ep. 29 - Kevin Brown: Helping Organizations Create a Culture of HEROES at Every Level


Kevin Brown created The HERO Effect to help people be their best when it matters the most. Kevin shares ideas, strategies, and principles that will inspire and equip participants to show up every day and make a positive difference. Your team will be motivated to reach beyond what is required and do something remarkable!

With a street-wise aptitude and a never quit attitude, he worked his way from the front lines in business to the executive boardroom. For the past seventeen years, he has been part of a leadership team that has grown a little-known brand into an industry giant with annual revenues exceeding two billion dollars.

Kevin is on a mission to help people and organizations embrace a simple philosophy that separates world-class organizations and high-performance people from everybody else. He is passionate about helping people expand their vision, develop their potential and grow their results. And, as the father of an autistic child he knows firsthand how the principles of true success reach beyond the boardroom and into the lives of real people facing the challenges of everyday life.


ep. 29 - Kevin Brown: Helping Organizations Create a Culture of HEROES at Every Level

Gail Davis: For the past 19 years, Kevin Brown has helped build a little known family business into the number one brand in their industry with annual revenues reaching $2 billion. Along the way he learned a thing or two about [00:01:00] overcoming adversity, dealing with change and creating a culture that drives organizational excellence and customer loyalty. Today we have Kevin as our guest on GDA Podcast and he's going to share some ideas about being your best when it matters the most. He calls it The Hero Effect and you can be on the lookout for a soon to be released book by the same name, The Hero Effect. Please welcome to today's version of GDA Podcast, Kevin Brown.

Kyle Davis: Hey [00:01:30] Kevin, how are you?

Kevin Brown: I'm doing fantastic, how are you?

Kyle Davis: I'm living the dream one day at a time. A day before my birthday.

Kevin Brown: We all are.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, it's good. So, a little known company that became a $2 billion dollar a year thing. Do we want to jump into that?

Gail Davis: I think we should.

Kyle Davis: I think we should, so give us the teleology, if we want to use that word, or the background story.

Kevin Brown: Yeah, it's a fantastic story. I've spent 30 years in [00:02:00] the franchise arena. It's all I've ever done my whole life. My background is a little unique to have ended up where I am today. I quit school in the tenth grade when I was 15, 16 years old, went through some family tragedy and it just sent my life into a tailspin. I ran away from home. I lived on the street, lived in my car. Borrowed spare rooms, couches, garages, whatever I could from family and friends until they got tired of having me around. Somewhere around 16 years old [00:02:30] I was introduced to the world of motivation and personal development. Somebody gave me a tape, I don't even remember who. Yes, I said tape, and for our young listeners those are little devices that you would put into a machine and they would play voices and tell us unique things.

I had this tape, it was by Earl Nightingale. It was called The Strangest Secret. What he started to say, he really started to resonate and ferment in my mind. I said, "You know what, I can be more than I am today. Life doesn't have to be this dead [00:03:00] end that I'm on." Through some mentoring and coaching from some really wonderful people that I've met along the way, they were able to pull me out of the ditch and at 17 I bought my own franchise. I did that for a while. I did pretty mediocre as a 17 year old trying to learn the ropes in business, but it's led to a love affair with franchising that has lasted all of these years, some 30 years later. This is all I've ever done. I've helped people start businesses and open franchises, and [00:03:30] grow franchises. It became a love affair.

I stumbled on to SERVPRO back in 1988. I was looking to ... Actually meant a career change, and maybe move into another arena. Life had other plans for me. We were wanting to move from Dallas to Nashville to get closer to my family. SERVPRO is based in a little town called Gallatin, Tennessee. After an interview, two weeks later I was on my way moving to Nashville, Tennessee. I was able to plant [00:04:00] some roots there and really fell in love with the brand and the company and the family and what they stood for in building these organizations. Today, SERVPRO has almost 1800 franchises inside the United States and other countries. It's just a fabulous organization.

I recently retired from the organization to speak full time. Speaking kind of picked me, so now I'm moving into that direction full time, but will always be eternally grateful I was one of just-

Kyle Davis: [00:04:30] Kevin, you there? Hello? Kevin? Kevin, you there?

Kevin Brown: Way way back in -

Kyle Davis: Hey, Kevin ...

Kevin Brown: Yeah, I'm here.

