Jamie Millar Show Notes Page
James (Jamie) Millar needed a different professional platform. He looked around and was unable to find what he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it. So, he created his own firm that leads executive peer networks to help executives enjoy the insights and relationships they need to succeed.
Jamie was born in Toronto. His family moved to Ottawa when he was six years old. Jamie’s father was a PhD economist who worked for the Canadian government. His mother was a community college teacher.
As a child, Jamie was a strong student who excelled at math and science, but also loved reading, music, and sports. He was one of the first students in an innovative bilingual education program, and much of Jamie’s early instruction was in French—not just language classes, but also math, science, history, and geography.
He even spent four months as a 16-year old in a rural village about 30 miles southeast of Bordeaux, France where he lived with a local family and attended the town’s high school.
Jamie attended the University of Toronto, where he studied Industrial Engineering. Upon graduation, he joined Morgan Stanley in New York as a financial analyst. While there, several colleagues encouraged Jamie to apply to Harvard Business School, where he was admitted.
After graduating from HBS, he joined the School’s MBA Admissions Board. He interviewed and evaluated thousands of talented young business people and developed an interest in the qualities that make great leaders tick.
Jamie left Harvard in 1999 and worked in financial services and at an early-stage start-up before he finally found his calling. In 2004, Jamie joined Tapestry Networks, a firm that creates executive peer networks—invitation-only groups for leaders who should spend time together but usually don’t.
Jamie left Tapestry in 2013 to launch his own firm, SkyBridge Associates. He is also the author of Building Bridges: The Case for Executive Peer Networks, in which he shares many of the insights he has gained over the course of his career.
Jamie currently lives just outside Boston with his wife of 26 years Maribeth and they have three adult children Hailey, Evan and Casey.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
Listen to Jamie Millar to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet
“Networking is a verb; everybody hates networking.” – Click to Tweet
“Network, the noun, is something that’s very powerful.” – Click to Tweet
“Beliefs drive behaviors and behaviors drive outcomes.” – Click to Tweet
“If you want to change anything, it’s not enough to just act differently, you have to actually think differently.” – Click to Tweet
“There are too few opportunities in life to really reflect on what we think.” – Click to Tweet
“Many of us assume that what we think is the only thing that you could think.” – Click to Tweet
“A lot of leadership issues are contextual.” – Click to Tweet
“With a group of peers from other organizations, you’re a lot safer.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s hard to envision any relationship that’s productive where the individuals don’t trust each other.” – Click to Tweet
“People don’t naturally look at issues in their life and put them in the form of good questions.” – Click to Tweet
“The right questions have the power to reveal assumptions and beliefs.” – Click to Tweet
“I think a leader has to be a dreamer.” – Click to Tweet
“Humps create opportunities.” – Click to Tweet
“We don’t have to have a job, we have to have a career and a life and a profession.” – Click to Tweet
“The world is awash in money. What the world lacks is good ideas.” – Click to Tweet
“People trust authentic people.” – Click to Tweet[optin-cat id=11101]
Hump to Get Over
Jamie Millar needed a different professional platform. He looked around and was unable to find what he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it. So, he created his own firm that leads executive peer networks to help executives enjoy the insights and relationships they need to succeed.
Advice for others
Be comfortable to doing something on your own.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
I do not give negative feedback as well as I should.
Best Leadership Advice
The world is awash in money. What the world lacks is good ideas.
Secret to Success
Curiosity and authenticity.
Best tools in business or life
My ability to build trust and establish relationships.
Building Bridges: The Case for Executive Peer Networks
How to Win Friends & Influence People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Contacting Jamie Millar
Resources and Show Mentions
Bob Tiede: Great Leaders Ask Questions
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
209: Jamie Millar: A network is something powerful
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 intelligence practitioner Jim Rembach.
Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our eLearning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen, so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor’s Success Path e-book now.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s really going to help us point out something that is just so plainly obvious, but yet we’re not doing it that hopefully we will start doing it. James Millar or Jamie often known was born in Toronto. His family moved to Ottawa when he was six years old. Jamie’s father was a PHD economist who worked for the Canadian government and his mother was a community college teacher. As a child, Jamie was a strong student who excelled at math and science but also loved reading, music and sports. He was one of the first students in an innovative bilingual education program and much of Jamie’s early instruction was in French, not just language classes, but also math, science, history and geography. He even spent four months as a 16 year old in a rural village, about 30 miles southeast of Bordeaux, France, where he lived with a local family and attended the town’s high school.
