Podcast Episode 40

Family Business Series: Insight and Advice from a Family Business Coach

With Guest:
  • Cory Carlson of Connector Consulting, Owner

Host, Jamie Duininck, has worked with business coach, Cory Carlson, for many years to gain insight and advice for working in a family business. Cory stresses that in order for people to have success in business they must also have success at home. Through this episode, Jamie and Cory cover topics such as the benefits of hiring a coach, how to win at work by winning at home, and how to go from being a boss to being a leader.

Episode 40 | 43 min

Guest Bio

Cory Carlson, CEO and owner of Connector Consulting, has known Jamie Duininck for many years. Jamie has turned to Cory for insight and advice on running a family business, because Cory takes a holistic approach to coaching. Cory challenges his clients to work through family and personal issues in order to solve their business problems and achieve success.

Having begun his career in the corporate world, Cory became a business coach after experiencing the positive impact that a trusted advisor had on his own life. He understands that it can be difficult to ask for help, and it is important to find the right coach for you. Cory believes that to be successful in business you must also find success at home, and great leadership and coaching starts with vulnerability.

Jamie (00:02):

This is The Water Table.

Speaker 2 (00:05):

A chance to hear the agricultural side of these issues.

Jamie (00:09):

A place for people to go find information and education.

Speaker 3 (00:13):

Water management is just going to become even more critical into the future.

Jamie (00:19):

How misunderstood what we do is.

Speaker 4 (00:22):

I would encourage people to open their minds and listen to this dialogue.

Jamie Duininck (00:31):
Well welcome back to The Water Table Podcast. We’re continuing on with our series that we’ve started about family business and interviewing different individuals that have experience dealing with family businesses and executives and coaching, helping leaders through their challenging situations and today, I am interviewing Cory Carlson. I’m really excited about this. Cory and I have a long relationship that’s wound through different things and excited to welcome Cory. I’d like to read his bio before I welcome him here to the podcast but Cory’s an entrepreneur, a former executive, a husband, a father of three. Cory understands the pressures working parents face. He is passionate about helping business leaders win both at work and at home and we’re going to talk about that today on the podcast. Cory spent 20 years in corporate America and had amazing opportunities that he worked his way up through the executive level. That’s where I met Cory, he was in the same industry as me, but he also saw through that experience in corporate America, Cory saw brokenness. Work without purpose, strained marriages, absentee parents, business leaders especially were often not living life to its fullest.

When Cory discovered coaching, it helped him become a better leader, husband and father. So he left his corporate career to help other leaders achieve a healthier work-life balance. Currently Cory lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his awesome wife and three amazing children. Cory is a civil engineer from the University of Missouri and he has an MBA from Rockhurst University. Cory is also the author of Win at Home First: An Inspirational Guide to Work-Life Balance. I want to talk about that, it’s a great book, I’ve read it, so we’ll talk about that here. This book Win at Home First was Amazon’s #1 new release in three categories, and listed in Forbes as seven books everyone in your team should read. So Cory, welcome to The Water Table podcast.

Cory Carlson (02:54):
Jamie, thank you very much for having me, it’s great to see you today.

Jamie Duininck (02:57):
Yeah, so you and I have like I said on introducing you, our lives have kind of wound back and forth where we met each other and then probably five, ten years before we even crossed paths again at different times but it’s kind of neat and that’s part of what I want to do here with The Water Table is we have a Water Table website that all of these podcasts, other information and educational things go to. So if somebody were to be listening and they might not have a need for the content today, but five years from now, something comes up in their life, ten years from now they have a challenge with maybe it’s transitioning their business to the next generation, maybe it’s something else, they can come back to the content, say, “I know I heard something there,” and scroll through it and find that. 

