Bill Gessert Show Notes Page
Bill Gessert was a highly successful sales rep and was then promoted to become a disastrous sales manager. Bill eventually realized he was not a bad person, he just didn’t have the skills sets to be a leader. But he learned them and went on to be a leading expert in sales, customer service and customer experience.
Bill was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and remains a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan due to spending his Sunday afternoon childhood days watching the Packers with his entire family. His family watching those Packer games included his mom and dad and four sisters, three of which were older, one younger. The entire Gessert clan remain devoted Packer fans to this day!
Bill started working early at age 15 as a stock boy for a dime store in Milwaukee. His mom worked behind the counter in the bakery store right next door and her examples gave Bill a jump start on understanding the vital importance of customer service. But little did he know most of his adult work life would focus on customer service.
Bill’s father was a quiet, but effective leader of the family. His examples of leadership included clear and open communication, a great sense of humor, and fairness, and provided Bill with a solid foundation for the leadership roles he would earn during his work career.
Bill earned a Masters Degree in education and taught high school speech for two years before accepting the challenge to try his hand at inside sales….selling Sunday School curriculum to the church market. Turns out, Bill was a natural and vaulted to the top of all sales reps working for the company. And that started a life-long career working for organizations leading customer contact operations whether inbound or outbound.
In 1994, Bill decided to channel all he had learned about customer service and launch a consulting company. That company succeeded for 17 years during which Bill and his company assisted companies like Macy’s, Nike, American Express, JP Morgan, Pfizer, Guthy Renker, GE Life Sciences and many more.
Today, Bill serves as the Vice President of Business Development for Premiere Response, a boutique provider of contact center services. He is also the volunteer President of the International Customer Service Association. And was listed as one of ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders in 2017.
Through his many years as a consultant as well as working within organizations, Bill is most proud of the relationships he built with the people he came in contact with. More than impacting their business results, Bill was most fulfilled by building sustainable relationships with the people behind the business.
Sadly, Bill passed away suddenly on October 3rd leaving behind his beloved wife, Lisa and four adult children and five grandsons.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
Listen to Bill Gessert to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet
“How can we improve those touchpoints?” – Click to Tweet
“You cannot create exceptional customer experiences without focusing on touchpoints.” – Click to Tweet
“If you don’t have engaged employees who are interacting with your customers you’re not going to create the customer experience you’re trying to.” – Click to Tweet
“It all begins with employee engagement.” – Click to Tweet
“You’ve got to treat your employees that way you want them treating your customers.” – Click to Tweet
“Companies when they outsource their customer contact are now looking for organizations that create exceptional experiences.” – Click to Tweet
“You need to view your contact center as a source of incredible data and information.” – Click to Tweet
“The contact center should be the hub of business intelligence for organizations.” – Click to Tweet
“The skills sets to be really good as a sales rep are completely different than the skills sets to be really good as a leader of sales people.” – Click to Tweet
“Concentrate on getting your direct reports promoted.” – Click to Tweet
“You’ve got to be your real self with people; let them see who you really are.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Bill Gessert was a highly successful sales rep and was then promoted to become a disastrous sales manager. Bill eventually realized he was not a bad person, he just didn’t have the skills sets to be a leader. But he learned them and went on to be a leading expert in sales, customer service and customer experience.
Advice for others
Build long-term relationships based on authenticity and transparency with people.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
I struggle with my own self-doubt. It freezes me – so every morning I try to create a positive picture of what’s going to happen that day and that gets me past that.
Best Leadership Advice
My number one focus needs to be getting my direct reports promoted.
Secret to Success
Choosing to focus on the positive.
Best tools in business or life
Authenticity and transparency – you’ve got to be your real self with people. Let them see who you really are.
Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change
13 fatal errors managers make and how you can avoid them
The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch ’em Kick Butt
Contacting Bill Gessert
Sadly, between the recording of this interview and its release, Bill Gessert passed away. The entire Fast Leader Legion is praying for his wife Lisa (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisagessert1/) and the entire Gessert family at the loss of Bill. Please share this episode widely in his memory.
Resources and Show Mentions
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
197: Bill Gessert: The skills sets to be a leader are completely different
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.