Jamie attended the University of Toronto where he studied industrial engineering. Upon graduation, he joined Morgan Stanley in New York as a financial analyst. While there several colleagues encouraged Jamie to apply to Harvard business school where he was admitted. After graduating from Harvard business school, he joined the schools MBA admissions board and he interviewed and evaluated thousands of talented young business people and developed an interest in the qualities that make great leaders and what makes them tick. Jamie left Harvard in 1999 and worked in the financial services industry at an early startup before he finally found his calling. In 2004 Jamie joined Tapestry Networks, a firm that creates executive peer networks, these invitation only type groups that leaders should spend time together but usually do not. Jamie left Tapestry in 2013 to launch his own firm, which is Skybridge Associates. He’s also the author of Building Bridges: The Case for Executive Peer Networks in which he shares many of the insights he’s gained over the course of his career. Jamie currently lives just outside of Boston with his wife of 26 years, Marybeth and they have three adult children, Hayley, Evan and Casey. Jamie Millar, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Jamie Millar: I am ready. Jim,
Jim Rembach: I’m glad you’re here and we’ve had some great discussion prior to hitting the record button, I hope we can carry that on here. I’ve given my legion a little bit about you, but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Jamie Millar: Well, I think, as you said, what I love to do is to create and build executive peer networks. It’s a fairly simple model on one level, which is basically, you take a group of about 20 people or so who should be getting together. We work a lot with corporate board directors. We work a lot with general counsel of companies. We work with other C level and an executive types. And what you find is that they really have very few opportunities to interact with each other. They have a set of colleagues internally, but they tend to see the world differently. They tend to have different issues. So, getting people together on a regular basis is what we do. And I love doing it. It’s, a ton of fun. I get to meet really interesting people. We get to lead fantastic conversations. And these things go on for years and years. You can find that the conversations you have in meeting number 10 are very different from the ones you have in meeting number one. So that’s really what makes these groups fun is to begin them and work with people many times a year for years at a time.
Jim Rembach: Well, you and I had the opportunity to talk about how really this way of learning, which I referred to also as a community of practice, is, really something that could be leveraged at multiple levels within an organization. And oftentimes we get confused to think that, oh, well this is a networking thing, which kind of, I don’t know how many people actually say, hey, networking and get all excited about it because it’s just not something that comes natural to us. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Jamie Millar: Not at all. Not at all. In fact, that’s a question that a lot of people will ask me. They’ll say, how can I get better at networking? And my answer is don’t. Networking is a verb. Everybody hates networking. , it feels transactional. It feels inauthentic. It’s usually about glad handing and exchanging business cards. That isn’t something people naturally gravitate toward as you said. But the network, the noun is something that’s very powerful and it’s something that every leader and aspiring leader should foster. Really, what we’re talking about is building a network. We’re not talking about networking, which again, the transactional, we’re talking about the relational, right? You’re building relationships with people which are built on trust. And that is I think, very powerful and it’s actually quite appealing to a lot of people. Everybody wants a network.
Jim Rembach: Even when you started talking about, the potential power, in this community, and being able to work with people that oftentimes we don’t realize that even maybe your direct competitors, that that can add value. In the book you talk about what I refer to as five leadership troops. And they are, that leadership is more art than science and it’s getting more difficult all the time. Beliefs drive our behaviors and behaviors drive outcomes, so beliefs matter. Leaders are best able to refine their beliefs through conversations with trusted peers. And that even when a group of peers gets together, the design and nature of their interactions rarely supports an increase in trust over time. So when you start, talking about, all of these particular troops, I start thinking about again, that this is at all levels and I had mentioned to you that a call center coach we even work with the frontline supervisors, these are very, very emerging and early leaders oftentimes. Although I can say that some of them that we’re working with have been in that frontline leader role for 10 15 20 years, they’re lifelong supervisors, thank goodness because we need them, but they really get stuck to that, hey, I’ve got all these other things I need to do, all these other tasks that, oh gosh, I have this common burning problem and someone else may have it too.
