Matthew Chestnut, USATF Georgia 2016 Cross Country Coach of the Year

Matthew Chestnut was recently awarded USATF Georgia 2016 Cross Country Coach of the Year for his volunteer work with Alpha Crush Running Club, a youth running club he founded in 2011.  In 2016 Alpha Crush had 27 athletes qualify for the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, resulting in 3 athletes that qualified for All American status.  The award was presented September 15, in absentia, at the USATF Georgia Youth Gala in downtown Atlanta.  Matthew was preparing for the 7th Annual Alpha Crush Cross Country Meet and could not attend the gala.

While Matthew volunteers numerous hours of personal time throughout the year with the club, he also takes advantage of ThreeWill’s Volunteer Time Off Program (part of the ThreeWill Foundation initiative) which allows him to volunteer some of his time during work hours.  The VTO program gives associates 5 days a year to volunteer at the organization of their choice.

Congratulations Matthew and thank you for all you do to help the youth of Georgia volunteering as a running coach!

Photo Credit – In memory of David Funderburk, who was shot soon after taking this photo and passed away later that day.  😉



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empty.authorMatthew Chestnut, USATF Georgia 2016 Cross Country Coach of the Year

Discussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 3 of 3

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Part Three of Three in this Series

Key Points

  1.  “Men and women want to do a good job. If they are provided the proper environment they will do so.”  – Bill Hewlett, one of the founders of Hewlett Packard.
  2. “Neurotics think that everything happens because of something that they’ve done and it’s their fault. Character-disordered people, on the other hand, assume too little responsibility, everything that’s happening around them doesn’t have anything to do with them.”
  3. Building habits of good leadership qualities can really make a difference. Practicing love, friendship, and respect will eventually become second nature

Conversation Highlights

  • Analogy of the Garden and the Law of the Harvest – 3:26
  • Making Choices – 8:47
  • The Labors of Leadership – 17:48

Danny :Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How you doing, Tommy Ryan?


Tommy:I’m doing well.


Danny :Awesome.


Tommy:Got some gardening in yesterday.


Danny :I thought that you had some gardening with Dad, that was awesome.


Tommy:Yeah, and it really felt like my first.


Danny :Yeah. So you’re planting, or what were you doing?


Tommy:We made some irrigation, more irrigation, hose and then planted some seeds.


Danny :Very nice, very nice. So I want to hit part three of “The Servant”, if we could hit, the last one only to get three episodes to get through this, but wanted to cover the last bit of the book here. And again, this is a book called “The Servant”. The subtitle says, a simple story about the true essence of leadership by James C. Hunter. And we are on chapter five, and chapter five starts off with a quote, I think I quote this before earlier in the book, which was from Bill Hewlett, one of the founders of Hewlett Packard, which is, “Men and women want to do a good job. If they are provided the proper environment they will do so.” So on chapter five, it is about the environment. So we’re going to talk about creating the proper environment.


Just to get us kicked off here, what is, when you think about creating an environment at ThreeWill, what do you think of first?


Tommy:I think the Maslow’s needs, hierarchy of needs, so creating an environment that gives you the basics of, comfortable. A comfortable seat, and it’s not too hot, not too cold, just right.


Danny :A wicked good internet connection.


Tommy:Yeah, little things like that, that definitely falls in Maslow’s needs there. Back to to see what our internet connectivity was. Kind of excited, because it started of like 300 and something, and that was megabit, so it’s gigabits. I think that’s the first place to start. Just the fundamentals. And then I think people want to be in an environment that they’re cared for. And that sounds kind of squishy softy type stuff in a corporate environment, but at the end of the day, I think that’s what can make or break keeping good people. And being in an environment that they feel appreciated in, cared for, and then, those things they want to do the same for the customers. If they have that environment for themselves. And I think if you don’t have some of that basic care that you sense in your environment, it’s hard to provide that for the services you do as a person working in a consultant company.


Danny :Well, the first couple of bits from this chapter are actually some analogies. And one is one from, which is talking about the relational bank account, and he pulls that from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And this is just a reminder, a relational account metaphor teaches us the importance of keeping healthy relationship balances with significant people in our lives, including those we lead. Simply put, when we meet a person the first time, we basically have a neutral relationship account balance. Because we don’t know one another, and we’re still testing waters. As a relationship matures, however, we make deposits and withdrawals, and this imaginary account’s based on how we behave. For example, you make deposits into these accounts by being trustworthy and honest, giving people appreciation or recognition, keeping our word, being good listeners, not talking behind other backs, using the simple courtesies of hello, please, thank you, and so on. We make withdrawals by being unkind, discourteous, breaking our promises and commitments, backstabbing, being poor listeners, being puffed up and arrogant and so on.


I guess he’s, why pull this relational bank account into creating the proper environment, why do you think he’s pulling that in?


Tommy:I think you have to work in an environment that you have trust with one another, and those things, feel that foundation of trust. With these things that you do you create vulnerabilities. You go and make commitments towards delivering something, and sometimes if you have a low trust environment, you’re going to do things to protect yourself. And that doesn’t necessarily give the best service to a customer if you’re working out, just you, vs. if you build up some trust with your teammates, with your client. And you can after things more aggressively, accomplish more because you’re spending more time towards a solution vs. things that protect you as an individual.


Danny :Awesome. The next metaphor that he brings up is one of what we started the podcast out with, which is the principle of the garden. And that is, we do not make the growth occur. The best we can do is provide the right environment and provide the necessary frictions so people can choose to change and to grow. So you think, the metaphor of what you’re doing in the garden, and how does that what you relate to what you do here at work?


Tommy:Yeah, the law of the harvest, is this?


Danny :Yep. He goes on talking about staying at the Ritz, and the conversation that we had with one of the folks that was there. And this is one of the attendees of the seminar. He was asking about, sort of noticing what happens, and trying to figure out how does this behavior occur when everyone is so courteous to other people, and he asked one of the folks there, and he says, “We have a motto here that goes like this: We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” And then he thought it was interesting, and he’s like, “Okay, that sounds great.” But then the guy follows it up with, “If we don’t behave this way, we don’t get to work here.” So it’s like, if someone doesn’t believe you’re a lady, you’re serving ladies and gentlemen, then it’s basically you don’t get the privilege of working there. Is there anything about that you don’t understand? I laughed and I told him I got his point. So interesting, going into how do you create the proper environment.


Tommy:You said, was this the CEO of Ritz Carlton?


Danny :No, this was just someone who works at Ritz Carlton. So within their training, they institute the concept of saying, the motto here is that we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.


Tommy:Yeah, I just re-listened to a podcast from Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast that was having those interviews, things that go back to before they had some solids concepts. And I think that the whole attitude, I think, creates an environment of service, and an environment of mutual respect. You are a lady or a gentleman serving ladies and gentlemen. It’s not being a servant to a master as much as, we are respectful people serving respectful people.


Danny :Yes. Chapter six is called “The choice”. And within there I pull out a quote that I’ve got earmarked here. “Traditional thinking teaches us that our thoughts and feelings drive our behavior, and of course we know this to be true. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, our paradigms do in fact greatly influence our behavior. Our behavior also influences our thoughts and our feelings. When we as human beings make a commitment to focus attention, time, effort, and other resources on someone or something, over time we begin to develop feelings for the object of our attention. Psychologists say we cathect the object of our attention, or in other words we become hooked or attached to it. Perhaps this explains why adopted children are loved as much as biological children. Why we get so hooked on pets, on cigarettes, gardening, ooh, here’s gardening again, booze, cars, golf, collecting stamps, and all the rest of things that fill our lives. When we pay attention to it, spend time with it, or serve, we become attached to it.”


So talking about choice, free will, this is very much a chapter that we relate to, and making choices, and the small choices in our every day, how important those things are to us. You can just agree with me, say, “That’s brilliant, Danny.”




Danny :I believe leadership begins with the choice, is one part of this he’s pointing out. And then he talks about the differences between neurotics and character-disordered people, which is, neurotics assume too much responsibility and believe everything that happens is their fault. Character-disordered people, on the other hand, generally assume too little responsibility for their actions. So you’re seeing from one end of the spectrum to the other, which is neurotics think that everything happens because of something that they’ve done and it’s their fault. Character-disordered people, on the other hand, assume too little responsibility, everything that’s happening around them doesn’t have anything to do with them. And those are the two spectrums that people can have with this.


Next point, next earmark, I’ve got plenty of earmarks in this chapter, but determinism. “For every event there’s a cause has generally been believed to be true for all physical events, although even this is being challenged by some of the new science. Freud, however, decided to take it a step further. He applied the same principle to human will. He claimed that human beings essentially do not make choices, and that free will is an illusion.” Boo. I should play some booing. Boo, Freud, Boo, he got it wrong. “He believed that our choices and actions are determined by unconscious forces of which we can never be fully aware. Freud asserted that if we know enough about a person’s heredity environment, we can actually predict his behavior right down to the individual choices he makes. This theory dealt the concept of free will, a devastating blow.” Boo.


Tommy:Yeah, I think, nature/ nurture thing. It’s not either/or, there’s an influence there. That Freud meant. He’s nailed well, but it’s not an absence of free will, for sure.


Danny :A couple of ones, and I keep coming back to this book, which I will get to here in a second. I recently … Here’s another quote. “Freely smooth to speak, I added. I recently took an executive course on business ethics where they broke up the word responsibility into two words, response and ability. The course taught us that we have all kinds of stimuli coming at us. Bills, bosses, marriage problems, employee problems, kid problems, neighbor problems, you name it problems. The stimulus is always coming at us, but as human beings we have the ability to choose our response.” Yay! “In fact, the teacher said, speaking more quickly, the ability to choose our response is one of the glories of being human. Animals respond according to instinct.” So, and then again, I read this in college, and it had a profound effect on me, which was a book from Viktor Frankl called “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Do you know the premise of the book?




Danny :So Frankl was, basically he was a Jewish psychiatrist and had spent time in concentration camp. He was in prison for several years, lost nearly his entire family and possessions at the hands of Nazis, and even endured horrible medical experiments. He suffered terribly, and basically had a horrible experience there. So he provides a response to Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud once asserted, “Let no one attempt to expose a number of diverse people uniformly to hunger. With the increase imperative urge of hunger, all individual differences will blur, and instead will appear the uniform expression as one instilled urge. Thank heavens, Freud was spared knowing the concentration camps from the inside. His subjects lay on a couch design, in the plush style of Victorian culture, and not in the filth of Auschwitz. There, the individual differences did not blur, but on the contrary. People became more different. People unmasked themselves. Both the swine and the saints. Men is ultimately self-determining.” Oh, getting chills down my back. “What he becomes, he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine, while others behave like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself, which one is actualized depends on decisions, but not on conditions.


Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers at Auschwitz. However, he’s also that being who entered those gas chambers upright with the Lord’s prayer of the [inaudible 00:16:11] Israel on his lips.” Cool. Boy, getting into more philosophers here. Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once said that, “Not making a decision itself is making a decision. Not making a choice itself is a choice.” Remember, said one of the people in the book, “We said that the road to authority and leadership begins with the will. The will is the choices we make to align our actions with our intentions. I’m suggesting that in the end, if we all have to make choices about our behavior and accept the responsibility for our choices. Will we choose to be impatient or patient? Kind or unkind? Actively listen or merely silently waiting for our opportunity to speak? Humble or arrogant? Respectful or rude? Selfless or selfish? Forgiving or resentful? Honest or dishonest? Committed or just involved?”


Tommy:He can’t say until he’s in that situation, right? We all want to be that person that rises to the occasion, but then when we’re under particular stress, and being in a concentration camp, would you be that swine or would you be that saint? I’m not sure if I wanted to do the experiment.


Danny :And then to wrap this chapter up, “the labors of leadership and love are character issues. Patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, respectfulness, forgiveness, honesty, commitment. These character building blocks or habits must be developed and matured if we are to become successful leaders who will stand the test of time. Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become our character, and our character becomes our destiny.”


Chapter seven, “the Payoff”. There’s a quote here from Jem Rome. “For every discipline effort, there’s a multiple reward.” And let’s see, I’m almost there, we’re almost there. Pulled from a quote that I’ve got, “How I did here. One of the things I learned in corporate life was that corporate mission statements are fine, I suppose even a useful purpose, but we must never forget that people buy into the leader before they buy into the mission statement. Once they have bought into the leader, they will buy into whatever mission statement the leader’s got. If you were to live your life all over again, what would you do differently? The top three answers that came were they would risk more, they would reflect more, and they would do more that would live on after they were gone.” So this was a question of people who were over 90.


“Joy is about the inner satisfaction and conviction of knowing that you are truly aligned with the deep unchanging principles of life. Serving others breaks you free from the shackles of self and self-absorption that choke the joy of living.” Joy is about the inner satisfaction and conviction of knowing that you are truly aligned with the deep unchanging principles of life. Serving others breaks you free from the shackles of self and self-absorption that choke out the joy of living. There was a book called “Religions of Man”, one that was mentioned a couple of times in the book. He says, “All the world’s great religions conclude that man’s greatest problem since the beginning of time is his self-centered nature, his pride and his selfishness. Some religions refer to this as sin, Smith concludes that the great religions of the world all teach us how to overcome our selfish nature.”


Alright, couple more quotes here, and we’re going to put a button on this. One from Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Okay. I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. “And in the Book of John, Jesus told his disciples that his incredible joy could be their joy if they abid his commandment. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Jesus knew there would be joy and loving the verb, extending ourselves for others. Our purpose here as human beings is to grow towards psychological and spiritual maturity. This is what pleases God. Loving, serving, and extending ourselves for others forces us out of our self-centeredness. Loving others pushes us forward out of our terrible twos. Loving others forces us to grow up. And it starts with a choice, intentions minus actions equals squad. We’ve got to act on what we’ve learned, because if nothing changes, nothing changes.”


And that, my friend, there’s an epilogue in the back, and that is it. Any overall wrapping up thoughts you’ve got from going to the book? Or what sort of, maybe let me ask this, what sort of thing sticks in your head after we’ve gone through these last three or so podcasts that you’ll take away from the book?


Tommy:It’s reaffirming that all about trust, about relationship, creating environments people want to work and serve in. And I think a lot of it, we’ve talked about this third part because it’s the most recent idea, not getting the book the highlights of it, but I think the whole bigger purpose outside of just the day to day, but creating an environment of trust and environment that you want to make something bigger than yourself. Those are some of the quotes that I took away, I appreciate you sharing that.


Danny :Absolutely, absolutely. And it was nice, I appreciate the time we get through this, and next week we’ll pick up back up with some, starting some interviews, and so we’ll go back into those. I’m reading a couple of other books, we might jump into those books if I think they’re good ones for us to go through. It helps me process, just going through it the second time, and a lot of these, reading through this reminded me, now it feels like a “Now your homework”-moment, a lot of it, I believe you’re a great servant leader. And a lot of these qualities, I was like, “God, that sounds a lot like Tommy.” So it was really neat going through the book and just reflecting on what it means to be a servant leader. A lot of the things that I think environment-wise that you create around here for the people that you work with, you really want to leave a legacy, you care about what we’re going today.