Kyle Davis: Can you restart ... You were talking about, I think it was ...

Gail Davis: I think it was just after they moved to Tennessee, and then you just kind of cut out on us, so we'll have to edit that out. Kyle Davis: Yeah. There's about 30 seconds where you cut out, so just start over where you moved to Tennessee, [00:05:00] if you don't mind.

Kevin Brown: Absolutely. My wife and I moved to Tennessee. We were living in Dallas actually, at the time, and decided to move to Nashville to get closer to my family. I was really contemplating making a career change. One thing led to another and I ran across SERVPRO. I knew of them but didn't know a lot about them. I dug into the company and really fell in love with the brand, the people, the family, the ownership of the company and decided that I would like to be a part [00:05:30] of that. After an interview, two weeks later they invited me to join the company and we were on our way as a young family with a three month old baby. We packed it up and headed to Nashville. So 30 years in franchising, almost 20 of them with SERVPRO, learned an awful lot, met an awful lot of brilliant people.

They were the ones who pushed me on stage. They pushed me on stage way way back in 2002. They saw something in me that I didn't see, and from that day till now [00:06:00] I've not stopped learning about this craft of speaking and storytelling, and really how to transfer truths into other people and bring that to organizations. Share my business experience but also my personal journey. It's absolutely become a labor of love for me.

Kyle Davis: When you started working at SERVPRO ... We know where it is now, it's a $2 billion a year company in that industry and has 1800 franchise locations. I think you mentioned prior to us going to record that [00:06:30] you were one of only a handful of non-family member executives. What was it like 18 years ago to what it is today and what have you taken away from your time there to craft it into this Hero Effect that you talk about?

Kevin Brown: I think some of the most monumental things that I took away from that is: Number one, way back when I started the company was doing [00:07:00] maybe $400 million a year in system wide revenue. To move a company into a $1 billion company and then a $2 billion company a lot of things have to happen. First and foremost, you've got to attract the right people. You've got to attract people that have like mindedness. They have shared values, and they're in complete alignment with who you are as an organization. The DNA of the company, the core values. They want to plug into that, they want to be a part of that. They also want to be part of [00:07:30] something bigger than themselves.

The unique mission of SERVPRO is to help people in their time of need. To make it like it never even happened, if you will, when they've experienced fire and water damage. Next to the death of a loved one, that's one of the most traumatic experiences anybody will ever have in their life. This loss of property, whether it's a business that now is not in business temporarily because of this disaster, or whether it's a family and they've lost family heirlooms and things that were very meaningful to them and now they're displaced from this place they call [00:08:00] home.

Really, having a sense of mission. Attracting the right people. Creating a culture of excellence at every level. When customers start to resound this message of, "Wow, your people were like heroes." That's what really started to build this idea and I started to hear it from other people. When I started to pay attention to these ideas, it really just hit me between the eyes that ... Building an organization, when you think about differentiation in the market [00:08:30] and really creating space between you and your competitors, most everybody on the planet can do what you do. What they can't duplicate is who you are.

It became very critical for us, and we put a lot of time and energy and focus ... It was really my role in the company to focus on culture, to really focus on people and how do we create an environment where people can be the best version of themselves and show up every day in an intense business, a very demanding business that's very hard to do, and keep that mission and that focus [00:09:00] forefront in their minds and in their hearts, most importantly. To go out and serve people and serve them well. A lot of times in corporate America we get so wrapped around the axle in our corporate-ness. We're so proud of our systems and our tools and our processes. Sometimes we process the people right out of the company.

What I've noticed as I've studied heroic companies and heroic people, high performers at every level, is that they always have this sense of being grounded in who they are and why they do what [00:09:30] they do. It allows them to show up very differently than most people. They are masters of this moment called now. They're not dragging yesterday around and they're not freaked out about tomorrow. They're fully engaged in this moment to be with and help and serve the people that they're with and I think that is a great distinction in business today that a lot of companies miss. Because of our connectedness, because of our devices, because of the demands, clients and internal both ... We're off to that next file, we're [00:10:00] off to that next meeting. We've got to get to that next conversation. A lot of times we miss the people that are right in front of us. That could be the person that gives us the biggest breakthrough or our biggest account or the thing that we've been looking to achieve or to get to.