I feel that’s a little bit how our relationship has been. We worked together really as vendor-partners at one point, Corey, when you were an executive for Contech and I’m working at Prinsco and we were helping each other on projects, mostly Prinsco selling to Contech plastic pipe they didn’t have, but that relationship was then built into me through social media years later, seeing your transition in your life and what you’re doing and saying, “I need that for myself. I need to know more about that.” And that being a number of things, and so then us reconnecting and that’s my whole desire here on this podcast is that people can hear something and whether they might need it today or they might need it in the future, but that we can help each other because this journey is … That’s what it’s about is if we can help each other achieve more, that’s where I get passion and purpose from, so …

Cory Carlson (04:49):
Oh, that’s neat. Well it’s neat you’re doing it and the idea of the evergreen content is definitely helpful. I use an application for my coaching program and it’s not a crazy amount of questions, it’s just to help a prospect, a client to kind of zero in on what their felt needs are, what are their concerns, and I just got one last night from someone who heard a podcast four years ago and it is just unbelievable, the … To your point, where sometimes someone would hear something and it’s not just in time for their need. But man, to have those resources available to the agriculture industry that you’re doing Jamie is going to be helpful.

Jamie Duininck (05:30):

Yep, yep, for sure. And just so you know, a little plug for you, this morning my wife said to my son and I, “Before tonight, before you watch the football game, so you decide when but before you watch the football game, the three of us are listening to Cory’s latest podcast last week. Because there’s a lot of good stuff in there.” So thank you for that, even though I haven’t even listened yet, I’m sure if she’s endorsing it, it must be good.

Cory Carlson (05:55):
Oh good. I look forward to hearing what pulled out of it. It turned out to be a good conversation with this business owner for sure, so I look forward to hearing what you pulled out of it.

Jamie Duininck (06:05):
Yeah, good. Well I think it would be good if we just kind of started here, if you could give a real high level view of how you became, how you got to where you’re at as an executive coach and speaker, author, leader for individuals.

Cory Carlson (06:22):
I started my career in Kansas City with civil engineering then switched into that company Contech which you mentioned in your intro and did sales for them and then got promoted and moved to Denver, Colorado where I managed a bunch of people in states and then got promoted and moved to Cincinnati where I worked at the headquarters, and at that time I was VP of a $120 million division. But what started to happen Jamie with me is I was managing people older than me. I leapfrogged my boss and I was now managing him, and I started to notice I was kind of taking my identity to work where if I had a great month, I thought I was the man and if I did not have a great month, I was kind of afraid I was going to get canned and so I was skipping gym workouts, I would have my laptop on my lap a lot in the family room when I should have been engaging with family or been on my phone. All those things were taking place and I could just see that it was getting unhealthy and so I called my boss who I really liked and got a lot of good feedback from him along the way, but we just weren’t seeing each other a lot. 

And so I kind of felt on an island and so I called him up and said, “Hey, I need some help. What do I do?” And he’s like, “Get an executive coach. I’ve always had one.” I laughed and I was like, “I wish you would have told me this sooner.” So I went through the process of interviewing a few different executive coaches, found one that I really liked for me, and I know for you as well, but faith is very strong and so I found an executive coach that was talking about faith, work, home, kind of all these different pieces, I’m like, “That’s the coach I want. I don’t want just business because as the leader goes, so goes the company. So if the leader’s not doing well at all aspects of their life, it’s going to creep up and eventually catch up to them.”

So I hired an executive coach and it sounds extreme but it’s true, I mean it changed my life, and one, I became a better father, husband, leader, but now it also changed my career because now that’s what I do. But basically Jamie what was happening is I was learning these frameworks, I was learning these new perspectives, and I just started teaching them to the people that reported to me. Because as I learned and I saw change, I went and quickly taught somebody else. I took one more corporate move where I was president of sales for a national contractor, I had 30 sales individuals reporting to me throughout the country, and these are the tools I used.

And what was interesting is they started to change as well. They started to date their spouses. They started to be more intentional with their kids. With all this happening, EBITDA or profitability, also increased. I’m like, “If this helped me individually, it then helped the folks at the company that I was leading, I want to go do this for a living. I want to go help others.” And so about five years ago, I began that process of leaving to help business leaders win at work, win at home. And so I basically had some mistakes where I was not winning at home and I don’t want that to ever happen again to another leader. And so that’s my mission, and so that’s what I do now and so I do it through coaching, speaking, writing, and a podcast.

