Doug Smith: This is the L3 leadership Podcast Episode number 213.
Doug Smith: 00:00:48 Everyone and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I’m your host I hope you doing well in today’s episode you’ll hear my interview with Brad Lomenick. I’ve been following Brad for well over a decade with his work with Catalyst Conference and now everything else that he’s doing in the leadership space. So for me personally it was a great honor to get to spend an hour with him interviewing him and we cover all kinds of things in this interview is absolutely phenomenal. You’re going to love it. But if you don’t know Brad here’s what you need to know about him for over a decade he served and lead as president of Catalyst Conference one of America’s largest movements of Christian leaders. He’s a strategic adviser leadership consultant specializing in influence innovation generational issues and business strategy. He’s a sought-after speaker at conferences churches colleges as well as the author of The Catalyst Leader and HS3 Leadership in the interview you’ll hear Brad talk about his leadership journey what it was like to lead catalyst and how he had to grow as a leader
Doug Smith: 00:01:42 as the conference grew he talks about creating and leading world-class events with catalysis certainly one of those. He’s also talked about what he’s learned from being around some of the world’s greatest leaders. We talk about his book H3 Leadership and much much more as we’re just going to love this interview. But before we dive into that just a few announcements. So first I’m really excited to let you know that we scheduled our first L3 1-day Leadership Conference. It’s going to be on Friday, March 15th, 2019 right here in Cranberry Township Pennsylvania just 20 minutes outside of the city of Pittsburgh. And this has been a dream in my heart for so long and so I’m so excited that it’s finally coming up. Our keynote speakers we have a great lineup for this event. We have Matt Keller the pastor of Next-Level church from Fort Myers, Florida.
Doug Smith: 00:02:23 Incredible leader and a mentor in my life Laura Elsworth who is the partner in charge of global community services initiatives at Jones Day. Dr. Chris Howard the president of Robert Morris University and Saleem Ghurbil who’s the executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise. They are keynote speakers we’re also going to have breakout sessions and a panel discussion. It’s going to be an incredible conference. And so I really want to encourage you to bring your team register for the event. It’ll be a day that you will not forget. You can get more information and registered L3 one day dot com. Again that’s L3one-day.com. I also want to thank my friend and sponsor Alex to land and Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you are looking to buy or sell a house in a Pittsburgh market Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L-3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. So if you want to learn more about Alex. Go to Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. And with that being said will drive right into the interview enjoy and I will be back at the end with a few announcements.
Doug Smith: 00:03:23 Brad thank you so much for being willing to do this interview. Why don’t we just start off with you telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Brad Lomenick: 00:03:30 Yeah thanks Doug. So you know I would say a classic leadership junkie in the sense that growing up and a lot of my life has been about trying to be a leader as well as trying to study leadership and be a student of leadership.
Brad Lomenick: 00:03:47 And you know everything for me during different seasons whether it was school or high school or college or post-college has really all been built around that premise. I got a call and a sense of connection to stepping out in front. And so if you had to define my life I would say you know leadership is definitely one of those words that would define it. The other thing would be you know my own personal faith. So were those things cross and mixed together is where really most of my energy has been for the past, especially career life but also just growing up. I worked for John Maxwell for a bunch of years. You know so when somebody said who really shapes you as a leader I would probably put John at the top of that list or at least on the list.
Brad Lomenick: 00:04:40 You know some other people and working with John was was just an amazing opportunity. But it also you know when you’re around somebody who has such a content machine you start to you start to see like you start to see under the radar under the hood of how he actually like comes up with so much stuff that’s helpful for people. And the thing I learned from John especially in regards to you know serving other people is that part of your job as a leader is to actually want to empower people and two it’s actually to give people what is helpful to them. And so you know a lot of my own messaging and stuff I’ve written or what I speak or what I’m trying to do with people is really be practical and you know sometimes for people who are thought leaders or experts are the ones that start writing things they get they get so in the in the clouds and somebody reads it and goes well that’s great but how’s it going to help me?
Brad Lomenick: 00:05:43 So I would always want to stay connected to this private piece that’s you know it’s it’s helpful today. It’s not just something that becomes a barrier but it’s actually something I could put into practice in my in my daily life. So those are few. You know I would say a few big buckets that I’ve tried to try to build and work on and create over that over the years.
Doug Smith: 00:06:08 I’m curious so when you worked for John, you worked for Catalyst and really throughout your whole journey. Have there been maybe three or four moments in your life where you really had to go to the next level when something happened and you learned something that really helped you go further and if so what are some of those things that you learned throughout that journey.
Brad Lomenick: 00:06:25 Well I would say Doug that my story. I think this is true of a lot of leaders and probably for you too is that every season have jumped into that with a new season where there was a lot of opportunity. There was also a great sense of challenge because I wasn’t ready. And I think a lot of people when especially when you’re younger you think you think well I have to get, I have to know all the answers before I actually can take on that role and that might be true but for me it’s never been true I always been in a place where I was sort of you know out over my skis and I didn’t really feel like if I was honest that I had any sense of being in the role I was in I mean Catalyst is a great example like I was helping I was helping John Maxwell with doing events and conferences and simulcast.
Brad Lomenick: 00:07:14 But you know when I stepped into leading Catalyst I felt zero sense that I was the right person to do that and are prepared. And I knew I would work hard. But you know there’s I think that’s a good place to be as the leader is when you look around and go oh my gosh I hope nobody realizes that I don’t know what I’m doing because you’re way more hungry. You’re way more willing to listen. You walk into every connection point or conversation or meeting with a sense of I better be really intentional about getting better every day compared to the other side which is I know it all. I’ve done this before. You know this is old hat. It’s about time I got this opportunity. You know that that can be really dangerous.
