ep. 48 - Sam Silverstein: Founder of The Accountability Movement, and Expert on Workplace & Organizational Culture
Sam Silverstein is dedicated to empowering people to live accountable lives, transform the way they do business and create a more accountable world. He helps companies create an organizational culture that prioritizes and inspires accountability.
As a former executive and business owner, Sam’s manufacturing and distribution companies sold over $100 million in products and services. He successfully sold one of his businesses to a Fortune 500 company. Today, Sam writes, speaks and consults with such companies, inspiring and challenging their people to think differently to achieve a better result.
Sam’s work with entrepreneurs, multi-national companies, and government agencies has transformed organizational cultures and driven increased engagement and productivity. He has written numerous books including Making Accountable Decisions, No More Excuses, and most recently, Non-Negotiable.
He is the founder of The Accountability Movement™, which is focused on building powerful communities filled with people and organizations, that know their values, live their values and keep their commitments.
ep. 48 - Sam Silverstein: Founder of The Accountability Movement, and Expert on Workplace & Organizational Culture
Gail Davis: Five, four, three, two one.
Today's guest. On GDA podcast is Sam Silverstein. Sam is the founder of the Accountability Movement. He's also a former partner of manufacturing and distribution companies. Sam [00:01:00] really empowers bold leadership within organizations and reveals powerful truths that allow companies to position themselves in innovation and ideal culture.
Sam has a quote that I really like. He say, "You either have a culture by default, or they have a culture by design. And the great thing is, as a leader, you get to choose which." I'm excited to talk about that, and I'm excited to welcome Sam to GDA podcast. Welcome, Sam.
Kyle Davis: Hey Sam.
Sam Silverstein: [00:01:30] Well, hi, Gail. Hi Kyle, it is great to be here.
Kyle Davis: Well, I'm very happy to have you on. And for those listening, his audio sounds delicious. I figured I'd just get that out of the way. I think probably a good place for us to start, you know, obviously, I see that you're the founder of the Accountability Movement, and you've done a lot of stuff prior to going in that direction.
So, for those listening who don't have an idea of who you are or maybe your background, if you could just [00:02:00] ... what did you do prior to speaking, and how did you get here?
Sam Silverstein: Well, now you're asking me to remember way back. I had a window and door manufacturing company, as the last major business that I owned, and a lot of people kept coming up to me and saying, hey, thanks for the advice you gave me. And quite frankly I didn't remember having the conversation with them in the first place.
I must have said something along the way, in conversation that made a different. And [00:02:30] I liked that. It felt good. I thought to myself, "If I could make a different without trying, what would happen if I did try?"
So, I wrote my first book, and started speaking and working with organizations and I did it because I want to help people. I want to help people get better. And my organization, we work with companies to help them get better. That's what it's all about.
Kyle Davis: And so, pivoting into the Accountability Movement, this trademark, if you will, you know, I see that the focus is [00:03:00] to help build powerful companies, or communities, really, and kind of go beyond that and really target what their commitments and values and everything else are.
If you can, for those who are hearing this word, accountability, which is so in the air, if you will, what are your thoughts on it, and what does the Accountability Movement do to help these companies and your audience?
Sam Silverstein: Well, boy, I'll tell [00:03:30] you what. Here's how we see things. Accountability is the highest form of leadership. Period. It is the hightest form of leadership. Accountability is a way of thinking, not a way of doing. What we've discovered is, that you go out and you buy a leadership book. You go listen to most leadership speakers. They're going to tell you what to do.
The reality is it's not about changing what you do. What we've discovered is if you want transformation in an organization, you have to change what you think. When you change what you think, then that will [00:04:00] drive you to change what you do. But in this situation, those changes will be permanent. What we've discovered is accountability is at the very core of everything.
I used to speak on so many different topics that were attached to personal performance and organizational growth, and I just didn't have a handle on it. And then it was about 15 years ago that I realized every I did really came back to accountability. That's what it's all about.
People see accountability [00:04:30] as, they see it as punitive. They see it as punishment, they see it as standing up and saying, "Oh, it was my fault. It won't happen again." No. That's not what accountability is. Accountability is really something that's very positive.