Jamie Duininck (09:41):
Yeah, yeah, well that’s pretty cool. Going way back to when you just started that and you hired an executive coach, it resonated with me because I think it was kind of the same process for me around I think too often people just feel like I’ve risen to a level, I’m a manager, I’m now a VP, whatever it is, I feel like why do I need a coach. I’m above the people that work for me as far as ability or as far as experience. You feel vulnerable in saying, “Hey, I need help or I need a coach.” And for me, it was kind of the same experience around a light bulb kind of went on when I heard somebody that I admired deeply and respected deeply as a very strong leader, more skills than I ever thought I would ever have and they told me they had a coach and I was like, “What? Why do you have a coach?” And that was the light bulb that went on for me that it was okay so to speak to hire a coach and then you just learn so much through that like you just described, all the different things that you can learn from then and then help others learn because we’re all on the same journey as far as you get stuck at some point.

Cory Carlson (11:02):
I am 45. So about 10 years ago is when I hired a coach. I hired a coach at 35 and man, there’s so many misperceptions about hiring a coach and so one is you got to be at a certain age, or you have to be a certain-sized company. That word executive may mean, “Well, coaches are for Fortune 50 companies. I’m just a small business. One employee or 20 employees. I can’t afford one or they’re not for me.” And that’s just a misperception. I coach people in their twenties and I think it’s so cool that there’s people out there going after it. I coach people who don’t have any direct reports because they are lower on the totem pole but they want to get better. So you kind of have this whole list, so I think to the listener, whatever perceptions you have of hiring a coach, I’d throw it out the window. I mean there’s a coach out there for you that can speak your language that you would have good chemistry with that will challenge you in the right ways, encourage you in the right ways, fit your price that you can afford to invest in yourself and want to invest.

So that was one thing I wish I would have learned sooner than when I did and so to just kind of get that out there for someone listening is get a coach but just find one that fits with you and fits in your basically investment budget for sure.

Jamie Duininck (12:32):
Yeah. Yeah. I was thinking the same thing as far as if you want to coach and you don’t think you can afford it, go to your employer, ask them if they’ll pay for it or split it with you. Maybe they will. If they won’t, it truly is an investment. Maybe don’t go out for dinner two nights a month or something, because the investment I think will pay you back in what you learn and your ability to rise through the corporate ranks or whatever company you’re in so I [inaudible 00:13:01]. 

Cory Carlson (13:00):
I think on that too, if you have any ability to pull in revenue for your company which is probably everyone listening because you’re doing some form of business development, you’re doing some form of leadership of people who are doing that is I see this a lot with clients is this isn’t a guarantee but man, I sure think it happens more times than not is because of getting coached, you get rid of the head trash, you get rid of all the self-limiting beliefs, of I can’t go do this and so you then show up with more confidence when you go talk to that prospect, when you go talk to that potential client. And so what ends up happening is you end up getting a better ROI out of your business, out of your marriage, out of your parenting, because you are now a better version of yourself, showing up at all areas of your life. Which is way more than just the coaching investment itself.

Jamie Duininck (13:58):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right, right. How does, talk about … Because I think this is where there certainly are coaches like this but probably not as many in the mainstream that do help you in your whole life or want to be a coach in your whole life. So talk about that a little bit. You kind of mentioned it a little bit in your intro but winning at home and making sure that all aspects of your life are hitting on all cylinders to be the best you can be. How do you go about that in a coaching situation, when you start, you maybe don’t know the client that well and there’s some things that I’m sure you feel like before you ask him, “Okay, here we go, I’m going to ask this question and going to either have the guy get up and walk out or slap me or whatever it might be, I don’t know.” But it’s got to feel a little bit vulnerable when you start to get into more personal conversations. At least at first.

Cory Carlson (15:04):
For sure at first, and I’m human just like everyone else and I don’t want to make people mad or I don’t … Sometimes I struggle with approval of others myself and so I want that client on the other end of the Zoom call to like me and think I’m the best coach ever, all those things. So I still struggle with all that for sure.