Kyle Davis: I think it's interesting that you used the phrase, "Masters of the moment that is now." So often people, they're not living in the present. They're bringing that baggage from the past with them, and it's weighing them down and/or they're looking into the future whether [00:10:30] it's moments or light years ahead. It doesn't really matter. They're not with you at the moment, so you're having that weird conversation where you know someone's there but they're not really listening. It's really different when you have somebody who's really present.

Kevin Brown: It's frustrating. Think about how many times you go into a business, or worse yet, sitting at your dinner table, or spending time with your kids or your spouse, and you're having a conversation and they're not listening or they're having a conversation and [00:11:00] you're not listening. I say all the time to the groups I work with, "We're raising a generation of kids, if we cut off their thumbs they wouldn't be able to communicate." I think it's really interesting because we're depressed about what happened yesterday, which we can do nothing about. We're stressed and freaked out and have a lot of anxiety over tomorrow because we're always uncertain of the future. Those are two things that we have absolutely zero control over. The one thing that we own, right now, is this moment. Most of the time we miss it, [00:11:30] and this is where all the magic happens. Gail Davis: I'm inspired. I love that. I've written it down. "Not dragging around the load of yesterday or freaked out over tomorrow. Master the moment of now." I love it.

Kyle Davis: I like it.

Gail Davis: I like it. Talk to us about The Hero Effect.

Kevin Brown: Absolutely. This message, and I will say this: This was a complete gift to me from a divine source. [00:12:00] You can call it the universe, you can call it God, you can call it whatever you would like. Whatever resonates with you. I will tell you this was a gift. As a speaker, as a communicator, a story teller. I don't use power points. I consider myself a motivational storyteller with relevant business experience. This message, when I first started researching this, the question to me was, "Look, we want you to speak to this group of people. 2000 people are going to sit in a ballroom to hear a message.

In typical fashion ... I had done executive speaking, [00:12:30] and I had done a lot of work inside the organization, been invited to speak outside the organization. I had my speaker topics. Leadership. Vision. Communication. Customer service. Branding. Vision. All the stuff that most speakers love to talk about. It's great stuff and we need it. The first thing the planning group said to me was, "We don't want a normal speech." I had my yellow pad and I said, "Help me. Help me understand that, because if I'm going to add value to your group, if I'm going to add value to our time together, I need to know [00:13:00] what you want to accomplish." They said, "We're not really sure. All we know is this group, these are been there done that sort of people. They worked really hard, they're really good at what they do and they love asserting people."

They said, "A lot of our customers think about this group as heroes." That word just kind of jumped off the page, and I wrote it down. They continued to talk, but I've got to tell you. The rest of the conversation just kind of fell on deaf ears.

When they were done talking I said to them, "What if I gave a speech about what it means to be an everyday hero. What if I [00:13:30] created something that said, 'Here's what it means to be your best when it matters the most, in business and in life?' If we could figure out how do these people show up and what makes them different. This would honor them and hopefully encourage them and help them know why what they do matters and that they do make a difference on this planet." They said, "Man, if you could do that, that would be brilliant. You would be our hero. Man, just go do that." So they left the room. Then I freaked out because I didn't have a hero speech. I started thinking, "Why [00:14:00] would you do that? Nice move, speaker boy. You don't have this speech and you just committed to give it."

Gail Davis: What was the time-

Kevin Brown: Three months.

Gail Davis: Oh, three months. Okay.

Kevin Brown: I have three months to get ready to talk to 2000 people and give a speech that I didn't have. I freaked out. I don't know what you do when you freak out, but I went to my inner circle. I went to the people who know me and love me, and always support me. I went to them and I asked them both this question. I said, "What do I need to talk about? I've got to talk [00:14:30] to 2000 people about being a hero and I don't have a hero speech." My wife, I married way way over my head. She's the most positive human being on the planet. Beautiful, inside and out. She said, "Baby, you are overthinking this like you always do. When you're blessed to get on that stage, just get up there and tell them your story. Tell them about your life. Tell them about your experience." I said, "I don't understand how that's going to help me accomplish the goal here. I don't understand what you're saying."