The dictionary defines accountability as an obligation, or willingness to accept responsibility, or to account for one's actions. We define it simply as this. It's keeping your commitments to people. So, accountability always involves people. Accountability [00:05:00] is proactive. It's getting it right on the front end.
And when people understand what accountability is and what those commitments really are, and we help them with that, then what happens is they start changing the way they see people, the way they treat people, relationship in organizations change. Relationship in communities change and when those relationship change, well, then a lot of things start to change that flow out of that.
Kyle Davis: One of the things that you just said a moment ago was that a lot of people when they bring somebody on, or they read some [00:05:30] leadership book, these are the things that you need to do. And while there is some validity, probably in that, changing the way that you think, and becoming a Zen Buddha, if you will, really does help people. What are you seeing, you know, when you say, "You just got to change the way you think, not necessarily change what you do." How does that go over, and what are the results?
Sam Silverstein: Well, here's what we know. There's two sides to every business. There's the tactical side. [00:06:00] How you run the cash register. How you mop the floor. How you engage a client. How you make a sale. How do you do the paperwork. How do you handle customer service. That's all the tactical stuff. We go into company, after company, after company, they master the tactically. They've got the tactical nailed.
The reality is that the tactical won't even differentiate you from another organization because everyone knows all the tactics. So, it's the spirit of the organization that's going to differentiate you. And the spirit is based on what you believe, and what you [00:06:30] think. That's what's going to drive your uniqueness. That's what's going to drive your identity. That's what's going to drive your relationship with your people.
It's about capturing that and understanding that. Most organizations that really are able to capture that in their culture, they do it through their values. And so, we talk about, you quoted me earlier, you either have a culture by default, or a culture by design. As a leader, you get to pick.
Well, a culture by default is anything goes. A culture by design [00:07:00] says, "These are the values of the organization. This is how we do it here. And there is no choice. This is how we do it." Not what the policies are. Not what the rules are, but these are the values. This is how we think.
Those values attach to very specific things. Internal relationships, external relationships, how you see your commitment to the community. How you define excellence. What [00:07:30] really the character and the foundation of the organization are build on. And so those are all thinking things. They're not doing things.
Where companies go wrong, where they have problems, and we see it. You know, you see when people get dragged off of airlines. You see it when people are allowed to exist in an organization and sexual harassment goes on over, and over, and over again. Why does that happen? Well, it's because it's a culture by default. [00:08:00] No one has defined the culture and no one has said, this is how it is here period. That's how they're thinking. Not what they're doing.
Kyle Davis: Right. One of the things that I really love that you just touched upon, is that people really get hung up on the tactics, or the tactical nature of certain things. When I was in school, a lot of my friends were in the military. You know, you always ask questions. You know, What was it like when you were going to raid a house? What did you do?" The tactics, [00:08:30] if you will.
But those were constantly changing. But what doesn't really change, is the strategic foresight. And so they've instilled in me, you know, there's tactics, there's operations, or there's tactical, operational, and strategic. And really focusing and framing your vision towards strategic. If we're going to use the US government as an example, your military and what it does is tactical. Your State Department is strategic, and that sets the course for how things go, so you don't have to use [00:09:00] that tactical stuff.
With that in mind, you mentioned all these cultures and everything, and the culture of default, and thinking, "If I just hire a bunch of sales studs, then I'll be fine." But they don't really think about the strategic vision, or the culture. What are you thinking that is, and what does it take to really reframe that idea?
Sam Silverstein: Okay. So, here's what happens. We go to school, we go to business school, we go to grad school, we go wherever we go, [00:09:30] and it's tactics, tactics, and more tactics. And so we focus on that and we focus on the bottom line, and we focus on making money. And we need to make money. Organizations have to make money if they're going to thrive and stay in business.
But what we've discovered is this. When you focus on the tactical, you'll make, you can, if you excel, you can make money. But you're not going to get better at the non-tactical, or the spirit of the business. But when you focus on the spirit of the businesses, which needs to be 50%, then what happens [00:10:00] is not only do you master that, but you get better at the tactical than you could ever get when you just focus on that.