So yeah, it’s a great question Jamie. For me, I am a business coach, where we talk a lot of times on leadership and delegation and time management and so we’re doing all this, but what I love and so grateful for what I get to do is because I have came out of the gate saying we’re talking home, we’re talking life, it’s all on the table. And even though we may spend … Not may, even though we do spend the majority of our time talking about business, it’s that ability to hop into the things that are actually really weighing down that leader and it could be the fact that they’re beating themselves up because they have not been to the gym or they just feel like they’re always hurried and kind of scurrying along and not doing quiet time or journaling or distant with their spouse. Or a lot of leaders don’t have friends, and that will get brought up at some point, and I can relate to that. There was a time in my life where I was trying to be super employee, super husband, and on the weekends and super dad on the weekends, and what that left was I had no friends. And so it took my coach to kind of challenge me and call me out on that, and so I’m grateful he did and probably about seven years ago, that changed my life.

Before we hit recording, one of those is happening this week, where I about seven years ago joined a Bible study and now this week, we’re going on our annual trip together. So I’m grateful for that. But it took a coach to kind of shed the light on an area of my life that was a gap and what I needed to be to be that better version of myself.

Jamie Duininck (17:14):
I always just chalk that up to no one wanted to be my friend, but … 

Cory Carlson (17:19):
That’s right. No so I mean I think … I mean so that’s it, it’s just by talking with people and when someone starts working with me, they know that we’re going to talk about all areas of life. And I think for you, if anyone who hires a coach is … I’d encourage you to find that coach that wants to talk about all areas of your life because you can’t just talk about business because if you get into a fight at 7:00 a.m. with your spouse, it is going to affect your business meeting at 9:00 a.m. Absolutely, you can’t concentrate if you’re always thinking about something else outside of that boardroom or outside of that meeting. Same thing, I always think of the end of the day, kind of about 3:00, some individuals in your company or on your team aren’t really focused on the meeting because they’re thinking about that conversation or that re-entry into their home that they’ve got with their spouse or their teenage kid that’s a disruption to whatever it could be.

Jamie Duininck(18:15):
Yep. It’s funny that just … A little bit off subject, but it just came into my mind when you said that about something going on at work and then you’re transitioning back to home in the evening. Several years ago, I mean maybe 15 years ago, but a long time ago, I used to once in a while, once a month or more, I’d be coming home and I would see my wife pulled over on the side of the road, like two blocks from home. And I would get home and I don’t even think, I can’t remember exactly, but I didn’t ask her right away, but it always kind of bugged me because I’m like, “We’re getting home, kids are getting off the bus, all that kind of …” Or they’re just getting home, it’s kind of chaos, all that. And well finally when we had a conversation about it, and I’ll never forget this, she just said, “I want to finish my day before I pull in the driveway. When I pull in the driveway, I want to be all there. If I’m on the phone, I don’t want to be on the phone when I walk in the door. So if I’m on the phone, I want to pull over, finish my conversation.”

And I hadn’t thought about that. That really struck me in a positive way and I started trying to do the same thing. So now it’s kind of funny. I think our neighbors wonder what in the world we’re doing because they’ll see a lot of us pulled over a couple blocks from home often but that’s what you’re talking about is being present, whether it’s at work or at home and –

Cory Carlson (19:38):
No, I mean that’s great wisdom there that your wife was doing and I’ll share the same thing with clients, because I had to learn the hard way. Because what would happen is I would come home and the whole drive home, I would be on the phone call with somebody and so I’d be at a high energy level. Like maybe it’s excited, we just landed a new project and so I’d walk into my house, excited because we landed it, but then my wife has just been dealing with kids and stressed there. So she was at a lower energy level therefore wasn’t as excited as me so when I tell her this good news, quite honestly she didn’t really care. I mean she had other things to worry about. She had maybe food going on or crying kids or whatever it could have been, and oh man, that used to cause tension in our marriage because it’s like what, you don’t care about this good news I have? 

On the flip side, I could come in in a bad mood. Maybe I just lost a big job or a job is not going as well as we thought it would, and therefore I’d come in in a bad mood and maybe that day she’s happy to see me or the kids are happy to see me, but I’m in a bad mood. So I started changing, same thing where on the way home I wouldn’t have phone calls. Or if I wasn’t in the right mood, I wouldn’t listen to sports radio or NPR or podcasts because I had to just unwind. Nothing, and just kind of get to a good place for reentry, and that has significantly changed. And so sharing that with just listeners, if that is you, do your best to kind of try to level out your energy going back in the house as well as modify the expectations you have of what it’s like when you walk in the house.

