Category Archives: Leadership Interview

10 common threads for high achievers. Which number stands out to you?

Sara Blakely, CEO Spanx once said, “the more you experience in life, the more you have to offer to others.” I have been surrounded by some amazing people in my life, people that are inspiring when they walk in the room and are often referred to as high achievers. In 2016, I experienced being around some incredible difference makers during my “BeALifter” Leadership Interview Series, 10 questions with Bruce Waller.  

I really enjoyed learning and sharing some of these great takeaways on this blog during the series, and found many common threads from these high achievers that I want to share. Many of these leaders didn’t start in their lane, but showed the courage to raise their hand to be part of something bigger. Today I want to share my top 10 takeaways or common threads found in these high achieving business leaders to help YOU or someone you know along the personal development highway of success:

1. High Achievers Serve First
2. Never stop learning
3. Tell others they are appreciated
4. Nothing is ever accomplished alone philosophy
5. Mentors are key for growth
6. Always evaluate where you are today
7. Stay humble
8. Failing makes us better
9. Add value to others
10. Surround yourself with great people

Special Thanks to Tony Bridwell, Lee J. Colan, Dr. Sandra Reid, Dave Nelson, Jim Powers, K. Earl Reynolds, Peggy Smith, Brad Shanklin, Dr. Gayle Stinson, and Rufus Alexander for sharing each of your perspectives in this leadership series. I appreciate each of you for sharing your wisdom and inspiring us along the way. It is much appreciated!

What common thread stands out to you? Are you raising your hand? Who is your difference maker?

Call to action: Let me know your thoughts on this list. What stands out to you? Let me know if you would like to take the 10 question interview. It’s a great exercise to reflect on your leadership journey. Then share to help others find their lane for success.

This has been “A Relocation Minute” on “Common Threads for High Achievers” with Bruce Waller, for more information on relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com. Follow me on Twitter too!

Meet Rufus Alexander! BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #10. Sharing Leadership Lessons with Bruce Waller…

BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #10 with Rufus Alexander

10 Questions from Leaders that make a difference!

Jim Rohn once said, “Your success in the next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the people you meet.”

This is a testimony to my personal leadership growth over the past 20 years. I continue to learn each day by connecting with some of the most talented people in business. In this series, I want to add value to your leadership growth by introducing you to leaders that make impact as they share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader or in their personal life. So let’s get started…

Today, we are going to hear from Rufus Alexander with Tatum Insurance in Norman, Oklahoma. Rufus attended the University of Oklahoma where he played football for the Sooners from 2003-2006. He was an All American linebacker and received Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big 12. Rufus was drafted in the NFL by the Minnesota Vikings in the 6th round and is now a business leader at Tatum Insurance. In the fall, you will also hear Rufus on the Oklahoma Sooners football radio broadcast sharing his perspectives on each game. I enjoyed meeting Rufus earlier this year attending a football game in Norman and immediately sensed his passion for people. He is authentic, approachable, and a great ambassador for the University. You are going to enjoy getting to know him too! rufus-alexander

Now let’s get started…

  1. Where did you grow up?

       Breaux Bridge, LA

  1. How did you get started in business/career?

       A friend of mine approached me and said I would be good at and I gave it a shot.

  1. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your football career which made you a better leader?

       I tore my ACL my freshman year in college. It taught me patience, dedication, and perseverance. It        also allowed me to see other guys lead the team, which I observed and took pointers.

  1. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose in life?

       The moment I started enjoying what I was doing, it consume my mind, and heart every day. I                continue trying to perfect my craft.

  1. What is your most favorite achievement?

        Getting a scholarship and graduating from the University of Oklahoma

  1. Is there any one person that inspired or mentored you along the way?

       My high school Coach David Barham

  1. Do you have a saying or mantra that you live by?

       Effort needs no Talent

  1. What book are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now?

       The Motivation Manifesto By: Brendon Burchard

  1. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader?

       Working out, it keeps mentally and physically fit to attack every day.

  1. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey?