I'm doing a program and I'm in Dallas, actually, for this program. And over lunch at this luncheon meeting, I present a scenario. I said, "Your top producer, your top producer is causing problems with two employees in the organization, they're disrespecting them, what do you do?"
One gentleman looked at me, he said, "I move him into a corner [00:10:30] office so he doesn't have to see those people." What this CEO is saying is it doesn't matter how you act. It doesn't matter if you treat people poorly. If you produce, you have a place in my organization.
Well, do you want to work next to that guy? Do you want to be associated with that? Do you want to be in that organization? What that owner needed to do is he needed to fire his butt, and he needed to, by firing him, tell the rest of the sales organization [00:11:00] and the company, hey, if you don't act right, you don't stay here. And now, what does the rest of the sales organization think?
They go, "Oh my gosh, they fired the number one producer. He must believe in us. He must believe we have the ability. We've got to up our game. We've got to produce like never before." And so, you either decide, we are either going to allow people to hand around in this organization and act like that, or you don't. That goes back to the values.
My last book was, Non-Negotiable. It's about a bank out of Amarillo, Texas, [00:11:30] and it's called, Happy State Bank. It's a real bank.
Kyle Davis: I've seen this bank. It has a location here in Dallas. I drive past it all the time.
Sam Silverstein: It does. Guess What? They've gone from one location and $10 million in assets in 27 years, they now have over 35 locations and in excess of about $3.2 billion in assets. And they're now in the metroplex area. Their stock value has never gone down in 27 years. Not in 2007, 2008, [00:12:00] 2010. Never.
But, guess what? I'm in one of their branches, a major branch in Lubbock, and their top producer isn't getting along with a couple of people in there. And the president of the Lubbock area told me, he says, "You know, we've told him, he hasn't changed, I'm going to get rid of him. We don't need that."
You see, it's how they think. It's the values that they all come back to. It's the values they connect on. Nobody connects on the product. Nobody [00:12:30] connects on the service. People connect through values. And when you build those connections, and you design your culture, and then you say, this is non-negotiable, it doesn't matter whether you're the CEO or the janitor, this is how we live here. That's when amazing things happen inside of an organization.
Kyle Davis: One of my favorite quotes, and I'm about to share is, I forgot, it was one of my friends basically shared it with me but it's, "Short-term gain isn't worth long-term pain." It's people lacking the strategic foresight to really think about the pros [00:13:00] and the cons. They're just consumed by being very myopic and saying, "Oh, this guy's a top producer. Instead, they're not seeing what the second, third, and fourth order of effects are of keeping this individual around, or having this cultural mind set.
Going more broadly, not just about strategic cultural shifts, but just strategic thinking in general, how do we get out of looking at the trees, and how do we focus more on the forest? Sam Silverstein: Well, that's [00:13:30] a great question. I mean, there's several aspects of that, but it's critical, we all have to step back and know what it is that we believe. And then make decisions based off of that and stick with it.
You know, we say something on Friday night or Saturday morning or Sunday morning, but then we come to work on Monday, and Tuesday, and our actions don't align with those words. And I believe it's critical that our actions always [00:14:00] align with what it is that we say that we believe. And that should be driving our values.
It's the values that are so critical in an organization. You show me an organization where they don't have great customer service. It's not because they haven't taught customer service. They haven't brought in ... "Oh. Let's bring in speakers and bring them in to talk about customer service." That's not going to solve any problem. That's just going to fill time between nine and 10 in the morning.
If you don't change what it is you truly believe about people, you'll never [00:14:30] change how you act towards them.
Gail Davis: Once a culture is clearly defined, and the values are in place, what are some good tools and techniques for determining in the interview process if potential candidates have values that are in good alignment with your company?
Sam Silverstein: Well, see, there you go, Gail. You're always trying to one-up me. That's where it starts. That's exactly it. You hire to [00:15:00] the values. We have a client that we help step through understanding what their values were, and then establishing them in the organization. It got to the point where they would never show a job description until they showed their values and discussed the values and felt that that individual could align with those values.