Jamie Duininck (21:19):
Right, right, exactly.

Cory Carlson (21:20):
You’re not the only one that’s listening where your spouse does not run up and hug you and the kids don’t run up and say you’re amazing, all that. I think a lot of us think we’re the only ones that it doesn’t happen in our house.

Jamie Duininck (21:32):
Right, right, exactly. You know, another question that I have and I think that this is really specific to family business, when you work in a family business, a lot of times you don’t really ever have a boss from the standpoint of the boss might be your father or your brother or your sister, whatever that might be and that can be … Most of the time, I think that’s softer, but not always. Sometimes it can be much more difficult having a family member. So my question really is around self-awareness. I think those are the challenges, I know I’ve had them in my life where I’m not self-aware of something and nobody’s comfortable telling me and it’s so important because a lot of times you just absolutely don’t see it until somebody that you trust tells you. How do you deal with that as a coach around you seeing it and helping people break through some self-awareness issues?

Cory Carlson (22:37):
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I mean self-awareness is such a … And emotional intelligence as a whole, but especially that self-awareness. I mean that is really a significant game-changer in those great leaders that can get the best out of themselves but the best out of those around them. And so if you’re listening, use this as a prompting to get better self-awareness. And so there’s a few ways to do it. I mean there’s tests, assessments, there’s DISC and Myers-Briggs and I’ve done all those. The one that I am the biggest fan of is the Enneagram. It’s been obviously trendy for I don’t know, probably five, ten years. But Enneagram, because it’s yourself, who you are at work and at home. And so do the Enneagram, and learn. You’ll get to see kind of what your superpower is based on what your number is, there’s nine different numbers and they’re all good, when healthy, and they’re all bad, when unhealthy. So figure out just what your number is, learn what that superpower is but on the flip side, you’re also going to see your shadow side. You’re going to see what your kryptonite is and how you show up. So that’s one way to do it.

And then just start getting vulnerable and just asking, “Hey, how can I do better?” And this is at work, as you talk about that boss scenario, this is also at home, and we’ve just got to know how we show up. How do others see us when we walk in the room? And as you get to know that, you can start to change, and once you start asking for self-awareness, it may sting in the minute, but man, when you start to get better, man, it is so worth it. I mean so … I think just sitting down with some of your co-workers or maybe it is that boss, just asking them, what are you seeing are some of my blind spots? That’s why they’re called blind spots, right? We don’t see them but we all have them, and so just asking, what are the blind spots or what are some of the things that I could do that would get better? 

And just don’t wait for the annual review. Hopefully many of the listeners doing this, our reviews aren’t just annual, we’ve gotten rid of that. That’s a pretty archaic process and so making sure you just got more on the spot reviews, you’re talking about it. So you can do this with your boss. Also with my wife, I’ll ask, “How can I be a better husband?” And I’ll learn, and same thing with my kids. I’ll ask, “On a scale from 0 to 10, how am I as a dad?” And they’ll say some number and it doesn’t necessarily matter what the number is but it’s like, “Great. What do I need to do to get closer to a 10?” And they can always give me some feedback and so I do as quick as I can to implement their feedback.

Jamie Duininck (25:21):
Interesting, interesting. And I think very wise counsel on that, like I can learn from that too. Talk about your book a little bit more and something I probably don’t know, I’ve read your book, it’s an awesome book for listeners, we’ll talk about how you can get ahold of one of those. Tell you what, I’ll just say right now, if listeners want Win at Home First, contact me on our website and I’ll send you one for free. So I’ve got a few copies and I’ll order more if somebody wants one because to me when I read your book, I was like, “Dang. I’m 50. When this podcast airs I’ll be 50.” Right now I’m not Cory, so that feels good, but … And I just thought, “I wish I would have read this when I was 40.” Because I had younger kids and it was a lot of stuff that we know but I don’t think many of us, at least me, didn’t necessarily put in practice and it can always be valuable to you, whatever age, it has been to me, but that was my thought is I wish I would have read this at 40 because there’s so much good stuff in here, if you can get good at putting it into practice, you’re going to be a better employee, a better leader, a better husband, a better father.