In fact I have to show you this, but I went, I was out shopping with Amy a couple of weekends ago, and there was this little saying that I picked up that I’m going to hang up here in the office, and it just reminded me of you when you were talking about wanting to leave a legacy. And it’s, the choice of every day that we have, what we do during that day, and what are we going to do with that time, and we can’t get that time back, and what are we exchanging that time for. And so it’s fun, it’s fun going through this journey with you. I appreciate this opportunity to have these types of conversations, and I appreciate you creating a great environment here at ThreeWill, too.


Tommy:Thanks, Dan.


Danny :You betcha. You betcha. So we’ll pick back up next week, and we’ll talk to you then, and thank you so much for listening, and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye-bye.




Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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empty.authorDiscussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 3 of 3

Discussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 2 of 3

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Missed Part One?

Listen to Part One Now

Key Points

  1. In the old paradigm, the CEO was at the top of the pyramid. However, we are shifting towards a new paradigm which flips the pyramid and places the customer at the top.
  2. The Key to creating a positive work environment is identifying emotional needs and working towards meeting them.
  3. People want to feel connected and not like a cog in the wheel. To prevent being a cog one must match passion with a business need.

Conversation Highlights

  • Pyramid Paradigm – 3:47
  • Identify and Meet Needs – 11:50
  • Intersection of Skill and Passion – 19:31

Danny:Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. This is your co-host, Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tommy. Tommy, how are you doing?


Tommy:I’m doing great.




Tommy:We got some rain finally. I never thought I’d say that, but we’re getting rain again.


Danny:Yeah, no. You’ve got some rain to feed all of your crops. What do you have, 100 acres going on now?


Tommy:6,000 square feet is my starting point.


Danny:Oh, nice. Very nice. Awesome. What are you doing now? You’re just prepping the garden, or what sort of stage are you in with that right now?


Tommy:Yeah. There’s a section that I actually am growing something on. A smaller, like 25 by 20 section. And then I’ve got a 120 by 50 foot section that I’ve plowed. I’m gonna lay irrigation to that this weekend, and then plant maybe this weekend or next weekend.


Danny:Lay irrigation.




Danny:Very nice. You’re getting serious, man.


Tommy:Yeah. I don’t mess around. I just said, “Go big or go home.”


Danny:Go big or go home. I love it. I love it. This is a part deux, part two of our book discussion on The Servant. The author is James C. Hunter. Last time, we had such a good time. We sort of went long with it, so we decided to break it up into two parts. We left off on chapter two. We were just discussing the last part of this, was discussing about relationships and they’re so important to organizations and life. What’s the most important ingredient? We discussed that trust is the most important ingredient.


In chapter two, let’s pick up with that. This is using a good old Covey 00:02:16 word, which is paradigm. He’s describing what the old paradigm is. As I mentioned, this is about a gentleman who goes onto a retreat and is meeting with someone who used to be in the business life, named Simeon. They’re meeting up in the mornings, before everything gets started for the day. It starts off with a conversation between the two of them. One part of it is the guy’s pretty up front. It says, this is Simeon talking. He says, “Oh yes, John. I’ve noticed that you don’t listen very well.” “What do you mean?”, I asked defensively. “I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty good listener. Yesterday morning, when we met in your room, you cut me off mid-sentence no less than three times. Now my ego can handle that, John, but I’m afraid some of the messages you send to people that you are leading when you cut them off like that. Haven’t others told you about this bad habit you’ve developed?”


He sort of goes into this. He says the key of this is your feelings of respect, he basically says to him, “I respect you.” He’s saying your feelings of respect must be aligned with your actions of respect. That was an important part of getting started with this chapter. Then sort of to jump forward to this, let me draw a visual for you as best as I can. If you think of a pyramid. The old paradigm is the pyramid, and sort of using military terms, you have the CEO or general at the top. Then underneath that, you have the vice president with the colonels, in the case of military. Then underneath them, you have the middle managers and the captains and lieutenants. Then under that you have supervisors, the sergeants. And this is sort of building out the base of the pyramid. You have employees, or as we like to call them, associates. Then you have grunts or troops for the military concept. Then underneath that, they have the-


Tommy:We don’t call people grunts?


Danny:I don’t know what you call me behind my back. No, I know what you call me. Then underneath that, you have the customer, which is often thought of in the military sense, it’s thought of as the enemy. That’s the old paradigm.


What we’re moving towards, or the new paradigm, is flipping the pyramid. As you can imagine, you’re just flipping it over where at the top is the customer. The next layer is the associates, otherwise what some people call the employees. Then you have the supervisors, then the middle manager, then the vice presidents, the CEO. Basically they’re supporting those roles. So, it’s changing over to thinking more of the new paradigm versus the old paradigm. There’s discussion with this as well about sort of the how does this relate to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and a discussion about that.


Then, sort of jumping into the third chapter, which really gets into sort of the, what I would classify as some real good meat in the book.


Tommy:Yeah. Before you jump into that, Danny.


Danny:Sure, go ahead.


Tommy:I’ve got one kind of analogy or one thing that we have as a practice within ThreeWill is the whole idea of not having bosses, but sponsors. I think when you think about bosses you think of the traditional pyramid, and then when you think about sponsors in the way we like to talk about sponsors, it’s flipped the other way around where the sponsor is serving the sponsee and enabling them to be successful. That’s a concept I think we like to practice here, which is assertive leadership. But that’s also reinforced organizationally all the way through. What’s interesting is it’s not necessarily a pyramid. It’s almost a very flat rectangle, in a sense. It’s a matrix of people sponsoring each other and based on where they are in their growth and what kind of support they need. It doesn’t necessarily fall in a pecking order of seniority as much as, does this person have something to offer for that other person.


Danny:Awesome. The next, in chapter three, it’s entitled The Model. One of the things he writes up on the board is, intentions minus actions equal squat. Then intentions plus actions equal will. There’s quite a discussion on one of our favorite words, which is will. He gets into the what the leadership model looks like. So, the servant leadership model. If you can take … If we sort of pick back up with that upside down pyramid, the leadership model is you have leadership at the top, authority underneath that. Underneath authority is service and sacrifice. Underneath service and sacrifice is love. Then underneath love is the will.


Let me pick out a couple of, and I’ve got a star by this one, so I know it’s important when I read it. Which is one of the ladies is really smart in the class that they’re in. She often tries to summarize, basically to listen to what’s been said and feed it back to Simeon. She says, “Let me see if I can summarize what I’ve learned. Leadership begins with the will, which is our unique ability as human beings to align our intentions with our actions and choose our behavior. With the proper will, we can choose to love the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead. When we meet the needs of others we will, by definition, be called upon to serve and even sacrifice. When we serve and sacrifice for others, we build authority or influence, the law of the harvest. When we build authority with people, then we have earned the right to be called leader.” Boy, unpack that one.


Tommy:I think at the end of the day, you’re not a leader unless you have a follower. I think you can have a sense of power with a title, but at the end of the day, if there’s no one following you, you’re really not a leader. I think we try to encourage that organizationally, through de-emphasizing titles and not getting caught up in titles. We do have them, but something that I think from a social norm that people want to see and experience. They want to see you having a title that at the end of the day, indicates there’s a responsibility there. We like to focus more on the responsibility. I think if people are doing their jobs well, and as a leader, doing things that serve others, that creates that sense of caring. I think people want to follow people that care for them, and have a kind of a role in an organization that is about organizing around things and getting things accomplished as a team.


Good leaders, I think, in our organization are people that really care a lot and are organized around how they care to rally a group of people to get something accomplished. That comes, in our area, you know what is your role in the company. What are you doing? Are you helping with getting us organized around technology, around the people in the organization, around our sales, around our marketing, around our finances? The people that combine that role and responsibility with a sense of care, I think naturally start growing as leaders of our organization.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:That’s my quick kind of feedback of the way I kind of get a sense of what is leadership and how does that apply to our environment.


Danny:Just to pick back up on, picking one of the sentences out of what I just read, because that leads us into the next chapter, chapter four. “With the proper will, we can choose to love the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead.” It wraps the chapter up with, “It seems to me that leadership boils down to a simple four word job description, identify and meet needs.” Often you think of needs … It’s not just the physical needs, it’s the emotional needs, it’s beyond … Part of this is trying to identify within your organization what are those needs that are contained within that organization. I think part of this with trying to understand what type of environment we’re creating is within ThreeWill, what are those needs and trying to identify and make sure those needs are being met.


I think a lot of that keeps us, am I happy. Is this the right environment for me to be in? I think some of those things, you know, is recognized. I think a core emotional need is people want to be recognized and have other people feel grateful for them. This whole emotional need of other people recognizing when I’m doing something good. I think some of the things we do inside of ThreeWill are to meet that core emotional need.


Tommy:Yeah. I that what first comes to mind when you say that, to recognize someone’s contribution, we have a channel within our team in the café, which is praise. I think it mentally draws the attention that we value that. It’s a little tickler to say, when there’s an opportunity to catch someone doing a great thing, let’s make sure we praise them. It’s on a TV or two, and follow-up from some negative thing that occurs. That you have to do in certain situations that are important to protect the customer’s situation and preserve the value that you’re providing, but at the end of the day, it’s I think where you get … The needle moves as an organization is catching people doing the right thing. You want to reinforce. You’re like, “Okay, when I do that, that gets recognized and so I want to do more of that.” Yeah. That’s what comes to mind.


There’s something else you were talking about earlier. It will come back to me. I’ll just make a note.


Danny:Sure. If it comes back up, just, you know. The next chapter is called The Verb and it’s talking about the love and leadership. This is, has aspects of this that where they’re pulling in. Here they’re talking about, well what’s the definition of love. What is love? This is pretty interesting stuff here. The place where you typically hear where love is defined is at almost every wedding you go to. You know 1st Corinthians, chapter 13. It says, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It’s not puffed up or arrogant. It does not behave unbecomingly. It does not seek its own. It does not take into account, the wrong suffer. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”


Then you ask, does this list of qualities sound familiar to you? Then, if you remember from our last discussion that we had, Tommy. This guy says, “Yeah, it sounds a lot like that list of leadership qualities we came up with last Sunday.” When we’re going through that. He sort of paraphrases the passage into bullet points, which is love is patient. It’s kind. Love is kindness, excuse me. It’s humility. It’s respectfulness. It’s selflessness. It’s forgiveness. It’s honesty and it’s commitment. He sort of draws this out and he goes into a discussion of what agape love is. He’s got a nice little table here, where he says authority and leadership. He goes through and basically shows the similarities between leadership and love. With agape love, it’s patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, and commitment. With authority and leadership, you’re honest and trustworthy. You’re a good role model. You’re caring. You’re committed. You’re a good listener. You held people accountable. You treat people with respect. You gave people encouragement. Your positive, enthusiastic attitude. Appreciated people.


Then he sort of goes through and describes, basically drawing how this definition of love and the verb is a lot of the characteristics of what a great leader is.


Tommy:Yeah. I think what’s sometimes difficult is looking at those touchy feely parts of leadership. I think the genuine nature of a leader comes out in the stressful times. Do you have that patience and that kindness when it comes to, you know, things that don’t go so well? That’s where leadership gets tested. Where someone feels like there’s authentic kindness there is when kindness comes underneath stress. Because anyone can fake kindness. True kindness is gonna come when, you know, you’re in a crossroad that is gonna naturally frustrate you, naturally get your emotions going. Then someone sees, okay how do you really feel about me when push comes to shove. You see that at work. You see that in your personal life with family and friends. That’s what, I think people will keep their eye out and say, okay does this person really care for me, and I’ll find that out, really when I do something wrong or do something that stresses the situation.


I always try to remind myself when it comes to the tough situations, is to say, “What do I want to represent? What’s important to come away with?” Sometimes you have to lose things in that process. You might lose business. You might lose certain opportunities for even growth. You say, “Okay. I’ve got to sacrifice that because at the end of the day, I want to be true to caring about that person”, and show that even in the tough times.


The other thing I was thinking about before is when you were talking about need. You know, addressing the need. I think for folks to be happy in an organization, we talk about the intersection of people’s skill and passion to a business need. That could be a business need. It could be an organizational need. People want to feel connected to, this makes a difference. You see in larger companies, people start getting disconnected from are they truly needed or are they just a cog in the wheel. At the end of the day, they can just be replaced with the next cog. A lot of energy we put around the organization is trying to get a sense of what are people passionate about and trying to attract that business need. It’s not always as clean as you like it. You know, trying to balance, okay, and recognize here are opportunities for us to really help people because we care about process.


We care about leveraging technology to increase collaboration within organizations. We’ve got good skill around that and let’s continue to try to hone what does that look like. As technology changes, trying to understand how do we attach ourselves to the right kind of pains and organizations that we can continue to be passionate about. I think what’s difficult is you can be skilled at a much larger set of things. Where you try to balance it out is finding where is that passion, and where are their true business needs that we can apply our skills. What I find, and I think we do it even today to a certain degree, is there are opportunities where we’ve got the skill and there’s a business need, and we don’t quite have the passion. Sometimes you have to play it out. You know, sometimes you don’t know you’re passionate about it until you do it for a while and get a sense for, is this something that I feel like I can do very well, and make a difference.


Sometimes that passion emerges out of that, where maybe you don’t think you want to do a certain type of, say, practice, but after you do it for a while and you find that you’re helping people and you’re using your skills, and you start seeing the vision of, this makes a difference. Sometimes passion will emerge where you don’t have it before. Those are some of my thoughts.


Danny:Who-wa. Great stuff, Tommy. He goes through each one of, sort of the aspects of love. The one that I wanted to call out was humility, because I know we talk a lot about humility. He says humbleness … He says an anonymous spiritual teacher once wrote, “Humbleness is nothing more than a true knowing of yourself and your limitations. Those who see themselves as they truly are would surely be humbled indeed. Humility is about being real and authentic with people and discarding the false masks.”


Yeah. The more I think about humility, the more, and again it’s describing if you’re truly going to love and serve another person, humility is an aspect of that, right. It just seems like it has to be an aspect of that. So he goes through all of the different other, you know selflessness, forgiveness, and all of the other characteristics of agape love. Then, to get to the end of this, and then it looks like we will have a part three of this, is he goes through each of those aspects and he has sort of a table that he calls love and leadership. He goes through and his patience is showing self-control. Kindness is giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement. Humility is being authentic without pretense or arrogance. Respectfulness is treating others as important people. Selflessness is meeting the needs of others. Forgiveness is giving up resentment when wrong. Honesty is being free from deception. Commitment is sticking to your choices. Results, service and sacrifice is setting aside your own wants and needs, seeking out the greatest good for others.