Jamie Millar: Absolutely. And in fact you see that all the time. I think that this gets back to the issue around beliefs the notion that beliefs drive behaviors, behaviors, drive outcomes, If you want to change anything, it’s not enough to just act differently, you have to actually think differently. And I think that part of the problem is that there are too few opportunities in life to really reflect on what we think. I think many of us assume that what we think is the only thing that you could think you’re sort of in a bubble in a way. It could be a bubble of your own personality, it could be a bubble within your organization—this is how we do things here. And what you fail to realize is that there are many other ways of approaching the same set of issues and many other ways of thinking about a set of issues.
And so just by having an opportunity and a forum to talk with other people, what you’ll find in some cases that it validates your beliefs? Yeah, everyone believes sort of the same thing and so I’m on the right track, that’s fine that’s useful information. But you’ll find another other cases that now someone else believes something quite different and consequently they behave in a very different way. It doesn’t mean that’s better or worse, but at a minimum it gives you something to think about. A lot of leadership issues are contextual. What works in one corporate culture may not apply to another. And so, that’s why we talk not just about what people do, but why they do it. Then then people can pick and choose. They can decide which of these principles work and which don’t. But we’re not looking for best practice we’re just trying to look for understanding, revealing, and more understanding. But I think that you’re right, even at a very low level of leadership, frontline leadership, if you will, there are many ways to skin that cat and many ways to, to approach a set of issues regardless of what they are. So I think it’s a very, very transferable, need and skill set to engage with peers like that.
Jim Rembach: I also think it’s important to help these people at that early age to where if they ever do make it up to that senior level and maybe even that suite that they’re already in the practice of doing this.
Jamie Millar: And because let’s be honest, the people—if a 25 year old, let’s say, you’re an early stage leader, 25, 30 years old, the group of people who are your peers in other organizations are probably going to stay your peers for the rest of your career. There’s a good chance, right? So why not build that network when you’re 25 years old? It’s a much harder to build that network when you’re 50 years old. It’s much easier to build it and you all sort of grow at the same pace. Some will do better than others obviously, but you find yourself having that access to that network. Again, you’re not networking, but you have access to that powerful network all the way throughout your career.
Jim Rembach: I’d also like the raise out one of the points that you had mentioned. You referred to this—an organizational bubble. One of the things that I often find too is that, if you’re only, convening and conveying and communing with your own four walls, your perspectives rarely do change. You need to step outside of that in order to really get different perspectives. Now, you talked about contextual, however, I often see that so many times people use contextual as a barrier to opening up their mind. Oh, well they’re not in the insurance industry, for example. However, when you start looking at the companies that are doing the disrupting, they’re not staying within their own organizational bubble or industry bubble for that matter.
Jamie Millar: Absolutely not. You’re right. I think there’s a couple of challenges. You right there’s the knowledge bubble, that you’re not appreciating the range of issues. Within a given industry, the practices maybe, behind the times, right? So you may need to talk with people who are in other industries. We often will have groups that have folks from multiple industries so you have the benefit of learning what others industries are doing. The interesting right now is we haven’t talked about is within your own organization, you have the four walls, but you also have political constraints. You may be unwilling for a host of reasons to reveal some of your limitations or to reveal your concerns or to talk about, questions that you have. Some corporate cultures don’t support that kind of inquiry. And so I think what you can do with the group of peers from other organizations you’re a lot safer. You can ask the hard questions, you can reveal weaknesses about yourself and ask for feedback or for suggestions that you just can’t sometimes within an organizational setting.
Jim Rembach: You bring up a really good point. We hear a lot in the leadership circles about the importance of vulnerability. Vulnerability helps to give you an opportunity to build trust, to make connection and build rapport and all of that. However, depending whether it is geographic cultures or organizational cultures vulnerability also can make you set up to be a target. So kind of, I think there’s some nuance there that you really have to be aware of. And going outside of your organization may be the place where you can share and not have to worry about that, like you said.
Jamie Millar: Absolutely.
Jim Rembach: Okay. So one other thing that you had mentioned in the book, to me I think really intriguing, you talk about the eight important concepts associated with this. And the eight important concepts are: community, beliefs, questions, stories, leadership, change, experts and trust. And when I started looking at this list, I’m like, okay, well there’s eight, but it’s not a scenario where they’re equally important. And I do understand totally how they overlap and interrelate and all that. However, if you were to start to look at these eight important concepts, what stands out to you as most important?
