page title icon Jim Rembach

Dee Kohler on the Fast Leader Show

003: Dee Kohler: You got to trust in this

Podcast Show Notes with Dee Kohler

What do you trust in? Join me as Dee Kohler shares her story (more than one) about trust, finding your place, and how you can model a very important and powerful behavior that is most often overlooked in work and life.

Learn how Dee found greater success and peace of mind in her career and self.

Dee is a wife, mother, grandmother and a long-time customer contact management executive. She is a J.D. Power & Associates award-winning operations professional with experience applying contact center best practice principles across multiple industries. And is a creative problem solver offering solutions that meet the needs of the client.

Dee has over 20 years’ leading the customer experience in corporate, not-for-profit, and government settings, with companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Prime Therapeutics, and Boys Town.

Dee has established herself as an industry leader. Her commitment to excellence in team performance earned her company the J.D. Power and Associates excellence award three years in a row. Dee specializes in improving the experience of both internal and external customers through the integration of strategy, people, process and technology.

Dee shares, “I am having the time of my life.”

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @kohldee getting over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“You love it, you embrace it, and you deal with it every day.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Things will change or things will change.” -Ron Rhoades Click to Tweet 

“Are you going with the flow or are you helping being a change agent?” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Trust, but verify” –Ronald Reagan Click to Tweet

“Find an organization that will accept me for who I am.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“You are who you are, but you need to be adaptable.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“You need to be adaptable to be the most successful.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Know who you are and be able to best present that best person.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Steady wins the race.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“You got to trust in yourself that you know what you know.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Old fashion communication is probably the best when it comes to success.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“People, phone, paper. Prioritize people face-to-face.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“I made sure I was physically present.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Role model how important it is to be present and available.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Holding me back is taking appropriate risks.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

“Change management has changed my leadership.” -Dee Kohler Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Dee was sought after for bringing the energy to the meeting and projects and not necessarily the content. And so over time Dee began to feel that she was being over looked for having the ability to bring the answers. Dee was in a dilemma. Listen to the show to find out what Dee learned and what she did.

Leadership Epiphany

Steady wins the race and you’ve got to trust in yourself while verifying with your network.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Love what you do. Work, play, or otherwise.

Best Resource

Her daily devotionals.

Recommended Reading

Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership

Often Sold with this Book

The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life
Jesus, Entrepreneur: Using Ancient Wisdom to Launch and Live Your Dreams

More Resources

Where is Dee Kohler poster; like Where’s Waldo.

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Show Transcript:

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break up performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Okay, Fast Leader legion, today you’re going to get a treat. You’re going to hear somebody that has both energy and wisdom, and it’s a good friend of mine by name of Dee Kohler.

Dee has been leading Customer Care Operations for different organizations for the past twenty years primarily in the health space. She has so much insight on health care that we could really spend hours talking just about that particular issue alone. But she’s led both the people and the operations and the strategy for companies like Blue Cross, Blue Shield in Nebraska as an executive. She’s a speaker, writer, advisory board member, been an internal and external consultant. But one thing about Dee is that she brings a very unique energy and insight to the innovative and creative process that helps organizations get things done. And I’m really glad that we have her today on the show. So, Dee are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Dee Kohler: You bet, yeah.

Jim Rembach:  Alright Dee, I have given our listeners a little brief introduction about you. But could you tell us a little bit about you, so that we can get to know you better.

Dee Kohler: Sure. You’re right, a lot of my customer service and operations had been in health care. I also managed one of the crisis lines innovation, the Boys Town national hotline, so that was quite an experience. And sales and retentions, so that kind of wraps up the industry on the professional side. Married got a couple of kids, they’re grown and grandkid. I don’t know about any of the other folks that are out there but my kids, both of them had been boomerang kids, so dealing with the juggling of aging parents and having a grandkid running around the house. But you love it you embrace it and you deal with it every day.

Jim Rembach:  And you know you’re one of those people—when you tell about somebody who just continues to roll and persevere, to me you’re someone that I look up to in regards to that. I know I can always find some inspiration in a lot of ways through you and the things that you share with me. We oftentimes swap and share a lot of leadership quotes, because for us they kind of ground us. And so do you have, I know you have several, but is there kind of one that stands out for you?