Then it sort of wraps up with, “So what I’m hearing you say, Simeon, is that love the verb could be defined as the act or acts of extending yourself to others by identifying and meeting their legitimate needs. Would that be close?” He says, “Beautiful, Kim.” Anything, last minute things to add to this?


Tommy:No, Danny. Thank you. I appreciate you sharing your Cliff notes. It’s my favorite way to read materials. The cliff notes.




Tommy:The audiobook. This is kind of a mix of the audiobook of the Cliff notes.


Danny:Absolutely. The next part that we will discuss is chapter five, and that is The Environment. We’ll get into The Environment. It starts off with a quote from Bill Hewlett, of Hewlett Packard. “Men and women want to do a good job. If they are provided with the proper environment, they will do so.” We’ll pick back up with part three next time. Thanks again, Tommy, for taking the time to do this. Thank you everyone, for listening. We’ll see you next time when we cover part three. Bye, bye.


Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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empty.authorDiscussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 2 of 3

Discussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 1 of 3

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Key Points

  1. The Golden Rule is a key factor in leadership – treat others as you would want to be treated.
  2. Managment and leadership are not the same things. Being a leader is who you are and management is what you do. They are not the same thing.
  3. Accomplishing the task at hand while, at the same time, building relationships with others is the key to leadership.

Conversation Highlights

  • Servant Leadership is Simple – 5:50
  • Power vs Authority – 11:33
  • The Key to Leadership – 17:15

Danny:Hello and welcome to The Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone Podcast. How’s it going, Tommy?


Tommy:It’s going well. I have my cappuccino this morning.


Danny:Oh boy, I’m going to take your stuff back.


Tommy:I’m giving you a warning.


Danny:So I’m taking your stuff back. Watch out. Watch out, Tommy’s fuego. He’s on fire, ladies and gentlemen. What I wanted to do today was …


Tommy:You must have been on a retreat.


Danny:I’m been on a retreat. Do I still-


Tommy:You see the beard going, the long hair.


Danny:Long hair? Get a haircut, you hippy. Yeah, I had some time off, during the retreat. I think I got through five different books. One of them I wanted to go through with you because it’s on a subject that is near and dear to both of our hearts. It’s a book called, The Servant. I just wanted to give you a little cliff notes version of the book.


Tommy:I love cliff notes.


Danny:You won’t even have to read this book. Look at what I’m doing for you, man. This is awesome. I just wanted to talk to you about-


Tommy:This reminds me of college.


Danny:Yes. This can’t be how you prepared for Chemical Engineering tests.


Tommy:No. No, just my Lit test.


Danny:Just your Lit test, okay. The name of the book is called, The Servant. The subtitle is, “A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership.” The way I heard about this book was from Amy and they were referring to this book when they were preparing for the new year at St. John Bosco, and they ended up bringing this up a couple of times. Amy had recommended it to me, and then I looked online, looked on Amazon saw that … Looked at other reviews and it looked like the kind of book that I wanted to read. It’s on servant leadership, and this is by James Hunter.


What’s neat about it is, is the book is about someone going on a retreat at a monastery, just like I went on a retreat at a monastery.




Danny:And this guy was a … The essence of it is, he was a successful executive, but had some of life’s normal turmoil’s. I can say turmoil’s, that come up and he was taking this week off and had signed up for a week retreat on leadership. The book starts out with, let me just jump into it. One of the interesting things, and depending on who you talk to about coincidences versus nothing is a coincidence. The guy kept on saying he ran into the name Simeon, which Simeon is in the bible. It’s the person who waited for Jesus to come around, then he could say that he could die, because he was waiting for him to show up; a very wise man.


This guy said he kept on running into this name, over and over in his life. He goes on the retreat and ends up finding out on the retreat that the person leading up the leadership seminar was Brother Simeon; it sort of wigged him out a little bit that he say that name again. The guy who was leading up the leadership retreat, was a guy he’d knew from industry. That was a very successful industry guy that was known but sort of heard that nobody really knew where he went to. Somebody said he went and joined a cult, or something like that, but in actuality he went and joined the Benedictine monks and living that life.




Danny:That’s how the whole sort of thing starts off, how the book starts off. He wrote, in 2012, a new intro to the whole thing, which I think runs into a lot of things. This book, even though it’s got some over themes of spiritual types of themes that go throughout it, or the overtones are spiritual, this is something he often talks to just 80-90% of the time, it’s just normal industry and how these apply to people in industry. How servant leadership is something that is just a good practice. It’s not something that’s only practiced in non-profit organizations or faith-based organizations.


Let’s dig on in. I’ve sort of ear-marked certain pages that I got something out of, and highlighted somethings that I wanted to bring up with you. One of them is in the prologue. “Servant leadership is simple. There’s one simple rule and that’s to treat people the way you want to be treated; the golden rule.” So it’s just sort of one of those things everybody … That’s the underlying basis for a lot of … how are you treating other people? Would you like to be treated that way as well. It’s very simple, and something that you can remember, which is very important, right?


One of the things he points out, “Let me start by stressing the point that leadership is not synonymous with management. Management is what you do, leadership is the person you are and the influence and impact you have on the people you come into contact with. Management is not synonymous with leadership. Leadership is synonymous with influence.” Then he brings up a couple of things like, Ken Blanchard, that One Minute Manager guy. He says, “Leadership is an influence process.” Then John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” We’ll probably get into this, but something that I’ve heard the message for is the difference between power and authority. I think I’ve ear-marked that, but I want to talk a little bit about that here in just a minute.


“What is a servant? Being a servant simply means, the business of identifying and meeting the legitimate needs of the people entrusted to your care.” Okay, if that’s being a servant, the key thing with this is needs. So you have to question yourself, what is the need versus want? What is that? “A need is a legitimate physical or psychological requirements for the well-being of an individual.” So I sort of gets into what do people need. “Servants then need to then get about the business of identifying and meeting legitimate needs of those entrusted to their care. There in lies the secret to leadership. When you identify and meet the legitimate needs of others, you will build influence with them.” So if I’m meeting your needs, that’s the process of building influence, if I’m taking care of some of these legitimate physical and psychological needs that you have.


Jim Collins in, Good to Great, found two qualities in all great leaders. The first was, something we’ve talked about a couple times, humility. That was the first quality of a great leader was humility. He describes that as being, “Other focused.” The second quality was, “A strong professional will to do the right thing with the people and for their organization.” Another word for this would be, character. So they have humility and character. Early in the book Mr. Collins says, “Team debated calling these humble, strong-willed yet selfless leaders, servant leaders, but decided against it fearing people would get the wrong idea if you used a term like servant.” He said, “The team settled on the term, Level-five Leader, instead. He didn’t like the connotation going with servant leader, so he switched over and said, “Lets just call them Level Five Leaders.” Which I thought was kind of interesting.


“Leadership development and character development are one. Leadership had little to do with your style or personality and everything to do with your substance, character. Character is doing the right thing. Winning those battles in your heart and mind, between what you want to do and what you should do.”


Then he goes into three steps to developing character leadership skills: The Three F’s. The first, is foundation. How do you develop these character within your organization, or character within a person? First is foundation, which is, “setting the standard of what great leadership looks like.” There’s a certain part of this that is a training the principles of what that looks like. Then, is feedback. “Identifying the gaps between where you are now and where you need to be as an effective leader.” Then there’s friction, which is, “Eliminating the gaps between where you are now and where you need to be.”


He’s pointing those out as the steps to developing character, and now we’re in the prologue. Sorry that was long. Then he talks about some of the, Simeon, and sort of where that gets into the week itself. The next part is defining the definitions, or coming up with the definitions for the book, and some of this is just getting into … Wants to define different things, as they get together as a group. It’s kind of neat reading the book, because you get to notice some of the other people on the retreat with him, and there’s a couple different characters that are involved.


“Leadership is the skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically towards goals, identifying as being for the common good.”


“Leadership is the skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically towards goals, identified as being for the common good.”


Tommy:Yeah. I kind of look at that as the, why. We put a lot of energy towards understanding why are we doing what we do. So there’s some enthusiasm behind that, so at the end of the day we have passion towards what we do versus it’s just a job or just coming in and getting the next task done.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:I think, at the end of the day most organizations that have longevity are looking for setting that vision of why are they doing what they do, because there’s plenty of things you can do with just mindless, “Lets just get up and get it done.”


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:And move on to the next thing, versus is there a goal in mind at why we’re doing what we do.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative). I was referring to this a little bit earlier, which was power versus authority, and I’m going to read this. This is the definitions part of this. “Power is the ability to force or coerce someone to do your will, even if they would chose not to because of your position, or your might.” That’s power. “Authority, is the skill of getting people to willingly do your will, because of your personal influence.”


My guilty pleasure, right now, is watching Game of Thrones, and there’s two characters in this that are, Cersei, which is the Queen, basically the not so nice Queen, who has lots of power and coerces people into doing things; the definition of what power is. Then there’s Daenerys, who is the opposite. Where she’s using concepts like freedom and the people want to rally behind her. She has more authority than she does power


Tommy:I see.


Danny:So you’re seeing these two characters come. It’s awesome they’re both female.




Danny:Seeing two people leading up their armies against each other, and boy you route for authority every time. You want a leader with authority. I think that’s one of the things you like to see in leaders, as you and I have developed, which is we want somebody that we would willing have influence over people and is congruent both in their professional and personal lives.




Danny:And that had to be there in order for them to have authority. So he goes through and he talks about, “Will you like to individually think of a person in your life, living or dead, who has authority as we defined it earlier.” Anybody who comes to mind, as far as someone that you run into that has authority. It’s fine if you don’t have somebody. It’s okay.


Tommy:Well, I think … It’s interesting I think you’re think about people that influence you that have a sense of vision that you kind of follow behind, and feel passionate about investing your time and energy to “follow them.”


Danny:And this may help out a little bit. This could be teacher, a coach, a parent, a spouse, a boss. It doesn’t matter, think of someone who has authority in your life. Someone for whom you would walk through walls. Someone who you look at and you’re like, ” Sign me up for that. I want to go …” Again, the whole Game of Thrones. A leader is someone who people would walk through walls for, because of her authority.


Tommy:I know its kind of a simple answer, but I think it has to do with the influence, and influence comes with peoples investment in you over time, and kind of care. I see that in our father.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:That there’s someone that, over time, has just put in the time to show the care and influence and being present. Those are the people that really have authority in your life that you want to listen to. You want to understand. You want to invest time with. Those are people that are going to make a difference.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:In your life. I think there’s a lot of people that you get influence by, but it’s more superficial. That you’re here kind of the Rah-Rah leadership concepts that are shared. Those people will inspire you, but I don’t know if they have authority in your life. I think they’re just more guidepost of those are good concepts to incorporate in what I do, but I think it has to do with the people that have a personal interest in your well-being and who you are as a person. That’s probably one of the strongest people in my life that has authority.


Danny:You’re saying that, because dad listens and you don’t want to [crosstalk]. Hey, dad. Love you. He had the folks do this and they started listing these qualities about the folks, and he’s sort of setting this up for the week. The groups top ten answers were, “The person is honest and trustworthy. They’re a good role model. They’re caring. They’re committed. They’re good listeners. They held people accountable. They treated people with respect. They gave people encouragement. Had a positive, enthusiastic attitude and they appreciated people.”


Tommy:That sounds like Frank.




Tommy:That’s a pretty good list.


Danny:So when the next part, he starts off with the teacher began, “Simply put, leadership is about getting things done through people. When working with and getting things done through people, there will always be two dynamics involved, the task and the relationship. It is easy for leaders to lose their balance by focusing on only one of these dynamics at the expense of the other. For example, if we only focus on getting the task done and not the relationship, what symptoms may arise?”


So he’s saying, there’s need to be a … When you’re leading up, you need to focus both on the relationship and with the task. “Then the key to leadership is accomplishing the task at hand while building relationships.” Getting things done, while you’re building relationship, and doing the two of those things at the same time, is really what leadership is all about. He brings up, and I like this one, the teacher brings up-


Tommy:I think that kind of speaks to, when we talk about the intersection of passion, skill, and need. When we’re looking at things that happen at ThreeWill, things that need to get done at ThreeWill, we kind of fall back on that to say, “Okay, is this person passionate about it?” That’s the care. That’s looking at the individual to say, “Who are they and what do they care about, and what doing to drive them naturally?” Then the skill, is something that you say, “Okay. Do they have the ability to do this? Can I set them up to be successful? Is this some responsibility that allows them to fulfill it through their skill or do we need to wait and hold off and lets some maturity develop before we put them in front of that challenge.”


Then the need is doing something that really has purpose behind it. Something that are tasks kind of fulfill the vision and the impact that we want to make on the client. If you’re looking at all those three things together, I think it really speaks to making sure you got a relationship and making accomplishments in the work that you do. If we just focused on, does this person have the skill and there’s a business need, okay, have them or make them do it? That would create I think a different environment, than saying, “Is there that passion component?” Are all three elements there to make sure that it’s something they want to do and there’s going to exercise their free will. “I chose to be successful, because I’m passionate about it.”


Danny:I think some of the stuff like back from the Gore days of where you’re signing up for things and staying away from the manager, “I’m doing this, because the boss told me.” Is the difference between power and authority. You’re trying to set up … A lot of this book is what you’re trying to do in your organization, is set up the right environment for these things. So you’re making sure that you’re in an environment, you’re creating an environment where authority is what is in … Authority, is the person saying, “I’m committed to doing this. I want to work with others to do this. I care for the relationship with the other that I’m working with.” How do you create that type of environment?


Tommy:I think we’ve also thought about titles and some concerns of, “Lets not get caught up in titles.” We provide titles to be a reflection of what people are doing naturally in their work. But not put a lot of emphasis on that. That way people that are naturally leaders can emerge and not because they been here at ThreeWill for so many years and they kept these check boxes, but they had the passion other people recognize that and want to follow them because of their authority not because of their power.


Danny:Awesome. The next part, I like this. So the teacher says, “To have a healthy and thriving business, there must be healthy relationships with the C-E-O-S of the organization, and I’m not referring to the chief executive officers. I’m talking about the customers, the employees, the owners or stockholders, and the suppliers. For example, if our customers are leaving and going to the competition, we have a relationship problem. We are not identifying and meeting their legitimate needs, and rule number one in business is that if we do not meet the needs of our customers someone else will.” What he goes through is each one of these customers, owner, owners, employees, suppliers, is about identifying meeting their legitimate needs and developing that relationship with them.


He goes through and says, “Now, if you fall apart on this one …” This is sort of … When I think about this as a supplier, we look at our clients, if they’re treating us like vendors and like we’re not, there is no relationship. Where it’s just you go do this task and I’ll pay you what minimal amount I can for this task, and there’s no relationship involved. We see this as, “Oh, there’s a problem here. This is not the right type of client to work with.”




