My leadership journey is pretty simple. Over thirty years ago, I acknowledged a hunger deep inside of me to become the best leader I could. And I knew that I would have to go outside my circle of influence to find it.
Growing up in Oklahoma, by a single mother, leadership was about the furthest element of my upbringing. We were just trying to survive the normal everyday elements of a very limited budget. Living paycheck to paycheck. My mom just trying to feed three boys that were hungry all the time.
Right out of high school, I got married and began my business career. It was with United Supermarkets of Oklahoma, and all I wanted to be was the local store manager in Clinton, Oklahoma. Have a family and live happily ever after.
I began working at the Weatherford store because it’s where my new bride was enrolled in college at Southwestern State University. I too was enrolled but learned that I didn’t need a college degree to be a store manager.
So, I never went to college and had a goal to become a store manager by the same year that my high school classmates were graduating from college. My classmates graduated in May of 1981 and I made store manager in Oct of 1981. Being a twenty-one year old store manager had it’s own challenges, since almost everyone I managed was about twice my age. My team consisted of over one hundred people and my annual store volume was over $15MM. I could stock groceries, set produce racks, build awesome displays and manage the teams’ schedules and my customers loved me. What more did I need to know?
I had no idea.
But time went on and I managed three different stores in the next five years and when our company was going to put in scanning systems, they tapped me for that project.
I knew nothing about computers, but I did gravitate to technology and was really good with numbers. When putting in the first computers in the company, our owner wanted to take a store manager and have him learn computers so he could make sure we only put in the necessary systems that would actually help the company. Little did I know that this experience would help my project management skills before that was a named skill.
Needless to say, I spent the next five years learning everything I could about computers, software and integrating all that into the business. I went from DOS systems and Multiplan to Windows and Excel.
I went on to become the head buyer of that chain, using all the skills I’d learned about data and using that data to help us become a better retailer.
I felt like I was as good at what I did as anyone.
It wasn’t until I went outside the borders of Oklahoma that I leaned there was a whole different world out there. It moved faster and was way ahead of us on the technology spectrum.
In my last ten years with United was when my true leadership journey began. That was when I knew that if I was ever going to become a leader, I had to begin to seek professionals that lived and taught leadership.
My first indoctrination into that was Dr. Robert H. Schuller. The pastor of the Garden Grove California Chrystal Cathedral and The Hour of Power program. I watched him weekly. He was the most positive business influence in my early years of finding some of the gold nuggets I would later begin to build on. I read every book he’d published at that time with my favorite being, “Tough Times Never Last, Tough People Do.”
Once I recognized that I could be way more successful if I’d just learn more of this type teachings, that’s when I set a goal of reading just four positive leadership books a year.
You have to understand one thing. I HATE TO READ.
So reading four books a year was going to be quite a challenge for me. Or so I thought. I was reading through these books in light speed, taking what I’d read every day to my team and sharing what I was learning, and without realizing it, we all began to grow in our leadership skills.
After about five years of doing this, and hitting my goals every year was when it dawned on me; No way could I remember everything I’d read, but with every book I read, there seemed to be from 8-10 really good teachings that I somewhere along the way I called nuggets. Those nuggets just became part of who I was, and when those years turned into decades, I really began to see success in my career. I’d gone from a local store manager in Oklahoma to President & COO of Rouses Markets thru Aug of 2022. Now in progress of opening a business/leadership coaching firm. When you do something that intentional for that long, it becomes easy to reach inside and pull out a nugget at the perfect time for the perfect coaching moment.
The leadership highlight of my last decade was to have the privilege of having Dr. John C. Maxwell as my personal executive coach for one year and be a member of his Circle Group that year. He says that at some point in a successful career, you move from success to significance. Where you want to build value into people. You just know if you plant good seed, you’ll see a good bountiful harvest. And that’s exactly where I am today. All I care about in my business career is seeing others succeed and grow in their leadership skills.
To date, I’m sure I’ve read hundreds of books and have hundreds if not thousands of gold nuggets inside of who I am. This leadership blog is about sharing as many of those nuggets as possible as long as possible to as many people as possible.
Please feel free to share, forward, quote and grow with me through this journey.
Gather those nuggets!