Dee Kohler:   Yeah. I think one of my favorites was—the person that I kind of look to that snagged me into the service industry is Ron Roach. So give a shout out to Ron Rhoades, so give a shout out to Ron. He’s managing [inaudible 2:55] senior director in the Philippines right now, with a major outsourcing organization. Ron use to take the time and we’d literally take walks around the building, I don’t mean inside the building I mean outside the building. And they were walks of just talking and understanding and sharing his experiences and being able to take those. One of the things he used to always say was, “things will change or things will change”, it was just his way of offering that different inflection and emphasis if you will on the words and the phrase that book you up and that was a little bit of a reminder. And for me, it made me reflect, am I being change agent or am I going with the flow. And then as I’ve adapted that quote, if you will, over the years now it helps me remind my team—it’s kind of a time check or a gut check for your team members. Are you going with the flow? Or are you helping being a change agent.

Jim Rembach:   You know that’s a great quote because the words in itself are real simplistic and some was oxymoronic because they’re the same, but it’s still the inflection which will give a whole different meaning and it really causes you to kind of pause and take things in and absorb, I think that’s a great quote. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Now at the Fast Leader show, we really get also inspiration by having people tell us their stories on what they’d had to get over for a hump. Things that they’ve learned in the process so that hopefully we don’t go through the same frustrations and really come to some conclusions faster by learning through others. I know, because we shared many of these types of stories that you have, some that you can draw on. Is there one that kind of stands out for you as the defining moment that has kind of shaped you?

Dee Kohler:  I actually have two real quick ones. One I can think of is—it comes back to I think it was Ronald Reagan that said, ‘trust but verify’. So, I was responsible for a startup and responsible for bringing in the service organization, make sure we were staffing it correctly. And with that start up I was trusting others for the data to help me in forecasting the staff, and I didn’t verify. And so we get started and I’ve got 14 [5:32] sitting out there. And hindsight the data that I was given was for a mature organization, not a startup. The number of calls that we were going to be getting was 125% of orders being received not 20% which was in that mature organization. What I learned from that is just that, it’s the trust but verify, you really need to—and that was 15 years ago. And so now that’s been a lesson that I’ve learned along the way that you’ve got to really do your homework. Yes, trust the resources that are giving you the data but verify it in a number of other resources to be able to be sure, especially if it’s something you’ve not done before, you can’t pinpoint your experience on that. So that’s probably one quick story.

Another is probably more self-retrospective of self-reflective–I hope my energy’s coming across on the phone. I’m just a very energetic person and sometimes a little bit over the top and I have to dial it down in certain meetings, certain things and even in certain cultures. I was promoted to an executive role and oftentimes I think I was looked to in those meetings for bringing the energy to the meeting and not necessarily the content. And so overtime if you’re not being aware of yourself and how others are perceiving you and your level of energy and what it is that you’re bringing to the table, you can become to a certain extent overlooked and that you’re not that person that they’re looking to for the answers.

I came to that through a number of ways, I was working with a professional coach who was very, very great to work with and just really helped ‘unpeel that onion.’ I’ve learned a lot then in that you have to make the decision on whether or not that’s going to be that long term relationship. Is it the culture that you are going to have to dial it back so much that you’re not yourself? Or do I need to make a culture change? Do I need to find an organization that’s going to accept me for who I am? So, that’s I think the thing that was my biggest learning is that, you are who you are but you need to be adaptable within the cultures in organizations, and with clients and in speaking engagements to be able to be the most successful. And so it’s really, really knowing who you are and being able to present that best person.

Jim Rembach:   You know that’s really important for all of us to kind of recognizes and realize the adaptability component, the flexibility component. Being too rigid can cause some serious problems for a lot of us when we’re trying to move things forward to get ahead or even be part of a group. Thank you for sharing that with us. You had mentioned something about two quick stories, so do you actually have one that gives us a little bit more detail and some specifics that you have in mind that you want to share?

Dee Kohler:     I guess no. I just wanted to fill the time I thought of those two as we were preparing for it. Of the two of course, the one with the more self-reflective carries not only across here on my professional life but gives me that courage even in my personal life. If there’s a stranger that you meet in the airport or in the airplane or whenever it might be, to be able to have that random at the finest or whatever it might be to be able to make someone else’s day a little brighter.