Danny:So I thought that was kind of interesting as well. It says, “If relationships are so important in organizations and in life, and I happen to agree with you. Then what do you believe is the most important ingredient in a successful relationship?” What do you think his response is? It starts with a T. Trust.




Danny:It says, “Trust.” Trust. It says, “Without trust it is difficult if not impossible to maintain a good relationship. How many good relationships do you have with people you do not trust?” This is where the whole making and keeping commitments comes into play with us. How do you build trust?




Danny:How do you start to develop trust.


Tommy:Especially with our new customers; you don’t have a relationship yet. So how do you build that trust and I think we’ve talked about giving them the experience that we’ll provide through the full life cycle of the relationship, mainly in the delivery life cycle. Give that experience up front. When you’re in the sales process, the relationship building process, you are making and keeping commitments. You’re setting some vision, some steps along the way in showing them we are making those accomplishment along the way. Just like Sprint, cycles give you a feedback loop of, “Okay, we’re on track. We actually finished these items. They are done, and we plan to get some of the items done and we’re on track. Or maybe we’re not, and what do we need to do to get back on track?” I think people want that. At the end of the day they want their problem solved, and they are not going to blindly trust you, that you’re going to do that. You have to show that we’ve got a way of working with you. That we’ll make you feel comfortable; that there’s predictability in solving the problem.


Danny:It’s funny we’re mentioning Sprint, and sort of what that whole process when I think of the retrospective. When we were talking earlier about building developing character leadership skills and this whole idea of setting a foundation, providing feedback, and providing friction. I sort of relate that to, start, stop, and continue. How do you build into what you’re doing in a way of improving what you’re doing? Usually, on a project you may be refining how the process or maybe improving communication or doing things like that. What is it? Talk about creating an environment, you have to create in that environment a way of feeding things back into it as well and providing a way that the team can do it, and also clients can do it, and that’s really important.


This has officially become a two-part podcast.


Tommy:I was going to say, it looks like we’re already on 25 minutes here.


Danny:So we are going call it quits for now. I only got to chapter two.


Tommy:I was looking at it and was like, we’re about a quarter way through.


Danny:We’re going to call it quits.  We’re going to call it for this week. Maybe a three-part podcast, who knows. But we’ll call it quits for now and we’ll start to cover the rest. I’ll give you some time to process this.




Danny:And then we’ll come back and pick back up with the old paradigm, a good Stephen Covey word, and we’ll talk through that as our next step from here. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen. Thanks dad for listening.


Tommy:Yeah. Thanks Danny.


Danny:For sure. Absolutely. Obviously, there’s a lot to develop this but we’re just getting started with it. Hopefully, folks will check back in for the next podcast as well. Thank you, Tommy, for doing this.




Danny:Everybody have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye. Bye.




Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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empty.authorDiscussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 1 of 3

ThreeWill is Hiring – Is This the Next Step in Your Career?

Who we are looking for…

At ThreeWill, we are going through another growth spurt and want to take an opportunity to consciously expand the ThreeWill team.

We are looking for Certified Scrum Master, a SharePoint Consultant or a Microsoft Developer with experience in Office 365 / SharePoint Solutions.

How we determine a fit…

As most small businesses know (and all businesses in general), hiring the right people is one of the key decisions that can make or break the company. When we seek out new people, we take a three-step approach and evaluate new candidates in the following order:

  1. People – Is this candidate a people fit? Do they share our values? Can they continue the spirit of humble, confident service to our clients and their fellow associates at work?
  2. Process – Is the candidate methodical in their approach to their role? We value Free Will at ThreeWill and in order to function properly in an organization that values free will, you need to have high trust and effective communications. We look to see how that candidate could operate in a group that values Agile principals.
  3. Technology – Does the candidate have the technical aptitude to get the job done? This is the last thing we check because we have higher value on the People and Process fit of a candidate. We have been known to help people launch their career down a new technical path because we saw a fit in People and Process abilities and the individual was able to show aptitude to pick up the technologies we leverage.

Is ThreeWill a fit for you?

Here are three things to consider as it relates to a career at ThreeWill:

  1. If the work environment is just as important (or more important) as the type of work you do, please consider ThreeWill.
  2. If you get a kick out of solving complex problems and like collaborative solutions that help teams Work Together Better, please consider ThreeWill.
  3. If you want to truly feel part of a team and be in a company environment that integrates incentives that encourage their associates to work as a team, please consider ThreeWill.

If I have piqued your interest, please apply online now.

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Tommy RyanThreeWill is Hiring – Is This the Next Step in Your Career?

ThreeWill’s Atlanta Braves Company Event

This past Saturday, ThreeWill had a company outing at an Atlanta Braves game at the new SunTrust Park and it was a blast. With nearly 100% of people showing up plus families, we had quite the crowd cheering on the hometown team. With seats in the shade, being close to food and the game, the first round of refreshments already paid for, even the non-baseball fans couldn’t help but have an enjoyable time. Add a win for the Braves (7-1) and the ThreeWill company event was a complete success.

This was my first company outing, first MLB game and first Tomahawk chop which made for quite the experience. Being the newest member, I got the chance to meet some of the ThreeWill family I hadn’t meet before and catch up with familiar faces. I’d always heard horror stories about company events (mostly from TV & movies) but when everyone gets along as well as ThreeWill does, it can be nothing but friendly and fun. I will admit, baseball has never been my favorite sport to watch but, never the less, I was excited just to be amongst the crowd, cheering with the rest of the fans. As soon as the first Braves home run and I’m standing alongside everyone with a beer in one hand and a tomahawk in the other, I realized I wasn’t next to the fans, I was a fan! Not only was the game great, but so was our vantage point. No matter how big a fan of America’s favorite pastime you are, no one wants to sit in the Georgia sun for 3 hours or the possible the rain that was forecasted for the game. Luckily ThreeWill was prepared for both with covered seats and still close enough to catch possible fly balls. The bonus was that they were also a few feet away from the vendors and restrooms which kept the time away from the game to the minimum. Since this was my first game it was important to me that I could see as much as possible and spend time getting to know other members of ThreeWill.

I had always heard an adage that claimed that the most important part of a business is the people.  I cannot think of a better way to get to know people in the ThreeWill team than by watching one of the most beloved team sports in America. The environment of the day was perfect for furthering the connections I have with the other members of ThreeWill, while forging some new connections as well. Overall, this company outing not only made me a baseball fan, but it also helped me get to know all the wonderful people that I get to work with and learn from. The game ended in a win in more ways than one!

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Oliver PenegarThreeWill’s Atlanta Braves Company Event

Always Growing

I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to get better. As a kid (and as an adult, who am I kidding), I always preferred the cartoons where the main characters trained to get better, the video games where you leveled up and got stronger, or the books where the protagonist started out as the underdog. Back when I played paintball, I would watch SWAT or Military training videos and then practice breaching my friend’s utility shed. Showing up at the paintball field and putting those skills to use, and seeing how the practice paid off, was one of the most rewarding experiences I had playing.

Somewhere along the way, though, I became a little complacent. I graduated college, got a great job here at ThreeWill, and became content with where I was. I started thinking with that old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. It took a little while, and having a few kids, but I finally realized what I was doing and decided it needed to stop. I had to get back to growing.

At first, I was just thinking about my professional growth. I started brushing up on newer technologies, creating little projects, and watching various Pluralsight courses. Still, I didn’t really feel like I was growing in the right areas. I was already fairly “up” in terms of code and technologies, and I didn’t want to just be better – I wanted to be more; both at work and in life. I had to take a hard look at two things: What are my personal weaknesses and what am I lacking experience doing?

Figuring out what I was lacking experience in was pretty easy – I just had to ask. From there, I started participating in sales calls, creating backlogs for new projects, and filling the “lead” or “architect” roles on new teams. One of the shortcomings I knew I had was “thinking big picture”. At heart, I’m a code monkey, and it’s always been easy for me to get caught up in my code without really thinking about what else was happening in the project. Getting those opportunities was great, as it allowed me to see the business from angles I wasn’t familiar with and forced me to not only see the whole picture, but sometimes to draw them.

Trying to figure out what my personal weaknesses were wasn’t any more difficult, but coming up with a plan on improving them was much more challenging. For me, I felt like I was too much of an introvert. I had become the sort of guy that sees an acquaintance in the store and actively tries to avoid making eye contact with them.

One of my more recent hobbies is watching people on the website Twitch. If you’re not familiar with Twitch, it’s a website full of people “streaming” themselves playing video games. Each streamer has their own chat, which makes interaction possible with viewers. I had previously created an account and thought about streaming, but ultimately shied away from it. This time, however, I decided that Twitch was the perfect way for me to put myself out there, get some practice talking to people and being social, and spend some time playing video games.

I’ve been streaming for about a month now and, to be honest, I still feel that same anxiety whenever I’m about to click the “Go Live” button…but it’s diminishing each and every time. Most streams, I’m talking to myself, which still gives me some practice at just externalizing my thoughts. I do have a small handful of people who will stop by and chat with me for a while though, and it’s such an awesome experience. Regardless of how many people watch, I still walk away from each stream feeling like I’m one step closer to being the person I want to be, and that’s what growth is all about.

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William HollandAlways Growing

What Do We Look for in New Hires?

Danny:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tim Coalson. Tim, how’s it going?


Tim:It’s going good, Danny.


Danny:Good. Another quarter’s past. It’s amazing how quickly three months can go by, huh?


Tim:Time to talk again.


Danny:Time to talk again. You don’t want to write a blog post? No? You don’t want to sit around for a couple hours, just looking at a blank screen and saying, “What have I been doing lately?” What have you been doing lately? Same project that we’ve talked about a couple times, right?


Tim:I have been, I have been. So, today, I actually thought I would sort of switch gears from a technical topic and really more one, I guess, kind of HR related.


Danny:That’s great.


Tim:Recently, I was at a function and sat next to a guy. As you know me, I don’t meet a stranger, so I started talking to the young man-


Danny:Everyone knows Tim Coalson. I’ve learned that.


Tim:I realized this guy, he’s an IT guy, so I start talking to him about what he’s doing, and it just so happened he’s into the technologies that we’re using, so, as is my normal course, I start asking him does he like what he’s doing, and just … And tell him a little bit about our company. When I see people like this I’m excited to tell them what we’re doing, and if the opportunity arises that they are looking for a new opportunity to give us a call.


So, I told him about our company, and then followed up with him, and most recently we had lunch together with this young man along with one of our managers, just to get a sense for what’s this person about; what are their interests, because one thing we know is important for anyone that we want to potentially hire is one, that we’re always looking for what is that person’s passion? And, of course, then, looking for what do our customers need, and where those two intersect, and you got a great combination of the passion, and the need, and they come together. So, it turned out, from our discussion with this young guy, he’s a very motivated person. Seems like a person of integrity, so we were excited to get to know more about him, so we’re going to continue on through that interview process.


But that sort of got me thinking about what are really the types of characteristics of people that we want at ThreeWill? First of all, we want to make sure that they know who we are. We’re not trying to hire someone under some sort of deception, making them think we’re something we’re not, because we know long term, they’re going to come here and they’re not going to be happy if their expectation wasn’t set. So, we like to be very transparent in, okay, this is who we are, this is what our values are, and does that align with your interests?


So, for me, that’s always very important, that we make sure that people know who we are. We’re looking for long term relationships. We enjoy and value working together for a long time. One, there’s you enjoy it, but then two, there’s a benefit, because as you work together more, you learn each other’s strengths, your weaknesses you learn to mitigate those things that aren’t as strong, and accentuate the areas where people are the strongest. So, we definitely believe a long term relationship is best, not only for us as a company, but really, long term for our customers.


Danny:I think one of the places I often send people to on our website is there’s a culture page where it goes through what our shared values are, and a lot of it’s tough, because there’s overlapping values with what a lot of people would say that they have as internal values, but you sort of … You’ll find out if people live them day in and day out, and one of the things that I put on that page was a person who represented that value. It wasn’t necessarily the best person to represent that value, but some person who sort of reminded me of that value.


Of course, like everything, like all my writing that goes on when I’m … I suggested a quote that they put … They may or may have not modified what the quote is, but it’s a good place for you to go sort of see what is it … When we say that, what’s it like to be at ThreeWill, what do we sort of share as we’re making decisions together as a group. I think the way that you do it is you talk about your shared values.


Tim:Yeah, one of the … As I thought more about this, I realized that the actual technical skills really was fairly low on my list, because I think you can find a lot people out there with technical skills. It’s really a matter of, like you just said, from a culture perspective, will that person fit in, because there’s a lot of people with a lot of skills, but there’s not a lot of people who communicate well, who are humble, who are team players. A lot of times, people really are sort of out to their ego. They like to feed their ego on either the code the write, or something else, and that’s really not what we’re all about.


Even our compensation is structured in a way that only when the team has success does the individual get the bonuses, or the compensations. So, it’s really more about what we as a team can do together, not what me as an individual can do. Whether or not my peers do good or not, we’re incented to work together, and I think generally, the people we hire, that’s what they’re all about. They’re all about teamwork, so part of that involves a certain amount of humility, that when there’s areas of a project that maybe I’m not as strong in, and I think I need help, the willingness to ask one of my peers for their input, for their feedback. So, certainly being a team player is a big part of our culture, as well as humility.


Of course, with consulting in general, good communication skills. You got to be able to set expectations with your customers. We don’t want customers to be surprised by anything, which part of our process involves one or two weeks sprints, so we’re regularly communicating to our customers, usually on a daily basis, but even if not on a daily basis, at least a week or two at the minimum, to keep them up to speed on where we are on our projects. So, we want to make sure that customers aren’t surprised by anything, that we keep them up to date on a regular basis that they’re involved in the process of understanding, okay, here’s what the concerns are, here’s what the risks are, here’s what our options are. Let’s make a choice and move forward.


So, being able to articulate that to a customer and being able to keep expectations, that is certainly important to our customers, as well as internally, to be able to share where are you at on whatever pieces of the project you’re working on. So, good communication’s certainly a big part of it.


Danny:Excellent. What else were some of the other things?


Tim:We’re really about solving business problems. I mean, technology is not the end, technology’s a means to an end. So, for us, it’s making sure we have people that really, it’s not about trying to continue to pad their resume by learning new technologies just for the sake of learning new technologies, but to really be focused on solving our customers’ business problems, helping them be able to collaborate, work together, be more successful. So, just finding someone that really solving the problem is their goal, and technology is just a means to that end, not the end itself.


Danny:Excellent, excellent. I’m just interested, because you were talking about this earlier, which was you were … I guess you were … What’s the first couple things that you say about working at ThreeWill? Not to put you on the spot, but how do you describe the environment here?