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Jim Rembach: Greetings Fast Leader Legion I wanted to share with you that today’s episode is one of my most special. For those that are not aware the Fast Leader show is a recorded interview that is released at a later date. This episode with Bill Gessert was recorded on Friday August 10, 2018 and on Wednesday October 3rd 2018, Bill passed away suddenly. This was a man who was adored by his family and many friends and respected by the entire customer service industry and community and he was more than this. A larger-than-life individual who had a big personality, he was a golfer, ballroom dancer, and four-time marathon runner. Bill also loved to cook whether it was for just him and his wife Lisa or for the entire family. He mastered it quite well and was very proud of his passion for great food and to make great food. Bill was Lisa’s cheerleader in life everyday and they shared a great love it’s the one thing that keeps Lisa going knowing how much she was loved and how much Bill knew she loved him. She misses him every single minute of every single day. The entire Fast Leader Legion is praying for you and your family Lisa. So in honor and tribute to Bill, please share this episode widely and often so Bill can help as many people as possible to move onward and upward faster. And so, on with my interview with Bill.
Okay Fast Leader Legion today I’m excited because I somebody on the show today who may finally help us separate and understand the difference between customer-experience and customer service. Bill
Gessert was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and remains a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan due to spending his Sunday afternoon childhood days watching the Packers with his entire family. His family watching those Packer games included his mom, his dad, four sisters, three of which are older and one younger the entire Gessert clan remains devoted Packer fans to this day. Bill started working early at age 15 as a stock boy for a dime store in Milwaukee. His mom worked behind the counter in the bakery store right next door and her examples gave bill a jump start on understanding the vital importance of customer service but little did he know most of his adult work life would focus on customer service.
Bill’s father was a quiet but effective leader of the family. His examples of leadership include clear and open communication, a great sense of humor and fairness and provided Bill with a solid foundation for the leadership roles he would earn during his work career. Bill earned a master’s degree in education and taught high school speech for two years before accepting the challenge to try his hand at inside sales selling Sunday school curriculum to the church market turns out Bill was a natural in vaulted to the top of all sales reps working for the company and that started a lifelong career working for organizations leading customer contact operations whether inbound or outbound. In 1994 bill decided to channel all he had learned about customer service and launched a consulting company. That company succeeded for 17 years during which Bill and his company assisted companies like Macy’s, Nike, American Express, JPMorgan, Pfizer, Guthy Renker, GE Life Sciences and many more. Today Bill serves as the Vice President of Business Development for Premiere Response, a boutique provider of contact center services. He is also a volunteer president of the International Customer Service Association and one of my fellow ICMI’s top 50 thought leaders in 2017. Bill and his wife Lisa currently live in New York with their beloved Lhasa sunny between them they have four adult children and five grandsons. Bill Gessert, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Bill Gessert: I am, absolutely ready. I’m looking forward to this today, Jim thanks for having me onboard.
Jim Rembach: Oh well, I’m glad you’re here. Now 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?
Bill Gessert: Other than the Green Bay Packers, okay let’s do that. The thing that I have been passionate about my entire life is customer service. Interesting thing, you and I talked about this Jim, is that today there’s a lot of talk about the term customer experience which is legitimate and I get asked all the time what’s the difference between customer service and customer experience. I’ve written about this, I actually did a little video about this too, and I think I can give you a really short clear explanation that’ll help people understand and my passion is all about service. Here’s how I view the difference, let’s say you’re going to go out to eat this this weekend with your wonderful wife. You choose your favorite restaurant and you call them to make a reservation that’s the starting point of your experience your customer experience with that that restaurant. So you make your reservation you show up you get greeted by the valet you go inside the hostess greets you get to your table the table is spotless it’s clean the dishes are clean you order from a menu that you’re familiar with and it has items on it that you like all of these things contribute to your overall experience. From the time you made that reservation to the time you pay your check get in your car and drive home that’s the experience.
But now let’s go back and look at that: you called to make that reservation and you spoke to somebody that’s a service interaction that’s a touch point that makes up customer service. The valet greeted you that’s a touch point that makes up service all a part of the overall experience but it’s a critical part of service. So, my passion has always been how can we improve those touch points? What can we do to increase the professionalism the friendliness the overall experience that’s created during that touch point? So we’re trying to—my whole life has been devoted to helping individuals and organizations improve those service interactions those touch points that when they’re all combined make up the overall customer experience. It’s my philosophy Jim that you cannot create exceptional customer experiences without focusing on those touch points those service interactions. That’s why I’m passionate about customer service.