Brad Lomenick: 00:08:03 You know so I would say to your question though the point for me that have been really defining have been some you know couple of seasons one was actually jumping to working with John Maxwell that was just this opportunity that I never thought would be in front of me. The other one was when I stepped out of leading Catalyst. I was it was a jump into a new season of the unknown of you know sort of saying, one, I want to hand it off two, I want to make sure that I can do some things that only I can do. But it was also a scary season of sort of becoming your own brand and building your own company and starting to do your own thing and you know you. You eat what you kill. The end. Both of those were really foundational for me in terms of the one was that I was leaving something I didn’t feel like I was prepared for. And the second one was that I was actually I felt like I was prepared but it was still that risk of saying I’m going to jump out here and go on my own and actually do something that I haven’t done in the past you know. So those are two I would say really memorable and also mile marker sort of moments for me and my journey.
Doug Smith: 00:09:23 Yeah. Just to follow up and dig a little deeper on that I’m curious when it came to new opportunities that were presented to you that you didn’t feel ready for. How many times were there is opportunity something that someone saw you believed in you and gave you a shot versus you actually pursuing it. And can you just tie that in for young leaders what advice would you have for them when it comes to becoming the right person for a role in attracting it versus actually pursuing?
Brad Lomenick: 00:09:45 That’s that’s good. Well Matt my advice always to young leaders is is start preparing now what you want to be doing later and that’s your you’re now is actually creating opportunities for your next but you can’t just focus on the next. If you’re only focused on the next then the now will become you know the stuff that you’re not concerned about. But now is actually the stuff that gives you opportunities. And so and most the time this is true for all of us who are ambitious or we feel like there’s something on us or there’s a calling or purpose that is greater than the role we’re currently in. It’s that we start spending so much energy trying to get to that next mountaintop. But we forget about you know again what’s right in front of us in the right in front of us is actually the best way to get to the next mountaintop.
Brad Lomenick: 00:10:41 So if you’re if you’re 24 and you know you’re just starting out and you look at that V.P. position in the organization and you think one, I should be doing that I’m skilled and effort prepared enough I don’t have the experience but I feel like I could step in. You know that’s there’s nothing wrong with that. But what you want to do is you want to take your current you know coordinator role and you want to crush it. You know every day you come in and you want to look at that and say the best way for me to actually get to the destination I want to get to is to take today and be the best expression of what I’ve been assigned to in the stewardship I have of my current role. And that’s where the assignment piece that every assignment you have whether you’re a student whether you’re an intern whether you’re a coordinator whether you’re a middle manager you know whether you’re the V.P. trying to get to the CEO role.
Brad Lomenick: 00:11:37 Every time you look at that next mountaintop you have to remember that the reason you’re going to get there is based on you actually fulfilling and being the best expression of what you’re in now. And that for me that that’s been that’s always been true. And I think that’s what actually gave me opportunities. So to your question of how did they get noticed. It was both somebody noticing it and me but me also I feel like preparing and doing my job well and you know the idea that I was showing up and actually living with the sense that I was already in the role I was and that I wanted to be. But yet still had the title or the influence of the role that I was currently in. And you know that the sports analogy to that is practiced like the starter.
Brad Lomenick: 00:12:30 You know you show up and you’re the sophomore on the high school football team. But you’re the number two or the number three quarterback and there’s an all-starter who’s a senior now who’s starting. So what do you do during practice? Well, you practice like you’re the starter. You practice like the all-starter and start dressing and speaking and showing up and acting and communicating and preparing like you’re in that role. Wait before you’re already in it. And that’s the kind of leader that’s going to get noticed. Is that leader who is not looking around just with you know wide-eyed intention towards the dream but actually that sense that now you’re taking care of the place you’re in right now and it’s way harder to do that than it is to talk about it because all of us have ambition. We all look at and go. Can’t wait. Can’t wait till I get to that thing. But the way you get there quickest I think is really crushing the now.
Doug Smith: 00:13:31 Yeah. And so you had this opportunity to jump into a position you didn’t feel ready for with Catalyst and then you led that organization for 12 years. I’m just curious if you could go back and sit down with the Brad that just got the opportunity to lead. Catalyst what would you tell him about the journey that you had with Catalyst and what you learned.
Brad Lomenick: 00:13:49 Well I would the first thing I would say is remember that the people closest to you need the best from you or want the best version of you. And when I started I was incredibly focused on the people closest to me and they were getting the best of me. And that meant you know that I was empowering I was a healthy leader. I was I stopped to celebrate a lot. You know there was a lot of energy.
Brad Lomenick: 00:14:21 If you were around me and we had a small team you know and our team we just we carried a lot of energy with us and we would celebrate everything because at that point you know it was worth celebrating. But over time the pressure and the intensity of the role started to chip away for me at some of the things that I started with that I started to look at and go well, that’s that’s not important anymore. You know we all need to celebrate when we hit a really big mile marker and the people closest to me started to get the leftover.
Brad Lomenick: 00:14:59 And I started to focus more on actually trying to make people outside of the inner circle impressed with me or spending more energy on people farthest away and that would be something I would say is just make sure you stay in tune with the idea that you know you have to take care of your people and that doesn’t have you know I didn’t sit around and go at any point think well I’m just going to I’m going to drop that rule. It is slowly over time. The pressure started to get more intense and it forced me to you know to make some decisions and start to become dysfunctional. I would remind myself of that. I would also remind myself that you know, and you’ve probably heard many people say this but that the ability for us to do something significant in the long term is way more possible than for us to like you know really do something incredible in the short term.