Now, I don't have to live those values at home, but I better live those values inside the organization. Now. If you have great values in an organization, then what happens is people take [00:15:30] them home. We have story after story of people taking the organization's values home. They impact their families. Their spouses take them to their place of business. They infiltrate the community. That's the impact and influence the real power that a leader has when they're tapped into accountability. That's why accountability is the hightest form of leadership.
Yes, you hire from the values. You fire from the values. You make sure that you believe that someone can live [00:16:00] those values in your organization when you hire them, and if they're not living them, then you got to let them go, where their kind of behavior is going to be appreciated.
I'll give you an example, though, of the case study we did about Happy State Bank. When you go to work at Happy State Bank, everyone goes through an uptake program. It's four days long, and it's called Happy Beginnings. When you have a name like Happy State Bank, you get to have program like Happy Beginnings. They don't have a name [00:16:30] for it when they let you go, but I'm-
Kyle Davis: I hope it's Happy Trails.
Sam Silverstein: It might be something along that line. But at the end of this program, no matter whether you're a janitor, or Vice President, a teller, either right after the program, or maybe a week or so later, you go into the CEO's office. Every employee goes into the CEO's office. Twice a month he brings them in, and Pat sits down with them, and he spends an hour and a half talking about what he believes. [00:17:00] What they believe at the organization. What their values are and how they live those values.
You see, they hire to them, and they start teaching them, and they model them, all from the beginning. And that way, when someone is coming up short, they have the right to then coach them, and if they're not coachable, then they let them go.
Kyle Davis: One of the themes that has been pulled throughout a lot of the podcasts in regards to being [00:17:30] strong on culture, strong on authenticity, strong on intentionality, and everything else, is really knowing what your brand and what your value is. But one of the common counter threads to it is that people don't really focus on what their value is. What are some things that companies, individuals, leaders can do to really focus on the values that they want other people to have and what [00:18:00] they want to portray out to the world.
Sam Silverstein: Okay, so here's how it works. If you really want a great culture, and we don't have time to go through it all, but in essence, there's five steps. It starts with designing it, which means you determine what those values are. And then you model it. It starts with the leader.
It's not the values for you, [00:18:30] it's the values for all of us and it's the leaders saying, "These are the value of the organization, I'm going to live these values. And if I stray I want you to let me know." Now, that's authenticity. That's transparency. And that's how you build relationship within an organization. You design it. You model it. You teach it.
Remember, I said that Pat Hickman, the CEO of Happy State Bank, from the very beginning, he teaches the values to the employees, and they talk about these values. It's always in conversation. [00:19:00] They never have a meeting inside the organization where they don't talk about one or more values.
They talk about the values at their stockholder's meeting, they talk about the values at manager's meeting. They have, at 5:00, they might have what they call MDB. Management by Drinking Beer. Yeah, five or six of them will sit around and they'll have a beer and they'll talk and they'll get creative.
I've sat in those conversations and a value will [00:19:30] come up. They'll be talking about their values. It's always part of the conversation. You either start a meeting or finish a meeting talking about your values you're constantly modeling it, teaching it. And then you have to protect it.
You protect your values by first building relationships. That's the proactive way. Building relationship within the organization. And then the reactive way, which you have to do sometimes, you project those values by [00:20:00] letting those people go elsewhere if they're not living the values.
Because you see, if you allow me to not live on of those values, then what happens is everyone else knows that it's negotiable. That's why we titled the book, Non-Negotiable, because the values in an organization that has a culture by design, those values are non-negotiable.
And then the last step in the whole process is you celebrate it. You celebrate your success and you connect that success to those values. You celebrate [00:20:30] that success with everyone. Every time you make a decision inside of an organization, you teach the people you're leading how you made that decision.
You show how that decision connected back to the values. The values are always part of the conversation. And if it's what's your always talking about, guess what? Your people will realize this is important. They'll realize it's important to you, and it better be important to them.
Kyle Davis: You know, one of the things that start ups kind of give a lot of heck to pay for, especially by [00:21:00] investors, or stockholders, depending upon where they are in the IPO race, is that it's always this beer or playing Foosball or whatnot, and they don't realize that there's actually a lot of thought process that goes into the management training how they approach certain things.