Jim Rembach: Okay, thanks for giving that clarity. For me I started asking another question of myself and that where does the whole strategy piece come into play? I almost see strategy coming in a lot of different places I have the strategy associated with that overall customer experience and then I have the strategy associated with those touch points and I can’t even break it down a little bit further and talk about the strategies within those touch points as far as is it inbound outbound digital mobile it just goes on and on again is that another confusion point or do you see it more clearly than I do at the moment?
Bill Gessert: First of all I understand exactly what you’re saying and what you’re really addressing is what some people sometimes call silos because if you do map out the entire customer journey you’ll see that those touch points those interaction points happen in different areas and they happen under the jurisdiction of different organizational departments marketing could be responsible for some the customer service department could be responsible for some product development could be responsible for some so that’s why in many organizations you’re now seeing the role of a chief customer officer, that’s a person who has the responsibility to really rein in all of those silos and look at everything strategically they have to do so not only from the organization’s point of view but almost now I’m going to say more importantly from the customer’s point of view. You’ve got to bring in the voice to the customer you’ve got to bring in feedback, data, whether it’s NPS scores or more intensive customer satisfaction surveys, social media all of those things go into evaluating what kind of experience we’re creating and how can we improve it. Now, once those decisions are made at the strategic level then somebody’s got to implement that at the sort of technical level. And again to me that’s where those touch points are that’s where the service interactions are.
Jim Rembach: Okay, then for me I started thinking about this whole issue and you and I were talking about this associated with something else talking about the International Customer Service Association and Leadership and how it’s been around for a long time and just like with many organizations sometimes you have a leadership lull, we’ll just call it that, and things fade away and then things have to be reconfigured and re-engineered but when we start thinking about all of those different silos and the experience and the touch point I start thinking about the dire need for such strong leadership to be able to connect all that together.
Bill Gessert: Absolutely. You have organizations that are committed to developing those kinds of leaders. I love so many of the things that you and I are involved in like the different Twitter chats that are out there for leaders within the customer service and customer experience industry the contact center industry, CX accelerator on Slack is a tremendous resource for people who are trying to learn more and more about how to impact that whole sphere of customer experience and customer service. The ICSA, Jim, has been around since 1981 and even the ICSA has gone through ups and downs relative to its strengths and its influence on the customer service industry primarily based on the strength of the leaders at any point in time. I think you’re going to find that in almost any professional association it’s really dependent on the energy and the experience of the leaders and the time that they’re able to provide to that organization because most of us have day jobs, I do, and the work I do with the ICSA is purely voluntary. I spend a lot of early mornings and a lot of weekends pushing out the things that we do at the ICSA, which by the way, our whole mission is to help individuals and organizations improve those points of contact those touch points those service interactions. All of the programming that we do all of the educational opportunities that we provide all of the reward and recognition programs that we run at the ICSA are focused specifically on customer service touch points and how to improve those how to recognize them how to reward them and so on.
Jim Rembach: Well, and I think you and I also talked about one of the things that the ICSA I guess you’d say probably isn’t known for however was part of the creation of it and that’s international customer service week. Tell us a little bit about that?
Bill Gessert: It was 1984 which was only three years by the way after the ICSA was formed by a group of customer service managers and directors mostly in the Chicago area but it grew very rapidly. In 1984, they came up with the brilliant idea, I was setting aside one week every year to celebrate the tremendous work that frontline service providers do on behalf of their organizations and that became national customer service week. But they didn’t stop there they began to work with members of Congress in the late 80s to draft an initiative to get a presidential proclamation and it was successful in the early 90s President George Bush signed a presidential proclamation making the first full business week of every October national customer service week. We actually still have a copy of that proclamation and we give that out to people who ask, you think you can go to the National Customer Service Week website it’s just nationalcustomerserviceweek.org and request a copy of the presidential proclamation which is great to have during national customer service week, which by the way this year is October 1st through the 5th.
Jim Rembach: Well, for me I was actually trying to make it even bigger because I think I said international, so it’s national customer service but maybe we all need to jump on board to make it an international thing.
Bill Gessert: Yeah, you know what? It’s funny you would say that because there are organizations particularly in the UK that celebrated the same week and they just call it customer service week which is fine the one thing I’ll say about the leaders of the ICSA in 1984 is even with their great vision they had not envisioned that it would become a global event, but it pretty much has, so it’s fair enough that you call it that,
Jim Rembach: That’s a good deal and so for me I’m growth minded.
Bill Gessert: Then let’s just skip over international and go to universe customer service week.
Jim Rembach: Hey, with the web exploration that’s going out in space that just might be a possibility.
