Darrin Poole Show Notes Page
Darrin Poole was challenged as a leader. He had to engineer a mindset shift. He suspended the normal drills and implemented a game changing tactic that dramatically changed their performance and helped everyone get over the hump.
Darrin was born and raised in a small town near Pinehurst, NC… and the fact that it’s referenced as a town “near” a larger city tells you how small it was. He was actually born in Pinehurst as it had the closest hospital… he was raised in Robbins, NC.
Darrin is the third of four children and grew up in the 70’s when rock and R&B music were at their finest. He played competitive team sports from age 7… constantly trying to keep pace with his older brother and relatives on the basketball court. His parents worked industrial and administrative jobs to support the family and instill the work ethic that allowed all four children to obtain college degrees.
Growing up, Darrin’s participation in team sports nurtured his competitive drive and honed the leadership skills that have allowed him to be a successful business professional. He credits a number of high school teachers and mentors for building the confidence to grow beyond his small-town beginnings and set measurable goals that have fueled his career path.
Darrin started as an investment banker with SunTrust after completing undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. He moved into a sales role at IBM shortly after that, and later found his career passion as a management consultant with KPMG consulting in the mid-90’s. Darrin’s focus since then has been helping companies establish and execute growth strategies that are anchored to what matters most to the customers they serve. He most recently led a services marketing and CX team at Adobe Systems which enabled the expansive growth the company has achieved over the past half-dozen years.
Having passion for the work he does is important… but it’s not what defines Darrin. He is most proud of his role as a father and having raised three young men who are finding their way in the world… with the hopes of impacting people’s lives and making their communities a better place to live. In some small way, Darrin has worked to accomplish the same in the NW Houston community in which he’s lived for the past 20 years, serving as a volunteer board member and coach for multiple youth organizations during that time.
Darrin is currently Chief Executive Officer at ClearAction Continuum, which includes the ClearAction Value Exchange that offers self-paced and expert-guided e-learning services to CMO’s and CCO’s and their organization to create more engaged employees and customers.
Darrin and his wife Deborah live near Cypress, Texas. He has three children Dave, Patrick, and Grant and an 11-year old grand-daughter Cheyenne.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“With more things being done electronically these days, we can’t miss the fact that it’s still about human engagement.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“Anything that’s more than five years dated in this current state of our economy, seems like a long time.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“You can’t be all things to all customers at all times.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“You have to be able to focus on the things that matter the most to customers that matter the most to you.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“Where are your points of interaction that allow you to truly engage in a way that moves beyond the norm.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“Establish the emotional connection and move beyond the functional.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“When you do have that human experience, it has to be superior.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“When do you lead from the front and set the example and when do you nurture from within?” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“Don’t let anyone dissuade you or convince you that your convictions for what you want to accomplish is something that is unachievable.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
“Maintain your focus your passion and your commitment.” -Darrin Poole Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Darrin Poole was challenged as a leader. He had to engineer a mindset shift. He suspended the normal drills and implemented a game changing tactic that dramatically changed their performance and helped everyone get over the hump.
Advice for others
Always maintain your passion. Don’t let anyone dissuade you or convince you that your convictions for what you want to accomplish is unachievable. Maintain your focus passion and commitment.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Focus and priority and how to make the right decisions at the right time.
Best Leadership Advice
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much they care.
Secret to Success
Patience, compassion, and the ability to understand.
Best tools that helps in Business or Life
Seeking first to understand before being understood.
Contacting Darrin Poole
Email: darrin.poole [at] clearaction.com
Resources and Show Mentions
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.
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158: Darrin Poole: It was a challenge to my leadership
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.
The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because we have somebody on the show who really has the opportunity to change the face of customer experience as we know it. Darren Poole was born and raised in a small town near Pinehurst, North Carolina and the fact that it is referenced as a town near a larger city tells you just how small it was. He was actually born in Pinehurst as it had the closest hospital but he was raised in Robbins, North Carolina. Darren is the third of four children and grew up in the ’s when rock and R & B music were at their finest. He played competitive team sports from the age of seven constantly trying to keep pace with his older brother and relatives on the basketball court.
His parents worked industrial and administrative jobs to support the family and instill the work ethic that allowed all four children to obtain college degrees. Growing up Darren’s participation in team sports nurtured his competitive drive and honed leadership skills that have allowed him to be a successful business professional. He creates a number of high school teachers and mentors for building the confidence to grow beyond his small-town beginnings and set measurable goals that have fueled his career path. Darren started as an investment banker with Suntrust after completing undergraduate studies at UNC Chapel Hill.