I'm actually reminded of a previous manager of mine who used to model, and this is fascinating, but he used to model his meetings with me, and his name's Javier Rosa, he's at [inaudible 00:21:23], but he used to model his meetings with me on the values that we had there. And so, it's which one did we [00:21:30] exceed at this week, and which one are we needing improvement on? That's how we did our ... I can't quite remember, I think we had a value for each letter of the name of the company. So, we really focused on that.
And then more importantly that weekly meeting or daily, or whatnot, was put on top of a quarterly plan. That's how we really focused it. I hear it from all my friends whether they work at Facebook, Amazon, Google, there's always this similar theme, versus my friends who [00:22:00] work at more established companies, whether it be Wall Street, or whatever, where it's, "Hey, Bud, there's your desk, there's your cubicle, just get to work, I'll see you in two years and maybe we can talk about a raise."
Sam Silverstein: Yeah, and so that's the problem. And so, here's what we find. Most companies have values and if you're doing research and you wanted to find the values of a major company, Kyle, where would you go to find them?
Kyle Davis: Google.
Sam Silverstein: Yeah, you'd Google it. You might go to their website. [00:22:30] They would be listed potentially under the About Us. If you walked into their cafeteria, they might be up on the cafeteria wall. We had a client once, we discovered they had them on the bathroom wall. I'm not sure what that was all about, but the reality is that for most organizations we find that their values are a part of their marketing. It's not really who they are. And so, they're on the wall, they're on the stockholders' report, they're on the website, but they're not in their [00:23:00] people.
It goes back to Gail, what you asked. You got to hire to those values and you got to constantly teach those values and talk about those values and get them in the people. And when they're in the people, it's not about knowing some words, word for word, it's about understanding what they mean and how you make decisions. Because now, if everyone in the organization understands the values of the organization, everyone at every level can make a decision. [00:23:30] And it's going to be a good decision because it will based in the values.
Which means now, as a leader you're doing what you're supposed to do, which is training your people to be successful. Insuring their success. And, boy, they don't have to come to you with every little question. Think about what happens to productivity and the bottom line. That's why I say, when you master the spirit of the organization, when you really know what it is that you value, and you build that into your organization, [00:24:00] there is a level of performance that you achieve that can never be achieved just by focusing on the tactics and the strategies of the businesses that you're in. This is what true leadership is.
Kyle Davis: I'm reminded now of all these companies that have just insane, rave reviews from employees that work for them, whether it be Southwest Airlines, McKinsey, and Deloitte, Facebook, and Google, LinkedIn, [00:24:30] even.
Sam Silverstein: Chick-fil-A.
Kyle Davis: Chick-fil-A. There's another great one. Happy State Bank, maybe. All of these companies, they really like ... people bought into what it was because those values are, like you said, they hired, it's in alignment, and then they lived those values, versus some of these other companies, which will remain nameless, that just-
Gail Davis: Churn and burn.
Kyle Davis: Churn and burn.
Sam Silverstein: Exactly.
Kyle Davis: And that's the culture that they set up for themselves.
Sam Silverstein: Here's the cool thing. We did over 100 interviews associated [00:25:00] with that last book, and I started hearing two phrases, two statements, over and over, over and over, over and over, over and again, so much so, that I went into the CEO's office and I asked him if he was prepping the people before I was interviewing them. I mean, I didn't believe that he was, but I just had to ask the question. And you know, he wasn't, but here's what we heard.
We heard two things. Number one, I work harder here than any job I've ever had, and I love it. [00:25:30] See, when you love the people that you work with, when you're working with a set of people, a group of people that are all working around the same set of values.
You're connected, you've got each other's back, guess what, you don't need to bring in someone to think about teamwork, or to teach teamwork, because these people are naturally building relationships and they're accomplishing things that other organizations only dream of.
The other thing we heard over and over and over again is I would rather die than let Pat down. [00:26:00] Pat being the CEO. Now think about that. His people would rather die than let him down. And that's because he would rather die than let them down. That's because he keeps his commitments to his people.