Bill Gessert: That’s right. Let’s not limit our vision.
Jim Rembach: That’s right, customer service needs to be everywhere. When you start thinking about what we had mentioned talking about the volunteer hours, get up early morning late at night and you and I had this discussion, when we start thinking about non-profits one of the biggest struggles that they have is that resources, the funding all of those things in order for impact to be made when you start thinking about a lot of the things that we are passionate about we know are going to better the world it’s a huge constraint. So when you start thinking about what you guys are talking about at the ICSA what is the long-term vision for this?
Bill Gessert: I think the long-term vision is to continue to add member value and to do that by focusing on what is it that we can provide that organizations find it more challenging to provide. Whether that be frontline training or leadership training for people whose direct reports our customer service providers, that’s a different skill set. And so we put together and we continue to look for opportunities to put together training programs that will assist people in the roles that they play within that customer service sphere if you will. I also see us, I’m letting the cat out of the bag here special announcement, and this is not new organizations do this as you well know one that’s near and dear to us ICMI has award programs and they’re terrific the ICSA is going to be launching an awards program as well. And again it’s specifically going to focus on the individuals who are providing those services touchpoints. So it’s going to be a great opportunity for organizations to provide external recognition to their internal people for the quality work that they do. Which you and I both know Jim, is amazing way to keep your employees engaged and that’s one of the keys. One of the things I’m also passionate about is employee engagement. Because I recognize from years of experience no matter how good your tools are no matter how good your product is your processes etc. if you don’t have engaged employees who are interacting with your customers on a day to day basis you’re going to be behind the 8-ball and you’re not going to create the kind of customer experience that you’re trying to. So to me it all begins with employee engagement. I think you and I are both familiar with a book that was written back in the early 90s but its principles are still so solid today. Hal Rosenbluth wrote, The Customer comes Second and the whole principle of that book was that you’ve got to treat your employees the way you want them treating your customers. So employee engagement is another complete passion of mine and it is one that the ICSA is focusing on moving forward.
Jim Rembach: It is huge. You bring up a really interesting point with all of this and I think it’s something that we need to vet out is that the younger generation, when we start talking about recognition for work that they’re doing, they no longer want to be just recognized within the organization that’s becoming essentially just table stakes if you’re not recognizing the inside then I’m going outside and so we have to start thinking about recognition being more industry based and I think it’s really smart that you guys are actually moving that direction. The younger generation doesn’t only want to be recognized within their own four walls they want to be recognized in that universe, like you were talking about.
Bill Gessert: Absolutely. That’s why you’re seeing reward programs pop up industry-specific that are kind of called 30 under 30 they’re recognizing those young emerging leaders that are under 30 years old that are making an impact on the industry or making an impact on their organization. That coincidentally will be one of the categories of our awards program. Great observation you’re correct the table stakes of internal reward, recognition, acknowledgement of a job well done is a given. We like to think the ICSA still is a prestigious organization so if you can give ICSA recognition for a well done to one of your internal employees we think that’ll have some weight and some merit.
Jim Rembach: Most definitely. Okay, so let’s shift gears a minute because I want to really focus in on something that you’re doing day in and day out as far as your pay job is concerned and that talking to a lot of different companies about actually providing that customer service functions, I don’t want to call it business silo because it puts us in the wrong context, but providing that as a service to other companies.
What have you seen kind of shift within the past couple years about companies that are looking for a service provider that you really didn’t see before? What are they asking for?
Bill Gessert: That’s a great question. I’ll tell you exactly what it is I think several years ago going back 10 15 20 years ago the market that I’m working in, the Business Process Outsource Provider we are a contact center, we provide customer contact services across multi channels to businesses that want to communicate with their customers but don’t have the wherewithal to do it internally. What I’ve seen is businesses have shifted from sort of a commoditized approach to that service meaning—let’s look for the low cost service provider to now recognizing the incredible importance of each and every customer contact and therefore they’re looking for service providers that instead of focusing on the cheapest way to do it focus on the right way to do it and have tools and processes in place to ensure that the brand voice of
that company is well represented in every contact whether it’s by phone by email by chat by text responding to social media no matter what the channel is that brand voice and the kind of experience that our clients want their customers to have has to be goal number one for us. I think that’s been the biggest shift is that companies when they outsource their customer contact are now looking for organizations that create exceptional experiences versus who’s the cheap guy on the block.