Jim Rembach:     All often times we have what is called an aha moment, I can refer to them as epiphanies. Those epiphanies can come in different places and different time, so when you start talking about those two stories that you shared with us, is there some moment, that epiphany that you can reflect back on, can you share that with us? How did that happen?

Dee Kohler:     I think probably the biggest thing was the teamwork when being part of Blue Cross and we’ve earned our first J. D Powers. When we got that first one, I cried, I truly cried. It was because I was happy that the work that we had done for the two and half almost three years before that, was so successful. I guess the aha moment was when it’s [inaudible 10:14] wins the race, and you’ve got to trust in yourself enough that you know what you know. Going back to my trust but verify is that you reach out to those network that you create. Jim you and I we reach out, “Hey, Jim have you ever experience this? Or I call Ron or I call those people in your professional career that you can reach out to. And all of those reach outs during that period of time paid off. And so I think that was—is that you’ve got a strong network and that you trust and that you just slow wins the race and stay the course.


Jim Rembach:     For me as a person who’s kind of wired to be impatient, I have to keep using that as a reminder myself. You’re right, you have to use that network, you have to use that circle a lot of times in order to really keep you from being too anxious. Because when you’re too anxious that also will affect your ability to think properly, and we know that, that’s been proven. I actually read a study where it talked about people’s IQ actually drops when they have to go to the restroom. You know sometimes we’re just sitting in the meeting—I got to go, I got to go, that IQ drops because what are you doing? You’re focusing on the fact that you’ve got to go instead of what’s happening. [Laugh] I think that’s kind of comical but we just don’t realize that, but it does happen.

There was a situation a couple of years ago, when you and I are chatting about—to me also  something that’s often forgotten in today’s, let’s just say, remote working or virtual world and that was some of the findings and work that you were doing around a word called, proximity. I think that’s very important concept for us to remember and to talk about. Can you share with us a few things that you learned about proximity?

Dee Kohler: I guess when I think about proximity, of course, we all think of something close to me or something that’s—whether it’s a group or a team or whatever it might be. I was working from home and I was consulting and I found out that I’m not wired for that, I’m wired to be around people all the time. So the proximity that I had with people and the teams that I was working for, it was virtual and it was all working out great I was doing it exceptional, I was making sales, I was exceeding client expectations, but me myself I wasn’t being fulfilled because I needed that long term relationship and the opportunity to develop people. And I think that’s I guess another self-realization, another aha moment. Okay, I gave us a try and it wasn’t working so it’s when I put myself back in the market and the neat thing was I was able to really, really be conscious in how it was that I was picking that next organization that I wanted to be a  part of for that next part of my journey. And I’m just having the time of my life developing people and working through that and being in the proximity of others to be able to influence and them influence me and be a better person.

Jim Rembach:   And you also use that in part of your project work. I remember, for me, it was a story associated with some work that you were doing when you were a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Nebraska where you were studying this thing, about proximity. The thing meaning–often times we just shoot a quick email, we have a conference call, we do these things and we have all this project work. But that really having that one on one time, even in the group settings shouldn’t even say one-on-one probably, but having people look at each other in the eye. Normally if you’re doing it from a video conference, what did you find out about that?

Dee Kohler: Well, I think what we found out about it is that, we kind of had this rule, it’s the three email rule. If you’re going back and forth through the email or something like that, pick up the phone and then if the phone isn’t working then walk down the hallway. And so it was just a matter of making sure that you’re understanding that the old fashion communication is probably the best when it comes down to success. And the other thing I use to always work with my leadership team that I was grooming is the three piece—people are always first, then I’ll come to the phone and then I get to the paper but you’ve got to prioritize, and that people and that face to face is so important. Talk about proximity, I was juggling two offices in two locations just in Omaha and they were only 8 miles apart, trust me I knew every which way to get from here to there. But that was important to me—the proximity—that I made sure that I was physically present at either of those offices, try to be once a day. And it was the only time I can tell you during work that I’ve got my tickets. [Laughter] I was trying to be in close proximity to my team but I wish I had it but the marketing team, it was kind of a joke, and they did a where is Dee poster. It was just hilarious at how my team, they understood that I was trying to make sure that—a role model, how important it was to be present and to be available to your team.