Tim:Yeah, for me, I guess part of it is just in contrast to hearing other people talk about their jobs. For me, we have a open door policy, so I’m constantly talking. Being a relatively small company, I’m always talking to the leaders of our company, so I don’t have a lot of bureaucracy, this management structure that I have to go through to talk about things, or express any concerns. So, it’s a very transparent environment. To me, I enjoy that piece, just being part of what really is a team, where we do work together. It’s not about one person, about what they can accomplish, but it’s really about teamwork and about how together we can help our customers be successful.


Danny:One of the things along with that, and it’s just sort of a side note, we hear a lot during the monthly company meetings about sort of how the pipeline is, how we’re doing as a business. It’s interesting, because I think what Tommy and I … We want to share what we can, but we also don’t want you guys to worry about certain things. You have do this on projects as well, right? You want the client to be informed, but you don’t want them to not worry about … They don’t have to worry about certain things.


Tim:Right, there’s technical details at times that really, a customer can’t help with, so there’s really no need to … We involve them to the extent that they can make a difference. We don’t want to unnecessarily burden a customer with things that are really outside their scope of influence, so … Certainly, if it is within their scope, then we want to be transparent and let them know about whatever the risk is, and tell them what we think the options are, and of course, get their opinion as well. Then together, come up with what’s the best path forward.


Danny:I think with us it’s just the things that you can control, or at least have some control over, is … I know you’ve been on a project for a while, but I think this is sort of why we look at utilization, because it’s the one … You can’t really control that much what your bill rate is, but you can look at the project and look for ways that you can help out on the project, and trying to grow what you’re doing, or take on new things on the project. That’s sort of the one area where you have … At least could have the potential to make decisions, and to maybe build up a skill, or be able to apply yourself to be able to make a difference. So, yes. It’s interesting to see how that factors in, yeah.


Tim:One of the things I think about, particularly as I talk to young people, is I think with our company, most of us are pretty seasoned veterans. I mean, I’ve been doing consulting now since … I’ve been doing IT since 1988. I’ve been doing consulting since around 2000, so that’s what, about 17 years? So, as you talk about developers versus consultants, there’s a big gap in there where I view a developer as someone that is really all about writing code, whereas a consultant is really about understanding the business, understanding the people, helping define what this application should look like, and helping define the requirements.


It’s a much broader, bigger communication piece, and then there’s, of course, the management to make sure the right things get done at the right time. That way, come the end of the project, then everything’s in order. So, as I talk to young people, I just think of all the experience that they can gather here at ThreeWill by working with more seasoned consultants to learn some of the … They may know the technology pieces. In fact, they might even know some newer technologies than we’ve actually used, but the piece that we can help them with is the consulting part. They can learn how to better manage a project.


I hear so much about failed projects, and we rarely, if ever, have those here at ThreeWill, because we manage things so tightly, I just don’t see that happening, but I hear statistically that how many IT projects fail, and it kind of blows my mind, just thinking about how much time and money’s been wasted on that. So, for us, the agile process is just so important to make sure that we do stay on track; that our customers are making decisions all along the way; that together, that we can be successful.


Danny:Anything else to add before we wrap up here?


Tim:I think that’s it.


Danny:Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking some time out of your busy schedule, and you’ll continue to be on the same project for a while now, or …


Tim:Right now I think we’re to the end of the year. We’ve got signed contracts, or soon-to-be signed contracts. It’s great to work on the same project and to see it continue to mature over time.


Danny:That’s great, and I appreciate you staying on … You’re sort of the … You know what’s going on here at ThreeWill. I think Tommy and I rely on you, just sort of getting a sense of what’s going on inside of ThreeWill, and I appreciate your … Because you honestly care about other people, and it shows, and it really comes out. So, we appreciate just who you are as a person, and how much you care about other people. It is more than what we’re doing on projects, it’s just the human, being able to relate with other people and being able to really care for other people, and you’re really good at that, and we really appreciate you, Tim.


Tim:Thank you, Danny.


Danny:Absolutely. Thanks, everybody. Looks like we’re slowly getting more and more softer as we talk, and we go along. We’ll see if I can fix that, but oh well. Thank you, everybody, for taking the time to listen. Obviously, if you’re interested in ThreeWill, it’s a great place to be, it’s a nice … It’s a great culture here. It’s a consulting environment, so it’s pretty fast-paced, but it’s a place that Tommy and I really want to be a place that you love to work at, and so if you’re interested in learning more, come to Underneath the company section of our website, you’ll see something about our culture. Go into there and sort of look at what different people at ThreeWill say about working at ThreeWill. It’s a good place to start, and you can also see job openings, and start the whole application process on the website. So, definitely drop by, see if there’s any openings that look like something you’d be interested in doing. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen. Have a wonderful day. Thank you. Buh-bye.


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Tim CoalsonWhat Do We Look for in New Hires?

From the Docks of Charleston to a Desk in Alpharetta

Having everything on autopilot, built into a routine and then suddenly getting the guts to grab control and pull up to new altitude is something most of you reading this will have already experienced. However, a sudden life flip, for better or worse, was new for me. This is how ThreeWill leveled me off and had me flying higher than ever.

Born, raised and still currently living in Charleston, enrolled in college with a part-time job working on the water, I was as comfortable as a person could be in their hometown. Having just moved out of my apartment, within a week I found myself packed back up and driving out of state in my Oldsmobile. Along the way, I was calling friends and telling them “Sorry, I can’t this summer, I have an opportunity that I won’t pass up” hoping I wasn’t making a mistake.

The first day, I’m excited and crazy nervous but within minutes of stepping into ThreeWill, the nerves faded away to just pure excitement. I listen to Mr. Danny describe the good, the bad, and the ugly about my new job all I can think it “That all sounded like good stuff!”. My new coworkers took no time to welcome me into the team and I’m proud to be a part of it. Even though I’m only in my first week I know for sure this opportunity was worth every cost.

This Internship incorporates my academic studies with my other interests in an already well set up system. I get to experience the inner workings of ThreeWill and see the individual gears that make it run efficiently. From using a great website, full of content such as blogs and podcast, to going to events to get our message and what we can do out there, I have the opportunity to play a hand in most of it. Already I’ve learned so much about understanding data and how we can apply it to increase our customers and partners’ satisfaction, along with so much more. I’ve only had the chance to glance into ThreeWill but every day is full of new and exciting projects. All the risk I took has been rewarded in full for this opportunity to intern at ThreeWill and I look forward to spending the rest of summer working hard here.

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Oliver PenegarFrom the Docks of Charleston to a Desk in Alpharetta

ThreeWill Is Not Like Any Other Place I’ve Worked

I walked into this ever so quiet place where the ambiance is more like a meditation Zen sort of atmosphere than an actual company.  The tempo is very chill laid back and inviting. Everyone is business casual or in jeans.  I walk around and say hello to everyone and they all seemed genuinely nice and happy to have me here.

The very first thing I notice that it is a predominantly male-driven environment which is great since that is what I particularly thrive in.  The other thing I notice is that there aren’t any names on offices nor titles anywhere nothing to establish any sort of organizational level structure which is pretty cool & indifferent. And get this, I actually share an office with the individual I support who is also the president of the company. This is the first in my entire 18 years as an Executive Assistant (EA) that I have ever done that.

For the most part, everyone is an engineer or developer meaning they tend to be more introverts than extroverts.   Here the developers seem to be a tad more outgoing than most I have interacted with in my years as an EA.  I came from a huge corporation that has thousands of people working for them on a national level.  The company is family owned just like ThreeWill but has been in business for over 100 years. The pace is very different when you are in a boutique firm such as ThreeWill.  It is a bit slower which is always a welcoming factor when you have been in a hustle/bustle type of environment for the majority of your career. Here I am learning software and processes that usually would not apply to an EA or be included in my day to day duties/skills but because it is a boutique company everyone wears many hats which add value where it is needed and when it is needed.

Things just happen differently here and as I get settled into my new position here at ThreeWill.  I am learning that titles don’t mean anything and politics do not exist here (Which is SOOO REFRESHING).

It is more about your drive and will to want to be an exceptional contributor to something bigger than yourself, where a team is needed to be successful and what you do truly matters.

Does this sound like a place where you’d like to work?  Check out current job openings and apply today!

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Kyla SmithThreeWill Is Not Like Any Other Place I’ve Worked

ThreeWill Shared Values – Passion

Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast.


This is your host Danny Ryan, and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How’s it going Tommy?




Danny:Chilly willy.


Tommy:That’s all I can say is chilly.


Danny:Yes it is, it’s a bit cold outside.


So we’re wrapping up today with the last shared value. And that shared value is passion. And we love what we do and working at ThreeWill. And I’ll read to you from our website what we have about passion.


We value having an environment where people choose to come to work because they’re passionate about what they do. We realize that our company exists because we provide a service or solution that has a positive economic difference to our client. That being said, we always challenge ourselves to stay in the balance between making money and having fun at work. A significant proportion of your time is at work, so it is important that you make the most of it. Having passion with what you do, and fun while you’re doing it. What do you think about that Tom?


Tommy:It’s an interesting value that I think in the early days we did not have. And I remember refactoring the values, trying to tease out and simplify them. And this last one of passion, it is a value that we have but we never called it out explicitly. We talk about the intersection of your skill, passion and business need when we look at what people do at ThreeWill. But we wanted to call this out because it is that balancing factor to what’s work about? It’s not all about getting the work done but having fun as you do it. And so it’s an important value, it’s a value that I think we seek out in the interview process. We want to have people that are passionate about what they’re doing, so we can continue to have a culture that’s more of a carrot versus stick type culture. So I think that value is important that we call it out to recognize that without that the rest of the values, I think, kind of collapse without having it in balance with passion.


Danny:Now the making money and having fun, isn’t that from Gore? Is that where that came from?


Tommy:Yeah that did come from Gore. It’s kind of the bottom line as a business, we’re here to make money and have fun. And any business endeavor, there’s that money aspect. And sometimes it gets honed in just on the money aspect, so they try to keep that in balance with making money and having fun.


I think people have fun when they’re doing something they’re passionate about. So if we’re focusing in around our passions, what are the types of solutions we like to provide. What types of roles we like to play, as it comes to being on a project team. What kind of problems we like to solve. And if we’re honing in on those things that we really love to do, and it pulls the passion that we need to have to keep on enduring past the challenging parts of our work and our projects.


Danny:Yeah and I think one of the things you and I always look at is what type of environment are we creating and I think we start this out with where we’re trying to create an environment where people come to work because they’re passionate about what they do. It gets them up in the morning, they’re excited about it, they want to come in and really focus and they’re excited about what they’re doing each day.


Tommy:Right. Yeah and I think sometimes you get caught up in the minutiae of what you’re doing and it can drag you down but you have to step back and say overall what am I doing here? Yeah I’m sitting inside of Outlook all day, in front of Word and Excel, and if I think about just the skill of being able to manage email and write proposals and contracts, that’s not really what I’m passionate about, it’s more of the creating the environment to be able to do the work that we do, and that starts with that sales process. So that helps me stay passionate about I do because if I were just doing contracts and managing email, and it wasn’t in an environment and in a company that’s doing things that I believe in, then gosh that would be very painful. To come into work every day and just open up Excel and PowerPoint and Word and Outlook.


In a sense, starting this whole thing out, there was a lot of passion around visual studio and understanding technologies, and that’s evolved over time. And so it isn’t visual studio, it is different tools, and I’m not passionate about those tools, I’m passionate about the outcomes of having conversations that lead to the opportunity to show what we can do well.


Danny:Yep. And I think one of the things that over the last couple of years with, in my evolving role and starting to do marketing things, it’s something I feel like I’m passionate about and want to learn more about. And I appreciate you created the environment here for me to branch out and try some new things. I think you’re always trying to tune into what gets people really motivated and trying to create the situation where they can go after something. I think this has a lot to do with as well, our first podcast was a roles versus responsibilities and the whole titles, I guess it was more like titles versus responsibilities. And something where people want to carve out something and go after something and creating that type of environment as opposed to I’m doing something because I have this title.


Tommy:Right, yeah and probably the thing that might be my favorite thing to do here at ThreeWill is the culture, and doing things that impact the culture and keep the culture healthy and alive and so the people aspect of understanding what people are passionate about and trying to get that matched up with the projects that we do and the roles that need to be played on projects. That interests me and there’s probably things I don’t need to do in my role to help those aspects of our business, but the lovely thing is we’re not forcing people into boxes where they have to stay within one container or one role and one set of responsibilities. We want people to surface up and contribute where we have need in the organization, and if they have skill and they do it with passion then we get out of the way, we let that happen.


And I think with you with the marketing side of things, you’ve got both the skill and the passion, there’s definitely the need there. So it makes it easy, it makes it where I’m not coming in and trying to give structure to you or give structure to Bruce, or give structure to anyone. Everybody is filling a role that they feel like they can do and they’re passionate about it, and that just makes an environment that it’s easier to say I want to get up in the morning because we’re individually making choices to want to contribute.


And I was having an interview yesterday, and it’s very weird that I’m looking for an executive assistant, it doesn’t seem like I should have an executive assistant. But that’s the title that people use out in the world and what I’m looking for is someone that’s passionate about organizing around email and counter appointments and scheduling things, and they get a kick out of it. And they happen to have a title in this world of executive assistant. I might come up with a new title for that but as we’re searching, that’s the role that we’re looking for. And you know it’s one of those things that… Actually I’m losing track of my thought there, but…


Danny:I guess along with that, how do you, because you were talking about this earlier, how do you find when we’re interviewing people, what’s sort of the way that we find out they’re passionate about, really passionate about, because the typical person coming in for a job, you say I’m passionate about doing this. How do you really find that out?


Tommy:You reminded me of what I was trying to lead it to, but since we kind of let them know what’s important for them to realize is it relates to our culture and what’s going to make them successful, and I said we’re an environment that it’s great that we encourage self motivated people, and we provide a lot of freedom, we don’t put people in boxes. But then there’s people that want to have those boxes, the people that want that structure, and that can be very stressful, very difficult to work in an environment like that. So I’ve indicated to people, if you want to have that structure, that’s not bad, I mean that’s just the way you want to have your work environment set up.


In here, we’re attracting people that are self motivated people. And to be in the business of consulting, I think that’s the right thing to do. I think we have to have an environment that we’re allowing people to use their creativity to solve the problem in the most effective way. And along the way there is structure, there’s the structure of choosing what technologies we’re going to use, what types of projects we go after, there’s plenty of natural structure there. But for the individual’s potential to contribute. You know if someone comes in as an executive assistant and they’re doing some junior sales type work, if they have the passion and the skill to do that and we find we don’t have as many people as we need to be doing that, we’re not going to stop you from helping at that level.