Jim Rembach: Okay, we also talked about the book, talk about the customer comes second and that whole employee engagement piece, are you finding as part of the due diligence process that more of these companies are actually seeing what you’re doing for your people?
Bill Gessert: Yes, absolutely and here’s evidence of it. It’s in the RFPs now. The RFPs are literally saying what are you doing for employee engagement? They used to just say what’s your employee turnover? Period, that that that was the question and that was pretty much the depth of it. Now they’re saying what are you doing to engage employees? How do you recognize employees? What kind of ongoing training do they get? What kind of development opportunities exist for those employees? Because they recognize that all of that retains employees and when you do that you’re creating a much stronger team on behalf of their organization.
Jim Rembach: That’s awesome because that’s really where we need to get and that’s the only way that we’re going to raise some of these customer service bars.
Bill Gessert: I’m going to take it one step further if I can. The other shift that I see and the thing that we do at Premiere Response that I love is we don’t view ourselves as a tactical transaction sort of business. In other words, the customer contact we’re doing on behalf of our clients is not just transactions it’s not just—handle that get off take the next one—we see ourselves as a source of business intelligence. We’re collecting all of this incredible data whenever we connect with and talk to a customer and our frontline service reps our team leads and our program managers are taught to be looking for listening for opportunities to improve the customer experience and that might mean saying something different or a different response to a typical question that they get or it could mean making suggestions on changes to the product or to the packaging because they’re hearing that—we love the product but when it came the package was kind of beat up and this piece was broken or what have you—we take that intelligence that data that information back to our clients. And so now we become a strategic partner with them we’re trying to help them improve the overall experience create better efficiencies reduce friction create better customer experience. We’re in a good position to do that because we’re talking to their people every day we’re talking to their customers that’s how we view our role. I think even internal organizations Jim if you have your own internal customer contact center you need to view it as a source of incredible data and information and there should be processes in place to feed that back to every department that needs to hear it. The customer contact center should be the hub of business intelligence for organizations, in my humble opinion.
Jim Rembach: What you’re just saying right there is the difference between being that commodity that you’re getting or—hey, I want that extra half penny versus one that says hey, what is my return going to be on whatever money I’m giving—and it happens internally and externally it doesn’t matter, that’s the shift that needs to take place for organizations to move from that transactional mindset to that experience mindset.
Bill Gessert: And then think about what that does for the employee, Jim, now being a customer service rep or whatever you want to call them there are some creative names out there, service ninjas—they’re great I love it, anyway, whatever you want to call them now the mindset is not, well this is what I do and this is all I do now the mindset is no I’m contributing to the organization’s I’m a valuable piece of feeding into the strategic process of how we’re going to change and grow and innovate and get better. If you look at it that way then customer service becomes the entry-level point to almost any place in the organization and that’s a great place to start. Especially if you’re grooming people to think and to look for opportunities for improvement not just handle the transaction. Not everybody’s going to move in that career path but to be able to have that in place is huge it’s powerful.
Jim Rembach: To be a lifelong ninjas a good thing.
Bill Gessert: Yes, there you go. Take that ninja experience into marketing and into product development and so on and so forth, yeah.
Jim Rembach: Okay, so when you start talking about, what we’ve been talking about here, there’s a whole lot of passion associated with it and one of the things that we look at on the show are quotes in order to drive some passion for us. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Bill Gessert: Yeah, for a fairly contemporary guy, I think I don’t know maybe I’m not, I’m going to go very old-school on you I’m going to go 500 B.C. how’s that? There was a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus and he said this is a fairly famous quote, No man steps in the same river twice, here’s why I like that you think about it for a minute, you can step into a river and step back out and step right back in but you’re not stepping into the same river. The water has moved different water is now touching you it’s never the same the circumstances the sun is at a little bit different angle maybe a cloud has come into play plus you as a human being are changing constantly so there’s no way you can step in the same river twice. I think about that quote every day when I wake up because it reminds me that today is going to be full of 100 percent unique opportunities that I will never have again. Even interacting with the same people day in and day out those interactions are different because those people are different I’m different today than I was yesterday so on and so forth, so I love that quote. Basically it reminds me to take advantage of every day, every moment because I will not live it again it won’t happen again.
Jim Rembach: That’s awesome quote. If that doesn’t provide humility to one that would be surprising it kind of puts things in context as far as you and the rest of the universe.
Bill Gessert: Exactly, exactly.
