“Leaders are all different, but they are all Outliers”

This one is a tribute to my dad because he deserves it, and because I might have forgotten to wish him a happy Fathers Day.   I was recently fortunate to attend an educational event where the theme was “Outliers”.  All the speakers had to reference why they were, or why someone else was an Outlier.   For added clarity, all reference points were tied to  “Outliers – The Story of Success”, a great book written by Malcolm Gladwell.  An Outlier is a person that is different, and their specific differences are what make them successful.   I will not spend anymore time explaining the term because Malcolm Gladwell has already done that.

I just want to talk about my dad.   He is the Michael Jordan of his industry.  Why?

  • He is relational and not transactional
  • He works harder than anyone else I know
  • He is friends with his customers – thousands of them….literally
  • He is so in touch with his customers that they have given him an honorary designation for their industry in over 30 states
  • When people think of him, they say… “There will never be another Dale Barstow”.
  • He always taught his kids to do the right thing regardless of the impact on ourselves
  • He loves what he does and he does it well
  • He has over 17,000 hours logged as a pilot, he is still with us, and there is no one I trust more in an airplane than him
  • He made the time to be a great dad even through all the success I have mentioned above

I can’t say anymore to have those who don’t know my dad suddenly know his monumental success he has had with his career and family – but if you know Dale, you know.

Here’s to you dad – thanks for being a great one and for inspiring me to be an Outlier.  I am working on it!

“Putting shoes on the wrong feet is always upsetting”

I have been looking for a quote that would lead into the concept I felt the need to share.  This morning in came to me through my 2-year-old daughter.  I had just arrived home from working out and was starting the routine of getting ready for work.  She walks in holding her shoes and says “Daddy do it”.   I knelt down and put her sandals on for her and then I hopped in the shower.  A few minutes later I hear her crying and sitting on the bathroom floor looking at her feet.   I asked her what was wrong, but her vocabulary is still not too good.  Without putting much time into the situation I used my wisdom and quickly diagnosed the problem as being that I put the shoes on too tight.  I called for my wife to have her help with the situation.   My wife comes in and starts laughing when she recognizes that I put Caroline’s shoes on the wrong feet.  After it was fixed, I was forgiven and Caroline even had me kiss her baby doll goodbye before leaving for the office.

In regards to our professional lives, our customers expect us to recommend the right solutions every time, which means we must have the expertise and also be thorough so that we do not mistakenly recommend the wrong solution or diagnose a problem incorrectly.  Customers are not as forgiving as 2 year olds, nor should they be.   Therefore we have to make sure we are maintaining our level of expertise throughout the organization, providing adequate support and training to new hires and to those who are in need of continuing education, and that our processes and people behave in a thorough and thoughtful manner.   We should never sell something that does not add value to the customer, and we should hold ourselves to the highest standards in supporting them.    Additionally, we must maintain a culture where newer employees who may not yet have the experience, feel they can be transparent and open with others that do, so that we avoid recommending the wrong solutions.   Equally important is that our most experienced team members who are typically busier than others, take the time to thoroughly assess the more complex situations and provide the right recommendation.

We consistently do our best work when experience/access to experience is present, and when the call for the highest level of experience is met with thorough and consistent people/processes.