So you know, for some people that’s awesome. I can learn some new things, I’m not going to be stuck only being able to schedule appointments and follow up on email, but I can do some other things that will help me grow. So I think that’s a benefit but also for some people it can be a drawback, of I don’t want to come into work not knowing what I’m going to do next. And that’s a valid thing to be concerned about but as a person that’s got a lot of self initiative, they like having that open space to be able to create what do I want to do next?


Danny:Well I think there is diversity in the types of things people are passionate about, and it has to do with, some people might be… You know we always joke around with Linda, she would be really excited to be a collector of money at the toll booth, that would make her excited because of the structure that’s a part of that. Now that would drive me nuts. To do the same thing over and over again. But you have to recognize I think there’s diversity in what people are passionate about. That what gets them up in the morning is different for you than what it is for me. And I think trying to create this organization, you’re trying to find different people and their passions, and putting them in… Because there are some things that just need to be done and require a lot of structure to get them done. And finding the right people to go into those positions is part of our role and part of what we need to do to create a diverse team at ThreeWill.


Tommy:Right and I think that organization structure, you know, working on accounts payable, receivable, some of the HR things. And this executive assistant role, it requires a lot of structure. I think the thing that’s nice about a Linda, a Jan, a Barbra, they’re naturally wanting to create that structure. And you know for Linda, from day one, she’s just taken things and gone after them and created the structure she needs around her to be able to get her job done well.


So I think the thing that I was trying to emphasize the other day was you might go into a big corporate environment and there’s high structure for what your role is, and what you’re allowed to do. And at the end of the day we try to provide the ability, for a lot of people, to not be pigeon holed into one type of role and responsibility, but to be able to explore others. And as a company we do have structure, from an agile process, from templates for estimation. And I don’t think we get rid of structure as it relates to the processes and how we get business done. I mean that’s so important. I mean that’s kind of the theme aspect of what we do, is the day to day things, that we don’t want to reinvent the wheel with certain things because AutoTask is wherever we’re putting our time. You know we’re not trying to reinvent that all the time, we’re trying to create structure around that so people know what to do for some of those mechanical things.


I think what we try to do to create some freedom is around how you contribute within that whole mechanism of what we do as a business and allowing people to say okay today, yeah all the time people look at me as an infrastructure engineer, maybe I want to try development or people look at me as a sales person, maybe I want to try marketing. And you know, give that opportunity. And you know other companies do that, it’s quote lateral moves, within organizations. And we try to create that environment of it’s more important for you to work on what you’re passionate about than, quote, climbing the ladder. And you know being a flat organization, there’s not really much of a ladder. It’s more of what am I passionate about doing and then how can I hone that skill and get better and better at that? And we try to create that environment that you can do that.


But I think it has to come from self motivation. And probably our biggest fault is we don’t create a lot of structure to tell people what is the next step, and we got to keep that in balance. We can’t, you know, not look at ways to help people in the way they grow. I mean our sponsors I think is a way to do that, and we try to keep on top of sponsors to make sure they’re doing the reviews, and the reviews are very simple. The retrospect is asking those three questions of, what am I doing well, what can I improve and what should I stop doing, just so you can have that conversation of how can I grow? And the sponsor supports that.


Danny:Excellent. Excellent.


Yeah I think a lot of the structure for the different teams comes around the process that you use, you know the product backlog and the spreads and organizing around that. Inside this environment I think there’s a lot of self organizing teams, so Bruce works with the right teams to sort of put them together based on what the project is. And you know I see a lot of passion with you around the… You’ve always had a lot of passion around the process you used, and so the process drives out structure for us. Especially on projects. That’s always been there and something I’ve seen that you really enjoy doing. I think that there’s a lot of… I think bringing in somebody to help out with some of the administrative things around sales is just… We’re all encouraging you to do that because it just helps you scale and helps out, I think, overall. Some of these responsibilities will be handed off to somebody else but for the meantime you’ve got a lot on your shoulders and so having somebody else come and take the weight off of that, really is something I appreciate you looking into.


Tommy:Sure. Yeah it’ll be a journey.


Danny:That it will. What kind of socks have you got on? Anything special today?


Oh those are nice.


Tommy:Little stripes.


Danny:Yeah little stripes never hurt anybody.


Tommy:They change colors as they go up.


Danny:Excellent, good job. Anything else before we wrap up with passion?


Tommy:I think that is it.


Danny:So we’ve covered all of our shared values. And i know one of the fun things that we’re doing is we’re just wrapping up with some design sessions around doing a blackboard or chalkboard that has our values. So we’re looking forward to getting that up on our wall in our kitchen, so that should be fun to have.


Tommy:Yeah that’s going to be nice. A good way to wrap it up.


Danny:Yeah be a good way to wrap it up and a good daily reminder as you’re grabbing some coffee, a good reminder of what our values are. I think that’s important is to have it in your physical environment as well, just reminding everybody, as a group these are the things that we truly value and these are the ways that we make decisions as a group.




Well thank you everybody for listening to this series of discussions around our shared values. Love to have a comment, if you have one, at the bottom of the blog post. Just interested to hear on your take on that and just really appreciate you listening to this series.


Take care, have a great day. Bye bye.


Tommy:Bye bye.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Passion

ThreeWill Shared Values – Value

Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, I’m here with Tommy Ryan. Tommy how you doing?


Tommy Ryan :I’m doing well Danny, how about yourself?


Danny Ryan:Good, good. Doing just fine, doing just fine.


So, today we’re going to continue on. We’re talking about our culture and in particular our shared values and on the second to the last value which this one sounds a little weird but our value is value.


Tommy Ryan :Yeah.


Danny Ryan:I’ll go ahead and read what we have up on the website for this. We have Carolynn up there and this is the value itself. We strive to provide maximal value for our customers, that sounds wonderful. Then let me read the quote that we have with that. We think the greatest value we can bring to our clients is taking the time to truly understand their needs in order to be able to provide them with an outstanding solution on time and on budget. At ThreeWill we will strive to understand completely what the client needs before we ever strike the first line of code or make the first configuration change. It is not our job to write amazing code, using all the latest technologies just because we can and think it would be a good value. It is our job to know what … Excuse me … It is our job to know what will bring the client value by working closely within to gain a real understanding of the project requirements. Then using our agile process we can apply that knowledge to ensure the correct tools and technologies are employed in order to provide an outstanding solution that exceeds the clients expectations and brings them the greatest value. What do you think about that Tom?


Tommy Ryan :I think it can sound generic but I think when you put skin on it, when you look at individuals at ThreeWill, the way they look at this, they look at okay what am I billing per hour and did I actually do something that was valuable. I think we always have that tension of am I at the end of the day providing more value than the check that’s been signed to compensate us for the work that we got done for the customer, so you know that’s a tension that’s really real within our organization and it’s good to have that tension. It makes you think about, let’s make sure that we’re methodical in the way we go about determining what gets done, and the agile process helps with that, where we’re not spending so much time talking about things that don’t get done or don’t add value.


If you look at the process of sales to delivery, we take down the users stories, so we can understand at a high level what do you want to accomplish, what are the individual features that make up the initiative that you want us to get involved with and as a part of that we feedback, very quickly the leveled effort. So you can look at an item on that backlog and say wow, that’s going to cost $5,000 dollars or $10,000 dollars to implement that one feature. Maybe it’s not as valuable as I thought it was and maybe I didn’t realize the complexity of going down that path. So we want to enable our customers to see that, before they even spend a penny in the process and so that I think gives value to the customer very early before we even deliver any of our product that we do and our projects.


Danny Ryan:Yeah, I really like what Bruce and the team does with breaking out estimates and understanding from the get go, he breaks them out into different groups and understanding, how much am I going to be spending on maybe this feature set and early on from a clients stand point, they’re understanding sort of where am I spending my money and they probably have the best sense of anyone as far as whether it’s worth that and understanding what their goals are and will implementing this really help them meet those goals and so you know, we don’t want to see ourselves as an okay let’s go tell ThreeWill what to do, it’s more we’re engaging with you to talk through what yo are trying to accomplish and then sort of prioritizing what you’re doing as well because I think that’s where the value comes into play, as you’re doing the things of the highest priority first and how do you do that and I can see with the delivery teams, that they’re able to do that and organize on a sprint by sprint basis, which is just wonderful to see.


Tommy Ryan :Yeah and I really think the process of agile is the key component to the value proposition that we have to our customers and it even comes without a project taking place. It can come through the ability to make a good decision on should I go after a certain project and to “fail early.” We do fail early in the sales process where we provide a budget and that budget is beyond what they can afford to go after an initiative and it’s much better to figure that out up front, than to get half way into it and realize well I’m not going to be able to get to the finish line, now I’ve spent money but I can’t get to the finish line so I don’t have value, I have a deficit. I’ve spent money, I’ve spent time and I have nothing to show for it. We don’t want to put our customers in that position and that’s tough.


We’re in environments that we want to be a catalyst to move quickly, get engaged, start producing, working software and to keep that in balance with okay overall objectives of the organization, technology, standards and at the end of the day is this something that fits and works well within the organization. It’s not always black and white, so we have to help tease out the details with our customers, so they can make the most informed decision along the way and at the end of the day, we feel like an educated customer where we’re helping them in that process, is going to be the best customer to set us up to be successful.


Danny Ryan:I feel like a part of the reason why we ended up focusing so much on share point as a framework and just sort of what we’re taking into each of the different projects, is because of wanting to provide value and that is we don’t want to go around building these frameworks from the ground up … We’d rather come in with share point into a project because I think ultimately if we’re talking about value, sorry I can see some clients sharing the same concept of value and saying you know looking at our bill rates and saying hey I could get maybe two or three other folks at a lower rate, that would lower your bill rates so I think that these other companies are better value, but the way that I look at is our approach both with our process with scrum with being able to organize around what are we going after each sprint and making sure we are spending the right time on the appropriate things along with using share point as sort of the framework where we’re configuring first, coding second but can build these high value solutions out of this that we’re able to have one, two, three persons teams that if you were building this from the ground up would take a dozen folks to go and do.


Tommy Ryan :Right, yeah, yeah and I think focusing on a platform and being able to understand the nooks and crannies and the breadth and depth of that platform enables us to have a final complete solution that is going to give the customer further, than just taking a generic approach where you have to in a sense reinvent the wheel and we prescribe to, if there’s something out there that can get the job done and we extend that and bring it to the finish line faster and kind of better quality more capability then we’re all for that. We don’t think we need to start everything from scratch and we’re always trying to find those opportunities where there is that fit. We’re not forcing a square into a round hole but we see that this is a round hole and this is going to be the fastest way to get you there and let us show you want we’ve done with other customers and give you a vision of how you can get there and do things that maybe you really didn’t realize you could do with a platform.


Absolutely, anything else to add for value?


Danny Ryan:I think it comes down to making good choices. We’ve talked about this and the number of values in the brand promisees. At the end of the day, to provide value there has to be a good dialog with the customer to understand what’s important to them and continue to hoNE in on what is their situation, what’s special about what they’re trying to accomplish and tune ourselves to that need and not try to force a customer down a path just because we think it’s the right way. We really need to understand where our customer is coming from, so we can tune to giving them the most value. I always turn the artist software development into a science but there are aspects to what we do, which is people interactions that we have to kind of tune into what’s important to the customer and I think that’s what makes us a very valuable organization to our customers today and tomorrow. It’s because of us caring about understanding their need and expecting and adapting to that need in the fastest way possible.


Tommy Ryan :Nice socks dude.


Danny Ryan:I don’t think I’ve seen these yet?


Tommy Ryan :Yeah, yeah there maybe, I think we’re getting to he bottom of all the socks that I have.


Danny Ryan:If anyone would like to donate some socks to the Danny and Tommy Ryan Sock Fund.


Tommy Ryan :I don’t know if I want used ones.


Danny Ryan:Oh yeah, let’s make sure there new socks, yes we’re looking for new socks to talk about.


Well thank you Tommy for taking the time to do this and thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care, bye bye.


Tommy Ryan :Bye, bye.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Value

ThreeWill Shared Values – Growth

Danny:Hello, this is Danny and Tommy Ryan, and we’re here talking about growth today. We’re talking about our values. How’s it going, Tommy?


Tommy:Going well, Danny.


Danny:Awesome. Last one we covered was honesty and now we’re into growth. I’ll get us kicked off here by just reading what we have up on the website, our culture part of the website, which is: “.. growth, we encourage each other to grow in a balanced way. Personal growth is an important part of our culture at ThreeWill. We recognize the technology field is in continuous flux.


Tommy:Yes, it is.


Danny:Time can erode the technical advantage, making it a priority to sharpen the saw, a little bit of Covey there … is a key to being able to provide the highest level of service to our clients and our company. ThreeWill encourages people to recognize and pursue their passions in ways that allow for personal and professional growth while also directly benefit our clients.


ThreeWill fosters an environment where people can enjoy what they do but also have an appropriate work-life balance, which allows time for our consultants to invest in their families and communities.”


Thoughts on that, Tommy?


Tommy:Some of the things that come to mind with the statement of growth and how we embrace the value of growth is … comes from another background that’s common in our values, which is my background at Gore, W.L Gore & Associates. They had a concept of no one has titles. People have roles and responsibilities. One of the reasons they did that … it could be kind of counter to growth. You could see, well, how do I quote “climb that ladder” and get the next title in the list? The concept was you really don’t want to be pigeonholed into a box and say, this is only what you can do. It’s to try to encourage that freewill aspect of choosing to succeed and not having artificial barriers there, to choose to succeed and to grow.


That’s something that comes to mind, and also I think our environment with the humble confidence that we’ve talked about before, is we created an environment that people can learn from each other and are fine with talking about the things that they don’t know so they can recognize that and be able to address the gaps that they have in their knowledge, to be affect in the roles that they play. Those are some things that come to mind when I think about growth and how growth is applied in our culture.


Danny:It’s tough, I mean, as being a part of a consulting company there’s always the challenge of trying to stay a step ahead and trying to be wise in the guidance that we give our clients. It seems like there’s always a constant balance to try to figure out. How do I try to stay a couple steps ahead, yet at the same time don’t get out of balance when trying to get a couple steps ahead?


You and I have been doing consulting for quite a while and it just seems that it’s always something you have to try to figure out, and have to be focused in on. It’s a challenge to everyone here that works at ThreeWill, which is growing and keeping balance.


Tommy:Yeah, I think that balance … one of the things that we consciously work on and it’s easier said than done, which is what is our technology focus? That kind of plays into the ability to grow and grow in a way that is going to be effective in helping our customers or clients that we work with. When we come in as consultants you’re always that person that has to be that half-step ahead, and give guidance down the path that’s going to be the best advice that’s known at that point in time. To keep that awareness of, what are the best practices, what are the best approaches, what is really working in the industry? The further we can narrow down what we do, puts us at that advantage to be able to spend less time to accomplish the goal of being that good consultant being aware of the things that you need to know. The work-life balance, there’s always one more thing that you feel like you need to know and so if we can narrow that done, that addresses some of the anxiety that comes with being a consultant.