        Listen and observe, before you lead. You can’t lead without knowing and understanding your               situation and people.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, Rufus. Some of my takeaways include: When you encourage people, you can change their life. When you have a setback in life, you can learn a lot from observing others such as patience, dedication, and perseverance. When you find something you enjoy, focus on improving your craft each day. Everyone needs a mentor and some of the best mentors are your coaches in sports and in business. Effort needs no talent is a great mantra to live by. I love this! One of the most common threads I see in leaders today is to work on yourself each day which includes reading and focusing on your health and fitness. Finally, some great advice for others is to listen and observe, before you lead. You can’t lead without knowing and understanding your situation and people.

For questions about this leadership interview series, send email to bwaller@goarmstrong.com. To find out more information about Tatum Insurance click link below and ask for Rufus! https://www.tatuminsurance.com/locations/insurance-in-norman-ok/

Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can visit his BLOG “A Relocation Minute” with Bruce Waller at https://brucewaller.wordpress.com/ for more information on employee relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com. Follow @brucewaller on Twitter too!

Meet Dr. Gayle Stinson! BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #9. Sharing Leadership Lessons with Bruce Waller…

BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #9 with Dr. Gayle Stinson

10 Questions from Leaders that make a difference!

Jim Rohn once said, “Your success in the next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the people you meet.”

This is a testimony to my personal leadership growth over the past 20 years. I continue to learn each day by connecting with some of the most talented people in business. In this series, I want to add value to your leadership growth by introducing you to leaders that make impact as they share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader or in their personal life. So let’s get started…

Today, we are going to hear from Dr. Gayle Stinson, Superintendent, Lake Dallas ISD. A native of Lake Dallas and LDISD, Dr. Stinson joined the Falcon Family as Superintendent in 2007. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Master’s degree from the Texas A&M system and doctoral degree from Lamar University. Dr. Stinson serves in many local and state roles including Vice-President of the Texas Association of School Administrators. She has been recognized for many achievements including Texas Principal of the Year, and Region XI Superintendent of the Year, as well as a State Finalists for Texas Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Stinson’s leadership has helped create a unique culture at LDISD known for a “small school atmosphere, with big school opportunities”. I have enjoyed getting to know Dr. Stinson and watching the positive impact of her leadership. Even more impressive is how she has engaged the leaders in the community to “be better together”. You are going to really enjoy getting to know Dr. Stinson too. gayle-stinson

Now let’s get started…

1, Where did you grow up?

Lake Dallas, Texas – born in Denton County and returned home 10 years ago this year.

2. How did you get started in business/career?

My first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. I worked in an Ad agency for a year and, even though it wasn’t my initial career, I wanted nothing more the entire time than to teach and coach at Lake Dallas High School. That dream came true for me in 1993 and I have been working in education ever since.

3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader?

I was 27 years old when I was hired as a middle school principal – try being 27, female and new to a community. Within a short amount of time, the staff respected my work ethic and I respected their wisdom and it was a beautiful relationship.

4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose?

My very first day of teaching when I mispronounced a student’s name while calling roll…they laughed, I laughed and I knew I was in the right lane. I love kids.

5. What is your most favorite achievement in your current role?

There are several and the most special ones have to do with students accomplishing their goals. I think the one that stands out in my heart the most is seeing a student walking down the street in the middle of the day, picking him up in my car, driving him back to school, staying with him while we walked through his options with his school advisors and then shaking his hand as he stood in his cap/gown at the end of that year.

6. Is there any one person that inspired or mentored you?

My dad. I’ve never met a better listener or mentor. He allows you to talk through an issue and eventually circle around to a solution in which you create – it’s been that way forever. He is the master of teaching you to take ownership not only of your problems, but also of your accomplishments. My mother passed away when I was only 30, so my dad took on the task of ‘raising’ 4 adult girls and walking us through adulthood. He’s a dad, a mom, a mentor all rolled into one. He’s my hero.

7. Do you have a saying or mantra that you live by?

There are two lasting things we can give our students and our own children: one is roots and the other is wings. We help them learn and grow, then loosen the controls and allow them to fly. If I know nothing else, I do know that time is a sacred gift and we must love and enjoy every day.