She said something that was absolutely profound and started this hero journey for me. [00:15:00] She said, "Let me put it to you this way. When you look in the mirror, do you see your face or do you see the face of all the people who showed up in your life to help you become you? The people who moved you from where you were to where you are now. The people who picked you up when life knocked you down. The people who helped you when you couldn't help yourself. The people who loved you when you were unlovable?" And believe me, there were lots of times. She said, "Because if you don't see those people then you're missing the picture completely. You need to go back and take another look. If you want to know what heroes look like, they look like those people [00:15:30] in the mirror."

I went back and I looked at the mirror and I started thinking about all of the people who had shown up in my life. Preachers and teachers and friends. Family. Grandparents and mentors and bosses and colleagues. I started thinking about all the people who had poured themselves into my life unselfishly. Sowed their wisdom into my life and forgave me and loved me and supported me, even when I didn't deserve it.

I went back to my yellow pad and I wrote a question. The question was [00:16:00] what does a hero look like? I started just going through my mind thinking about how have we as a society defined heroes? Of course, the first thing that I thought of is our military men and women. We can't even have a discussion about heroes without first acknowledging the men and women who keep us safe. They keep us free. They're the gold standard for what it means to be a hero. What I learned as I talked to people is most people kind of push that outside of themselves and say, "Yes, but they're special people." [00:16:30] We could never do what they do. The selfless sacrifice. The danger. The things that they do we can't even imagine. People are reluctant to put themselves on that heap.

I started thinking about world changers. Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa. What was it about them that made them stand out? Why did they raise their hand and say, "We want to stand on something different. Stand on principle and make a difference." They changed our world. Sports heroes. The Michael Jordans [00:17:00] of the world. The Peyton Mannings of the world. The LeBron James. All of the people that we pull out of the pile and we say, "Man they're different. They play the same game as everybody else but didn't show up. It's different.

I just kept working my way through this list of how we define heroes, then I started talking to people. This is where it got interesting. The more people I talked to, the more people I asked the question, "What does a hero look like?" I started to hear this through line. This common thread. People would say, "Heroes are ordinary people who [00:17:30] do extraordinary things." The more I heard that, the more I began to feel unsettled about it. The more something wasn't feeling right. At first, the first time I heard it I agreed completely because I'd heard it my whole life. Heroes are ordinary people that do extraordinary things. I started thinking about that. I started meditating on that, and pondering that, and I finally realized that it was actually wrong.

We've been trained by society to think about heroes in a very dangerous way. [00:18:00] I went back and I started looking at all of the people, analyzing these people that we pull out of the pile and say, "They're extraordinary. They're different." We emulate them, want to be like them. We stop and we watch them do what they do. We're in awe of them. I wondered to myself, "Do they consider themselves to be ordinary people?" What I learned was that it's just the opposite. See, I don't think there's a person on the planet born ordinary. I tell my groups all the time, "Look, there were 100 million [00:18:30] applicants for the job of being you. Science tells us 100 million people showed up to be you, but only you got through. The best swimmer made it through." Biology folks always get that. Sometimes they have to explain it to the people next to them.

We were born extraordinary. That means at some point along the way we were absolutely convinced, we were sold on the idea that we were ordinary. Which by default makes ordinary a choice. Ordinary, I [00:19:00] have learned, is a choice that keeps extraordinary people from their best life. See, the great ones show up in their extraordinary self. They show up as extraordinary and they make a very conscious decision not to be ordinary. I started looking at people very differently and started looking at them through this lens of extraordinary people choosing not to be ordinary. Not ordinary with occasional bursts of extraordinary. On occasion when the situation calls for it, and then I can shrink back to being ordinary and just fitting [00:19:30] in. Think about the model of Superman. Even that was wrong. Superman had all this super-ness in him, he had all the talents, gifts and abilities in him to change the world and yet he showed up most of the time as Clark Kent. He showed up as an ordinary person just trying to fit in. Flying below the radar. Trying to get by. Trying not to be noticed.

I remember as a ten year old kid, I remember asking my dad, "Why, if he can be Superman, would he ever want to be Clark Kent?" Because ten year old kids think [00:20:00] differently. When I was ten, I used to tie a bath towel around my neck and run through the house and pretend to be Superman. I would jump off furniture and pretend to fly and it drove my mother crazy. My wife doesn't like it either.

