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Get Inspired with Ken Blanchard!

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Inspiration At Work

Inspiration At Work


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Get inspired by Ken Blanchard! The Ken Blanchard Companies is a global leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. They help companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results. Listen in as we divulge some secrets to their success!


0:32 Terry Barber

And welcome back to Inspiration At Work. We have quite a line-up today and I want to also say hello and welcome to my co-host, Tamara O'Neil. Hi, Tamara!

0:43 Tamara O'Neil

Hi, how are you?

0:44 Terry Barber

So good to have you here in the studio with us and we are looking forward to your segment when we interview you but for the time being, you get to be part of the interviewing side with an incredible special guest, Mr. Ken Blanchard, and I have got to set this up in such a way so that don't eat up overtime with all that could be said about Ken Blanchard, but can I have to say, is it really true, I got to ask -- because is really true you have more than 18 million books in print?

1:19 Ken Blanchard

That's what they say, yeah. I think it is. I have written about 50 and my mother used to say, "Why won't you write a book by yourself?" And I would laugh and I say, "Mom, I already know what I know" and so on my 70th birthday last year I invited all my co-authors and over 50 showed up and it was just a kick for a day and a half, just kind of __1:41__. Some of the simple truth that we have been trying to share with people over the years, so it is really been fun.

1:49 Terry Barber

What an amazing story and have its felt and this book have been translated in over 12 languages, you've got clients in six continents. So, anyway you have really created what is surely to be an incredible legacy for years and years to come. So, for that I just say my hat is off and I am just real to be able to make your acquaintance and be a part of sharing your life here.

2:16 Ken Blanchard

It's nice to be with you Terry, you know, you say you're the Chief Inspirational Officer. My title in our company, our training company is I'm the Chief Spiritual Officer, so we have a lot in common.

2:28 Terry Barber

We could be officer cousins.

2:31 Ken Blanchard

That's right.

2:32 Terry Barber

Well, what a nice thing. Hey, I have to tell you that I have so much enjoyed reading through your latest book with Colleen Barrett on "Lead with LUV", all about the Southwest Airlines story and it was interesting because when I first picked it up, I thought "Well I would just spend a little bit of time with it over the next few days and take it in." I actually got took it on my spin cycle, sat there on my kindle and literally sat there and read through it in an hour and fifteen minutes spinning, and I had a blast reading this one.

3:12 Ken Blanchard

Well, that's great. Well, it's kind of unusual as you could say because it is a conversation between Colleen and I, but she has practiced so much and the prose of Southwest about what I have been preaching over the years. I have been trying to look for good new stories and they are certainly one of those.

3:31 Terry Barber

Well, that's for sure. It was really interesting, I probably learned an awful lot about just how you think and what you think based upon the kinds of questions that you would ask in the book given. But one of the things I thought was so insightful is that you were able to actually boil down all that you think of as important down to a simple principle and so I'd love to start our conversation today of just getting you to share. If you couldn't take anything else with you beyond today, in terms of what to teach, what would that be?

4:15 Ken Blanchard

Well, I think the biggest thing, Terry, is the whole concept that Spencer Johnson and I talked about the woman, the managers that if you want to develop people and create a great organization, you ought to wonder around and catch people doing things right and accent the positive and I think that's one of the reasons Colleen and I were soul mates, you know. About 100,000 letters came out of her office every year to the 35,000 employees in Southwest and she handwrote, you know, 2500 congratulating them on their anniversary, a kids graduation from high school, all kinds of things and so -- I just think that makes such a difference that people are getting cheered on because the normal of style is what I call Seagull Management, you know, people disappear after you set goals and then they don't come around until a mistake has made and then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody and fly out. And that's not a really fun way to being an organization. So, one of the things I do as Chief Spiritual Officer is I leave a morning message everyday and I do three things: One, I tell people who to pray for. We have tremendous support system for people who are hurting and about something or loved one, even a pet. Then I catch people doing things right and cheer them on and then I leave kind of an inspirational message based on something that I had rather seen recently.

5:45 Terry Barber

Wow! What an amazing way to be able to start a day. I bet the inspiration factor in your office is pretty high.

5:52 Ken Blanchard

Well, I think so in terms of you know just kind of reminding us constantly, you know, about why we're doing the things that we do and so -- I think it's important to cheer people on.

6:06 Terry Barber

Great principle. Well, I'm going to personally take that away as a goal for myself on a daily ongoing basis that's for sure.

6:15 Ken Blanchard

I'll just give you a quick message that I'm going to put on today. I got an email from Garry Ridge, the President of WD-40 and he and I wrote a book called, "Helping People Win at Work" which was another case study of companies doing good things, a business philosophy called "Don't Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A" and he said, "Good day!" He is from Australia. He said, "I often share your quote, "Life is a very special occasion. Don't miss it." I often share Marjorie, my wife's quote, "You only keep what you give away" and I wanted to share with you both, "Today, you do not need to keep anything for a special occasion because everyday is a special occasion." I said, "Whoa! That's really a great thing." So, I kind of combining couple of things that Marjorie and I have said.