Brad Lomenick: 00:15:58 So a long view of faithfulness to moving the needle is actually going to have more impact over time compared to us you know trying to accomplish everything in the first three years. And that’s not something you want to hear because you want to get to it and you want to make big waves early on. But I would just remind myself hey you know what. Like this is a 20 year run potentially 25 you’re a runner so be the intention and I’ll be faithful but they’re good stewart. But also see that there’s going to be possibilities to really move the needle over the course of many years compared to you feel like you’ve got to you know you’ve got to do everything in the first three years. So those are the two things.
Doug Smith: 00:16:41 Yeah I’m just curious, you said you got to a point where you were dysfunctional. Do you have systems in your life for people to give you feedback to kind of correct that course, correct your course in life?I’m just curious what systems do you have in place to get feedback that you need to hear may not want to hear?
Brad Lomenick: 00:16:58 Yeah I mean I tried. I try to be a leader who is very open to two people providing feedback and a lot of that is style. So you know here’s a quick story. This was this was something that was really I think indicative of the celebration culture that I had started to lose sight of. And you know we hit a big milestone. At one point and we took the team out to Dave and Busters and we played skeeball and hoop shoot and all the stuff you do Dave and Busters and we got rid of the team. You know we had enough tickets to buy something in the store. And so the team decides they’re going to go buy something in the store. And they come back with this. You know this bag and inside that bag are two dolls and I pull out the first doll.
Brad Lomenick: 00:17:52 They’re like hey we what we got this for you. Thanks for letting us celebrate today. You know there’s like 20 people or so that are on the team at this point. And the first all was was an angel doll and they said that’s you know that’s you. Mike what do you mean. Well that’s Brad we love Brad. We love working for Brad. He’s you know he’s an angel he’s he’s great leader he empowers us, we love being around. And then I look inside the bag and there’s a double life. First of all why does David and Busters have an angel and devil doll?
Brad Lomenick: 00:18:29 But the devil doll I pull that out and I’m like cool what is this. They said that’s Darb like who’s Darb? They said that your nickname it’s Brad backwards. Oh man. And we’ve been calling you that for like a year. Wow. Because there are these moments when you are not the leader we want to be around. You’re the leader that we despise and we can’t stand and you know you don’t empower us and you’re short with us and you have a temper and you know we don’t we just want to stay away from you.
Brad Lomenick: 00:19:00 And it was it was sort of a ha ha moment that it was also like them as a team saying We love you like we’ll follow you Brad to the to the mountaintop. But we just we just want you to know that like their are parts of you again when pressure starts to mount. As a leader, you start like you know that when pressure pushes down that things and you get pushed out. And I had started to let Darb this you know this devil is sort of like anti the person that I looked at and thought I don’t want to work for that person. But that started to become more of my of mine might go to and what the team was saying in regards to hold me accountable and being a leader who was who was willing to hear feedback was just we want more Bradon less Darb. And it was like it was a wakeup call for me. You know so after that day after that Dave and Buster’s moment we would put like Brad and Darb the dolls on a little table outside of my office. And hopefully every day you know somebody would come in and they would say oh wait Brad’s here and then the Brad doll would be there. And if Darb was in the office that they would like put Darb up. And that’s before everybody would say stay away.
Brad Lomenick: 00:20:20 You know don’t go in. But just stuff like I think that the key for leaders you know is that you never you never get to the point where you don’t let people who know you well whether it’s your team, spouse, friends. You don’t get to the point where they don’t have the right at any time to walk in and say hey listen you know what. Like I’m I need to confront you on the fact that you’re you’re killing me right now and you’re not a leader I like being around and you’re not a leader that we want to be led by because most of us we have blind spots and I knew there were some things that were dysfunctional but I didn’t know it was it was really impacting my team to that level but to allow myself to say OK you know what, like good feedback thank you. This is helpful. I’m going to get better because I hope none of us have a set out in the leadership journey and say the goal is to actually be dysfunctional. That’s nobody’s goal. Nobody ever says that when they when they started on the journey.
Doug Smith: 00:21:23 So maybe we need to put a link in the show notes for angel and devil and just have every that implement this in there.
Brad Lomenick: 00:21:30 Well it also just you know think about your day backwards and ask that question. Are people are people you know walking around with that is your nickname behind your back. And it doesn’t mean that they’re they’re trying to be conniving. Sure. Many times again you know leaders start to they start to create barriers naturally where they don’t let people and they start to believe the hype and no longer are you now accountable or of or authentic the honorable and that’s dangerous when you get to that point where people can’t give you feedback,
Brad Lomenick: 00:22:14 that’s a really really dangerous place to be as a leader. And that’s what people start leaving in. And you know if you’re self-serving in that way then you need a wake-up call.
Doug Smith: 00:22:24 Brad thank you so much for being vulnerable in sharing that story. I know it’s funny but I also know it was probably challenging for you as well. I want to talk a little bit about just running events running conferences you lead probably the best Christian Leadership Conference in the nation for 12 years and you’ve been you’ve been in the events space forever. I’m just curious I leave it really open-ended for those who run events run conferences what advice you have been putting on first-class experiences.
Brad Lomenick: 00:22:52 Gosh well there are so many things to that question. The first thing is you’ve got to you’ve got to really know your target and know your audience you know so aim, miss small in the sense of if you know we knew at Catalyst that our target was a young leader that it was you know it was a 32-year-old and it was a 32-year-old who probably drives some sort of you know hybrid car and they probably have read Jim Collins Good to Great. They also read Andy Stanley and they probably listen to Tim Keller and but they you know they love Oprah.
