Talent Talk Radio Show
Mark Villareal, Senior Vice President of 5 Point Enterprises and Mark Miller, Vice President of Marketing for Emergenetics International talk about their thoughts on leadership development, employee retention and the importance of having a solid strategic plan.
Chris: Let’s get to our guest, as I mentioned we have two great ones today. My first one will be Mark Villareal, he’s the Senior Vice President of 5Point Enterprises. We’ll also then have Mark Miller, so it’s a show of Marks today. He’s the Vice President of Marketing for Emergenetics International. I look forward to speaking with Mark Miller on the second half of the show, but let’s go ahead and get to our first guest, Mark Villareal. Mark welcome to the show.
Mark: Thank you Chris. Thanks for having me; I’m excited to be on.
Chris: We’re excited to have you, why you don’t tell everyone a little bit about yourself and what you’re doing for your company 5Point Enterprises.
Mark: For about 35 years I’ve had the privilege of managing people and managing teams. I am in my 20TH year, you mentioned 5Point Enterprises; I’ll kind of explain the dynamics there. New Horizons computer learning centers is where I am on my 20TH year but it’s a franchise organization that has company stores and franchises. I have served both on the franchiser side and on the franchisee side of the business, and part of what I do, first of all, is I strongly believe that leadership makes a difference, and that that best leaders approach leadership with a servant’s heart. So with New Horizons, 5Point Enterprises is one of the franchise ownership groups that owns about 22 locations in 12 different states, so we’re one of the largest in North America. New Horizons computer learning centers, they help businesses achieve and maintain their strategic advantage through technology and computer training to keep them current, or we also help individuals change their life by training them in technology to advance or change their career. New Horizons is in over 300 locations worldwide in 70 countries, so quite expansive.
I’ve been with the 5Point Enterprises group, I’ve been on both sides as mentioned but I’ve been with 5Point Enterprises about six years now and we have over 300 employees. Hopefully that tells you a little bit about myself, New Horizons and 5Point Enterprises.
Chris: That certainly gives us some good background here to know a little bit about what your company is all about and we’re probably going to dig a bit deeper here not only with the company, with you as well. I know when I looked at your LinkedIn bio one of the first things that caught my eye was that you have a passion for developing people in a manner that really helps them achieve their goals. So as a business leader you know the importance of personal and professional development which I think sometimes people ignore that dual perspective, sometimes we only focus on the professional part when we’re dealing with our staff.
What is it from a leadership development perspective we can do to really help people reach both of their professional and personal goals?
Mark: First of all to understand that it’s not taboo to understand what the personal goals are. I think the first thing as a leader is to come across genuine as an individual and to show interest in that person. When people see you as genuine they see things more than just a business, they actually see that you have goals whether personal or professional wanting to achieve and it puts things on a better perspective.
I would say that I believe good leaders work to understand their individual people both personally and professionally and when you understand that you realize that they affect each other, what they want to succeed in professionally helps their personal goals as well, and understanding that is important.
One of the things that over time I find amazing is that when you take time to know about your individual people from a genuine standpoint, how much they open up and appreciate their place of employment. It’s not just a job, it’s a place that they see cares about helping them achieve personally and professionally. Once we know that then we obviously take the steps to create development plans in both areas. When I talked about that you got your professional development plans, but even have personal development plans. We have sent people to seminars that help them develop that doesn’t exactly tie back to their job, but I think a great leader is a good coach, and I think great leaders coach constantly and they don’t make it about themselves but about their people, so when your people see that interaction it’s actually motivating. They see it as not just a gimmick that you’re trying to do it but sometimes they’ll approach it with caution until they see it in action and they see that you have done it for others as well.
Once you have that, it’s a lot easier to gain agreement on accountability and to be open and direct. I always tell people if you need my help I owe it to you to be able to come across directly and honestly and do you want me to do that? You’ll always get that buy in when you approach it the right way.
Finally it allows you to celebrate the victories, to share successes and allows you to point, because you understand both, to the small wins that are leading up to the big wins of obtaining those goals.
Chris: Absolutely. You touched on a lot of great things there. The very first one about it’s not taboo to talk about personal goals, a lot of times we don’t do that because maybe it’s taboo or maybe sometimes people just don’t care. We’re looking at that employee, that person as a whole of where are you trying to go in your life, period, whether it’s just with work or not and there are so many things that cross over. We spend more time at work for a lot of people than we ever do at home or with our own personal stuff, so adding some sprinkling in of that can really give you a better connection and help you with your staff.
I also kind of wonder how has the focus on others and their advancement and growth really helped you to achieve your own personal goals as well? Has there been a connection there?
Mark: Absolutely. I grew up with a father that was a sports fanatic, had every TV on a sport. It allowed me to see that the best coaches — I always relate a lot of things to sports, but they focus on their team players, they focus on their game plan and as they focus on their players and the game plan, as their people develop and have success it all has to be tied back to their success, so it really shows where the best focus should be. The coaches with a vision, because they’re developing people, actually build a legacy where that team can be successful even years after they leave because of what they built, because of that development, so it’s not shortsighted.