7:05 Terry Barber

I love that. I think that -- that's going to ring true in the ears of our listeners for days and days to come. Hey, you mentioned something just a minute ago about Seagull Managers. I know you used a lot of metaphors throughout this book and your other writings, but you've also talked about some other bird types in the book, would you mind talking about that for a minute, I just get the biggest kick out of this.

7:31 Ken Blanchard

Yes. Well, Terry, I think it's so important when you're teaching and trying to share that you create stories. Things are memorable for people, you know, so you're not dry and everything and so I try to use a lot of symbolism and all. And you can tell the difference between an organization ran by a servant leader versus a self-serving leading by how you interacted with as a customer if you have a problem. If it's a self-serving organization where all the power, money and recognition, and everything goes up the hierarchy away from the thing, you're dealing with ducks, so you will go, "Quack, quack. It's our policy. I quack, just work here quack, quack. I don't make the rules quack, quack. You want to talk to my supervisor." You know and you get all that duck behavior because they don't think they have any power, where at Southwest Airlines, if you got a customer problem and you talk to them, you're dealing with an eagle. You are dealing with somebody who says, "We'll take care of it." I mean the story that this has gone all around this last week is that a pilot held the plane for 12 minutes because he heard that this couple was racing to try to be at the bedside of their grandson who has got hurt in an accident and they were going to pull off the plugs that day, and they just wanted to be with them and he also told us the customer as he said, "I hope you don't mind, because I would do the same thing for you, but we want these people to get to their grandson's bedside." And that's eagle behavior, that's not "quack, quack, quack, I'm sorry the plane leaves at such and such" and that kind of thing. So, I just love those kind of metaphors and you know the difference between an organization when you are dealing with an eagle rather than a duck. At Nordstrom is a great retail. They teach all their people to say, "No problem. You know, we'll take care of it" that's eagle training.

9:27 Terry Barber

Beautiful. I think all of us have had that experience where we ran into duck-type of businesses and it's not fun and it is not an inspiring environment at all. So, I'm just curious. Are there other hero-type of brands or companies out there that you see, that you work with, that you would say, "Here is an eagle kind of company?"

9:52 Ken Blanchard

Well, just take for example in your own location, Chick-fil-A. I don't think they beat everybody in their quick service restaurant business and they trained everybody in an acronym called SERVE and I wrote a book with Mark Miller who has been heading up there training called, "What do great leaders think and do?", and they serve and I think that that's their whole philosophy. I mentioned Nordstrom. Also, in Georgia, Synovus on the financial service business at the Columbus, Georgia. It shows that the number one company the more work for like the Fortune Magazine. So, often they just stop applying and they made an all-star list forum but to keep founders you know, teach and give scholarships and serving leadership. And Ritz-Carlton again, another Georgia-based company you know, says, "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." So, it's interesting that Georgia would be the home of three of the classic examples of this. Wegmans also in the grocery business shows as the number one company to work for all led by servant leaders.

11:08 Tamara O'Neil

Ken, this is Tamara O'Neil and I have to share with you that I did have an experience like that last night actually when I had to call AT and T and asked for some help with my cable. And I've spoke with an outsourced customer service person who was helping me with my cable and actually, it was all about sending up a wireless DVD, it was 3D, Blu-ray, really cool, but I needed some extra help. And lo and behold, not only did this person who have helped me on customer service make sure that I was set up correctly online with AT and T, but he insisted that he waited until I got that Blu-ray player on and make it work and I was so impressed how we wanted to serve me and see the results of our efforts to make sure that everything happen the way it was supposed to.

11:58 Ken Blanchard

I think that's just great and you see very often eagles in potential duck ponds. I mean because I have had some interactions at AT and T on the phone where you're trying to get some information and they say, "I'm sorry we can only give you two numbers." "Yeah, but why do I have to call back? Aren't you hear?" you know and they quack, quack, quack, quack, quack. But it really is great to see people who just in their heart will do it regardless of the environment.

12:29 Terry Barber

You mentioned, Ken, in your book and it sounds like this was in collaboration with someone else about an ongoing potential list about what you referred to us a Fortunate 500 listing. What a great tag...

12:46 Ken Blanchard

Yes. Well, you know, the problem with Fortune 500, it's all size and volume and that's the concept I got from John Naisbitt when he wrote "Megatrends" years ago and he actually was a graduate assistant in a government department when I was an undergrad at Cornell and Fortunate 500 company would not just look at profit and size, and volume, it would look at what's the relationship you have with your customers, what's the relationship you have with your people and what's the relationship you have with your performance. Because I think the profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people. At Southwest, they are very clear that their number one customer is their people and if they take care of their people and treat them with golden rule behavior, then they will reach out to their customers, the people who fly their airlines, and if they do that and take care of them, the customers will be happy and want to return, and then that will take care of the third most important customer, which is the stockholder. So, they go people, customers, stockholder in that order and I think that's a very powerful thing and the companies I mentioned really do that too.