Jim Rembach:   Dee, so much wisdom and a lot of truth that you’ve shared with us, and the whole proximity thing is again something that we just don’t talk a lot about but we have to be more aware of that. I love the three piece and I look forward to sharing those things on our show notes page. And for you listeners you’ll be able to find that at

Now we come to the fun part of the show, Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Dee, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Dee Koehler, are you ready to hoedown?

Dee Kohler:     You betcha!

Jim Rembach:   Alright. So Dee, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader?

Dee Kohler:     Holding me back is taking appropriate risk. Sometimes I’ll be too risky and sometimes not enough, so it’s finding that balance.

Jim Rembach:   What is the best leadership advice that you have ever received?

Dee Kohler:     I would say that it is love what you do. Whether its work, play or otherwise, just love what you do.

Jim Rembach:     Sometimes you have to find that love, right?

Dee Kohler:    That’s exactly right.

Jim Rembach:    So, what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Dee Kohler:     I would say the good old manage by walking around, that is it. This morning even though I was getting prepared for this I take the time, my team knows if I’m running late or anything though, they know because they know that’s my morning routine.

Jim Rembach:     What do you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?

Dee Kohler:     One of my resources is my daily devotionals, it gets me started in the morning. I love it, I just get up I open my devotional book and just take a few minutes with me and the Lord above.

Jim Rembach:     Alright. So what would be one book that you would recommend to our listeners?

Dee Kohler:     On that same line, I love Jesus CEO, I’ve probably read it three or four times and that’s by Laurie Beth Jones. And I love it because it’s a daily little work out, that’s exactly what it is, it’s a work out. [Laugh]

Jim Rembach:     That’s great. Alright, so Fast Leader listeners we are going to find links to that book and several others by going to Dee we’re down to our final question on the Hump Day Hoedown. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again, you’re supposed to begin a new job as a member of a team that is underperforming and disengaged, you actually had to lead this team, you were blessed because you have retained all the wisdom and skill that you currently have your task is to turn the team around. You get up, you get ready, you head out to work, what do you do now?

Dee Kohler:     Oh! I just think that that piece was scary, [Laugh] I guess what comes to mind first is, I would be afraid that I would just overwhelmed because I would know so much more than I did at 25. I think the biggest thing would be right now is that I would step back and I would start executing and implementing change management. Change management is probably the other biggest thing that I would turn to that has changed my leadership–is being able to incorporate change management on what it is that we’re doing.

Twenty five years ago I would have been the bull in the China shop and just said, do it because I just said so. [Laugh] And now I recognize that there’s a different, better way to be able to bring about change when we need to improve performance or we’re having to just move you to a different cubicle. It could be that what we might think of a simple change but to that person that’s a big deal, they’re moving spots, “I don’t want to go seat over by that window because it’s cold over there or it’s hot” or whatever, change management was the one thing that I would probably start with instead of just because I said so.

Jim Rembach:  Dee Kohler, it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with Fast Leader listeners how they can get in contact with you?

Dee Kohler:     Certainly. They can get in contact with me, my personal email is

Jim Rembach:   Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot Woot!

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. Recaps links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the so we can help you move onward and upward faster.






Stan Phelps on the Fast Leader Show

002 Stan Phelps: You can’t be half pregnant and succeed

Podcast Show Notes with Stan Phelps

How do you know when you need to cut the cord? Join me as Stand Phelps shares his story of a life altering decision that caused him to uproot his family while still being pulled back by old ties.

Learn how he made a leadership decision that changed the course of his career and life.

Since that decision, Stan has become a best-selling author and requested speaker at numerous events across the globe.

Stan is an experience architect and Founder of 9inchmarketing in Cary, North Carolina.

He believes that today’s organizations must focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers.

His 20 year career in marketing included leadership positions at IMG, adidas, PGA Exhibitions and Synergy. He has also worked on award-winning experiential programs for top brands such as KFC, Wachovia, NASCAR, Starbucks and M&M’s.

Stan’s writing is syndicated on top sites such as Forbes, Customer Think and Business2Community. He also writes as a contributor to MENG Blend and Switch & Shift. He has spoken at over 100 events in the US, Canada, Sweden, Australia, The Netherlands, Russia and France.