So that’s what I thought, but tell me a little bit about that because I think from my impression, correct me if I’m wrong, but the book’s been pretty successful and I don’t know if it’s more successful than what you thought it would be or not, it doesn’t really matter, but how did that all come about in your life to … You started putting these things in practice but to actually write a book? 

Cory Carlson (27:05):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well thanks for the generous offer to get listeners books. So thank you for doing that. And for those thinking if they want a book or not, I encourage you to get the book, one because … Well people have said it’s been helpful to them which is fun but it’s kind of not a typical book. It’s got stories in there but it also has some reflective questions. We talked about self-awareness just a little bit ago, some of these questions you can walk through will help you process some different things. The book is broken up into four parts, the first part is you, leading yourself first is the actual most important thing. We all know the airplane thing where put oxygen on yourself before you give it to others. I mean that’s so true. If you are not doing well in your life, you can’t lead well, you show up angry, you show up just kind of hurried, frustrated, insecure. Whatever that could be, if you aren’t doing … Leading yourself well, then there’s shrapnel really in all areas of your life. So the first part is on you. The second is marriage, third is parenting, and the fourth is on work. 

So Jamie, I never thought I’d write a book. I mean talk about self-limiting beliefs, I thought, “Hey, I’m an engineer by degree,” or, “I’m a sales guy pretty much by my whole career. I’m not a writer, I’m not an author.” And so I never really thought about it much and I’m a big person on quiet time, so there’s a lot of these different quiet times I was having. This was probably about three years ago and I got this prompting I should write a book, I should share my story for a greater story and hand over some of my vulnerability of things in my life to others so that it can help them.

So that was taking place and I really wasn’t acting on it very well, as far as some of those promptings because I was insecure, self-limiting beliefs and then really this one week, pretty much every client I had that week said, “You should write a book.” So it was pretty funny how it worked. So I started, I started to write blogs. Kind of a story would happen, I would write a blog about it. I would incorporate one of the tools that I used into that blog, and then just kind of started just compiling … About 50,000 words of what ended up being pretty … A junk of a mess, because I hired a writing coach. That’s the other thing I’ve learned in my life is we talk about the executive coach. Pretty much if I do anything now, I’m hiring a coach. I hired one for my podcast, I had a podcast coach. I hired one for a writing coach. I’ve got a second book right now I’m working on. I’ve got a writing coach for that. It’s just yes you can find everything for free on the internet, but it takes time and time is actually I’m finding more money or more value than sometimes actual money is.

And so I hired the writing coach and through that, we just kind of started putting the book together and what made the most sense and what flowed. And that’s basically what the end product is is a book that is supposed to be a guide, how to help you. It’s got the tools that helped me as well as other clients in there.

Jamie Duininck (30:20):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well you’re pretty modest on it, it’s a really … Especially for what I would say somebody that’s not a trained writer and not somebody … That’s your first book, so you don’t have many books. Really, I think a lot of listeners too have read a lot of business books and self-help books and it’s a good one. That’s what I’ll say, it’s a good one, so I was very impressed by what I saw. In fact, I mean if I can tell you the truth, the first time I heard you wrote a book and I hadn’t reconnected with you, I’m like, “Really? The guy that worked for Contech wrote a book? This can’t be that good.” But it was great. It was awesome, so …

Cory Carlson (31:03):
I love that. It’s good.

Jamie Duininck (31:05):
Well thanks a lot for joining us today. We’re kind of plugging along here, I just want to ask you a couple more questions and you do … Beyond coaching, a lot of leadership things, work with companies. Tell me a little bit about like why is it so important for small companies, large companies usually have done this but smaller companies to really be thinking about and having written statements around mission, vision, values, those kind of things and do you help with that in your career now?

