Wisdom from the CEO’s Heart

The Executive Leader’s Radio broadcast may well be the best hour on radio in America for leaders and by leaders, who sharpen each other’s skills through sharing what made them who they are.

 

It was a typical 90/90 day in Philadelphia (more than 90 degrees with 90-plus percent humidity). The commute from the suburbs into center city Philadelphia was the classic steamy bumper-to-bumper trek on I-95, even though it was Friday and many people were headed out of town for a long weekend. What happened after I arrived at the taping of the Executive Leader’s Radio broadcast made the hot day seem cold by comparison.

Twice a week the Executive Leader’s Radio Network brings together four successful CEOs to help them and the ELR audience discover the passion that fuels their success. ELR is broadcast on 128 internet and terrestrial radio stations on two networks, with a weekly listenership of about 7 million people. It is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur and show co-founder Herb Cohen. What he and his co-hosts accomplish in about two hours is pure magic. And after 8,000 CEO interviews, Herb has perfected the approach he and his co-hosts use to help each CEO tell his or her story in just ten minutes.

We adults are products of our childhoods. Our parents, families, and early experiences all shape us into who we become as adults. Try this premise on yourself: write down the qualities and traits that characterize you in your adult roles (parent, professional, and community member). Then think back to your formative childhood years, ages eight to fourteen, for the events and experiences where you first saw each trait and quality being formed. And while each one of us is an unfinished work-in-progress, many of those early experiences were the start of what we have become today.

Take Mike M., CEO of a 30-year old biometric testing company. During his childhood he moved 13 times. Herb asks, “What did that do to you?” “Well, it made me realize the value of caring about people, having to make new friends and recognizing how important family is,” Mike replies. Not surprisingly one of his company’s core values is caring. That shows up in action, not just on a plaque in the lobby. “I want to leave people better off than when I first met them,” Mike said, after recounting how he paid for an employee’s child’s education after the employee suffered the loss of a spouse. Mike lives out the values he espouses, with a heart for people.

Or Dan L. and John T, the two managing partners for an office co-location and shared space provider. Dan recalls his first entrepreneurial venture at age seven, when he rented out his top-of-the-line bicycle to kids in his neighborhood, sharing the thrill of riding it for a dollar. Today he lives out his passion for sharing by providing shared office space for about seventy tenant companies. “Our tenants collaborate in unique ways, sharing ideas, technology, and even becoming clients of one another. It’s all about the sharing.” Partner John grew up in Ireland in a middle class family where he learned how to make good ideas happen, and he’s the perfect partner for Dan. “It’s the ‘value of two’…we can make a real difference in our client’s businesses, helping them achieve far more than they could if they were on their own.”

Herb and his co-hosts help each CEO focus on the formative events and experiences of childhood. In each case who the CEO is today reflects those life lessons learned before their sixteenth birthday. The strong influence of CEO Nick C’s parents and grandparents are evidenced in the family feel and values of the insurance underwriting company he directs. Likewise Chris M, who leads a county career and technical center of 500-plus students, reflects the life-building values he learned growing up in his mission to “shape tomorrow’s future by preparing kids for life” and good jobs when they graduate.

While each CEO gave his story, the others listened from the edge of their seats, nodding in agreement as each shared the values that drive him, make him who they are today. Each CEO was genuinely thirsty for what was shared by peers. No posturing, no platitudes, just the humble and transparent heartbeat of leaders making a difference in the lives of others.

All too often we hear of or read about heartless, self-absorbed CEOs out for themselves. None of that on Executive Leader’s Radio. I’d be proud to work with and learn from any of the guest CEOs. They are America’s heroes. The kind of person who helped build this country into what it is today. Truly inspiring!

Four organizations, four diverse leadership backgrounds and styles. Yet a single, unified testimony of serving employees, customers, and their communities through the values they learned in childhood.

Take a listen for yourself and you’ll be convinced. You can hear the webcast of nearly 1500 shows by visiting http://www.executiveleadersradio.com/business-radio-schedule.aspx. Explore the website to learn more about the show, its talent, a list of past CEO guests, and where you can catch an ELR broadcast. Download a show to listen on your jog or commute. You’ll be glad you did.

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