In his free time, he enjoys tennis, golf and snowboarding.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to Stan Phelps and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“I stay ready to prevent having to get ready.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” -Jim Goodnight told by Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Doing a lot of little things tells people you care.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Sometimes a journey is met with follicle loss.” -Jim Rembach Click to Tweet

“You can’t be half pregnant in this world, you have to be fully committed to succeed.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“You have to be careful on doing what is safe.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“You have to have the courage to leave the safety behind and go in with both feet.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Everyday I have to challenge myself on being a better Servant Leader to the people I work with.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Recognition is not something you can do too often or too soon.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Recognition is a driver of performance.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“It’s about trying to create a relationship with people first.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“If you can’t make things fun for your people then you are going to be in a losing battle.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“You need to think about your people as volunteers.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Stan was stuck having to do work that he felt was fundamentally different than what he believed. He knew he needed to make a change, but Stan was holding himself back and needed to get over the hump by better leading himself. Listen and learn on Stan’s journey.

Leadership Epiphany

I was doing myself and my employer a dis-service, and I just needed to make a jump.

Best Resource

His sense of humor

Recommended Reading

The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Resources from Stan

Executive summary of The Purple Goldfish and The Green Goldfish Click to get

More Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Show Transcript

[expand title


Click to access edited transcript


002 Stan Phelps: You can’t be half pregnant and succeed

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Alright Fast Leader legion, I am thrilled to introduce my guest today to you. Stan Phelps is an author, speaker and experienced architect. Stan worked with some tiny brands that you may have heard like KFC, NASCAR, Starbucks, M&M’s, PGA. He has held leadership positions at many of these organizations either through project work or working for them as an employee. 

For over the past five years his focus has shifted and he has become a best-selling author. His writing is syndicated on some top sites such as Forbes, Customer Think, Business 2 Community and he also contributes at MENG Blend and Switch and Shift. He’s spoken in over 100 events across the globe in some countries that we all probably wish we have gone to like Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands, Russia and France. I think his most important job probably is being a dad to his two boys Thomas and James and a husband to his wife Jennifer. Stan welcome, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Stan Phelps:    I’m more than ready, Jim. 

Jim Rembach:    That’s fantastic. 

Stan Phelps:    I stay ready to keep some avenue get ready. 

Jim Rembach:     That’s a great point. Another one of those little tips that I think all of us can learn from. Now, Stan I’ve given our listeners a brief introduction. However, would you please tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better? 

Stan Phelps:    Jim, my life passion is really about shifting how companies market their products and their services. My career which spans almost 20 years in marketing was really all about the beginning, focusing on the prospect and trying to grab their attention. And I think that’s a misnomer when it comes to today, because today’s marketing is truly about the experience and that’s really what your brand is at the end of the day. So, my goal is to try to get companies thinking more about the customers they already have rather than the prospects that they don’t have.

Jim Rembach:   I think that’s actually become a common passion for a lot of people today and while they want to essentially live that dream they find out that it’s a really, really difficult path and I think you’re going to help us get over that hump in some of these areas.  First of all, on the show we like to start with a piece of inspiration. We like to really look on leadership quotes in order to help us. For you, what would you say is one of your most favorite leadership quotes? 

Stan Phelps:    One of my favorites by far Jim, and it comes right here from my backyard. I live in Cary, North Carolina and there’s a company that’s based here in Cary called the SAS Institute. It was started 30+ years ago by Dr. James Goodnight. SAS has been listed as the best place to work in the world. It’s renowned in terms of its retention rates, the things that they do for employees, and this little thing that I think is the key to his mantra and this is his quote—is the idea of treating employees like they make a difference and they will and whether it’s treating people, employees, team members like they matter and if you do that, they will. 

Jim Rembach: That’s a great point.

Stan Phelps:    It’s a simple one but to me one that I always try to remember when I think about leadership.

Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you even mentioned the SAS Institute because we expect two folks that are going to be coming up in episodes here shortly. I can’t give you some names yet because we still haven’t locked them in but hopefully they’ll be able to provide some inside scoop and tips and ideas on ways we can get over the hump from them internally. So, how do you actually apply the meaning of that quotes, Stan, in your life? 

Jim Rembach:      Well, everything I write and I speak about, Jim, is about the idea of doing the little extra and it’s based on a concept that comes from New Orleans called “Lagniappe” and it’s doing that little something extra that’s unexpected. If you look at SAS and how they handle their employees, they truly try to go above and beyond to do a lot of those little things that communicate that they care. And that’s what I try to do in my life when I write, my speaking and how I try to manage on a day-to-day basis. 