That allowed me to learn early on in my career that it’s not about me, it’s about the people that are employed. I talk about a servant’s heart that I’m there to help serve and get them to their goals. I think we all have seen, Chris, the shortsighted manager where it’s about me and it’s about the hard work I’m doing for you and it doesn’t have that long term affect that builds a really great environment. I just simply found that the more I focus on other individual’s success, that mine came naturally and then it developed the next leaders, people being promoted, people growing. It creates a great culture and as they grew it was easy to give them responsibility and larger roles and many of them became strong leaders themselves. That is an environment that feeds itself.
Chris: Yeah, and I think sometimes those shortsighted managers can really be worried — if I help this person too much they’re going to outgrow their position, they’re going to outgrow our company, we’re going to lose this person. That could be true, that certainly could happen that ultimately you get someone who’s stagnant and who’s not progressing and they end up leaving your company anyway or they’re going to stop producing and you’re going to wish they left your company. Do you see that very often?
Mark: Without the right environment like you said, you’re going to see those that probably should leave, and those you said could have been successful not stay, and that’s why by evaluating it, you’ll hear me say many times — anyone who knows me I talk about humility as a strength in a leader. You need to have that humility to say I either need to take action or I need to correct that. You even earn the right to say I need to address these things here in order for you to be successful, and we have to agree on what we need to do to help drive that success, or we have to agree that this isn’t the place for you as well, because you actually owe it to the other team members that are succeeding to keep that team successful as well.
I always say it doesn’t make a person a bad person if they’re not successful within your company, so there’s that respect issue there as well. It’s like hey, you gave me the effort I asked for and it just wasn’t for you and I wish you the best.
Chris: Right and that can be tough to do for some people for sure. I know that your current role, Senior Vice President, you have the opportunity to really directly influence not only the performance of your direct reports but also in that shaping of the culture of the company. What do you identify as some of the keys to creating and maintaining that positive or productive culture for the company that you’re in?
Mark: Right, well first off and there’s a statement out there that culture is everything. I truly believe that in my heart, so to me it not only starts at the top, but has to be driven from the bottom up, so it all meets in the middle. I say there’s always several steps when defining how to create the right culture.Everything starts with the right values for your organization. When you set those values and incorporating in other people’s opinions for those values, but most of all when you define with those values are, I have a saying that values are what you live by; principles are what you stand on. Those values become principles that therefore everything is automatic. If you say your value is integrity and someone drops a five dollar bill and you don’t tell them hey, you dropped a five dollar bill, then you’re not living your values. So actions speak louder than words and once you define that then everything else that you build from your organization ties back to that. The people you hire, the people you keep, the people you promote and the mission and the vision that you build all have to tie back to your values. It’s where everything is created.
I have had the privilege working for some really good leaders that they constantly communicate the vision, so it’s not setting a vision and then saying well there’s a vision, and that’s our vision statement. It’s constantly talking about here’s our vision, here’s where we’re standing, here’s the strides that we’re making and here’s or roadblocks or here’s some bumps in the road that we had, andhere’s where you could make a difference, and that’s the culture of people seeing direction, where sometimes those roadblocks can be big roadblocks.But if they’re understanding the vision, and it’s being driven from the top, and every leader drives it from there that creates that positive culture.
The One Minute Manager, an old book that I read when I was 23 changed my life, talks about catching people doing something right. I talk about rewards or consequences, obviously I’d rather work with rewards and catch people doing something right, talk to them about that help them work on their strengths, but there are consequences too, and that’s where if you’re managing in the right way people open up to allow you, and you owe it to them to be direct on what you need to correct, or things that you need to do, and they appreciate that, because you’re doing it out of help driving their success.
Chris: Absolutely. One of the things you mentioned was it starts at the top but it’s certainly driven from the bottom up and you’re kind of meeting in that middle point and I couldn’t agree with that more. That is something that so many companies don’t realize, they are either totally top down and just ignore it, or they just figure it’s bottom up and they don’t do the planning they need to do to really direct things. There’s certainly a fair amount of planning that needs to go into any good business and good culture so do you find there’s a connection between the actual business plan and creating that and having that process really engrained into the company to really help the company and the individuals and everyone reach their goals and have that ideal culture that you’re looking for?
Mark: I think it’s very important that people need to know how you plan. Strong leaders don’t manage by consensus so it’s not like let’s get everyone’s consensus and we’ll do that, they actually have a way that they get everybody’s input into the planning. But a strong leader has to then go out and through action gain a consensus on what’s been decided on the direction that you’re going. To me planning and business planning is a roadmap to success, I always say that we owe it to our people to give them a roadmap on how to be successful. Like many people, I traveled over the holidays and I drove back from Tennessee to Texas on Sunday and with the rain and with accidents and with weather, there were times I had to get off the roadmap but I knew where to get back on because I had a roadmap to reach my final destination. That’s what good business planning does for people, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be roadblocks or detours, but it allows you to know where you have to get back on that road once you go around that detour because we believe that this is the destination that’s going to take you to that success.
As we educate people on that, and as we manage to it, and as we’re able to show them where they’re straying. If you do a GPS so to speak, that’s what a roadmap is. Here’s the GPS, but here’s where you are, your red dot is over here and we need to get you back on the map, and this is why you’re struggling. It allows for better conversations, better planning and better adjustments.