Jamie Millar: Well, I think it really is the last one. And you’re right, these are not independent factors they’re all important but they all kind of come together. And the reason I listed those eight and ended with trust is because at the end of the day, trust really is the glue that holds any group together, it holds any relationship together. It’s hard to envision any relationship that’s productive where the individuals don’t trust each other. And it’s exacerbated even further when you’ve got a group of 20 people. There’s factions or distrust within the group, it falls apart pretty quickly. So, trust really is the glue that gets to all of that. Now, the parts that go into that, the issue around beliefs, the issue around expertise, I have a strong belief that the discussion leader doesn’t have to be an expert.
I think that sometimes experts in any field are, again, blinded to opportunity. It’s only after you, sort of ask the stupid but perceptive question that sometimes you get to a conversation you shouldn’t have been having. And so, these things all build up. But at the end of the day, trust really is the most fundamental of those eight items. And by the way the design of any group should enhance trust. I think like so many things in life, any group, any product, any service is only as good as the design. The execution is important obviously but if you execute something that’s poorly designed, you’re still not going to get a great outcome. And so it’s the design, the way these groups are constructed, the nature of the interaction, the frequency, the format should all be developed to enhance trust over time.
Jim Rembach: Well, one of the things that you mentioned, well, of course there’s many things that were mentioned in the book, but another thing that stood out for me, is your emphasis on questions and talking about the importance of questions. So when you start talking about these groups and things like that, how much do you have to help people to be able to focus in on the question and questioning aspects of the community?
Jamie Millar: Well, that’s a big part of what we do. You’re right, I think people don’t naturally look at issues in their life and put them in the form of good questions. The one thing I’ve learned—I’ve actually read a lot of books about it—I ‘ve spent the last 25 years, both from my time, you mentioned my stint on the Harvard business school admissions board when I was a director of admissions all the way through today and you find yourself asking questions of people. So many people ask closed end questions, yes no questions, which very rarely revealed valuable information. This is actually, I think, a takeaway beyond executive peer networks that any of your listeners or I guess now viewers now that we’re also in video can take away. Instead of asking, if you’re a supervisor, instead of asking someone some a yes, no question something like, can the report be done on Tuesday? That’s not a very useful question. The answer is yes or no. Whereas, if you say to someone, when will the report be done? You get a much richer answer. The person says, Tuesday, Monday or Thursday or something else that leads to a different set of questions. So I guess my point being that questions have the power, the right questions, particularly open ended questions have the power to reveal assumptions and beliefs. It gets back to this question about beliefs. What do you believe? Sometimes forming a question, it forces you to really reflect on what you believe in the assumptions that you’re making. That’s why I personally love both asking great questions but also having people answer them. But it takes a lot of practice. The big part of what we do before meetings is spend time just talking with folks about their opportunities, their challenges, kind of what’s going on in their lives. And what we’ll be doing is as we’re talking with everyone in the group before a meeting is just listening for patterns. We’ll find that the same issues will sometimes come up over and over and we’ll use those to form open ended questions that the group can lead into. But it isn’t something often that people will do well on the road. It often takes a bit of practice and a bit of work.
Jim Rembach: Okay. Talking about that whole questions thing, I was just talking about this with my call center coach community on our weekly Q and A. And was talking about a book by one of my guests, Bob TD, which is titled, Great Leaders Ask Questions. To me when you started talking about that, even going through the book and when Bob was on the show, for me it’s like these are a whole new set of habits that we really have to focus in on because oftentimes it’s our condition and things that we’ve been exposed to that cause us to actually, communicate in this way. And I think all of us have to really visit and revisit often, how we go about this whole open ended questioning thing. Because I think we’re stifling our own opportunities by not being able to do that.
Jamie Millar: Yeah, I agree. It’s something I always challenge people to just, even for a day, make note of how many times they ask closed end questions of others and how often they ask open ended questions. This could be in your personal life as well, by the way, you go home with your kids or with your spouse or with your friends, how often do you ask those closed end questions? It’s, remarkable how often people do that. I think you can learn so much more. I’ve managed to train myself, but it’s hard. It’s really hard to consistently ask open ended questions.