Jim Rembach:     One of your books was actually highlighting the concept of Lagniappe, wasn’t it?

Stan Phelps:    Correct. Actually the trilogy of my books all touch that. The Purple Goldfish, The Green Goldfish and the Golden Goldfish. 

Jim Rembach:   Yeah. And hopefully we’ll have a special offer from Stan coming up for us listeners and we’ll ask him about that in a second see if it includes something from the Fish projects. Stan, no doubt that the path to where you are today has not been a simple one, we all call it a journey and sometimes journeys are met with follicle loss, and I think you and I both share that good thing you guys can see pictures of our bald and shiny heads, when you start thinking about challenges getting over that hump, oftentimes we don’t have people to help us do that we have to find out on our own and sometimes we spent a lifetime not figuring that out. Those are important stories that we like to share here at Fast Leader Show because it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do at a minimum you lead yourself, so from that perspective we are all leaders. It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re working in an organization, or if your domestic goddess as they say, we all have to lead. We are dealing with other people, we’re dealing with vendors and we’re dealing with ourselves, so therefore, from that definition we all have to lead. And the better we are at that the more of a fulfilling life and career that we’re going to have, and so we like to share those things. Stan, please tell us a story when you had a hump to get over in your leadership journey starting with the situation that actually created the [inaudible 6:32] 

Stan Phelps:    I think my greatest hump occurred about three years ago. I’d spent about 2 1/2 years writing my first book and I got to the point where I really believe that marketing needed to change and that what I was currently doing was flat out the opposite of what I was professing. And so, I really got to this point where I needed to make that leap and really try to stand on my own two feet and that’s not an easy thing. It’s not an easy thing to leave a day job and to venture out to do something, entrepreneurial, on your own. And what I ended up doing was essentially moving my family from where we lived up in the Northeast relocating, but essentially starting my own business. The little thing that I did that was kind of a half-way was I ended up working part-time for my old agency and then part-time starting my own business. And I think the hump that I needed to get over was, you can’t be half pregnant in this world. You have to be fully committed if you want to succeed. And so that was a huge lessons to me as I made that transition.

Jim Rembach:      Is that politically correct or gender correct?

Stan Phelps:    [Laugh] You can’t be both things, you can’t serve two masters. And so it really got to a point where I needed to put a stake in the ground and I was able to make that transition a little over two years ago and haven’t looked back.

Jim Rembach:     You and I had some personal discussions about this particular issue and I shared the half pregnant thing to somebody and that’s what I got back, “Hey, is that gender correct? But, you really get the point when you hear that, right? You just know what it means, you can’t have two feet in different ocean it just doesn’t work. For many of us that’s just a really hard thing to face. So, at what point Stan did you ultimately had that epiphany? You have to be very careful on doing what is safe. And I think for a while for the first few months, I felt like I had a nice little bit of cushion with doing the three days a week with my old former employer and I just realized I was doing myself a disservice and I was doing them a disservice by having one foot in both places. And it just got to me, it became crystal clear, I needed to put that date in the sand and I needed to find closure with my former employer and jumped into doing what I wanted to do even though there really was no net there, I just needed to jump, and that was the greatest thing I did. 

Jim Rembach:   As you’re talking about that, for me, it’s like you needed to stop languishing.

Stan Phelps:    Correct. Safe is not always the best thing for you in terms of moving forward. 

Jim Rembach:   I think there’s several things that we can learn from that story and thanks for sharing it. I think making a faster decision oftentimes will cause us to make the moves that we know we need to make and knowing you Stan, I know that the risk associated with that move was not one that was a high risk. You had a lot of knowledge and wisdom and I’m sure support backing you up in making that move. I think making the ultimate decision really was already made by the time you had your own epiphany, you just have to realize what it sounds like. 

Stan Phelps:    Correct. Have the courage to leave the safety behind and go in with both feet. And I’ll say this, there was a lot of—and I love this term, Ooching along the way. So these small steps of things that I did to test the waters, to make sure that I knew that there was going to be a roughly safe landing when I made that jump. So it’s important to have those little things that you do that validate where you want to go. I’m not a [inaudible 10:44] anyone they jump with without having a good idea of where they’re going to land. 