He's the accountable leader. He's setting the example, which means now these people will go to the ends of the earth to make sure that this organization is successful. So, in '07, and in '10, when banks [00:26:30] around the country, including in Texas, are tanking and doing terrible, their stock value is going up.
It's a bank. You know, banks only take money in and loan it out. And here's this organization when their industry is in turmoil and they are thriving. The only difference between them and every other bank is, they got a set of values. It flows from the top. Everyone lives them in [00:27:00] every decision that they make and they are non-negotiable. That's the accountable leader at work.
Gail Davis: I am so inspired. I love this industry, I love doing this podcast because I love being reminded how important these fundamentals are, and how really when you stay focused, it's not that hard. But people do veer off, and I love it when someone comes in and just takes a concept and makes it so simple. [00:27:30] And I love everything that you've talked about today. About keeping your commitments to your people. Defining things that are non-negotiable, and being so clear on those values and letting it start at the beginning and continue all the way through, and then hiring to it, firing to it. Love it. I'm inspired. I'm ready to take off and have a training session on Monday, where I reignite all our values. I love it. I love it.
Sam Silverstein: There we go. I'll lead your [00:28:00] team through that, Gail.
Gail Davis: Oh, that would be awesome.
Kyle Davis: We'll see you here on Monday. Now with that being said, when you talk to these companies, and you've talked to tens, hundreds, thousands of them. If you were to synthesize the values, what are the top three that the top performing organizations really hold themselves to?
Sam Silverstein: Well-
Kyle Davis: I know that's a fun question, but I want to provide some premium content for some individuals. Or you can give the [00:28:30] bottom three that just don't work. Your call.
Sam Silverstein: Yeah. Your values are unique, like your fingerprint. Here's what we know. If an organization really has a great set of values, those values are going to deal with the character of the organization, their going to deal with internal relationship, how we get along internally. They're going to deal with external relationship. They're going to deal with and touch on how they define excellence and professionalism [00:29:00] within the organization. And they're also going to connect to their commitment to the community in which they serve.
The best organizations, the organizations that really have this make sure that their values connect to all those areas. When they do that, then that blueprint is put in place. We share Happy State Bank's values in the book. I'm not saying that to push the book, but I'm saying it because their values are so powerful that [00:29:30] here in my organization, people have said, you know what, if this is all I had, I could go to work there and be successful.
When your values have that kind of clarity, it's not just a list of words, it's not just about saying, "Oh, integrity," you know honesty. It's easy to say, but we may interpret what integrity is differently, but when you really define what those values are. I mean at Happy State Bank, for instance, one of their values is family first. [00:30:00] Now, we've heard that before, we've heard that a million times. But they define it like this.
If on a Wednesday afternoon at 4:30, you're at work and one of your children has a softball game, a baseball game, a cheerleading contest, there's a family event, and your reason for not being at the family event is work, that's a dismissible occurrence.
Gail Davis: Wow. That's pretty clear.
Kyle Davis: I like it.
Gail Davis: That's clear.
Sam Silverstein: Exactly, there's [00:30:30] clarity there. Now, I share that value and I know a lot of times people in the audience go, oh, well that would never work here. Well, I don't know. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. Just because ... If you stop and thought about it, maybe you could figure it out. And the fact that it would or wouldn't is irrelevant. It works for Happy State Bank. They have figured it out, they see, they have figured it out. They have one value that says that your relationship with your coworker will be as good, if not better [00:31:00] than your relationship with your best client.
Gail Davis: Oh, that's good.
Sam Silverstein: Now, see, you know right away ... Isn't that good? Now see, if the three of us work in a department together, they're saying, hey, Kyle, Gail. Sam, you guys are going to get along, and if you're not getting along, we're going to hash it out and figure it out. Someone's not going to be here. Now when you have people that are getting along, they work together, they help each other, they have each other's back. Now, guess what happens? [00:31:30] Gail, you have a family event that you need to get to. Who's going to cover for you? Well, I am, because we got a great relationship. You covered for me last week. These start to build on one another. They had one that talks about integrity, and do what's right. Do what's right. First time every time. No matter what it costs, no matter who it offends.
Gail Davis: Those are good.