Jim Rembach: Most definitely. Okay, so when I started thinking about all of this experience and history and really, hands on work in this particular area that you’ve done, I started thinking about, okay, well can you pick out or think about, potential success scenario where somebody became part of a particular community that you helped to organize and then all of a sudden they just had this leapfrog opportunity. Because even when we were starting to refer to people at that senior level, their opportunities don’t stop, they come in other different ways. Can you remember what kind of stood out to you that they would contribute, this leap, to actually participating in a peer network?
Jamie Millar: You’re right. There are a couple of examples I would give, and I don’t know that I would say they’re necessarily leaps. Most of the people that we work with are already at a pretty high level. And by the way, when you get to that level you’re not going to learn brand new things, if you’re learning something that you’ve never heard before, you’re probably asleep at the switch. So, when you get to that elevated level, a lot of it is nuance a lot of it is about, just sort of that fine tuning and which does make a big difference obviously at that level. The one thing I will say the powerful—you talked to earlier about the communities of practice and I think this notion of community is what we haven’t talked enough about yet. We’ve talked about the value of the insights and the learning and the questions, there’s obviously a relationship benefit, but I think one of the most powerful benefits of a group like this is the power of community. I’m reminded that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—basically after you have your physical needs and your safety needs met, the next need is the need for belonging and the need for community. And so it’s a very powerful human needs. And to your question, the two most memorable comments people have made to me, they’re very senior people make a ton of money, top of their game, one person said, this is a group of competitors we had a group of about 20 competitors, and this person said, you’ve taken a group of people who used to see each other as rivals and we now have relationships we see each other as friends. To me that was a very powerful transformation.
And I think that sense of community and that sense of, no, I don’t have, 20 other people want to stick a knife in my back. I have 20 other people that are here to kind of hold me up when I need help. So I think that was a powerful statement somebody made. Another person in a different group made a similar point, which was, you helped me to feel less like I’m on an island, and again, a senior person in their organization, but they felt kind of alone. It’s a cliché, but it’s true it is lonely at the top. I’ve had a lot of people telling me that it is hard. Just realizing that you’ve got other people who feel the same way you do that face the same challenges it makes them feel less lonely. Some of the benefits are as much psychological as they are kind of measurable with traditional professional terms I think it’s made people feel a lot more happier. I had a guy years ago, in a group, it’s a private equity investor. This guy making a ton of money, super successful, he told me0—the meetings we would have every quarter were the one thing that he looked forward to it every quarter on his calendar. This is a guy, he’s doing deals with billions of dollars, running around these meetings with a group of peers were what he looked forward to the most. I just think that on an emotional level it’s very gratifying.
Jim Rembach: As you were talking, I started thinking as well that, we often find the same thing apply, at all those different levels that we were talking about. So even talking about their frontline leader, I remember sitting with a senior VP of a global organization who shared with me that they had a senior level meeting of executives and that he was the one who was given the responsibility for the contact center. None of the other executives wanted it because they didn’t understand it. They said that work there weird, it’s not like any other part of the business. Even people who are leading in those parts of an organization may find that oftentimes they feel alone that they can’t connect and talk with anybody. Also when you start talking with people who are in specialized groups scenarios. It’s like, people may not be able to speak my language I feel like I’m a foreigner. And so the community has to come from outside, has to, right. So everything that we’re talking about here, gosh, the whole connection of community and the power of it. And quite frankly, that’s what has allowed us humans to survive, the ways that they have, it’s the power of the community. The community wins out every single time. So thanks for bringing that up and emphasizing that point. But a lot of this is just filled with all kinds of different emotions. And one of the things that we look at on the Fast Leader show are quotes to make sure that we’re focusing those emotions in the right direction. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Jamie Millar: Anyone who has read my book, and I hope those listening or watching will pick it up. It’s a, it’s a quick book to read it was designed to be read in less than an hour. It actually is filled with tons of quotes that I personally like that have inspired and influenced me. There are lots of quotes there. There’s a few other quotes I would raise and let me just give you some we can talk about them or not. The first is by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have been accused at times of being a bit of a dreamer. I think a leader has to be a dreamer. I think if you don’t have a dream you don’t have a vision. If you don’t vision they’ll don’t think you’re a leader. So, the classic Gabriel Garcia Marquez quote is, it’s not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old they grow old because they stopped pursuing dreams, which I think is just so true to that same point. You’ve got Steve Jobs, is I think is an inspiration to many of us. He said, if you’re working on something exciting that you really care about you don’t have to be pushed the vision pulls you. I connect with that very much. And then the last one in terms of just what we want to do with our lives, there’s a fellow by the name of West Jackson who was a leading figure in the sustainable agriculture movement who said, if your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime you’re not thinking big enough, so I love that one as well.