I kept thinking about that and I kept thinking about when does that happen? When did that ten year old kid stop believing that he had something special and something extraordinary that could actually serve the world in a positive way and make a difference? I don't know when it happens, if [00:20:30] it's 18, 25, 45. Somewhere along the line we're convinced we're no longer special, extraordinary. We're just ordinary. I start really paying attention because what people really wanted to know is how does this apply to everyday life? How does this apply to my job and to my family and all of the stress and pressures of the world. I started paying attention to the people that I love to do business with and the people I like to be around. That's where the four principles of the hero effect came from.

I use HERO as an acronym. Here are the principles. The first [00:21:00] thing that I noticed is that heroes help people. That in and of itself is not revolutionary. There's nothing profound about it. Nobody ever writes that down, but there's a part two to that. Here's part two. Heroes help people ... With no strings attached. The no strings attached part that we have trouble with as human beings. We're not wired to think in terms of no conditions. We're wired to think in terms of the contract. What are the conditions? I'll do this for you if you do this for me. [00:21:30] That's how we're wired.

But the great ones, the ones we love to be around, they understand how to move from condition to connection. They go beyond what is required to create the remarkable. They're willing to go further than they have to. Satisfaction, for them, doesn't even play into it because they understand that in our world today, being satisfied doesn't really mean anything. It doesn't even get you a ticket to the dance anymore. To create separation in the market place you have to be willing to do more than you're paid [00:22:00] to do. To go that extra mile. To create that connection, because when you create the connection, now you're doing business with family. Now you're doing business with friends. You'll drive by the competition to do business with them and not even consider the competitor as an option. That's the holy grail in business. That's what we all want.

Second thing that I learned: Heroes create an exceptional experience for the people they serve. They create an over the top, epic experience for the people they serve. They do that by taking 100% [00:22:30] responsibility, which is the third key. They take 100% responsibility for creating a positive outcome regardless of the circumstances. We live in a world that loves to point fingers and blame and play victim and push integrity outside of themselves and say, "You know what, I could do a better job. I could serve better. I could knock it out of the park if I just had more resources. If that department could just get their act together. If I wasn't dragging around this guy or doing half of her job. If I could just get some [00:23:00] help around here I could do a better job." What I learned is that heroic people, heroes that show up in every day life don't think like that. They raise their hand when the game is on the line and they say, "Put me in, coach. I've got this." They're willing to accept responsibility for creating the best possible outcome regardless of what the circumstance is or how it was created.

The last thing that I learned: Heroes have supernatural vision. They see life and they see people through the lens of optimism. They see people [00:23:30] not as they are but as they can be. They see situations not as they are but as they should be. I'm not talking about positive thinking. I'm not actually a very positive thinker. I tend to a be little bit of a complainer. My wife would attest to this.

Positive thinkers. Here's the difference. Positive thinkers look at a situation and they kind of deny its existence. I call them the great pretenders. They look at a problem or an obstacle or a roadblock or they get a diagnosis from their doctor, or whatever it may be. They look at it and they deny [00:24:00] it and they say, "I don't see you." They stick their head in the sand and they just ignore it. They pretend that it's not there.

The optimist on the other hand, looks at the same problem, roadblock, obstacle, diagnosis, and they say, "I see you. I'll call you by your proper name which is problem." No codewords, no disguises, they don't call them what so many people are fond of calling them in business today, opportunities. They're problems, and what problems need are people willing to raise their hand and say, "Let's go to work on a solution. Let's go to work on finding this." They don't deny that it exists, [00:24:30] they just deny that it has to last forever. They just deny that it's insurmountable. They go to work on overcoming it, going around it, going through it. Conquering it. That's where they find their biggest breakthroughs.

It's kind of like when companies say, "Teach us how to manage change." I always want to say, "Why would you ever want to learn how to manage change? Wouldn't you rather leverage change to your advantage? Wouldn't you rather leverage change to create distance from your competition? Wouldn't [00:25:00] you rather leverage change to create new opportunities for your organization and for your people? The great ones always leverage change. It reminds me of what Simon Bailey always said. Simon Bailey said, "The great ones see what everyone else sees, but they understand it differently." They see the industry changes. They see the governmental issues and regulations and they see the problems in the workforce. They see all the stuff, but the great ones understand it differently. They go to work on forcing more [00:25:30] change upon themselves before the industry requires them to do it. That's what helps keep that separation from the competition. That's what keeps them on the cutting edge.