Danny:Absolutely, yeah, I think that focus allows for us to say we’re not experts in everything, there’s certain things that we focus in on as an organization and you and I, I think through the years have really tried to do our best at staying focused at what we’re doing. It’s tempting to go after different things but I think that’s helped overall the team at ThreeWill to help maintain some balance in the work-life.


I remember early on in the company … it was probably even before ThreeWill where you and I had conversations about the work-life balance and wanting to say … I don’t want to get to the end of this thing and have a great career yet a messed up relationship with my wife and relationship with my kids. How do you balance that over time? I think there’s … trying to figure out this growth thing along with the work-life balance has been something that we had to focus in on for many years here.


Tommy:Yeah, I think some of that comes from what commitments do you make along the way, along that path, because I think you can grow and keep that work-life balanced based on what is your level of commitment. That’s what you always have to tune. As a company and then as individuals what is our commitment? What are we committing to, and are we over committed? How do we balance or level out the things that we do within the organization in way that people can feel like they have the opportunity to have that work-life balance?


I look at some of our consultants sometimes from time to time, or end up leaning on one or two consultants that have great capabilities to help our clients feel very comfortable and have that knack of knowing how to get to the bottom of things and solve the problem effectively. We have to keep a balance and consciously think about, for this particular person, what does that balance look like? Each person is unique and to kind of be fair, we have to treat everybody differently within the organization because they do have different personal styles, personal definitions of what is balance for them. We’re consciously tuning to that, and I think that brings the best out of people. Some people, they work fine within two to three projects, and some of them work best with one or two or just one. Looking at what is their breadth of responsibility and what is their impact based on coming up with the right balance for different individuals within ThreeWill.


Danny:One of the things that I like that you do each year with the planning is … I think a part of this is you have to plan for the balance as well, because you sort of look at what you did this past year and you look at the upcoming year, and a lot of what we look to do is … I know it’s not the sexiest thing in the world but we look to repeat, to show that we are able to repeat what we’ve done in the previous year. I think a lot of that has to looking at who’s on the team, what are we able to reach to. Not just saying we’re going to grow’s sake. It’s saying we want to have a good, mature … the overused word is “organic” growth, but you want to have something where we’re not over-extending ourselves and we’re able to prove that we can repeat. Repeat performance of what we’ve done in the past year, and then from there branch off and maybe go after a little bit more.


Tommy:Yeah, I think when I look at growth a lot of what I hone into is the growth of individuals at ThreeWill. When I look at that, it sometimes translates into financial growth in terms of what is the top-line revenue and bottom-line revenue. Those are I think fruits of the labor of focusing on individual’s growth. At the end of the day, some of that is finding that we can go after different types of challenges and that excites us, it feels like we’re using our gifts. It allows us to feel like we’re proud of what we do at the end of the day.


Within our environment, what I think is it’s not say, unique to every environment but I think it’s something that people appreciate, is when we’re faced with challenges and faced with decisions, the financial part of it is a piece but it’s usually not the leading piece. It’s looking at what’s the right thing to do to treat the client, the individual well. As a result of that, there’s good longterm stability and there’s a sense of “I’m valued for what I’m doing”, versus “I feel like I’m just a cog in the wheel making more money”. You have to keep in balance with that. I think the balance is we want to provide an environment that people feel like, “If I do my best, this is an opportunity I can continue to contribute and be here.” We have some fiduciary responsibilities to make sure that we have the right amount of top-line, bottom-line revenue to support the team, who we are today. Then we look at, are there new challenges out there that require a growth in terms of head count, in terms of revenue? That gives us opportunities to do things that we feel like we have that individual personal growth.


Sometimes that has to come through quote “growth of the company”, because some people mature to a level of they need challenges that might require them to be responsible for a group of people, something they’re passionate about to kind of carve off, I want to solve this problem. Sometimes you can’t do that at a small number, you have to wear too many hats. That’s something we’re consciously looking at and trying to figure out what is best.


We went into this year, we said based on the characteristics, we want to have something very similar to last year because we think that’s appropriate. That’s something that allows us to sharpen the saw and regroup around certain aspects of what we need to do to scale to the next level of growth. That’s a conscious effort to grow sometimes, is to make a decision to stay the same level so you can either sharpen a skill, bring on the people you need and get them ready, and then be positioned to go up to that next tier.


Danny:Great stuff, great stuff.


You going to see the Braves today, are you seeing their new stadium?


Tommy:Yeah, it’s visit number two.




Tommy:I hear we’re going to see a little bit more this time because they’re further down the path and there’s a few more things that we’re allowed to go see and walk through.






Danny:You have to take a picture or two so I can share that with folks.


Tommy:Okay, will do.


Danny:Good to see, that’d be great to see. Awesome stuff.


I’m checking … I think I’ve got your socks beat today. You did match them with your pants, so that’s pretty impressive there Tommy.


Tommy:Yeah, the only fanciness about these socks is that they have an indention or striping to it.




Tommy:I’m sorry. No color.


Danny:It’s okay. Mine are black at the bottom but these are the ones that are a little bit crazy up top. That’s me, I’m a little crazy up in the top.


Tommy:Very true, very true.


Danny:Very true. Well thank you for taking the time to do this. I know we’re going to … I want to go through the ultimate question book with you, and talk about net promoter scores. Maybe we’ll get through all the values first and then go into that, or maybe we’ll drop into that the next time we talk. Thank you for taking the time to do this, Tommy.


Tommy:Sure, Danny.


Danny:Yeah. Thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care now, bye bye.




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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Growth

ThreeWill Shared Values – Honesty

Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. Hey, Tommy. How’s it going?


Tommy:It’s going well. Enjoying the summer.


Danny:Enjoying the summer. Let me see them. Pull them up. He’s got some Clemson socks on, I haven’t seen these, have I?


Tommy:When you roll them over … It says Clemson.


Danny:Yeah, oh, my goodness. My goodness. At first, you think they’re tacky, and then you really know they’re tacky.


Tommy:Yeah, kick it up a notch.


Danny:Yeah, I don’t even know if I want to show mine off. I’ve got polka dots. I feel a little weird.


Tommy:And, they’re the wrong color if you’re wearing your collegiate colors. Mine are red and white, so I don’t know if I’ve got the right colors on, but …


Danny:Those are nice.   Are those new socks?


Tommy:I think I had these at another podcast.


Danny:Cool, cool.


Tommy:This is my second show.


Danny:Nice, nice. Well done. So, we’re going to follow our conversation about the ThreeWill culture and our shared values. This week we’re going to talk about honesty, and, of course, who else do we have representing honesty?


Tommy:Mr Kirk Liemohn.


Danny:Mr Kirk Liemohn. The appropriate person. Whoever created this website, man, kudos to them. The whole idea of someone who represents the value. I think this is really someone who does, sort of, represent the value, and that’s Kirk. The statement we have for that is, “We treat each other and our clients fairly and honestly.” I’ll go ahead and read the statement. I’ll get us kicked off here, and then, if you want to have a couple of comments, that will be great.




Danny:“We value building long lasting partnerships with clients in a fair and honest way that is equitable to both parties. Stephen Covey, I’m bringing up Stephen Covey again, calls these win-win relationships. We look to create engagements with clients that will create success for both parties. Being fair and honest is a big part of providing quality service to clients with high integrity. If we are to build long lasting partnerships with our clients, we need to be explicit in our decisions, and do our best to lead them down the right path. If a risk or issue becomes apparent, we will raise this with our clients and give them the opportunity to react appropriately, and enable them to address the problem. Sometimes this information is difficult to share with the client, but it is key to our long-lasting partnerships.” Plenty of meat on that bone.


Tommy:Yeah, you know, you can tell that when we wrote these values, we definitely were coming off of a Stephen Covey high, but, you know, he is so good at articulating the importance of shared values. This one, definitely, I think rings true and is one of those, again, high bars that you set, and as humans we always fall short of the high bars. But when I look at Kirk, I just think of meetings that I’m in with Kirk, and sales opportunities and just things in general. I think I have a conscience that says you need to be honest and speak as though the other person is present, but when I’m in a room with Kirk, I feel like I’ve got to kick it up even a higher notch. I think he leads by example, and that’s how you kind of see honesty.


I think honesty can be faked at first, but over time, people can really see where that level of honesty is when they get into tough times. When they get into little pinches, how do they react when they’re pinned in a corner. What’s that response? Here what we see with Kirk, he’ll just take that high road, and sometimes that’s a larger effort. It’s more responsibility that you need to take on. You know that statement of, ‘It creates long-lasting partnerships.’ We’re in it for the long-haul, and I think with our clients, we want to create life-time relationships and we’ve seen a lot of that over the years. It does come through honesty and making key commitments that people know what they’re dealing with and I think we all want to get down to cut to the chase and that is a lot easier with someone that you know is being honest with you.


Danny:With honesty … You remember my best friend in high school was Jack Swift and he went off the West Point and one of the things I learnt about honesty at one point in time when we met up. I don’t know if whether during college or after college, but he taught me a part of honesty is making sure you don’t do the attempt to deceive. So saying something where you’re trying to deceive someone else is being dishonest.


Tommy:Kind of the white lies.


Danny:The white lies. And so I remember him just describing something and him correcting himself because he felt like he was attempting to deceive and how much that is a part of … The place where I have a struggle with this is early on in sales opportunities. And I think its sort of like you want to spell out all the risk and you want to be upfront with everybody about all the things that could go wrong. But you want to enable someone to make a decision as well, so you have to also be able to … If I’m gonna spell out all the risk, I’m gonna spell out all the things that are there opportunity wise.


The reasons why you should do this, ’cause I think when you’re coming in and you’re being honest, you have to represent both sides of the coin, which is, ‘here’s all the reasons why you might not want to do this,’ but then you have to also represent all the reasons why you should do this. And I think it’s being balanced with that approach is very important, ’cause I know, sometimes a lot of us are engineers and we see all the risks in doing things. But we also have to represent ‘what happens if you don’t do anything at all?’ And that is a risk in itself as well and representing that in a fair way, and in an honest way during the sales process.


Tommy:Yeah. Sales process and it even carries into the delivery of a project, where the bigger the challenge, the more difficult it is to navigate those conversations of the things that come up as risks and how do you effectively communicate those. And I think one of the things that we encourage and try to do a good job at is doing risk management. And so it’s not just raising the risk, but you raise the risk along with what we think the potential likelihood of this occurring is, and how big that impact will be. And then that allows us to score the risk, to give it a sense of how important and how critical that risk is. And then as a part of that, also having a contingency plan, and a mitigation plan, and being clear about when that risk gets triggered. And so that allows you to, I think be honest in a way that doesn’t paralyze people but enables them in their decision making process and we do that …


During the sales process we’re capturing those things and especially early on in the engagement and we know that you’ve got to tease some of these things out. And you’ve gotta tease out what are the great things about what we’re doing, all of the features and benefits and pain points that we’re addressing, but also realize that things are not perfect and there’s things that will be trade-offs in that path forward. And I think if you can document those risks in a way that are not just risks but managed risks along with, ‘what are all the benefits?’ Then you bring everything to the table to make a good decision ’cause that’s what we want our clients to do, to make a well-informed decision and some of that is the negative side. But doing the work it takes to present the negative side in a way that they understand how they can work around it or mitigate that particular side of the equation.


Danny:So in our business we’re doing work directly for our client or having somebody else subcontract us out. And we’ve stayed away from the latter part, I think because of this last part here. “If a risk becomes apparent, we’ll raise this with our client to give them an opportunity to react appropriately and enable them to address …” Boy this has happened recently, hasn’t it? We want to raise the risk up and allow for the client to be able to address that risk, but we might not be the person who is raising those risks to the client. And that puts us in a difficult situation doesn’t it?


Tommy:It does. And I think you have layers of stakeholders in an engagement and so there’s things that you want to communicate that you can’t communicate tactfully, based on different conditions and different constraints. And as you are further removed from the ultimate decision maker, that becomes trickier and trickier, ’cause you have more than one boss to work with. And so, the least amount of layers there, the less work it takes to manage that. Because when you’re trying to manage something that you have someone in between that relationship, then you have to take into account their challenges, their issues, their constraints and at the end of the day it dilutes the message that you want to provide.


And that’s just reality and so you have to figure out, ‘How do you communicate that in an effective way?’ How do you enable you stakeholder to communicate to their stakeholder? And then sometimes even if we’re not subcontracting, we might be working with someone that is maybe one or two steps removed from really being the ultimate decision making. We might be working with the project manager, or maybe we’re working with the director, but there’s the VP that is really caring about this and the one that is gonna write the check for it. And so we’ve gotta work with our stakeholder to present business cases, to present the decisions that need to be made, and raise the things to the top that can get lost in a very complicated project.


Danny:Couple more questions. What happens if we’re in the situation where we feel like a client’s not being honest or fair with us?


Tommy:That’s a tough question.


Danny:Sorry. Let me give you a second to think about that.


Tommy:Well, I think you deal … And deal might not be the right word to use. It’s a relationship and I think when we come to the table, both sides have flawed aspects of what we bring to the table in building that relationship. It might be someone that might be lacking the technical knowledge of understanding the details of what you’re trying to provide, and so that becomes a barrier. I think sometimes we can misread someone’s honesty or fairness, because we don’t have a good perspective of where they’re coming from. And so it’s a journey of having a conversation that you’re feeding back what you’re saying in a tactful way, to say, “This is what I’m hearing.” And at face value to the consultant it might sound unfair and dishonest, but we can’t get to that and we can’t really make that judgment. All we can do is work within the constraints that we’re provided. Give them the details and what we’re willing to commit to and let them make the decision.


So we can take something that maybe is unfair, dishonest from face value, and what we end up doing is saying, “Okay this is what we think is the right thing to do. And we want to hear your feedback so we can understand your side.” So we’re not talking over and under each other. And then it gets to a point where you say, “Okay, can we come and get on the same page.” And if we can’t, then we shouldn’t engage with each other ’cause we’re set up for failure and that’s where it comes down to. Is the person on the other side dishonest or unfair? That’s hard to judge and I think it’s a two-way street. I think clients can look at us and say, “Waw, you’re charging us a lot of money for that.” And that can be perceived from their viewpoint, of dishonest, unfair. So you just have to work it out and then you have to decide. Are we enabled on both sides and do we feel comfortable that this is the right things to go forward with?


Danny:Sounds like you’re addressing it with one of Covey’s ‘seek first to understand.’ Really, that’s you have to understand the other person’s position. And I think that you’re whole concept of stating to them what you believe, just feeding back to them and listening to them, really is key to that. Because once you understand their situation, you might understand their intent and have a totally different picture on everything.