Kyle Davis: I like the fact that you said that [00:32:00] values are unique like a fingerprint. And was really kind of hoping you would say something like that because I think too often people, they'll use cliché phrases like customer service, or always on time, always deliver-
Sam Silverstein: Exactly.
Kyle Davis: Something ... Well, what does that mean?
Sam Silverstein: Well, see that's the key. You've got to go deep and explain what it means because you want me to be able to come in and be a success in your organization just by understanding what those values are. You can [00:32:30] teach anyone to work a cash register, to run a teller draw. You can teach anyone to sweep the floor. You know at Chick-fil-A, you chuckled when I mentioned Chick-fil-A. People love Chick-fil-A. Who worked-
Kyle Davis: I love Chick-fil-A.
Sam Silverstein: Yeah.
Kyle Davis: Chick-fil-A send me some free honey butter biscuits.
Sam Silverstein: Well, it's just a bunch of pimple-faced teenagers working there.
Kyle Davis: No it's not. I see some clean faces.
Sam Silverstein: It's not that they know how to mop better. It's not that they know how to cook [00:33:00] better. But they operate to a standard. They have a set of values that everyone in that organization operates. And here's the other key. Values are about people. Values are about people. All values connect to people.
We had a client once, we were helping them with their values. He says, "Well, one of our values is community service." We go, "Great, that's a great value." And we were helping them refine their values. [00:33:30] They were taking a fresh look, and someone that works here in my organization, Sharon. She's my thought partner, and she's working with me with this client that we were consulting with.
She says, "Wow, that's great." And he says, "yep, yep, that's one of our values. It's in our policy manual. You get two paid days off per year for community service." And she paused, and then she said, "How may paid days as an organization did you have last year?" [00:34:00] And that's what we had. We had silence because the answer was zero. And the reason it was zero is because community service for them was a policy, it wasn't a value.
Kyle Davis: You know, one of the things that I'm reminded of right now, is when I went to go work in San Francisco, the policy for many well-established tech start-ups is unlimited PTO. Unlimited paid time off. Now, [00:34:30] tell that to my mom who worked at EDS for Ross Perot, you know, what? People are going to abuse it and everything else.
You know what? I took a week off not even a month in for a person thing, and I had to do it. But because I could do it, the loyalty that I had for that company, even to this day, I mean, I haven't worked for them in two years, I will tell everybody, you have to just do it. Here's the thing, I'm like the biggest [00:35:00] cheerleader. It's not just with unlimited paid time off, but it's the fact that I was an equal to everybody else on day one. I didn't have to earn credit for time off. I didn't have to earn sick leave. I didn't have to do this. I was equal.
Sam Silverstein: Yeah, they saw you as a human being. They treated you the way you would want to be treated and because of that, you used the magic word. You don't hear this much anymore. That's loyalty. Loyalty is generated by the accountable leader. The accountable leader naturally generates loyalty within their organization.
[00:35:30] I got to share one other value with you real quick because there's an interesting connection to it. You know, I delinted the difference between policy and values, and when they made community service one of their values, this organization, by the way, their community service in the next six months went through the ceiling. I mean, they were in the newspaper, on TV, for all the community service they were doing because they finally made it a value, and it was in the forefront of their minds. One of the other values at Happy State Bank is PDI. And PDI [00:36:00] simply stands for, Produce Damn It. That's their profession. Get your job done, and do it well.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Ours is GSD. Get Sh*t Done. Sorry.
Sam Silverstein: Yeah, so at any rate, I made the mistake of telling Pat one time, I guess PDI is the opposite, or balances out of Family First. And he says, "No, [00:36:30] one has nothing to do with the other." They have 20 values. Now, that's a lot. Most organizations don't have that many. And it doesn't really matter how many you have, but the point is this. They do not prioritize their values. Their values do not balance each other out. There is no order.
In an organization you are responsible to live all of the values. The accountable leader, when they teach you what the values are, they empower you how to figure out how [00:37:00] to live those values. And how you do that, then you take ownership of those values. Our clients never number their values. There's no assumed order. They're just values. And if you really truly value it, then, of course, you would never negotiate it.