Jim Rembach: Talking about that universe and talking about those shifts and talking about those things not being the same and us hopefully not having patterns of repeat with mistakes we have humps that we get over that hopefully redirect us and send us in a better direction, is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?
Bill Gessert: Yeah, you mentioned in the introduction that I my first entree into business really was selling Sunday school curriculum over the phone and yes I was blessed and highly successful with that. And so what do you do with a successful inside sales rep? Well, you promote him and so where does he go? Now he’s going to be leading that group. Well, guess what? The skill sets to be really good as a sales rep are completely different than the skill sets to be really good as a leader of salespeople. And to put it mildly I was a disaster it was terrible it was so bad that after about 16 months I went to my boss and said please get me out of this position before I do any more damage it was so frustrating. So he did. Now that’s not where the story ends, I worked then as the training manager for that organization and that led me to an opportunity to work in training and development for a Fortune 500 company. Well, guess what the first assignment they gave me was? Create a sales management training program. I scratched my head and I thought—wow, do they know how bad I was at leading salespeople and they’re going to ask me to create a program? I should have been completely transparent but I wasn’t I thought I can do this. So I went out and I found a book, this was pre-internet that’s how ancient this is, I found a book great book it’s still available today it’s called, 13 Fatal errors that Managers Make and How to Avoid Them I read the book Jim and I realized at that point—here’s my epiphany moment—I wasn’t a bad person I just didn’t have the skill sets and all 13 of those mistakes were 13 mistakes I made some of them repeatedly and I learned the skills. I created the training program and I took it out and I started teaching people who had sales reps, they were they were sales managers, the results the responses were amazing that made me chomp it a bit for another opportunity to lead salespeople and I did get that. Second time around a completely different outcome about 40 45 people that I was leading they were also sort of inside lead development and it was highly successful. We had a blast we had fun doing it and I stuck to the tenets of that book and it made all the difference in the world. So, that got me over the hump, so to speak.
Jim Rembach: I really appreciate you sharing that one because that’s exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing at call center coach is because the skill sets of being an agent are not the same skill sets as being as a leader of those agents.
Bill Gessert: It’s even close. Nope.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. 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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Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Bill, the Hump Day Hoedown is a 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. Bill Gessert, are you ready to hoedown?
Bill Gessert: I’m ready let’s do it.
Jim Rembach: What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Bill Gessert: This is really hard for me to admit but I’ve thought about this and the bottom line is, believe it or not I still struggle a little bit with my own self-doubt it freezes me. And so every morning I try to create a positive picture of what’s going to happen that day and that gets me past that. But it’s still that self-doubt that still kind of holds me back.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Bill Gessert: Going back many years ago I had a leader that told me that my number one focus needs to be getting my direct reports promoted and that if I focused on that everything else would take care of itself and I agree with that. Because when you think about what all that takes developing them, encouraging them, recognizing what they do well, it’s sound advice concentrate on getting your direct reports promoted.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Bill Gessert: That’s an easy one for me, it’s choosing to focus on the positive. Some people walk around life tending to think I’ll be happy when, I’ll be happy if, but the truth of the matter is and I’ve learned this firsthand and research will back this up is that people who go through life with a positive outlook are more successful. The happiness needs to come first be positive and get that energy out there and that’s what will come back to you.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Bill Gessert: There’s two things I’m going to point to, authenticity and transparency. I think you got to be your real self with people let them see who you really are be real.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners and it could be from any genre.
Bill Gessert: Good because this is not commonly known as a business book but it’s consistent with the things I’m sharing go out and get the book called, Before Happiness by Sean Agar, in it he shares five clear actionable strategies for creating a positive path to success.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion, can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/billgessert. Okay, Bill 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 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. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Bill Gessert: I’m going to stick with one that I just shared and that’s the aspect of building long-term relationships based on authenticity and transparency with people. I think at 25 like most people I was just way too self-absorbed to realize the value and the importance of relationships and how to make those work through transparency and being your authentic self. So that’s what I would go back and do over.
Jim Rembach: Bill, 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?
Bill Gessert: Yeah, there’s a couple of different ways, you can follow me on Twitter it’s just @billgessert. I also have a WordPress blog you can Google that and find that. I’m on LinkedIn again it’s Bill Gessert LinkedIn address. The ICSA is always a good place to find me and that’s icsatoday.org and my day job with Premiere Response is premiereresponse.com, so look forward to interacting with the people out there.
Jim Rembach: Bill Gessert, 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 the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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