He moved into a sales role at IBM shortly after that and later found his career passion as a management consultant with KPMG Consulting in the mid ’s. Darren’s focused since then has helped companies establish and execute growth strategies and are anchored in what matters most to the customers they serve. He most recently led a services marketing and CX team at Adobe Systems which enabled the expansive growth the company has achieved over the past half dozen years. Having passion for the work he does is important but it’s not what defines Darren. He’s most proud of his role as a father and having raised three young men who are finding their way in the world with the hopes of impacting people’s lives and making their communities a better place to live. In some small way Darren has worked to accomplish the same in the North West Houston community in which he lived for the past 20 years serving as a volunteer board member and coach for multiple youth organizations during that time. Darren is currently chief executive officer a clear action continuum which includes the clear action value exchange that offers self-paced and expert guided e-learning services to CMO’s and CCO’s and their organizations to create more engaged employees and customers. Darren and his wife Deborah lived near Cypress, Texas and he has three children Dave, Patrick and Grant and an 11-year old granddaughter Cheyenne. Darren Poole, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Darrin Poole: I am ready.
Jim Rembach: I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given our 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?
Darrin Poole: Well, first of all thank you Jim for the introduction. My current passion is professionally, helping companies break through and find ways of leveraging a lot of the things they have been attempting to do over the past eight to ten years to differentiate their brand and how they engage their customers and focus more on the human side of things. The people the engagement on a one-to-one basis thinking beyond a lot of things that have moved us into this world of the digital economy. With more things being done electronically these days we can’t miss the fact that it’s still about human engagement and that’s a passion that we bring to what we do. And I think that extends as well into my personal life being able to engage with family and community and realizing that it is about the journey and those that you engage with along the way. While certainly we’re all focused on outcomes and achievement and that’s great but I do believe that part of my core passion is the people and the moments that you experience along.
Jim Rembach: I listen to you talk and knowing the conversations that you and I have had previously and some of the work that you’re doing with Clear Action and the continuum in the exchanges that we all want to make those connections however the pace of our lives and also the resources that we have are at our disposal make a lot of that difficult and. And so when you started talking about and thinking about that whole transformation process that organizations are attempting to go through and how customers really are raising their expectations in the bar for organizations what can the company do in order to not fall off and be gone forever?
Darrin Poole: It’s a good question Jim. It was interesting during my time at Adobe one of the things that we talked a lot about, and this was in 2012 and 2013 which seems like a long time ago now anything that’s more than five years dated in this current state of our economy seems like a long time, but as we thought about the world of digital transformation some six years ago this notion of personalization was really a focus for us and it’s not that was a new concept then. If you think back to what Amazon introduced two decades ago the notion of ordering things online and being able to recommend to a consumer additional items that might interest them based upon what other people liked them and purchased.
Being able to anticipate and know your customers at a level that you can think on their behalf and you can truly personalize the experience they have. I think this current state of where we are as brands be they B2B or certainly B2C, Jim it is pushing the envelope for this personalization to not become a nice-to-have is a must have. The companies who are trying to compete and differentiate and this experience led economy they have to find ways that they can deliver that connection to their customers, their stakeholders across what we call the journey and these moments of truth in the customer journey. So understanding that and knowing where to apply the right resources is important. I think as well that what is a measure of success for a lot of companies is what are you focused on what do you prioritize? Because you can’t be all things to all customers at all times and all aspects of how they might engage with you. You have to be able to focus on those things that are most important and have the biggest impact to those customers that matter most to you. So I think that’s a long answer to your question but I think it is around personalization is around a connection something to be an emotional connection that stems from that personalization and being able to prioritize where you focus it the way what matters most.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. As you were talking there was a couple things that stood out most to me and the first one that really stood out is when you started mentioning about being able to think on customers behalf. Oftentimes what I see is that many organizations start taking their own beliefs and thoughts and laying them upon the customer instead of really doing that active listening and understanding and that self-actualization to know that, hey I’m not my customer. In fact, if we do that now if we start projecting our thoughts and opinions and feelings upon our customer most often we go in the wrong direction because we are kind of biased by art by our being in the organization, I guess you’d say, so that’s one separation that needs to take place otherwise if it’s a trap. And the other thing is what you were talking about too if I don’t do a good job of that I’m going to end up trying to be all to everyone and I’ll dilute myself. When hen we start talking about a company really being able to focus in on that customer need and want and being able to prevent themselves from being diluted, what are some of the things that they can do to prevent that from happening?