8. What book are you reading to help grow your leadership right now?

How Great Leaders Think – The Art of Reframing by Bolman and Deal. It’s a book of lively examples of iconic leaders and discusses why some succeed and others fail. The idea is that better thinking leads to better leadership.

9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader?

My focus starts early – I rise no later than 5am each morning. It is my time to myself – to frame my day. I know that the next 12-15 hours will be focused on 4,000 students and 600 staff members and that I will not see my own kids until late in the evening, so it is very important to me to have my mind clear and ready for the day. Starting at 6:30am, it’s all about service to others and I’m honored to be a part of it in LDISD.

10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey?

Be transparent in your journey, remain thoughtful and always keep your character and integrity at the heart of all decisions, keep your tone professional and serve others with compassion.

Thank YOU for sharing your wisdom with us, Dr. Stinson. Some of my takeaways include: It can be lonely starting out as a young female leader. The key is building relationships and learning from each other. It’s okay to make a mistake. When you show vulnerability and take ownership, people will be more accepting. Have the courage to reach out to help others. You may be able to change the trajectory of a person’s life, so keep your eyes open! Having a mentor that will listen and and guide you will help accelerate your professional growth. It’s a bonus when it’s your dad! There are two lasting things you can give a student and our own children: one is roots and the other is wings. Consider adding “How leaders think” to your book list. Investing time to think is effective and can lead to better ideas in any role. Establishing a daily discipline/routine can help frame your day to be most effective. Lastly, serving others with compassion, and being transparent on your journey can make positive impact in any leadership role. Be thoughtful, have integrity, and keep a professional tone when serving others. Great advice!

For questions about this leadership interview series, send email to bwaller@goarmstrong.com. To find out more information about Dr, Gayle Stinson and Lake Dallas ISD, go to http://www.ldisd.net.

Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can connect with Bruce on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/brucewaller or follow @brucewaller on Twitter too! You can also follow his BLOG “A Relocation Minute with Bruce Waller” at https://brucewaller.wordpress.com/  For more information on employee relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com.

Meet K. Earl Reynolds, President and COO, Chaparral Energy, BeALifter Leadership Interview #7 with Bruce Waller

BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #7: Sharing Leadership Lessons with Bruce Waller…

10 Questions from Leaders that make a difference!

Jim Rohn once said, “Your success in the next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the people you meet.”

This is a testimony to my personal leadership growth over the past 20 years. I continue to learn each day by connecting with some of the most talented people in business. In this series, I want to add value to your leadership growth by introducing you to leaders that make impact as they share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader or in their personal life. So lets get started…

Today, we are going to hear from K. Earl Reynolds, Jr., President and COO Chaparral Energy. Earl Reynolds joined Chaparral Energy in 2011 as an executive vice president and chief operating officer before being named as the company’s president in 2014. I have enjoyed getting to know Earl over the last several years and have been inspired by his approach to leadership. He is authentic, approachable, and has a passion for developing people. In 2013, Earl was named as a Distinguished Fellow of the Mississippi State University Bagley College of Engineering. You are going to really enjoy his interview. Now let’s hear from Earl… earl.reynolds

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a rural southern Mississippi town with a population of 5,000 and a high school graduating class of 110.

2. How did you get started in business/career?

I always excelled academically. I was especially good at math, which I loved. After an initial year in pre-pharmacy, I realized that I should switch to a math major if I was going to enjoy my professional career. So I changed my major to engineering and graduated from Mississippi State University in 1982 with a degree in Petroleum Engineering. My first job was Production Engineer with Superior Oil in Lafayette, LA.

3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader?

My first true leadership job was with Mobil Oil as a field production foreman. I was 28 years old with 6 years of experience. I was supervising men that were over twice my age with significant industry experience. I was promoted to this position based upon my accomplishments as an individual contributor but I had no formal leadership experience. I quickly realized that I had to gain their trust. So, I focused on being humble, working as hard as they did and asking lots of questions from a learning perspective. I was able to gain their trust and we accomplished more than any field team had accomplished because we were a true team. I learned that humility and hard work are vital attributes of a leader and taking time to develop a deeper relationship with your team members is foundational.