Cory Carlson (31:44):
Yes I do, and yeah, having a written vision statement is huge. I mean where there is no vision the people will perish. And I think, how that will translate into businesses is there’s so many businesses that they don’t know … They’ve forgotten why they exist, maybe it’s a family business and Grandpa started this way and he was passionate about it but as it’s trickled down to other generations, they’ve lost the why. They’ve kind of lost the why, why do they do it. They lost the where are they going, what’s the destination going. So you end up losing the passion and it just becomes more of a P&L statement, more of a profit and loss statement about the business. “Hey, let’s make sure we get revenue. Let’s make sure we get profitability.” And so now you’ve kind of lowered the value of the business, I’m not talking about from a monetary standpoint although it can translate, but that’s just the currency you’re trading on now is just over money and not over the purpose. 

And we’re seeing right now, with the Great Resignation that’s taking place is people are leaving companies if it’s just about money. For whatever reason, whether it’s a generational thing, whether it is they’ve seen their parents lose money, or they’re just like, “Hey, we only live once, and I want to do something that I enjoy and with a company I want to know what we’re doing.” So with a vision statement, and I work with companies to identify their vision and values. So you need a vision statement to know where you’re going, one to remind yourself, the days you don’t feel like working, it’s that kind of reminder to get out and go help and go do the things that you started this company for. But it’s also to recruit and to retain talent. And so if you have a solid vision statement that you can rally the troops around, you can cast vision, this is where we’re going, and then you can help get people there. 

Then from the values standpoint is every single company has values. So does every family. But to be honest, are they values that you like? Maybe one of your values is, “Hey, we always show up late to meetings. We don’t speak truth to each other. We are toxic.” We all have actual values, but it’s working together with your leadership team and coming up [inaudible 00:34:00] … A little bit aspirational, but what are some of the aspirational values we want to be? We want to be a company of integrity. We want to be one of excellence.

And this may feel to somebody who’s never done this as soft, but I’m telling you, once you establish this, this is now how you can review your employees. This is how you can make sure that you’re recruiting the right people to join your company and the best way we see this laid out is like in a show like Undercover Boss, where that CEO Hobson, the truck and travels around with people and they got their wig on, they have everything, and those companies and those employees who are embracing the values, those are the ones that usually move me to tears at the end because they’re the ones that got college paid for by a kid or something because it moved the CEO. Or on the flip side, you see someone who is late to an appointment because they wanted to stay outside and smoke a cigarette and that undercover boss is like, “What are we doing? Don’t we have to get in there?” And you’ll hear that person say, “Oh no, it doesn’t matter. We never get in trouble.” Or, “We don’t have to be on time.” 

Something like that, and so you have values in your company and are they ones that you like and regardless, you’ve got to put together three, five values that you want to anchor your company around and start reinforcing them every day amongst your leadership team and amongst your employees.

Jamie Duininck (35:26):
Yep, yep, yep. And I think another … That’s all so valuable and so true, and I can relate to a lot of that, and another area that you didn’t mention is just when the storms come and they will come, it’s so much more comforting and easy to navigate when you have those values or that line in the sand, that pole on the ground, however you want to describe it of this is who we are and this is where we’re going because life and time will get murky at times, okay? Whatever it might be, there’s challenges in the executive team and they aren’t getting along and so okay, where are we going? Or there’s in a family business somebody’s not healthy, that’s the leader or whatever it might be to be able to lean back on who you are and your values and where you’re going and your vision. It is really valuable and helpful.

Cory Carlson (36:32):
That’s one thing, that’s a promise we all have, right? Is our families, our companies, we’ll all test adversity.

Jamie Duininck (36:37):

Cory Carlson (36:37):
And our company and our family and our individual character, that’s when our character gets exposed is through that adversity.

Jamie Duininck (36:44):
Yep, yep. And I was able to … Lucky enough once to attend a leadership conference and this is several years ago and the president of Boeing was speaking at the time and you think, “Oh, this enormous company and this guy’s going to be so smart and it’s going to be so interesting to listen to him.” And it was fascinating, that’s why I’m bringing it up several years later, but basically what he said he did is keep … In his job, this is what he did every day, is keep reinforcing the vision of the company, where they’re going, and the values. That was it, and so if you can get your head around that and do that, it’s not what … His job was probably fairly simple, but how he went about it and what he did every day to continue to energize people around that and continue to focus them in that direction was extremely important for the company, and so to me that was powerful to hear.