Darrin Poole: Yeah, I think there’s several things Jim. The first and as I introduced this, let me kind of preface the comment, being a student of Michael Hammer from the 1990s and Jim Collins from late 1990s and 2000 ‘s this notion of people process and technology. If you’re trying to transform your business and accelerate your engagement with your customers and certainly the business outcomes and returns that come from that those are three big levers you have at your disposal. I think there are others as well which we can touch on but I think the one thing that addresses what you just stated around being able to focus and what are you prioritize and how do you differentiate what you do for those customers given where they are. If you have to have data you have to have the ability to know and understand from a historical lens from an in-the-moment lens and then have the ability to predict and have modeling capabilities it can allow you to assimilate various points of data.
The beauty is there’s a number of technologies at the disposal of marketers and CX professionals today that they can leverage in this regard. Not to mention what’s available by a machine learning and or artificial intelligence and or other means of trying to translate and understand and segment and do persona groups. I think all of that level of analysis that comes from data and the assimilation of data and the intelligence that’s derived from the data. I think that is a foundational component to being able to accomplish the goal you just stated I’ll start there. I think the other piece by way of process is getting some sense of what matters most know where are your points of interaction be that human or digital or both that allow you to truly engage in a way that moves beyond the norm that allows you to have that type of experience that is more engaging more fulfilling what you can where you can truly set your brand apart. Not every moment allows for that some are just transactional in nature and you just have to show up and execute.
There are other moments where you truly can give your customer the sense that you have their best interests at heart. And I think it’s in those moments where what I call establishing the emotional connection and moving beyond the functional attributes of what your brand represents and building that loyalty building that trust factor which that’s not a new adage for a lot of brands. It’s hard to accomplish particularly in this digital era where more interactions are happening in non-human channels. When you do have that human experience it has to be superior it has to stand apart and so I think that process orientation and obviously I just touched on the people component and if I could throw a wrapper around the three of those it’s something we talk about a clear action continuum a lot Jim, is this notion of culture. How do you build customer centricity into your culture so that everything you do and all three of those big levers that you pull how do they all line up and truly establish what we call a customer centric culture.
Jim Rembach: There’s a couple things that you were talking about for me I keep hearing and really they resonate over and they are repeated over and over again is that piece around the hard to accomplish and the ability to execute. I think those two things are really what kind of goes into the clear action value exchange, can you tell us a little bit about how the exchange will
help with that whole piece around making it easier to accomplish and helping with the execution?
Darrin Poole: I can. The correction value exchange is designed to allow individual, contributors, practitioners marketers, CX professionals who actually own these moments of truth experiences who engage every day and living out brand promise of their company. It allows them to learn and to share and to engage with others who have similar challenges, similar issues, similar problems where they have achieved a measure of success. Think along the notion of best practices where is it’s easy to go read the top five things you should do putting them into practice and having real-world examples of successes and areas where they weren’t so successful. Being able to engage and collaborate and have peer-to-peer learning that shared in that way, we believe it’s a powerful, powerful way for customers who truly become more customer centric. It actually takes what we’ve known for years which is, how do you go from what you’ve heard what you’ve been told what you actually do. It’s applying all the principles and concepts that you’ve read about or been told or have heard or perhaps your leadership team is trying to bring your attention it’s applying it on a daily basis. We believe that this practical application of peer learning and peer knowledge is clearly important and a great way to do that.
In a related sense well it’s important to learn from others and have the examples and the battle scars and then successes etc. from your peers you also need to have those experts who have been through multiple situations where they have taken all their knowledge and learning and positioned it in a way that you can consume it and apply it and who can give you coaching advice and mentoring along the way again at a somewhat real-time manner to help you think through key challenges that you might have. Again the challenges we’re talking about are not growing your functional skills as a data scientist or as a social marketer or as one is driving acquisition or retention campaigns or one that has to increase the Net Promoter Score about ten points and your BOC program. Those are functional components of any job or any role that a member would have as they are engaging in the value exchange. We’re talking about is this human engagement this this customer or the connection between employee engagement and customer engagement. How do you have employees who truly have the customer’s interest at heart all the time? How and how do you drive that across multiple teams that have to share, interact and collaborate to accomplish the goals and objectives that the company is set out for their customers? It’s an exciting it’s a very dynamic community it has a lot of knowledge and content that is groundbreaking to some degree. It’s going to be always fresh always new always evolving. And it’s going to be a community and a crowd where people will want to be as they grow their crews.