Gail Davis: Kyle mentioned that I worked for EDS, and I worked there for 20 years, and listening to you talk, I realize how strong that culture was. People [00:37:30] went to work there and they worked there for an entire career. Last year, we had a reunion of former EDS employees. Our former Chairman came. The former President came. And about 40 employees came who are now CEOs in Silicon Valley, CEOs of other companies.
We were sitting at dinner one night going, "This is unheard of. The company, EDS does not even exist today." It got [00:38:00] bought by Hewlett Packard. It has a completely different name. And here we are as a group of former employees at a reunion. That's an example of people who had loyalty and were connected and really bought into an overall value system.
Sam Silverstein: Right. You weren't connected through the products and service.
Kyle Davis: One of the things you mentioned loyalty, and I want to come back to it, but I think too often loyalty is liked to a KPI, and it's not. You build loyalty. [00:38:30] Loyalty is like a-
Gail Davis: It is a value. It's not a to do.
Kyle Davis: Right, right, it's not a to-do. You have to really fill it up like a gas tank. That's how you get it, right?
Sam Silverstein: Well, loyalty and trust are kind of anomalies. I'm sure you've heard this. You've heard the leader go, "Well, you've got to earn my trust." I'm like, wow, you mean you would hire me and you don't trust me?" [00:39:00] It's a sad situation. It doesn't work that way. Guess what? The leader has to earn the trust of the people they lead. The leader earns the loyalty. It's not the other way around. The leader earns it by how they act, how they handle themselves. The leader earns it by the commitments.
That's actually what we call the 10 Commitments. We don't have time to get into it now, but there's 10 Commitments that the accountable leader makes. You know, [00:39:30] whether implied or stated. And it's through those commitments that they earn that loyalty. That they earn that trust. And when you as a leader trust me, when you trust me to, like the example you gave, Kyle, have that unlimited paid time off and it's up to you to be responsible, and you talked immediately about loyalty. Yeah. You right away see that I trust you.
Well what happens? You don't want to let me down. You don't want to let that [00:40:00] trust down, and so you're going to keep that vacation time to a minimum. You're going to show me you appreciate it but then you're going to come back and bust your chops and get your job done. And so it starts with the leader earning trust and loyalty. Not with the people earning trust and loyalty.
Kyle Davis: Well, I think that is a beautiful place to wrap it.
Gail Davis: I do too. This has been inspiring.
Kyle Davis: It has. I also actually took the point. I like trust and verify. I think that's a good one. Trust everybody but [00:40:30] verify it. Make sure it happens. Leadership. Okay, cool. Because I just don't have my notes in front of me and I want to help you out Sam, could you let the audience know about your books?
Sam Silverstein: Oh, well certainly. There's a whole bunch of them. Non-Negotiable, No More Excuses, The Success Model there's others, but you know, they're available on Amazon. They're available on our website.
Kyle Davis: And they're available on GDApodcast.com
Gail Davis: [00:41:00] Yeah, we're going to put them on there.
Sam Silverstein: Oh, great. That's great. And you know, a lot of ... All those clients that you connect me with and that I speak for, obviously they have the opportunity to get those books through you as well. We love when we have the opportunity to go deep into a book with a client and don't look at a book as a Book of the Month Club. Find a philosophy. Find something you really believe in and then stick with it.
It's that commitment and that consistency that's going to get the result. [00:41:30] When organizations commit to, and they're consistent with their values, they build a culture that prioritize and inspires accountability. When you inspire accountability, it runs rampant through your organization.
Kyle Davis: Well, I probably read Machiavelli, like, I don't know 10 times because I keep going back to it. Cool. If you all would like to book Sam Silverstein, you can do so by contacting GDA speakers at 214-420-1999 or by going to [00:42:00] GDAspeakers.com. For today's transcript and all of the books written by Sam, you can find those at GDApodcast.com. With that being said, Sam, thanks.
Gail Davis: Thank you Sam.
Sam Silverstein: Oh, Gail and Kyle, it's been an honor, really, and thank you for everything you're doing and the messages that you're helping share and make the difference for organizations everywhere.
Gail Davis: Thank you.
Kyle Davis: Thank you.