Chris: Once you kind of have that whole system in place, I’m wondering, too, if you’re starting to notice any changes with the changing workforce. There’s always been a lot of talk about millennia’s and having that new generation coming in. One of the areas we’re noticing a lot of discussion on is this sort of transient or shorter longevity let’s say for employees. We’re getting a shorter lifespan let’s say for this particular generation coming to the workplace. Have you noticed anything around that, have you identified any trends within your own company’s hiring where people aren’t making it a career anymore, they don’t go to a company for 20 or 30 years or however long. You may only keep them for two or three or five, have you seen any of that recently within your own work?
Mark: I have seen the warnings of it so let me take it from that perspective. I am in my 20Th year, so when I tell some people that they say, “Wow, usually people have worked this many jobs within 20 years.” But the gentleman in the office next to me I hired 15 years ago. I have people that have been here 15 to 17 years, a good portion of them.We are seeing millennial’s come onto the workforce and it’s really I think how we share the vision and tell the story of are you coming here for a job, or are you coming here for a career? I think the mindset is a lot of people are looking for jobs not realizing what a career is and how good that can be. And then finally I would say then it’s the environment that you create.You want a work environment where people want to work, where if you had no openings they would fight to get a position. I have seen that and I will say the best environment I’ve seen created is where you run a company where you say “give us 110% and we’ll do everything to advance your career with our organization, with our corporate office or even with your personal dreams.” If you want to own your own business, come give me 110%, earn the money that allows you to do that, and we’ll help advance your career.
In the environment where we have that created, we have seen entry level people, I can name four of them off the top of my head right now, that went on to be high level managers within our corporation and other people who went and owned their own business, but they’re the same people that are scouting for us for employees because they’re saying “that’s a great place to work and I know what it takes to be successful there.” So they send the right people and it creates that culture that’s infectious. A culture can be infectious both ways, bad culture or good culture. I always talk about A-Players, B-Players, and C-Players. Obviously you want to create and hire A-Players.You need your B-Players to gravitate towards those A-Players, and if you have any C-Players you need to define really quickly if they’re just a C-Player and they are the ones that aren’t going to make it with your team.But if you keep them too long, they’ll infect the B-Players that will gravitate towards those C-Players, instead of what you want them to gravitate towards, those A-Players. That’s the environment that it just becomes a cycle that’s so infectious that quite honestly is easy to work in.
Chris: Absolutely. We certainly see that in companies that have great culture, they have that kind of characteristic. It seems like you have a pretty good handle on a lot of the different things that we talk about here on the show on a regular basis, usually I want to ask this question from a guest like yourself. We get great answers, a lot of pressure here Mark, I’m setting you up for a great answer.
Are you reading a book right now and can you tell us about it?
Mark: I do a lot of reading. I have actually just finished a book called The Circle Maker. That’s a Christian based book but it focuses on defining and listing out what they call your 100 BHAPs. We have all heard of BHAGs which is Big Hairy Audacious Goals, well this is your Big Hairy Audacious Prayers, but it really talks about listing them out in several different categories and praying on them, so therefore you would be amazed what comes through.
The other book I just finished is Double Double, which is by Cameron Herold who is the CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK. The book teaches you to look three years out, you can even do it farther and create what is called is a painted picture. In other words, put yourself three years from now like it’s today and write where you’re at, what you’re doing in business, what you’ve accomplished, what you’re doing in your personal life and when you do that, once again that gives you the vision to look out. In fact I did mine and I have mine hanging on my wall and I was amazed how much that three year vision is actually pretty accurate. Instead of guesswork you’re putting it out there and it kind of helps you drive towards that.
Chris: It sounds like two great books that people might want to check out, and just as a reminder that we always list these on our blog recap on PeopleG2.com. You can go to the blog and we’ll have a recap here in a few weeks of this entire interview and we’ll put the books there and list them out. In case you didn’t have a pen and you couldn’t write them down they’ll be listed there for you, and you can also go back and listen to the podcast.
You’ve talked about a lot of great things today Mark. If someone didn’t take very good notes but they should have taken away at least one thing, one or two things — what should they have heard today from some of the great advice that you gave?
Mark: I would say first of all leadership is not do as I say, not as I do. You’re being watched, so a good leader leads by example, leadership is a commitment to build others and trust that by building their success yours will come naturally instead of trying to look for the rewards openly they’ll come naturally. A good leader, their reward is seeing their people succeeding. They’re seeing their people on stage because they won awards and because they’re the best in the world. I don’t think of anything that’s more rewarding than that, so that’s the fulfillment that a good leader has and enjoys.
Chris: Mark again, we really appreciate you being on the show, you’ve given our listeners a lot of great information and some good books to check out. I’d love to have you come back at some point and give us an update on how you’re doing, how your company is doing. I know we didn’t even get to half the questions here so we have a lot we can talk about.
Mark: I would be happy to, just let me know and I’ll make myself available.
Chris: Alright. So up next we will have our second guest, the second Mark of the Day Mark Miller who will be joining me after this quick commercial break.