I think that's so important in business today because sometimes it's easier to sit back and wait until we're forced to change and then we're fighting an uphill battle. Now we're already behind the eight ball and we're losing ground. Make sense?

Kyle Davis: Absolutely. I actually have a mentor, maybe a decade or so ago, who [00:26:00] made us look at challenges differently. Just kind of like how you just said, it's not a problem it's an opportunity. His little cliché kind of word was, "It's a challenge-tunity." I know it's a weird way of thinking about it, unless it's a laugh like you just did, but it changes the way that you start to think about the problem. It's not a challenge, it's not a problem, it's a challenge-tunity and if you just think about it, when you think about it in that manner you're no longer having to continually build the bridge over [00:26:30] it or tunnel underneath it or run right through it. Instead you think of the challenge and you find an opportunity to think of a different way of creating a solution that's better for everybody.

The whole concept of that company that I was with was, "Built to last. Is this something that's going to be built to last?" Because every time there's a problem, that problem ... It's not sustainable, it's not anything else, but if you have a challenge-tunity in you and you create a solution, now it's built to last.

Kevin Brown: Absolutely. [00:27:00] Absolutely. I have a great friend who is a best selling author and speaker in his own right. His name is John Miller and he wrote a book called QBQ! It's the Question Behind the Question. He's the accountability guru of the entire universe. He has something that I really love. He says, "We should be problem seekers and problem solvers." Most people run and they don't want to deal with problems. He said, "You know, the great ones are problem seekers. They look for them." He's absolutely right, because [00:27:30] we're all paid to solve problems. I don't care what your title is, what industry you're in, what your role is, or the position that you occupy in an organization. We are all paid to solve problems. The degree that we do that with excellence, every single time, not once in a while.

It's one of the things that bugs me about random acts of kindness. People talk about it all the time, in the context of heroes. I don't think that's right either. Don't get me wrong, I love a random act of kindness, but I love more intentional acts of kindness. [00:28:00] I love intentional acts of difference making where people are very intentional about seeking out problems and solving them. One of the best ways to get rid of your own problems is to immerse yourself in solving somebody else's.

Kyle Davis: It's funny. Every single time we have one of these new podcast episodes we see a common ... We're going to have to write a book about this, mom.

Gail Davis: A common thread.

Kyle Davis: One of the common threads that keeps coming through is ... Some [00:28:30] people call it authenticity, some people call it being present. I personally like the word intentionality. How intentional are you? One of my common complaints is I hate it when people call me just to talk. I'm sure that's fine but I'm way too logical, so like why are you calling me? I want to have some intention behind it. It's like you just said. If you're going to help somebody out be intentional with how you're helping them out. Just buying them a drink or helping them with the meal [00:29:00] or whatever. It's a random act and it's nice, but what are you doing that's really going to add value? How are you being intentional with it? Whether the value is long term or the half-life of it is six to eight months or a year.

Kevin Brown: So much of that, Kyle, is just about asking good questions. Whether it's helping a friend and saying what's the one thing that I could do for you right now that would take the biggest burden off of your shoulders or give you some space or relief some pressure? What's [00:29:30] the one thing that I could do? They tell you, then go do that. It's the same in business. People get freaked out because they feel overwhelmed and they have 27 steps they need to take. Well, we can only take the next step. The trick is what's the one thing that would add the most value to the organization? What's the one thing that would help move my sales forward? How can I move that one account that I want to land ... How can I move them forward faster? What's the one thing I can do? Then focus your energy, being very intentional, about doing [00:30:00] that.

That's a very important lesson, and I'm with you. I love the word intentional because so many people are just zipping through life completely distracted. I tell them all the time. They're giving them a glancing blow. They're giving people glancing blow of what could be. They're like the bonsai tree. They've cut themselves off at the roots and they're just a microcosm of what they could be. Kyle Davis: Just the one little thing that I want to put a bow on this with, [00:30:30] but you mentioned optimism and we talked about problems. Another trend, especially when I talk to the futurists or the people on our podcast ... As an email comes through on my thing.

One of the things that comes through is that you have all these companies that are "disrupting" something. They're "changing this industry". They're "doing" something. The industry lacked foresight and they can prepare [00:31:00] against it, or something like that. In reality what they're doing is they saw a series of problems and they just thought of a different way of approaching it. That's where they're adding value. Whether it's hitting a button on your phone so that you can have a car waiting outside in two minutes or if it's something as simple as having a company like SERVPRO to give a call to so that way somebody is taking all the carcinogenic stuff out of my ... I think we even used SERVPRO when I set the garage on fire.