Brad Lomenick: 00:23:29 And it’s you know it’s it’s a leader who is probably married and has some young kids. We knew the kind of you know the kind of dress they would have on the jeans they would wear and the hoodie they would have on. What kind of shoes. Why? Why is that important? Because we want to know exactly who we’re trying to connect with and what an older leader for us when you know a 50 plus-year-old would say to me Hey brad I came a catalyst and I got some have some feedback for you. I would listen but I wasn’t listening as intensely as if a 32-year-old who was really our core target audience was also giving me feedback. And what’s difficult when you start doing some things especially events is that we say Well we’re we’re doing this for everybody. You know any leader out there yeah, come and that’s really our target.
Brad Lomenick: 00:24:28 And you’ve got to start really focusing in on the small target possible. So that’s it. That’s a big win.
Doug Smith: 00:24:35 How did you. I’m just curious how did you start to narrow that. Was it just constantly getting feedback and surveying people taking pictures of everyone who came to the conference. What did you do?
Brad Lomenick: 00:24:43 Well we started with that we started saying and ultimately what we were saying, in the beginning, was we as the people the leaders who were building it we were actually the customer. And that’s not always true for every conference or every event or every product for that matter that you’re actually the greatest customer of the product you’re creating. But for us, it was because there was a bunch of us who were in our late 20s early 30s working for John Maxwell and we were doing events for John and those events were really drawing John’s peers. At the time this was the early 2000s who were you know in their in their 40s 50s and 60s and we said John we would like to actually create something for us, our generation. And he said great let’s do it. So we were the customer. We knew that from the beginning and everything ultimately, we were able to answer all those questions because we would just look at ourselves and say well what do we want? You know if we’re if we like this then we know that our target is kind of like it. So it was a little bit easier for us to be able to craft that.
Brad Lomenick: 00:25:52 And then once we started actually producing events and pushing things out into the public square and we looked around and said our peers showing up. And then let’s actually get feedback from them of what you know they’re going to actually want to have created for themselves.
Brad Lomenick: 00:26:14 And so that was it was way easier for us to do that Doug because you know we just we started with that mindset of let’s create something that we want to attend.
Doug Smith: 00:26:25 Yeah. So the other advice I interrupted. Do you have any other thoughts on just first class experiences so know your audience?
Brad Lomenick: 00:26:31 Yeah I mean the here’s the thing with events anymore is you’re not going to you’re not going to wow people probably with light shows and lasers and smoke. I mean sometimes you will. But we’ve all seen that. 20 years ago when we started we were creating some stuff that people thought oh that’s cool. Haven’t seen it before but in terms of production. It’s going to be really hard for you to outdo the competition or to wow people. So in some ways now it’s more about actually creating community than it is about the content but because content now commodity like if I go to a conference any conference I’ve probably heard people who are speaking or I can actually hear them for free on any outlet whether it’s a podcast or it’s a sermon or you know it is commodity now.
Brad Lomenick: 00:27:30 So contents not going to be your, the thing that differentiates you although it still does draw people. But community is what I think most important these days. Connection points. You know the conversations you’re actually creating and the question people need to be asking is what can I provide people in a conference environment that is unique and different than they can get anywhere else. If I’m watching online that’s going to be similar to a lot of conferences that are out there. So how do you make your conference experience in person analog where it actually stands out nowadays. And you got to be really intentional about that. So we had to figure those pieces out and a lot of it was that we built everything for us was built around the team that was attending and that we would try to create as much experience as for the team because that became community for them. So it wasn’t this idea that we were trying to connect everybody who was there at the event. Thousands of leaders there was more saying let’s build it around that team environment. So, but the community connection conversation are the sees now that are way more important then than what used to be only content and that that’s a big differentiator these days is creating that. Let me give you one more if I can. That’s you know I think it’s important.
Brad Lomenick: 00:28:57 I would I would go niche as much as you can. So it’s both. Knowing your target. But it’s also niche in regards to what you practically providing them and everything is moving smaller. If you’re in the conference space or you’re in the event space things are moving smaller not because people don’t want to attend large events anymore, what they do want to attend is something that’s practical and that is more tribal in nature. So it’s all about niche it’s all about primarily more these days hundreds of people compared to thousands of people and also hundreds of people gathering around a certain conversation that is specific to them. So the old days of just putting on a generic big leadership conference with thousands of people that doesn’t draw as much as they used to but now what draws a smaller curated focused on a topic or two that is really specific to those leaders and then that also provides some sense of tried community connection point you know that I’m now going on the journey with these people going forward. And so it’s leaning definitely towards the curated personable compared to the large anthem arena experience. And that’s a big shift right now. It does-again it doesn’t mean that big events are going away. But what it does mean is that the average leader is looking around saying I’ll spend more money to go to something that’s curated and smaller than I will spend money to go something that’s larger and more generic.
Doug Smith: 00:30:34 So you talked about drawing people can you talk about getting butts in seats. You know you were responsible for filling stadiums. Obviously they you know you knew your niche audience did all of a sudden you put together what you wanted and thiry thousand you know 32 year old showed up. How hard you have to get sales to get butts in seats. And what advice do you have for filling seats?
Brad Lomenick: 00:30:53 Well it’s huge. I mean that’s you know if we would have if somebody said What are we best in the world at a Catalyst. I would have said we were really there was three areas we were great at creating a story that people wanted to pay attention to and be part of. We were great at putting cheeks in seats which is the sales part. And actually for things we were great. The third thing would be we were great at actually creating an environment and an experience during the event and then we were great at retaining people.