Cory Carlson (37:43):
Yeah, absolutely. You hear that from others. I mean Howard Schultz at Starbucks and Ritz-Carlton CEO, just all of them, great companies, Chick-fil-A. All the great companies that we hear about have strong culture and it’s consistent at every place you go to. Every Chick-fil-A is the same, but it’s all about reinforcing vision and values. One thing that a vision does very well is it leaks, and it’s why as a leader, you’ve got to consistently tell people about it.

Jamie Duininck (38:15):
Yep, yep, for sure. Well thanks a lot for joining us. As we part ways here, what are you currently reading? What are you thinking about in 2022 here that you’d like to share with listeners that might be helpful or interesting to you that you think would be interesting to them?

Cory Carlson (38:36):
Yeah. Reading a … I guess just beginning the year, so definitely now is a time where … I mean some do New Year’s resolutions, I’m not a big New Year’s resolutions individual. But there are things I do. I do word of the year, I do identity statements, a bunch of I am statements of who I want to be by the end of this year. So all those are things I’m processing and working on right now. So that’s happening which is fun to think about and do. From a reading standpoint, reading a book Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor. It’s time management, and so it’s … I want to make sure that I am optimizing my time, well one for greatest impact, but just like everybody, I can get distracted. I could get busy, I could start hustling, I could start worrying about how many LinkedIn connections I have, how many emails am I getting out, and that’s just not healthy. 

It’s an endless chase, which is another book I’ve read, but I’m kind of rereading again is The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. Where it is just that realization, business is infinite. It’s not ending. Sport games have a start and have a stop. There is a winner at the end of the game. Business, there’s not. You may have a great year, but guess what? You’re starting back up. 

Jamie Duininck (40:01):
Yeah, yeah, and we can go back to vision on that one or on if you actually achieve your vision, it probably wasn’t a big enough vision in the beginning and also you better be right on top of creating a new vision. 

Cory Carlson (40:18):
That’s right. That’s right.

Jamie Duininck (40:19):
It doesn’t end, so …

Cory Carlson (40:20):

Jamie Duininck (40:21):
It doesn’t end. Well good. Thanks for sharing those books and Cory, if our listeners want to get ahold of you and want to talk more, how do they do that?

Cory Carlson (40:33):
I’m on social media. I’m on LinkedIn, the best one, this is obviously a business podcast, so LinkedIn. It’s Cory Carlson, and then my website, corym, as in Michael, carlson.com. So corymcarlson.com, and there’s … I send out a weekly email you can subscribe to. Podcast, episodes are there. Different services that I work with clients on is all there. So a ton of information available on the website.

Jamie Duininck (41:04):
So one other little plug for Cory here is last November, and I think you do this two, three times a year, my wife and I both did a 30-day challenge with Cory and I think there was a dozen total in the group called Confident Consistent Leader, which is Cory sends you an email every day, about 20 minutes of thought and work each day and then two days a week, you have a group Zoom call together and it was really great. It was really great, we did it for the month of November and if you are willing to take 20 minutes a day, you’re going to see a lot of opportunities to find ways to improve as a person and as a leader. So I encourage people to think about that in the future because it isn’t an intimidating allotted time and I think we all can find that amount of time to see if it will be helpful to us. It certainly was for me, so thanks for that Cory and thanks for joining The Water Table today. 

Cory Carlson (42:08):
Thanks for having me. It was good to connect once again and have this conversation. So thank you for sharing my information with your audience. I appreciate it greatly, Jamie.

Jamie Duininck (42:17):
Yeah, thank you and have a great time this week on a little R&R.

Cory Carlson (42:21):
Oh, thank you very much.

Jamie Duininck (42:22):
Yeah. Bye bye.

Thanks for joining us today on The Water Table. You can find us at watertable.ag. Find us on Facebook, you can find us on Twitter and you can also find the podcast on any of your favorite podcast platforms.