Jim Rembach: There are several point that are really good I especially like the last one as far as that’s concerned. We have to sometimes move our target to a place way down the road because we’re limiting ourselves. Now talking about, limitations or maybe opportunities, when you start thinking about the work that you’re doing right now and some of the goals that you have, I know in order for you to even get to that point, there’s humps that you’ve been over in order to help you move into this particular direction. So, is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?
Jamie Millar: Oh, my gosh. Over the last 25 years I’ve been over many humps. I’m a big believer that humps create opportunities. There’s this notion of disruption and kind of inflection points in anyone’s life. And oftentimes those inflection points are an opportunity to really move in a new direction and to try something different. I think for me, we mentioned at the beginning when you were introducing me about how I had spent nine years, I was a partner at a firm called Tapestry Networks, a very good firm. But I found at a certain point that the direction they were moving, it wasn’t inspiring anymore. There were things I wanted to accomplish and I felt that I needed a different professional platform. I actually looked around my intention was never to launch my own firm but rather to find a group of other people that were interested in doing the same kind of thing and quite honestly, I couldn’t find them. I didn’t see anyone else that was doing what I wanted to do the way I wanted to do it. So I took the leap and say, well, I’m going to do it on my own. I brought one of my colleagues with me. I brought some of the work with me. I negotiated with my employer, I had a non-solicit so I couldn’t just steal the business I had to negotiate a fair arrangement for both parties and use that as a platform to build my own firm. And that notion that, we don’t have to have a job, we have to have a career and a life and a profession and dreams and so forth.
To me getting over the hump was recognizing that, there’s lots of ways to do what I want to do. As long as I’m clear about what I want to do if I can’t do it working for someone else and be my own boss and create my own firm. And so for me, that’s been the motivation. And I now have a 20 year plan that goes way beyond where I was when I first started. But, I think just that leap, that kind of recognition that the way you have been doing it may not be the right way to do it going forward. I think it’s been a very powerful insight.
Jim Rembach: Okay. So as you were talking, I started thinking about that time when you were with tapestry and that, that middle ground point. And you talked about not connecting with the vision and the path and all of that and where the organization was going, but how do you actually move from that position to ultimately sitting a course that takes you outside? How long did that transition actually occur for you?
Jamie Millar: Like I said, my original plan had been to find other people. So it was becoming clear that it wasn’t the place I needed or wanted to stay long term. And so my first step was to quote unquote look for a job as people do. Are there other people or organization doing something similar? I talked to a bunch of people and it was never really clear that what they were doing was quite what I—I almost joined one firm that was doing something quite different and the idea was maybe we’d kind of bolt on my expertise—but that sort of hard culturally and for a number of reasons it was probably a bit of an unworkable puzzle. And so, like I said, as time went on it just became more and more clear that I was either going to have to compromise what I wanted to do, which would have defeated the whole purpose of leaving, or created a new platform instead of finding the platform. So it was a process that probably took, gosh, overall, I don’t recall exactly six to 12 months, I think. But once I got to the point where it became clear that this was the only viable option, then it was pretty fast. I made my decision and move forward pretty quickly to go solo.
Jim Rembach: That does seem like it is actually pretty fast. I also wonder at what point and how long do you let it linger for a lot of folks? So in other words, hey, I’ve been in this state for three years and I still haven’t made that leap because of fears of this, that and the other. To me, you essentially set it and then you moved on to it.
Jamie Millar: Yeah. I had been feeling discomfort. Like I said, I think in my life, whenever I felt discomfort, that’s been a good thing, that’s been a powerful motivator. You have to do a bit of a visualization exercise. You sort of imagine, project myself out 20 years, If I stay where I am, what will my life be like? Like you literally have to close your eyes and imagine yourself going home from work at the end of the day and how you’re going to feel, like you have to feel it viscerally in your body. And I find that once you realize—you know what, the path one is not sustainable. We only get one shot at this life, yes, it’s scary to make a change, but once you realize that it’s just a scary sometimes to stay where you are I think that that can be an extra motivator.