Brad Lomenick: 00:31:24 So those were the four and that’s those are really the four keys of a conference is telling a story selling the story and actually creating revenue whether it’s sponsorships or tickets. Getting people there and then the production experience and entertaining people and making them part of your community but to the cheeks and seats thing are our model was very much a concierge model and the idea was that we wanted to make Cataylst really small and we wanted to we wanted to try to connect to people personally. Where. You know if there’s 30000 leaders attending a Catalyst event. In a certain year. That all 30000 of those we couldn’t get to know. What we could get when. We get to know 3000 of them. We could actually be on a first name basis with 3000 leaders who are then bringing that 30000. So the group leader model. Was our secret sauce. And that’s not. That’s our only ours. I mean. There are lots of complexes that. That use that. But the group leader model turned into a concierge experience meaning that, we wanted those people, when they thought Catalyst they thought oh you mean. Oh.
Brad Lomenick: 00:32:37 Yeah I know catalyst. I know Chad Johnson. Chad Johnson is my concierge here and he takes care of us and. You know we buy we buy our tickets every year from Chad. And when I’m at the event you know Chad. Says hi and shows me to the group leader’s suite. And we get perks and you know like that story was the story we were trying to tell. And there were always going to be people who would buy a ticket just because they were going to come and there was no connection. But as much as we could take something big and make it smaller and personal and connected to a group and a concierge experience that was where we were trying to move people. So our funnel you know the sales funnel was very much moved people into a place as much as possible where we now can have a personal connection to them.
Brad Lomenick: 00:33:26 And that takes a lot more effort. You know there’s a lot of conferences that don’t do that you know they just rely on the brand selling the conference and they’ll have thousands of people that will register and there are trying to actually connect to them personally. But we did. We just felt like it was important to us. And you know the lesson is when you’re big we all know this is true that when you’re big you have to act small meaning that when you’re big you don’t know.
Brad Lomenick: 00:33:56 People want to know that you’re human they actually want to connect to the CEO way more than just to connect to this generic 800 number. When you’re small you tend to act big. There’s a you know that that there’s a there’s a commercial I don’t know what brand it is that the guys like in his garage and the phone rings and he answers them and somebody says hey can you connect me to your marketing department. He’s like get hold on. And then he just puts the phone down and he picks it back up with that idea.
Brad Lomenick: 00:34:27 When you’re when you’re small you want to act big but when you’re big you have to really really focus on acting small. And that’s really important today because every single one of us we believe today that we can be accessible or connected to anybody. Right. Like I can reach out to anyone on Twitter I have. I feel like every brand out there that I want to be personally connected to the CEO. Now is that true? No, but it’s the perception I have. You know so that’s where we that’s again we tried to make sure that any time possible that we were human, we were connected, we were approachable, we were accessible we weren’t hiding behind four layers of phone numbers or e-mails or assistance you know. So that was a big deal for us and I think it actually it made our brand really special but it also helped us to sell tickets because people would say oh yeah Catalyst, I know those guys you should get to the site of that. You know I know them and they really didn’t know us but they felt like they did.
Doug Smith: 00:35:35 Any other thoughts on events before we move on to your book?
Brad Lomenick: 00:35:38 Well I mean you know the events spaces is its depth, like I said it’s definitely moving to smaller. It’s definitely moving towards more personalized experiences. If you look at even the Disney World which is not an event, but it’s still in the in the business of creating an experience you know what are they doing more today than ever. And this would be true with cruise ships or anything like that. They’re actually personalizing your experience there making your experience more personal for you. And that’s that’s where the event is going. You know so the average person will pay more for a personal curated experience compared to showing up in just sort of you know eating off of the main menu. They want the back room with the chef with their four friends and the chef is actually like teaching them how to cook while they’re eating the meal. And you know that that that’s the experience. That’s where w’re moving towards. You know there’s a great book called The Experience Economy which came out 20 years ago by Pine and Gimore and they were they were sort of profits you know that way but that’s what that’s what people want.
Doug Smith: 00:37:02 Along these lines of pricing, I am curious do you have any thoughts on pricing how do you get the pricing and just, in general, do you have a rule of thumb of you want sponsorships to cover your budget. And I’m just curious when it comes in the math how do you come to pricing and how did you get sponsors etc..
Brad Lomenick: 00:37:18 Well the pricing was was more based on the audience you know. So we started our pricing model more based on if we if we really want a 32-year-old to attend what can a 32-year-old afford. And that that we had to force ourselves to actually price our events at a cheaper cost than the average comparable leadership event because the average 32-year-old didn’t have the budget necessarily to you know pay double the amount that was probably more in line with other conferences. So it’s all based on who your target is. You know if you’re going out for CEOs as your as your target then you can price things considerably higher sponsorships for us. We’re a big part of our revenue model. Mean probably 20 percent of our revenue was coming from sponsorships a lot of conferences is actually way more than that.
Brad Lomenick: 00:38:14 But we also wanted to make sure that those were sponsors that that made sense because some people you know some people will take anybody and I would say this you know when it comes to sponsorships the, everybody just wants to believe or the key with that is make sure it’s authentic. Now people can see right through it even if it’s right at the end of the day like you got to live with the fact that you’re willing to let that brand be connected to your brand and especially once you get bigger and you know we were we were a big fish in a small pond as catalyst was growing and continue to grow. So a lot of brands just want to be connected to us. We have to start making decisions that say not sure that’s the right fit even though they can write a big check with lots of zeroes.
Brad Lomenick: 00:39:08 We wanted to maintain that sense that our brand was way more important than just selling out to and we had a head a year Doug like we 2004 where we saw we sold our soul in many ways to a sponsor and we had several speakers that were speaking that year based on a big sponsorship that an organization payed a lot of money for. And we all looked around and thought this was a big mistake. And our audience knew it immediately and our audience they can sniff that out in a second. And other speakers were sending it out and it was a big deal. We got a lot of pushback and so the next year we said no more.