4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose?

I would say after my initial leadership experience, I began to feel very comfortable that I could effectively influence and get things done through others. I was a strong individual contributor but leading teams and eventually organizations was my real strength in business. I also developed a passion for developing others. I had several experiences as a young leader of developing individuals to higher performance after they believed their upward mobility opportunities were over. Watching the transformation of individuals when they trust you and are open to development feedback for their own growth was very rewarding. Early success stories and high team performance cemented my belief that it is “always about the people.” Consequently, this has been the central theme of leadership in any role I assume.

5. What is your most favorite achievement in your current role?

The highlight of this role for me was building a high performing organization from the technical team and support staff while completely reconfiguring the corporate strategy. I’ve been able to build a high performing team through coaching more senior managers to truly lead and by investing in young technical staff with high potential to expand their view of the business. I’ve also helped to bring a refined corporate strategy with corporate measures and goals to ensure high performance and metrics. I worked to define our values to ensure that all through the talent lifecycle we are focused on results, relationships, integrity and technical excellence.

6. Is there any one person that inspired or mentored you along the way?

I would have to say my parents gave me the strong core values that dictate the way I conduct myself in my personal and business life. The core value foundation centered on results with integrity has served me well in my career. In addition, I’ve had opportunities to work alongside several top-notch CEO’s who lead by example and I learned their approach to decision making which has helped me be successful in leading others.

7. Do you have a saying or mantra that you live by?

I have two mantras that I live by that sum up my core values of doing the right thing and investing in people. I conduct my life and coach my team to ask themselves every day if what they did each day could pass the “mirror test.” In other words, did they display integrity with their approach to business, people and decision making? In addition, you will routinely hear me say, “it is always about the people.” As I challenge my team to live by these, I am also reminded to continue to stay true to my values.

8. What book are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now?

I’m not reading it now but a book that I live by daily in my personal and business life is – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. I’m currently reading How Successful People Lead by John Maxwell.

9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader?

I think developing tasks or key objectives for the next day, week and month are important for high performance execution. I make it a practice to do it every day before I leave the office. I also believe in a personal “high touch” management style so I meet face-to-face with each manager on a weekly basis as well as our staff meeting. I will also find time to do MBWA, management by walking around; I have found this to be a very effective way to keep in touch with the larger organization. I also believe in being responsive by returning all phones calls, emails and other forms of communication even if it is a short response. Finally, it’s important to recharge my battery with no cell phones or emails. My wife and I try to do this at least twice a year.

10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey?

Establish what you think your core values are and do not waver from this foundation. Ensure you hire and develop people with these core values in mind. For your specific business, set the tone and strategic direction that you expect from the organization and ensure ALL employees have a clear line of sight as to how they can impact that strategy/vision. Finally, pay market based compensation for your team and create a culture where people have fun while never compromising on results.

Thank YOU, Earl for sharing your wisdom and inspiring us to become better leaders.

Some of my takeaways include: Self-awareness matters as you begin your journey. Being humble and asking questions as a leader will help you build trust with your team. Developing and influencing people is essential to being an effective leader – “It’s always about the people”. Having strong core values and surrounding yourself with like-minded people will elevate your leadership growth. Asking yourself if you can pass the mirror test will help you align with your core values each day. MBWA – “Management By Walking Around” can be very effective especially in a larger organization. Also consider getting away to re-charge your battery a couple of times a year. Lastly, hire and develop people with similar core values and have fun without compromising results.

If you would like to learn more about K. Earl Reynolds and Chaparral Energy, visit their website at http://www.chaparralenergy.com.

Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can visit his BLOG “A Relocation Minute with Bruce Waller” at https://brucewaller.wordpress.com/ for more information on employee relocation resources, Call 972-389-5673, or Email bwaller@goarmstrong.com. You can also follow @brucewaller on Twitter!

