, no faults, and all of a sudden you’re like, I really liked that person when now I’m scared. Why? Because as soon as you find out, the real me now have to. What if I just present the real meat right in the beginning? Then I don’t have to be scared. And guess what, what I have found over and over and over again at all levels, all the way up to leaders of nations is that if you’ll go in and be vulnerable, they go, okay, this guy is real. We can talk because they have all these people all day long trying to make themselves look good. And so stop trying to make yourself look good. Instead, concentrate on adding value to other people.
Doug Smith: 45:30 So on the other end of life, when you get to the end of your life, what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want your kids to say about you at your funeral?
Dr. McCleland: 45:37 Yeah. I really, John does the best
Dr. McCleland: 45:41 ever in this. He has a book called Today Matters. And you can get the cliff notes. As a matter of fact, I think I have a executive book summary on that, that I can make available to you for your listeners here. But he said, and he lives by this, that he wants the people who are closest to him to have the most respect for him. And so if he tells his family, Hey, I’m gonna take you to Disneyland, but now all of a sudden the president United States calls him and says, Hey, I want you to go on tv with me and do something great, and here’s the only day we can do it. John will look at that and say, yeah, I’m sorry I can’t. I made a commitment to my family because he says the people who are closest to me, if they respect me the most, and I’m going to have a good life.
Dr. McCleland: 46:19 And so he has a summary on that, on how we got to that place. Certainly, there’s that in my life, in that, my daughter is 24 as of a couple of days ago. Her Dad has never lied to him and so I want her to have that confidence that actually saved me some money on a car once. I’ll tell you a 30 second version of the story, like car salesman says, okay, here’s our final offer. I said, I’m sorry that’s not meeting mine. Here’s mine. If you give me this amount, I will purchase that car. It happened a Lexus from you today, and the guy says, are you trying to tell me, Dr. Mcclellan, that you would walk away from this great deal for just this little amount of money? That’s the difference. And I said, well, I’ll tell you what, I’ll have my daughter answer that question. And she said, sir, my dad doesn’t lie. And so if he told you something, I would believe it because he tells me, let your yes be yes and your no be no. Everything else is of evil. And so he’s not going to change his mind, but that’s just my opinion. So she’s a little girl. So you said that. It’s amazing. He’s blown away. He turns back to me and says, okay, I’ll meet your price and we shook hands and I bought a car. So it works for you in the long room.
Doug Smith: 47:26 Anything else you want to leave readers with today? I’ll just leave it open-ended.
Dr. McCleland: 47:29 Yeah you, know what I’m thinking if I heard a podcast with somebody like me and I’d go, who is this guy he needs to stop having so much coffee. And, you know, and how does that really work itself out? And the number one thing I tell people is when we try to increase our leadership capacity or start to grow as leaders, we take steps that are way, way, way too big. It always has to go back to baby steps. If you can take one-inch step today that is better than taking a three-foot leap once or twice a year, going to a conference, take a one-inch step the next day, a one-inch step the next day at one-inch step. What happens if you’ll change even in very small increments, it rewires your brain to say, oh, I can change neuroplasticity. The Joseph Grenny probably the most highly paid executive coach out there.
Dr. McCleland: 48:21 He meets with these top, top, top CEOs. He has them go home and floss one tooth, floss one tooth. You’re like, what are you talking about? He goes, you have to promise me you’ll floss that same one to every week. Okay. When now they’re flossing in the next week is like, okay, get the one next to it. Because if you’re doing something that small, your brain won’t fight you, it doesn’t think you’re trying to build a habit, it won’t fight you, so all of a sudden you’ll get a little bit better, a little bit better, little bit better every day, and pretty soon people are going like, what’s up with your life? You’re changing. And it’s because you’ve done a little bit every day so small that people want to fight you on it. And I would tell leaders out there, you listen to this, you think, well, I want to be like this, or I want to have those opportunities. A great pick one very, very small thing and do it all week long and then be proud of yourself when you get it done.
Doug Smith: 49:09 Rob, this was so good. Thank you so much for taking time to invest in me and everyone that are listening to this and hopefully we’ll be able to do it again someday.
Dr. McCleland: 49:15 I would look forward to. It’s great to grow our friendship in any way I can serve you or your listeners. Just let me know.
Doug Smith: 49:20 Great. Thanks. Hey everyone. Thank you so much for listening to our interview with Rob. I hope that you enjoyed it. You can find all of the key takeaways and links to everything we discussed and ways to connect with rob in the show notes at L3leadership.org/195. As always, if you enjoyed this podcast, it would mean the world to me. If you would share this on social media, subscribed to the podcast, and leave a rating and review on Itunes. It really does make a difference and helps us grow our audience. So thank you for that and thanks for being a listener. I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers as well. There are a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne and my wife Laura and I got our wedding and engagement rings through Henny jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible company.
Doug Smith: 50:01 Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. In fact, John gave Laura and I a book and they give every engaged couple of books to help them prepare for marriage and we just love that. And so if you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com, you can also stay in touch with everything we’re doing here at l. three leadership by simply signing up for our email list at L3leadership.org is the best way to stay up to date with everything we’re doing. And as always, I like to end with a quote and I will quote Jim Roan today. He said this, he said, “You can’t achieve beyond the level of your development. You don’t achieve goals. You grow into them.” Love it. Thank you for listening and being a part of l three leadership law and I appreciate you so much and I will talk to you next episode.