By the way, I’ve always enjoyed the process of looking for new opportunities. I’m a big believer in sort of informational interviewing, not just kind of throwing resumes around, but just, going to meet people in a very nonthreatening way. So, I’m interested in what you do. I wonder if there’s some parallel with what I do and that sort of thing. I find people tend to be pretty open to that. If I got a call and someone said I want to talk to you about what you do, I’d spend half an hour and have a cup of coffee with someone, why wouldn’t you? In this day and age, you’d be crazy not to. So, I think people ought to do that more. And, and you find through those conversations that ideas emerge. The other thing that’s important in my case was having the support of my wife and my family. Because obviously there was a short term financial hit. We walked away from, a pretty full book of business into something quite a bit less. The major client it was working on, I was contractually prohibited from working with. And so it was a bit of a lean time the first year or two, but you have to just accept that. You say, this is part of a 20 year plan and I’m going to invest for a few years and it will pay off in the end. You have to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing.
Jim Rembach: We are totally glad that you have done that. And Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best.
Jamie Millar: Thanks Jim, I appreciate it.
Jim Rembach: Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:
An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guarantee to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better.
Jim Rembach: Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Jamie, 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 us robust, yet rapid responses are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Jamie Millar, are you ready to hoedown?
Jamie Millar: I am.
Jim Rembach: Alright. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Jamie Millar: I did not give negative feedback as well as I should. I am a nice guy and I think that that is both a blessing and a curse and I’m probably have a hard time giving constructive criticism.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Jamie Millar: What I was working at Harvard Business School, the Dean John MacArthur at the time, we were in a meeting and somebody mentioned the initiative and said, oh, but we don’t have any money for this. And he said the most perceptive thing anyone’s ever said, which is the world is awash with money. He said, look around everywhere you look there’s money. The world is awash in money what he world lacks is good ideas. And so for me, that has been a driving leadership vision. I have never viewed resources as an impediment to getting things done.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Jamie Millar: I think it’s a couple of things. I think there’s curiosity. I’ve always been an intensely curious person ever since I was a kid. I think also authenticity. I’ve never tried to be, other than I am, this notion of fake it till you make it I think is total BS. I think that people can and should be authentic with each other and just be comfortable with who they are. And I think the people—getting back to trust, I think people trust authentic people. So, I think that my authenticity, which come sort of naturally has been a real key to my success.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Jamie Millar: Well I think it is that. I think my ability to build trust and established relationships. I like people. When I talk with people about themselves or about what I’m doing, I’m sincerely interested. And so I think just that curiosity about people and wanting to relate to people I think is a great tool.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it can be from any genre, and of course we’re going to put a link to your book on your show notes page as well.
Jamie Millar: Can I give two or do I have to limit it to one?
Jim Rembach: Go right ahead.
Jamie Millar: Okay. So the first one about relationships is Dale Carnegie’s, How to win Friends and Influence People, it’s old but I think it’s still timeless. I read it when I was about six years old, or maybe older about eight years old, but my grandfather had an old copy and it blew my mind. The idea of focusing on other people. They will think you’re a genius if you love to talk with (35:23)so I think that’s a great one. And then the other is also a classic Stephen Covey’s, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s a great lesson in long-term thinking and kind of having the big picture.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/jamiemillar. Okay, Jamie, this is my last Hump day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you’ve been given the knowledge and skills that you have now and you can take them back with you, but you can’t take everything back but you can always choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Jamie Millar: I think I would bring back my comfort with entrepreneurship which I have developed. I grew up in Ottawa, as we mentioned it’s a government town it’s like growing up in Washington DC. Most people I knew worked for the government or an industry is supported of the government. There wasn’t a great deal of business, wasn’t a great deal of risk taking entrepreneurship and I have become very comfortable with that type of risk. And I wish at age 25, I had known how much fun an entrepreneurial career could be and had been a little more comfortable with doing stuff like that on my own.
Jim Rembach: Jamie it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader legion how they can connect with you?
Jamie Millar: Sure. Well, Jim, they can me through our website, skybridge.associates. You can contact me through that it has lots of information about what we do and links obviously to learn more about the book, Building Bridges, as well.
Jim Rembach: Jamie Millar, 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. For recaps, links, from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already. Head on over fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
END OF AUDIO