Meet Jim Powers, President and CEO, UniGroup, Inc. BeALifter Leadership Interview Series # 6: 10 Questions with Bruce Waller

10 Questions from Leaders that make a difference!

BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #6: Sharing Leadership Lessons with Bruce Waller…

Jim Rohn once said, “Your success in the next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the people you meet.”

This is a testimony to my personal leadership growth over the past 20 years. I continue to learn each day by connecting with some of the most talented people in business. In this series, I want to add value to your leadership growth by introducing you to leaders that make impact as they share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader and in their personal life. So lets get started…

Today, we are going to hear from James Powers, President  and CEO, UniGroup, Inc. Jim became President of UniGroup and CEO of its operating subsidiaries, which includes United Van Lines in November 2014. Jim joined UniGroup in 2001 as the company’s chief financial officer and assumed the additional responsibility of senior vice president in 2006. In 2010 he briefly left UniGroup returning 2012 to serve as the president of UniGroup Logistics, a position he held until being appointed to his current role.of operating. I had an opportunity to personally meet Jim in 2015 during our Armstrong Relocation Presidents Club event and know you are going to really enjoy this interview.Powers_Jim

Now, let’s hear from Jim…

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Cincinnati, OH, but grew up in St. Louis. My parents were both from St. Louis and moved back when I was four years old.

2. How did you get started in business/career?

I attended Rockhurst College in Kansas City on a soccer scholarship. The soccer coach, Tony Tocco, was also a very good accounting professor. I majored in accounting, went to work for Arthur Andersen in 1983 and became a CPA.

3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader?

Many of the great leadership lessons I learned while playing team sports. Many times on an athletic field, it isn’t the best collection of players who win the game, but the team with the best leaders. What I learned on many fields and tried to coach myself through the years, is to never surrender – regardless of the score.

4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose?

It wasn’t right out of the gate. In fact, in my first few weeks at Arthur Andersen, an instructor at a training session suggested to me that I may not be cut out for my role. I have used that straight-forward conversation with that instructor from 1983, as motivation through the years, especially on those occasions when someone may have doubted my abilities.

5. What is your most favorite achievement in your current role?

I believe the team we have developed at UniGroup is rock solid. It is a mix of those who have been here for a while and some new talent sprinkled into key spots.

6. Is there any one person that inspired or mentored you along the way?

Many people have inspired and mentored me through the years. Tom Watson is certainly one over the last 15 years who has provided both great counsel and great example of what it takes to successfully lead an organization.

7. Do you have a saying or mantra that you live by?

I don’t believe in ‘live to fight another day’… ‘if there is going to be a fight, let’s have it today so we can move forward’.

8. What book are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now?

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney.

9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader?

Self-assessment – what is working, what is not. Team assessment – reinforce to team that they have my support but also provide direct feedback – even (especially) when not pleasant.

10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey?

There is not an answer guide and no two people will find success by taking the same path. Figure out what is important to you, what is important to those who have put faith in you to lead and what is important to those working for you. Be clear about the vision and work as a team to determine the path forward.

Thank YOU Jim, for sharing your wisdom, inspiring us, and being a lifter for others! Some of my interview takeaways include: Team sports is a great classroom for leadership education. Never surrendering, regardless of the score is a great mantra and a great reminder for all of us during challenging times. When someone doubts you,  use it as motivation to achieve your goals. Mentors can make a significant difference on your leadership journey, find a good one! When we are faced with challenges, try deal with them immediately so that you can move forward. Always evaluate what’s working, and what’s not working to make timely adjustments. …And finally, team reinforcement and giving direct feedback makes a difference. Figure out what’s important to you and to those around you, and share your vision for maximum team success!

What are your leadership takeaways? Send me a note  to bwaller@goarmstrong.com. I would enjoy hearing from you.

Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can visit his BLOG “A Relocation Minute with Bruce Waller” at https://brucewaller.wordpress.com/ for more information on employee relocation resources, If you would like more information on this interview, or know other top business leaders that would like to be a lifter and share their leadership perspective, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com. You can also follow Bruce on Twitter @brucewaller!