Gail Davis: I think we did.

Kyle Davis: [00:31:30] That's a funny story, which we'll have to talk about later. I think I was 12, and I found a gas can and a lighter. So thank you.

But yeah, it's being intentional. Whether it's a traditional business model, like more of a SERVPRO being more traditional if you will, or if it's one of these super duper tech companies where you're placing a pin and getting a car. The reality is you're solving a problem in a different manner. It's making you more intentional or more salient.

Gail Davis: [00:32:00] I'm curious, Kevin. I know that you're doing a tremendous amount of speaking to a wide variety of organizations. What is it you think about this message that causes it to resonate with such a diverse group of organizations?

Kevin Brown: That's probably been the biggest surprise to me. In speaking the most common question I get is "What's your topic?" A lot of the times I don't know how to answer the question because this message has really taken on a life of its [00:32:30] own. I've spoken to tech companies. I've spoken to financial companies. I've spoken to manufacturing companies. Energy companies. Companies that I never would have imagined would have let me in to speak to their groups. Fabulous organizations. One of the things that I hear a lot of is that first of all was a very different message. It had such a wide range of emotion from humor to [00:33:00] very strong content. Stuff that we can actually apply to help us as leaders. To help us as sales people. To help us as customer service agents. Whatever the role of the company. Also very very applicable life lessons.

My philosophy as a leader has always been you have to lead the whole person. You can't lead just the person who shows up at work, because that person has stuff [00:33:30] going on in their life just like I do. I think a very interesting phenomenon that happens in leadership or with speakers, for example. We're afraid to be transparent and to be vulnerable and for people to know that we have lives too. We have challenges. I have a special needs son. I have things going on in my life that aren't pleasant. I think people want real people to show up and not necessarily have all the answers but care enough about people to help them find answers.

Sometimes [00:34:00] we feel like, as leaders or as speakers, that we need to be the representation of perfection. I think it's absolutely just the opposite. We're just real people that have stumbled on to some ideas and strategies that have helped us. We want to share them. Some of the most common feedback is that, "Wow, that applies to me as a mom." And a dad, and a leader and a rep and a sales person and all of these different things. They say, "That was transformative for me. [00:34:30] You did it in a way that was really entertaining. You made us laugh, even though you don't look like you're going to be funny. I look very serious so the humor really catches people off guard. I think humor is a great way to open people's hearts and minds. It helps the truth kind of seep in there and they walk away with something that was a unique experience and it wasn't me in a power point. I don't use power points. It's very engaging with the audience.

I had a friend of mine who'd say, "We [00:35:00] teach others what we need to hear ourselves." A lot of times I'm just up there on stage talking to me and letting everybody listen. It has resonated with a lot of different groups. From a category standpoint it's been toward leadership and customer service and vision and all of the things that we want. Whether it's building a great culture. I've always considered myself a culture and branding guy and I think culture is probably the most overlooked thing in a lot of businesses today. [00:35:30] Cultures don't just happen. You want to talk about being intentional. You have to be very intentional about the foundational philosophy that we embrace as leaders because that sets the tone for the culture. The culture has to be one that is engaging and magnetic to the people who show up every day to deliver your product and service. They're your mouth piece. They are only going to deliver to the extent that you deliver it to them.

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I'm a firm believer that the culture that a organization [00:36:00] has, whether it's two people or 2000 people, it's the foundation from which you build. If it's a poor culture and it's a bunch of slimy dirt bags then that's what you're going to get. But let's say it's a legitimate company and they're doing phenomenal stuff and they're real intentional but the reality is they're just missing the ball on a couple of things. They're constantly going to be spinning their wheel and they're probably [00:36:30] wondering why they never gain traction or why they're gaining traction at a slower rate in comparison to their competitors. Whereas if someone's hyper intentional about the culture and the people that they bring on and it's going back to that phrase of is this something and is it going to be built to last? Is this relationship going to be built to last? Is this culture built to last?

That's something that will survive whatever software update or autonomous driving car or it doesn't really matter because the culture is the fabric [00:37:00] that binds everybody together.