Jim Rembach: Well, definitely. When you start thinking about the way that we learn today it isn’t in the classroom because if that was the case when we all came out of the classroom we’d be good to go, right?
Darrin Poole: We would.
Jim Rembach: When we start talking about this internal and external relationships and connections and loyalty and all of those things and you even talked to and said it several times it’s all about emotions. And one of the things that we look at on the show to help kind of help us have some positive emotions are quotes, so is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Darrin Poole: There is a quote, Jim, and I learned this one in my teenage years somewhere between high school and college, maybe the early years of college, it’s from W.E.B. du Bois who was a leader in activist and the and the 1900s and the quote that he coined then that I have used for years is, To whom much is given much is required. The real point there for me is for those who see a bigger picture who realized that the world is a better place when you think about someone besides yourself when you can commit yourself to a goal or an aspiration that’s bigger than you when you realize that you have been put in a place and have been blessed with knowledge and skills and capacities to influence other people to make their lives better then there’s an obligation and a requirement not just a suggested…wouldn’t it be nice if… I think it’s a real obligation you have to share that to pay it forward to be a servant leader, if that’s the right phrase to throw in to this. But I do believe that there’s a requirement for those who have the capacity to lead and to share and give up themselves to others as they’ve been blessed I think that is a very important quote and an important component of certainly how I’ve lived my life and try to lead this business.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. To me too I think you just kind of define the essence of customer experience.
Darrin Poole: I would say that’s true.
Jim Rembach: Okay. So, I also I had the opportunity to look at your LinkedIn profile and looked at the transition of your career going from that investment banking, going to IBM, Adobe and just looking at the path and the different responsibilities that you had even with KPMG and working with other clients but I’m sure there’s a lot of humps that you had to get over which really put you into place where you are today. Is there a time where you got over the hump where you can actually share with us?
Darrin Poole: What I I’d like to share for the listeners by way of a getting over the hump moment actually had to do with youth sports and I’ll try to keep this brief. When my youngest son was in the fifth grade I coached his football team and we had a tremendously talented team from a potential standpoint. We went through our first four games, we had a two and two record and we won our first two loss our next two. The hump moment then for that team in which was a challenge to my leadership as a coach was to help this group of 9 and 10-year-olds believe they were better than they had just shown the last two game, because we we’ve lost two very close games. So, they needed to have a mindset they needed to reset their perspective on why they were doing what they were doing. Where they just out there because their parents want him to be in a team sport? Or they’re just out there because they wanted to wear a helmet and shoulder pads and look good in school? Were they really committed to doing something as a group that could define them for the rest of their young lives? Meaning we had a chance to win our division going to the playoffs and actually accomplish a goal that was bigger than any one of them individually. So we had a practice where we suspended all of the normal drills all of the activity to teach the kids and grow it was a 45-minute sit around the circle and everyone had to discuss why they were on that team and what it meant to them and what we were committed to achieve. I think hearing these nine and ten-year-olds talk about their commitment to each other and how much they love being with this group of kids that had come together at that point for 45 days I think that what’s the hump moment.
They said we had to care about each other we had to find a way that it wasn’t just about showing up to practice three days a week and going to two games a week it was loving the person next to you and having such a commitment to them that we could accomplish something good. So that hump moment, Jim, allowed us to win our next six games finished our season eight and two we did win our division and went to the third round of playoffs before losing a heartbreaker in the third round late in the game. But that moment for those kids those parents and then myself as the leader of that team as the head coach I think the translation there in the business world is it is about people it’s about caring for others. We all have jobs to do roles to play but we’re on the same team where we’re trying to accomplish something that’s bigger than all of us individually. When we can commit to that as one unit one group you didn’t accomplish amazing things.