Tommy:Right. Right.


Danny:Very good. I think this honesty, for us, as we’re looking to it as a part of our culture, you and I are very sensitive to it I think. Especially with hiring people and I’m thinking people who would be at ThreeWill. I think we can forgive a lot of things, and we understand the situations with little white lies and things like that and being able to be understanding about people in different situations. But I think honesty is one of those things. Just be honest with us so we can deal with the situation, especially when it comes to project work.


I think it’s one of those that we really have to hold each other to a high standard, or we’re not able to work together. And so I think that’s one of those things again that when we’re looking to hire people at ThreeWill, we’ve got to believe that your intent is to be honest with your teammates, with us, with the client. Or else there’s just no way for us to build up a foundation of trust. There’s no way for us a build up a relationship with an employee or a relationship with a client. That has to be there for us to start to build trust in each other.


Tommy:All right. What I’m thinking about … Have you ever see this show, Selfridge?


Danny:No. No. What is it?


Tommy:For folks that watch like, Downton Abbey, it’s one of those masterpiece theater. It’s the story of the shopkeeper or the owner of Selfridges in London, a kind of high end department store, and I think seeing the story … Basically it’s a guy that has very high standards for people around him, but very low standards for himself. He’s dishonest with his marriage, he’s dishonest with a lot of things and then when other people do things dishonestly to him, he ends up crucifying them. And I look at it and I say, “be careful not to be that person.”


‘Cause I look at it like gosh, it’s easy for us sometimes to say, “You have to be honest to work with us.” But we have to realize, I look at it myself introspectively and say, “You know what, it’s something that I’ve got to understand that I am flawed as a human being and I’ve got to continue to strive for that.” I’ve got to have people around me to hold me accountable to that and at the end of the day making sure that I put more effort on myself, and then that in turn I think, reflects on others and encourages others.”


Just this whole honesty thing, I think we were both raised in a family that saw this as an important value and so we want to carry that forward. And then I also look at things like when I am strained, there’s things I do, that I want to take the shortcut path. You want to take those white lies. So I think it’s great that we talked about this value, ’cause we had to remind ourselves of this. ‘Cause at the end of the day we’re gonna do things that protect ourselves, but to get there we have to talk about it. And we have to, like you said, hire people that value that, that want to do the hard thing that it takes to be honest in situations. And that, sometimes is a longer journey, it’s something that’s not a get rich quick strategy. So I’m glad that we’re talking about this and challenging ourselves to say, “How do we continue to raise awareness of the people we see it at ThreeWill that are honest? And how do we continue to get better at that as an organization?”


Danny:I think a couple of ways we could do this, that I see is, one, saying “I don’t know.” Because a lot of times people want to have the answer to the question and sort of make something up and I think through the years of just learning to say, “I don’t know what the answer is for that question.” And I don’t have to have all the answers to the question. I can go research it and go do the work necessary to find the answer, but sometimes I think what’s important is, and it’s tough in our situation where we’re brought in as the experts, for folks from delivery. You want to be competent, but we need to show, as leadership in the company, that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know what the answer is to that question.” And then the other thing I think needs to happen. And I know I probably do this more at home than I do at work, which is, I express when I’ve messed up. When perhaps I’ve done something or I wasn’t completely honest about a situation, or I did attempt to deceive and I said something.


So I want especially my kids to see what happens when you’re in that situation, when you weren’t completely honest about something. And you apologize for this. And I think when we’re working especially, in whatever part of the process, sales, delivery, whatever, if there’s a time in which we feel like our conscience is telling us that something’s wrong here, to raise it up and say, “Listen guys, I thought it was this way yesterday, but I found out it wasn’t that way and I need to correct myself there.” I think whenever you hear somebody do that, you’re like okay, all of a sudden I’m gonna give that person more leeway. I’m gonna trust that person a little bit more in the future, because if they do say something and they find out it’s wrong, they’re gonna come back and correct themselves.


Tommy:Yeah. Yeah. So I think the honesty has to come with vulnerability. And I think that’s hard to do, especially in the professional setting, to admit when something that you did wasn’t with the best intentions, or you weren’t fair in that situation. It reminds me of … You sometimes start a different type of relationship when you get into those situations, and again in a professional environment, that’s harder to navigate.


I remember one situation with Eric. Actually working with Eric when he wasn’t at ThreeWill, but as a contractor at Ernst & Young, and I was the lead for the development effort and I came in one day and really got frustrated and kind of … I can’t remember if I yelled at the team or what I did, but I was something that I didn’t feel that was fair to the team. And I slept on it. The next day I came in and I apologize to the whole team. And there was something that I felt, like a different connection, a different relationship that I had with Eric, post-that. Because I think I could sense that Eric thought it was unfair in terms of how I responded to the situation where I was, quote, “backed into a corner.”


And I think a lot of these values, it’s important to not necessarily to be perfect, but to continue to be reflective on, “Am I really being honest?” Because overtime, these things can get diluted, these values get diluted unless we sharpen the saw, as Covey says, towards looking at, ‘Well what is honesty, and where do we think we can get better?’ Because, I think that we can get dull with some of these values overtime. And doing what we’re doing now, at least for me, it’s helping me recognize that, yeah these are the same values that we have, and there’s opportunity to even grow.


Danny:Great topic. Enjoyed talking with you this morning Tommy. Thanks for taking the time to do this.


Tommy:I was trying to be as honest as I could.


Danny:Honestly Tommy, this has gone a little long so … Let’s go and … Let’s put a bow on this. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen and leave a comment at the bottom of the blog post if you have your own stories to share about honesty or anything you’d like to share with Tommy or myself. We’ll keep an eye on that and we’ll definitely respond back to it if you ask a question there or anything along those lines. Thank you everyone for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye bye.






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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Honesty

ThreeWill Shared Values – Teamwork

Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan and my co-host Tommy Ryan is here with me. How is it going Tommy?


Tommy Ryan:It is going well, Danny.


Danny Ryan:Great.


Tommy Ryan:It is Tuesday.


Danny Ryan:It is Tuesday.


Tommy Ryan:Why are we doing a podcast?


Danny Ryan:Because we did not do it last week.


Tommy Ryan:Okay. I see.


Danny Ryan:But we are back at it today. Do you have your own socks?


Tommy Ryan:Actually, I forgot about the podcast, but I got my socks.


Danny Ryan:You got your socks.


Tommy Ryan:Subliminally, I thought, I am going to do this.


Danny Ryan:I have got a pair of nice gray socks on, so no comment.


Tommy Ryan:I see.


Danny Ryan:But we are up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and we were looking at the different stores. Of course, now that is going to be my go to thing is to buy a pair of socks now. Right?


Tommy Ryan:That is Right.


Danny Ryan:Yes. There you go. And the kids know what to give me for Christmas now.


Tommy Ryan:It is not ties, it is socks.


Danny Ryan:Let’s continue our conversation about ThreeWill culture and our shared values and this week we wanted to talk about Teamwork. With that, we have none other than Tim Coalson, our poster boy for Teamwork and the underlying theme with Teamwork is that we work for a larger purpose. I will go ahead and read it and let you get us kicked off here.


We value Teamwork and believe that we work a larger purposes. People at ThreeWill want to see other associates be successful and we look at client relationships as partnerships. We keep our time small so that we can solve our clients’ problems with agility. Our deliver methodology is agile to allow us to inspect and adapt to our clients’ needs. At ThreeWill a significant part of the team culture is approaching our work with confidence, but, at the same time, humility. We believe that this humble confidence is a key ingredient to forming strong teams that include our clients as part of the team. During client engagements, we realized that we are just a project team, but part of a larger inter-dependent group that as a whole either succeeds or fails.


Tim Colson:Amen.


Danny Ryan:The end.


Tim Colson:Drop the mike.


Danny Ryan:Anything more that you would like to add to that?


Tim Colson:I love this value. It is such an important aspect of how we provide value to our customers. I was just coming off a sprint review today with a large, financial institution that is here in Atlanta. We are coming in and helping them with their SharePoint Intranet and several initiatives there. One of the things that we are doing is we are an extension to their team and we involve their team as we are accomplishing certain features that they needed to get done. We make it look like a large team because we are including their team members and valuing what they are doing. Where some consulting organizations want to come in and create a separation and kind of own it and not have any inter-dependencies, where they try to minimize that and kind of put up a silo between them and the organization. That has value, but I think it is different approach. Our paradigm is really coming in and being a part of the greater team versus trying to be a separate team.


Tommy Ryan:I imagine if we are doing this, you have to have a different viewpoint on projects. If we are working together with the client and their team is a part of our team, and what I hear around here quite a bit, there has to be a high trust environment.


Tim Colson:Yes, and transparency that comes with that. We are getting them involved with our backlog; understanding impacts to decisions on budget; and making sure that we make it easy for them to work with us and that does require trust. I think you hear sometimes the concept of the speed of trust. There is a book on that, I think Steven Covey’s son wrote one on the speed of trust. It is so critical to have a high trust environment and you cannot get that right away. It comes through some of the things that we have talked about already. Making and keeping commitments, being responsible and your client getting a sense of you making choices that are for their good that they can see that when you face a challenge that you take a path that looks like you are looking at it as a partnership versus a way that you can “get more money.”


I think our organization is really geared towards working in high trust environments. Every time we get into situations where it is low trust, you end up finding out that we get half accomplished for twice the amount of the money. And, in some cases that is the way you have to do it and that frustrates us. I am glad that that frustrates us. It keeps us kind of sharp to that whole concept of providing high value and not settling for less.


We have to help team sometimes to understand situationally what they are up against and decide what battles to fight and know that in some cases, we can only go so far in that trust relationship. We have to find the opportunity for the next commitment to inspect into that, and learn from that situation and say, how do we frame this better to put us in a position that we can incrementally build more trust, and therefore, we can go faster. We love getting things done in the most efficient way, but with people, fast is slow and slow is fast.


That is what I think frustrates an engineer that you want to engineer something to make it go faster and that human element is what slows it down. You find ways to build trust because at the end of the day, if you can build trust, then you are going to go faster and you are going to feel like you are on the same page to accomplish something that is hard to accomplish. I think we go after big, difficult problems and because of our approach to not be adversarial to the customer, that we want to be a part of their team, we try to jell with their team and do things like sprints where we can make and keep commitments in fast cycles. That accelerates stability to build up that trust that makes you go faster. I probably said too much on that.


Danny Ryan:No. This is all good stuff. I am thinking this is a shared value that we have and as we are looking at folks to join the ThreeWill team and talking with them … Maybe this has to do with humble confidence and so how do we figure out if somebody has humble confidence or not? But, how do you know if somebody is going to be a good team member and that they do value Teamwork. Is there anything that you have noticed through the years as far as a way of distinguishing that type of person?


Tim Colson:Yes. I think the humble confidence is the thing that we look for and sometimes that is hard to test for, but you get a sense of it when you see how they respond to stressful situations. Are they trying to protect themselves or are they trying to understand the situation more. You can take the kind of ego path of well, I am doing everything right and you are putting all the energy around why you are right versus maybe stepping back and trying to understand the bigger picture and try to understand the challenges that the other side is facing. We can all kind of fall victim of trying to push our agenda and not do that “seek first to understand before being understood.”


I think a humble confident person does that. They have the confidence to know that I am doing the right things as far as I know, but I need to put my ego out of the way and understand what the client wants; what their challenges are; and sometimes do things that put you in a vulnerable position where it is easier to protect yourself and prove that you are right versus trying to say these are things that we can do better and how can we approach this in way that we can be more successful. This does not seem to be working well.


I like the way that we do retrospectives and we have integrated it into every sprint. We use to do that at a checkpoint, say mid-project, or we do it at the end of the project just to learn before we do the next project with that client or another client that has a similar type of problem. Because we have done it as a part of every sprint, it becomes a habit. It becomes just part of the mentality. We always believe that we can do better and we need to get the feedback from the customer to say how can improve. If you do not have some humble confidence to you, you are not opened to hearing the constructive criticism. You typically guard yourself against that constructive criticism. As we all know, you are not going to grow that way. You are not going to get better unless you have that vulnerability to say, I did not do this perfectly. I need to understand how to do that better next time and be responsible about incorporating the feedback in a way that is recognized and makes a difference.


Danny Ryan:Nice. We were talking earlier about how Tim Colson is sort of the poster boy for Teamwork and these walls are thin, so I get to hear conversations that are going on next door to me. I saw a great example this morning of Teamwork where Tim was very thoughtful and patient in looking at a situation that could have become heated and really trying to understand. At one point in time, he was saying this might be my fault, or I could have probably done this better and really being a great example of someone saying, let us not try to point fingers at each other. Let us try to stay calm and look at what the problem is and solve the problem and not start getting upset with each other or anything along those lines. To a point, he was falling on the sword to say we do not need to get upset with each other. For me, it was another great example of seeing Teamwork today.


Tommy Ryan:Tim is probably one of our best people to come in and build a relationship and we know that is really what makes the world go around. People that can build strong relationships and can do that very quickly are people that will put their egos aside and care about the larger purpose. We work for a larger purpose is that statement that we had that supports the Teamwork shared value, and that is something that we learned from Tim. He brings that strength to the table and not only does he do that for our clients, but he does it for his team members, he does it for new people that come to ThreeWill. He is always looking to break down the barriers to make people feel at home and feel that they are valued. That is so important in the work that we do that we go in and create that environment of we are one greater team.


When we say it is the ThreeWill team, it is not the ThreeWill team, it is the ThreeWill team plus the client team as an overall team because if we are adversarial and we are trying to prove that we are smarter or better or faster, that is not going to get us anywhere quickly with our clients. We need to say that we are here to help. We are rolling up our sleeves. We are going to give it our all, and we will try to find ways to fill in the gaps that will make our clients better at what they do. We do not want to take credit for that, but we want to participate in that.


We want to make the client feel like ThreeWill encourages that environment and I want to continue to work with them because I feel like my team members grow. I do not have HR problems where people feel like, why are these consultants coming in and “taking my work.” We are looking at there is more work on the plate than there is time in the day and we all value work/life balance so we are coming in to help organize around some of that and accomplish some of that so there an even pace internally and we can come in when there are spurts. We come in for a month or two, address some big problems and keep the relationship going and then when the next spurt comes, that internal organization can keep an even keel with doing the work that they need to do day in and day out, but still feel a part of the efforts that we do. We are always looking to say, what have you done; how can I incorporate that in this new feature that they are asking for, so we are getting more out of the work that you put in place versus trying to create redundant things and trying to come up with a better service that you have already created. Let’s use that. If there are any gaps, let us help you enhance that and get more value out of the team that you have.


Danny Ryan:Great. Thank you Tom for taking the time to do this.


Tommy Ryan:Sure.


Danny Ryan:Thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye Bye.


Tommy Ryan:Bye Bye.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Teamwork