Brad Lomenick: 00:39:53 That will never happen again. Nobody can buy our stage ever again. And you know, but that was it was hard sometimes to make that decision when a lot of money was at stake. But you know we just said it’s not worth it.
Doug Smith: 00:40:09 That’s great. Well I want to transition. Thank you for everything on the events I want to transition into your book H3 Leadership which I love and it’s humble, hungry and hustle. I’m just curious. You’ve written a few books but why this book. Why did you write it and what can people get out of it?
Brad Lomenick: 00:40:24 Well it was a recalibration for me. You know the Darb story that I told earlier it was kind of all during that same time when I felt like my leadership I didn’t have a burnout, I didn’t have a breakdown. But I was starting to get where things were moving towards dysfunction and I wasn’t leading well. Even though things were open to the right you know themeasurable things in terms of the organization and what if people were on the outside looked at everything they would have said Oh Brad you’re crushing it like you guys are you know you’re more successful than have you ever been. Yet for me, my leadership was becoming stale and so H3 was it was a recalibration to say for the next you know 25 years of my career journey I want to re-establish some habits and put those habits back in place that really revolve around humble hungry hustle. And that’s always been my mantra.
Brad Lomenick: 00:41:22 You know for my entire leadership journey H3 was really something that it started in my early 20s to you know to deliver those three things out to be humble stay hungry and always hustle. And so that’s that’s the three-legged stool that I’ve always tried to stand on. And it just made sense if I was going to recalibrate that I wanted to pass it on to other people. And so far you know the feedback has been that those three h’s are really helpful one because they’re easy to remember but it also starts to give a lens and language to people as it relates to what are they focused on. And there’s 20 habits in the book you know that all fit under those three big buckets that I think are the practical side of what leadership looks like.
Doug Smith: And I know the practical side with the book.
Doug Smith: 00:42:15 Part of your goal is to get leaders to the finish line right. You talked about playing the long game. I’m just curious what you maybe wanted to the habits mentioned in the book that you think is vital for leaders to get it to their finish line. Because I feel like so many leaders now burn out and never even come close to there.
Brad Lomenick: 00:42:29 Yeah. Well, you know the humble part I would say is the foundation and that that gets into both self- awareness and also authenticity and just that sense of knowing yourself. But it also really comes back to a sense of calling an assignment. And for me, that was a big aha moment. And I think this is helpful for leaders at any stage is if you don’t it’s you don’t figure out the three big parts of purpose for your life and I would say there are three parts that its identity which is who you are, it’s calling which is why you are here, and assignment is what you do. So again identity is who you are calling is why you’re here an assignment it’s what you do. And those three categories I think are really helpful for people to figure out the long game.
Brad Lomenick: 00:43:29 And what happened for me the danger part of Catalyst which was amazing but it was still dangerous was that Catalyst was becoming my identity. I was Catalyst Brad you know I loveed Catalyst Brad. He was awesome. You got invited to cool things and got to go to the White House and you know every every every time that I got to get to show up in circles I didn’t I didn’t belong in.
Brad Lomenick: 00:43:54 But that was an assignment. It wasn’t my identity but it started to incorrectly become my identity. And it actually started to incorrectly become my calling. But the catalyst season for me that role that job of leading Catalyst was an assignment.
Brad Lomenick: 00:44:10 It was what I do my calling is actually to influence the insiders. That’s a statement of my life and that gives me lots of runway to do lots of different things that my identity is I’m changing so many of us
Doug Smith: 00:44:26 Just to butt in-did you learn that while you were a catalyst or did it take leaving there for you to learn that?
Brad Lomenick: 00:44:33 Both. I mean I I reflecting on actually leaving and the process of leaving gave me. It gave me words and it gave me like some hooks to actually figure out like what was going to be helpful for other leaders. But me walking through it was if I wouldn’t have walked through the process of stepping away from it that I probably would have been able to articulate it as well as I. I can now, but this is a huge issue for all of us because again you know take an athlete take a professional athlete for that matter. There are 34. They’ve been playing the game of football for their entire life. Right. And all of a sudden they retire when they’re 35. Their identity their calling and their assignment have all been wrapped around the game of football. So now what. Are they just J.V. the rest of their life or are they you know coasting into eternity or are they done the rest of their life they’re just on a cruise ship playing shuffleboard? No, but that you know that’s that’s true for all of us in these different seasons so we’ve got to make sure that we’re seeing primarily our job is an assignment and it’s here’s what’s interesting for the next generation.
Brad Lomenick: 00:45:48 The average 25-year-old they’re going to have 15 to 20 different assignments because the free agent mindset and mentality and you know the gig economy is upon us. Is that a bad thing. I don’t think so. But that is it. It means that we’ve all got to figure out that sense of calling. Why am I here that will then give me like it will give me a river bank to actually swim in or take the boat down and that way then my assignments hopefully will connect to this greater sense of calling on my life that then reflects my identity to be that those all have to be working together otherwise. Otherwise, we’re living these just disjointed dysfunctional lives of desperation and we’re still always trying to be like you know figure out like is this the right thing is this is this the correct thing you know is this is this the sweet spot. And you know Ken Coleman who you’ve had on your show. I mean can the sweet spot is also such a similar type of conversation as this whole concept about to be calling assignment and that’s what we’re all moving towards.
Brad Lomenick: 00:46:58 You know is that place where our passions line up with our guests and if we find that that’s that’s where we want to be.
Doug Smith: 00:47:06 So if someone’s listening to this you also have a consulting company where you can add value to organizations and leaders. How can people if they listen to this and they’re like wow love to connect with Brad and what he’s doing what he’s doing in addition to buying the book how can they connect with you and utilize the services that you offer.