Kevin Brown: No strategy can compensate for a poor culture. Ever.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. We just got done talking to somebody who said, "The number one error that people have is problems with strategic thinking." That's how companies bring it down. I would almost argue in reflection now that poor strategic thinking is partly probably due to poor culture if we think about it. It [00:37:30] doesn't help, if you don't have a contrarian in the room who's going to say, "Hey, this might be something opposite or another way of thinking about it." Or you don't facilitate vibrant conversations and are accepting of other people's views or whatnot. You're making yourself susceptible to group think and you're going to pigeon hole yourself then the next thing you know you're wondering why you're getting surpassed.

Kevin Brown: Right, and the contrarian doesn't exist in a lot of organizations because they don't feel safe. That is a very very [00:38:00] big red flag on culture.

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gail Davis: Do you think this message is more relevant today or has it always been relevant?

Kevin Brown: I think it's always been relevant, Gail, but I think it's more relevant today partially because of the state of the world we live in. If there was ever a time that this world needed heroes ... The first line in the book says, "The world needs heroes." [00:38:30] The last line in the book is, "The world needs your hero." I think it really comes down to people have to feel empowered and to know that they matter and be willing to raise their hand. We've always heard, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I don't think there's ever been a time in human history, at business or otherwise, where we need people willing to show up and be their best when it matters the most and to know instinctively that every moment matters the most.

[00:39:00] I love what Oprah said. When she retired ... She gave this speech to Harvard, I believe, and she was interviewed about this as well. Here was the essence of it. They asked her, they said, "Oprah, you've interviewed 35 000 people during the course of your history, before you retired and moved on to do this other thing because you needed more money. You interviewed 35 000 people. Was there a through line? Was there anything that all of these people had in common? Without blinking she said, "Absolutely. They were [00:39:30] all seeking validation. From the rich and famous to every day people. They were all seeking validation." And they probed a little bit deeper, said, "What does that mean?" She said, "It means they were all asking three questions. Here are the questions. Number one. Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say even matter to you at all?"

I would submit to everybody listening, to every group that I work with, everybody on the planet. They're asking those same three questions [00:40:00] at work and at home. They're saying, "Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say even matter to you at all?" I think if there was ever a time in our world with technology moving at warp speed, with the economy, with government, with everything that's going on in the world. We need people to show up, be their best when it matters the most. See the people in front of them and around them. It's easy to see the heroes around us. We seldom see the one within us.

I think it's [00:40:30] time that people rise up and acknowledge the extraordinary person that they were put on this planet to be, and to know that the people crossing their paths were sent there for a very important purpose that only they can deliver. It can be an encouraging word. It could be a shoulder to lean on. It could just be somebody to solve a problem. We need to start seeing the people around us and serving them at a higher level. When we do that, I think when we're good stewards of the moment called now, then we're good stewards of this time [00:41:00] and we're good stewards of the encounters with other people. That's what leads to leverage in the market place. That's what gives us the opportunity to convert customers to family. When you convert them to family they'll never quit doing business with you.

Kyle Davis: Well that, my friend ...

Gail Davis: That's perfect. That's a perfect place to wrap.

Kyle Davis: That's a perfect place to wrap and some good food for thought to ...

Gail Davis: I have to tell you, Kevin, we get to talk to a lot of fascinating people but you have such a captivating way of talking ...

Kyle Davis: She's basically going to tell you that [00:41:30] she was tearing up a moment ago when you were ...

Gail Davis: I don't think I was the only one.

Kyle Davis: It got dusty in here.

Kevin Brown: Well, thank you. You guys are fantastic and I really really appreciate the opportunity to be on the show.

Kyle Davis: Well, thank you. Look, if you all are interested in having Kevin Brown come to speak for you or your event or your organization, team, you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers at 214 420 1999 or by going to gdaspeakers.com. If you would like to read [00:42:00] the transcript of today's podcast you can do so by going to gdapodcast.com and more importantly, if you want some good reads you can purchase here, coming soon, The Hero Effect by Mr. Kevin Brown as well. Thanks Kevin.

Gail Davis: Thank you Kevin.

Kevin Brown: Thank you. My pleasure. Thank you both.

Kyle Davis: Thank you.

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ep. 29 - Kevin Brown: Helping Organizations Create a Culture of HEROES at Every Level by GDA Podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.