Jim Rembach: It’s a great story, it also brought me back to a conversation I just had a few days ago with somebody we were talking about in essence what you’re were referring to having people give more of themselves as a player or individual contributor. So the comment was, can’t that coach just get that out? And I said, reality is that a coach can’t do that. What a coach can do—first of all the person has to have the fire in the belly, as I refer to it, I said a coach can help fan the fire but the fires got to be there they cannot cause the fire. And so the that you went around all those kids and have them discuss what’s important to them and then also have other people hear that in a public and community setting, I may have had a trickle or a pilot light but I started actually having a little bit more of a fire so when they got to me and then actually together collectively we had a blaze, so I love that story.
Darrin Poole: Thank you and you’re right. The notion as leaders is when do you leave from the front and set the example and when do you nurture from within and kind of coach people along individually kind of incrementally push them further down the road that was a moment where it needed to be a fairly strong injection of a belief. It started with me and the first person who spoke in that huddle was, why was I out there? Why was that committing my time as a volunteer coach not just a parent? Because my son was on the team. The number of hours that that we spend as a coaching staff and the last I spend as a head coach recording games, looking at film, building a practice plan sharing with these kids, the amount of time that we spent preparing them to be successful I don’t think they realize just how much commitment we as a coaching staff we’re making so that they could be successful. I think once they heard that and realize that, hey this is something that’s not just funny game we can really—and it wasn’t about winning and losing don’t get me wrong this about the outcome, but I try to talk about life lessons at that point with them this is, when you can can’t lock in on a goal as a group and achieve that result you’ll look back and six years ten years twenty years and say, man when I was in the fourth and fifth grade look at what we did and look at my role on that team and how I raised my game and my performance to contribute them. I said these are special moments that not a lot of kids get experience when they’re 9 and 10 years old.
Jim Rembach: We all have to learn how to achieve it’s not something that just comes naturally you have to learn how to achieve. When you start talking about that particular connection piece we also don’t realize how important that is so it was a great exercise in a lot of different ways and even from a coaching perspective like you said you learned a ton in that process.
Darrin Poole: I did.
Jim Rembach: When you start looking at the work that you’re doing now and even the family talked about how important that is. I know you have at least one goal that’s really important to you, if it’s that one what is it?
Darrin Poole: I think if there were a singular goal for me personally at this point, Jim, and it hasn’t just arrived over the past couple of years I think it’s always been there but it’s even more so now is balance. What I mean by balance is because we have passion as professionals as leaders as those who understand the kind of challenges we’re trying to solve for today and being more customer centered and certainly for clear action given that we are a startup and are in our initial growth and expansion phase of our business it can be very all-consuming timelines. So, while I’m very motivated very focused very driven for our company to help our customers be successful. To leave our mark in the space of how we’ve helped other companies achieve transformational—to further accelerate their transformation in this CX phase, and that is important. If that were the end goal for me then I would miss so many other things that are important in my life.
So, I need to be able to be constantly aware of balance which is a function of where you spend your time and how you can spread that 168 hours a week in the right areas where the whole of me is somewhat complete even though there are 30 weeks where it is out of balance but over each month and quarter you hope the scales balance where you can have that equitable distribution of time with family with children in your personal life and your health and wellness life and your spiritual life and certainly your professional life. For me I think the goal that I try to stay anchor to is balance and always trying to achieve that.
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach: Alright here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Darrin the Hump Day Hoedown is a 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 you have rapid response that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Darrin Poole are you ready to hoedown?
Darrin Poole: I am ready.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Darrin Poole: I think what’s holding me back and being a better leader today, Jim, is focus and priority and how do you make the right decisions at the right time for what matters most.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Darrin Poole: The best leadership advice I’ve received is people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Darrin Poole: Patience, compassion and the ability to understand.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Darrin Poole: I think the best tool that helps me lead in business and life is Steven Covey’s fourth principle—seeking first to understand before being understood.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners and it can be from any genre?
Darrin Poole: A book I recommend is called, Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s not just for new startups it just so happens that we are not reading it but it helps companies be very tenured, very mature or startup focus on innovating and always staying ahead always pushing yourself to do things different.
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/darrinpoole. Okay Darrin this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question. imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. So, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Darrin Poole: The piece of knowledge and I would take back to age 25 is always maintain your passion don’t let anyone dissuade you or convince you that your convictions for what you can’t accomplish or should accomplish is something that is unachievable. So, always maintain your focus, your passion, your commitment.
Jim Rembach: Darrin 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?
Jim Rembach: Darrin Poole, thank you for sharing you 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 the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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