Brad Lomenick: 00:47:22 Yeah I’m easy to get a hold of because I live out the idea of accessibility hopefully. So my e-mails just you know first and last name of gmail that’s the easiest way to get me my web site is just first and last name dot com Brad Lemonick and then all the social media outlets are all. First and last name I have an easy name to. I was able to squat on that name really early so I got home.
Doug Smith: 00:47:47 As we conclude the first by the interview anything else you wanna leave readers with before we jump into the lightning round.
Brad Lomenick: 00:47:52 Now I wonder if you’re listening to this kudos because that means that you’re hungry and that means you’re actually learning and the premise that a leader today has more outlets for getting better than ever before is just such an exciting time we live in. And you know so good for you that you’re actually stepping and you’re leaning and you’re learning. Hopefully, you get your balls going out not because not just because I’m saying anything that’s helpful but just because that’s the posture of a leader is somebody who’s you know they’re there they’re ready to soak it up. So just keep doing that.
Doug Smith: 00:48:32 Great. Thanks Brad. And with that let’s just dive right into the lightning round just a bunch of fun questions and I’d like to ask readers so the first one is just what is one belief or behavior that changed your life.
Brad Lomenick: 00:48:43 Well I mean I would say my personal faith. You know following God has changed my life and it gives me a purpose beyond myself. It gives me a reason to exist that’s way bigger than just me. And you know humility is easier way easier when there’s some there’s a story that’s bigger than you. So that’s probably the thing for me that shaped who I am more than anything else is my you know my walk with God. So that would be my first answer.
Doug Smith: 00:49:14 Love it, if you can put a quote on a billboard for everyone to read what would you say?
Brad Lomenick: 00:49:18 I think I’m gonna go with H3 not H3 but be humble stay hungry always hustle.
Doug Smith: Love it. What’s the best purchase you’ve made in the last year for 100 dollars or less.
Brad Lomenick: I don’t know if there are 100 dollars or less but the Boas running. If your phone’s wireless are those are those 100 hours or less they’re close to that.
Doug Smith: 00:49:39 I’ll put them up there I don’t know, but no one sticks to the hundred dollar budget when asking this question.
Brad Lomenick: 00:49:43 So it was a game changer man. You don’t have the wireless in the ear. Running headphones you need to get your pair literally though.
Doug Smith: 00:49:52 Pretty much every leader’s answer has been some type of your phone whether it’s airpods or running.
Brad Lomenick: 00:49:59 I also have those that are the noise canceling that are the smaller ones that go in your ear and those are also game changers. I know there are more than a hundred dollars but those are also if you travel any you should have a pair of those and I have them both over the year. Then I also have the air in the in the air way easier to manage.
Doug Smith: 00:50:19 Yeah why not. What did the top two or three books were giving away right now outside of your own.
Brad Lomenick: 00:50:25 Bob Goff’s book, both the original one love does that also. Everybody always has this most recent book. That’s one. That’s what I’m handed out on a continual basis. I also go back to Dave Ramsey’s book constantly Entreleadership. I think it’s one of the best books. If you’re an entrepreneur or you’re starting your own business or you’re just trying to figure out how to build something. It’s Dave you know looking back on him building his organization. So those two would probably be the ones that I give out the most.
Doug Smith: What podcasts do you listen to most often.
Brad Lomenick: Man L3 Leadership c’mon what else is out there.
Doug Smith: 00:51:06 Haha, yeah all right next.
Brad Lomenick: 00:51:08 And the other ones yes I’m a podcast junkie so you know Andy Stanley leadership podcast EntreLeadership. Masters of Scale. Tim Ferriss. My most recent one
Brad Lomenick: 00:51:23 Adam you know Adam Grant, His work life is such a good podcast that’s a newer one I can keep I keep going.
Doug Smith: 00:51:31 I love it. I was going to ask this earlier, you see you’ve got to spend time with some of the greatest leaders on the planet on John Maxwell, etc.. Do you have a top 3 favorite leader what would be the top three leaders you’ve spent time with and or got to interview men.
Brad Lomenick: 00:51:46 Good question. I would say it’s a really good question. I’m going to I’m going to probably say Jim Collins would definitely be one of those. Just because he was a hero still is and we had him speak several times. Simon Sinek I really like what Simon is doing. Sam is not a hero because he’s more of a peer. But I just love the way he is in some ways reshaping the leadership conversation, especially for millennials. And then you know we gave up we gave up the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award to a bunch of people over the years Catalyst events and there were so many of those leaders that I just admired and respected in massive massive ways. So you know that if I had to pick one of those that would be really hard for me to get to choose one over the other. So I’ll just leave it at that.
Doug Smith: 00:52:46 Sure. Sort of a follow up on that with others of yours you’ve gotten to spend time with is there one or two qualities you see over and over and over again that separates them from the other leaders. You know I think the level five leaders in John Maxwell. What separates the good from the great when it comes to leaders?
Brad Lomenick: 00:53:02 I would say the thing I noticed the most is that they notice people you know they’re the top of the food chain and they walk in and have all right and reason to have an entourage and to be the man or the woman and for everybody to sort of you know sort of serve them but have great leaders that I admire when they walk in the room they automatically turn into a student and it doesn’t matter who it is.
Brad Lomenick: 00:53:30 And they also treat everybody with a great sense of respect and they pull the best out of people. And I saw this with so many leaders over the years who would come into an arena to speak at a Catalyst event or another John Maxwell event for that matter.