Jim Rembach:   I think I just shot an info video not too long ago where I talked about the difference between having a journey and not having a journey and what is not having a journey, it’s called wandering because you really don’t have a target. You have to have some type of target for it to really be a journey, otherwise, you’ll just be wandering all over the place and not knowing where to go and then sometimes when you get to a particular destination you have no clue on how you got there. For me that had typically happens with Internet searching like, “How did I get here?” 

Thanks so much for sharing that Stan, I think there is again so many pieces of information that we can get out of there. But I want to move us on to the fun part of our show—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Stan, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Stan, are you ready to hoedown? 

Stan Phelps:    Let’s Hoedown, come on. 

Jim Rembach:    Alright. What do you think is holding you back even today from being yet a better leader?

Stan Phelps:    I think every day I have to challenge myself on how I can be a better servant leader to the people that I interact with. A lot of the work that I do is entrepreneurial as an independent kind of entrepreneur, but I also work with a couple volunteer organizations. And so every day it’s how can I support the people that I work with and that report to me on those organizations to help them perform better because ultimately that’s going to help me and the team at the end day. 

Jim Rembach:   Perfect. What’s the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Stan Phelps:    I think it’s simply this: Recognize, Recognize, Recognize. Recognition to me as a leader is something that you cannot do too often or too soon. Recognition is a driver of performance it shouldn’t be something that just happens after the fact.

Jim Rembach:      Great. What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Stan Phelps:    I think, I really understand that at the end of the day it’s not about selling a product or a service, it’s about trying to create a relationship with people first and that those bonds and the time that you spend to strengthen those relationships are ultimately going to be what makes you successful at the end of the day.

Jim Rembach:    It’s all about the people man, right? Okay, what do you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?

Stan Phelps:    I think probably my greatest strength, and this is kind of weird, is probably my sense of humor. To me, if you can’t look at things from a very light perspective, when you can’t try to make things fun for the people that you’re working with, then you’re going to be in a losing battle. 

Jim Rembach:       That is an awesome resource and that’s a great way of looking at it. Most people would think tool, right? But now you thought about something else which is great. Alright, so what would be one book that you would actually recommend to our listeners?

Stan Phelps:    Other than my own, I’m not going to recommend them, there is an amazing book that came out late 2013 called, The Human Brand by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, and this book really boils down leadership and branding into something that’s very simple—the idea of warmth and competence. And that’s how people judge other people but also judge brands, and it’s a very simple way to understand where you are both as a person and as a brand. 

Jim Rembach:   We’ll definitely make that available, a link to that on our show notes page as well as some other bonus materials because Stan is going to have a special offer for us. Stan, what do you have for the listeners? 

Stan Phelps:    Great. Anyone that would like to go to my website which is the, they’ll be able to download an executive summary of The Purple Gold Fish as well as an executive summary of The Green Goldfish, so that both books boil down to the essence and great, great reads for folks.

Jim Rembach:     And these are great reads because they’re really about little stories that have made a significant impact and goes to many of the things that Stan was actually talking about today. They can contribute to all of us having better careers and lives if we just used those really proven tools and apply them in our own life. So, Stan we’ll make that also available as a link on our show notes page which is for you ‘gonna be’,

Alright, we got one more question for you to wrap up the hoedown Stan and that is: Imagine you woke tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again, you are actually now responsible for a team that is underperforming and disengaged, you’re a brand-new leader but you’ve actually retained all of the knowledge and wisdom and skill that you currently have, now your task is to turn the team around. So, you get up, you get ready and you head out for work, what do you do now?

Stan Phelps:    What do you do? I don’t know if there’s any one thing that you do Jim. But knowing what I know now and I wish I knew when I was 25, is that, those team members need to know that you care. You almost need to think about the people that are on your team as volunteers. I love this as a mentality, you almost need to treat them Jim, that there’s nothing tying them to being part of your team, that they have to want to do it. If you can show that you care about them that you’re there to support them that’s really going to create the environment where you have folks that are engaged. Most people don’t realize that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And so I figured with my 25-year-old self would’ve jumped in there and went, ‘alright we need to do ABCD’, no, that’s not the right thing. You sit down you get to know your folks, you show them that you’re there to support them and that you truly care, you get their buying, you set a vision and then anything is possible.

Jim Rembach: That’s right. Anything is possible when you focus on those people. Stan, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader Show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over to so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 




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