Brad Lomenick: 00:53:48 And the great leaders would they would stop and say hi to the show pro people you know what to show people those are the people on the yellowjackets that nobody pays attention to. Yeah everybody just sees them as this distraction or they don’t even see them. And these people would stop and say hi, hey what’s your name. Well, I’m Bill. Bill how long you’ve been working at this arena 13 years. Thirteen years Bill. Man, I bet you see a lot of people come through these doors and they just they really were interested. And I think that idea of it that I’m constantly interested compared to that I’m trying to be interesting. And then you had the climbers. That’s what John Maxwell always called them the climbers would come in and they’re the people who think they deserve all the accolades and they’re not even paying attention to anybody.
Brad Lomenick: 00:54:38 Their whole goal is just like how much can the focus be on me and those are the people that were annoying. You know the I don’t care how much of a platform you have if you’re walking in and you’re you’re thinking major all that especially for us a Catalyst like we really got put on the blacklist. You might have been invited one time but that was it. We wanted to work with people and actually have people representing us and speak for us that we liked working with. So I guess my advice to people is you know when you get to the top of the food chain don’t start acting like you deserve to be there.
Doug Smith: When we’re one or two items still left on your bucket list.
Brad Lomenick: 00:55:20 Oh gosh. Well, I want to I want to go to all four major golf events the majors. I want to go all to all seven continents. I want to ride on Air Force One I want to skydive, I want to learn how to speak a foreign language. Yeah, I actually want to write four books some two in and working on the third. So I’m halfway there. a
Doug Smith: 30-second trailer?
Brad Lomenick: Well yeah, I know. I would love to. I just. And it’s still so, like not formed, like something around this whole idea of the power of clue and especially for younger leaders I think you know that the premise that it’s working on your who early in your life is such a big part of your leadership journey but also then talking about well what does it mean to you know to build platforms as a leader that other people stand on and that’s been my story that I’ve tried to live out is the greatest thing for me when it comes to influence
Brad Lomenick: 00:56:31 is that anything that I that I get to be a part of my job is to immediately put other people on the stage or the you know the the the platform that I’m building and give them the opportunity to be leverage because of something that I’ve got to be part of. You know so the power of that is so important and leadership and you know it’s one thing to build your own platform which I’m not saying it’s not something that you should work on. But then the next level is to say how do I build something that then can be used for other people? And that’s where you’re doing that like you’re you’re interviewing people and giving them the opportunity based on the platform that you’d got with L3, to let them stand on your shoulders you know and share their message. And I just think that’s the ultimate example in form of leadership is to allow people to stand on your shoulders. And that’s what I want to be. You know I don’t I don’t want to be the barrier that gets in the way of other people.
Doug Smith: 00:57:35 Do you have, what is one question that you ask every leader the great leader you get to spend time with.
Brad Lomenick: 00:57:41 Well yeah I mean that the I think that the question that always spurs up the most interesting conversation is what have you failed at or what are some of the things that you don’t do well or you haven’t done well or you know what lessons have you learned from the places where you you know you failed. And I think a lot of the great leaders really appreciate that. I also really like asking people what are they learning right now. Because it gives them the chance to to sort of cut all the things that are top of mind into the conversation. And you know the great leaders are always there spinning on something. There’s always an idea in there.
Brad Lomenick: 00:58:23 So those those are the two questions I’d probably ask everybody.
Doug Smith: So we’ll close with that question if you haven’t answered already what are you learning right now in your life.
Brad Lomenick: 00:58:32 Well, a couple of things.
Brad Lomenick: 00:58:34 One is that at this stage of life I’m a translator and I mean that I’m I’m actually sitting between two generations and that a lot of what I get to do is I get to translate between the young and the older and it works both ways. And my job in that situation is not to be the hero. It’s simply to a connector and a conduit for conversation to take place.
Brad Lomenick: 00:59:05 And and to that point you know the other thing I’m learning about that I’m trying to do but I’m also watching other people is that I think the great opportunity today for leadership influence is the curation model. So you don’t have to be the expert.
Brad Lomenick: 00:59:22 You just have to be the one that’s gathering the experts or you’re curating the expertise and you know that’s true and newsletter’s it’s true in advance it’s true and in thought leadership. But that just that premise that I’m the aggregator I’m the conductor I’m the curator compared to the expert or on the hero or it’s all about my content and that those are the people that just seem to have the most influence going forward and that’s what I’m trying to figure out and think through how to best be a curator. And you know that’s I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to dig into that.
Doug Smith: 01:00:03 Brad this was fun. Thank you so much for your time today. It was extremely value to me and I know to add value to all of our listeners. Thank you.
Brad Lomenick: 01:00:09 Yes man. Loved it. Thanks.
Doug Smith: 01:00:13 Everyone. Thank you so much for listening to our interview with Brad. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can find ways to connect with him and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes at L3leadership.org/episode 213. While you’re on our website I also encourage you to sign up for our e-mail list. That’s the best way to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L-3 leadership and when you sign up for our e-mail list you actually get a free copy of my ebook making the most of mentoring which is my step by step process for getting and cultivating mentoring relationships with leaders. I think it add a ton of value to your life is extremely practical so I encourage you to go and sign up for that. I want to thank our sponsor Henne Jewelers or jeweler and by my friend and mentor John Henne my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through many jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible organization.
Doug Smith: 01:00:57 Not only do they have great jewelry but they also invest in people. In fact they give every engaged couple a book to help them prepare for marriage. And we absolutely love that. And so if you’re in need of a good jeweler check out Hennejewelers.com. As always I like to end with a quote and I quote Bob Goff often and he wrote this recently and I just thought it was awesome. He said this he said don’t worry about all the steps began. Someone needs to hear that today. Don’t worry about all the steps begin. Thanks for listening and being a part of L3 leadership. Lauren I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.