14:05 Terry Barber

Do you find that that is becoming more of a trend or do you see that business is still very resisted to that kind of thinking?

14:13 Ken Blanchard

I think it really depends on the top managers, to be honest with you. If they think that their self-worth is the function of their performance plus the opinion of the others, and they think the most important opinion is, what is Wall Street and the stock people do, then they don't have that priority. Because they don't get that long run makes a good short run. So, I think it's happening more and more. Unfortunately, the press doesn't publicize it. I remember asking Norman Vincent Peale, I got a chance to write a book with him when he was 86 years old and I said, "Why isn't the press publish more good news?" He said, "I'm so glad they don't. He said if good news was news there wouldn't be much of it going on." He said, "The only reason bad news is news is not much happening." Oh, there and I believe that in business. I think there's so much good news in business and on organizations and all that's not really publicized and in the government and all that -- all we do is focus on the problems.

15:17 Terry Barber

What a great, great way to say it! And you mentioned in a book how it is so important for these Fortunate 500 kinds of companies and companies in general to have a triple bottom line. Can you explain a little bit about what that means?

15:37 Ken Blanchard

Yes. I was really talking about that just recently. And what it really is you want to be the employer of choice. You want your people to really love to work for you. In fact, like we give a $400 bonus to anybody in our company who recommends a friend or relative for a job opening that we hire because we want them to go out and get their best friends and relatives and all and if they're gone whole for us that's really important. So, we want to be the employer of choice. Then of course, you want to be the provider of choice. You want raving fan costumers and they are costumers that want to brag about you. And then of course you want to be the investment of choice for your owners, your stockholders and all that and as I said, with the Southwest, its first employer of choice, then provider of choice, and then the investment of choice. But it was really interesting that triple bottom line ends up with the win, win, win, when you follow it.

16:36 Terry Barber

Great insight. I like to shift gears for just a moment and talk about Ken Blanchard personally for just a sec. Because you speak about that everybody has positive influences in their life and that's easy for all of us to identify in, to be grateful for, I certainly I am. But you also bring something about that I think is really unique. And that is "recognizing the negative influencers in how they have had a positive impact in your life." Can you share with us a little bit about how that principle applied to you?

17:16 Ken Blanchard

Well, it's interesting. Somebody always said, "Your kids might not talk about it as they're growing up but they are observing you like crazy." And people are observing you and I think you ought to be observing and looking for positive examples, but what can you learn from negative examples because I'll never forget when I was got -- I think it was the end of elementary school, beginning in junior high school, I was a basketball player and we had one of the father's coaching us and he was a Phys Ed teacher and all and he was just a screamer. He screams at the referees, he screamed at us and all -- I mean and he acted like the only most important thing was winning and all. And as a result, we didn't play all that well because we were scared about making mistakes. And so that was a really powerful thing. I'll never forget. My father retired as an Admiral in the Navy and I won the president of the Seventh Grade, and this was a powerful transition from this coach and I came home and I was all pumped up. I'm the President of the Seventh Grade. My father said to me, "Congratulations, Ken, but now that you're President, don't use your position." He said, "Great leaders are great not because they have power, but because people respect and trust them." And I like "Whoa! What an interesting contrast to this coach that I had just dealt with."

18:45 Terry Barber


18:45 Ken Blanchard

And so I think it's interesting to learn. I think I might believe when you stop learning, you might as well lie down and let them throw the dirt over you because life is a constant learning. So, I'm always observing and watching, and trying to learn more. I mean, I've learned a lot from your friend, Laurie Beth Jones, in terms of her hard observation she has made and that's why I love to co-author with people and write with people because I can learn.

19:16 Tamara O'Neil

So, that's a really good message that I just heard and the fact that one learns from the good things that happened in our lives, but also to appreciate the things that may not have gone so well as a learning opportunity.

19:28 Ken Blanchard

Yeah. I think the key thing on that, though is when things don't go as well, don't put the focus on yourself you know and say, "You idiot, how could you be so stupid." So ought to say, "Hmmm, isn't it that interesting, I wonder what I can learn from that" because God didn't make any junk and we're all beautiful. That doesn't mean that we don't have you know faults and things that we can learn from, but I always think that the people is that -- to me feedback is the breakfast of champions and so if you got something to tell me I really want to hear it. Self-serving leaders, if you give them feedback, they kill the messenger you see, because they think you don't want them to lead and they think they own their position, where I love people who are servant leaders and that's what I've been trying to be over the years is I realized that I don't know on anything. It's all on loan. And so the big question is "how do I deal with that loan? So, when people give me feedback, I always say "Thank you. You know, God, that's really helpful. Is there anybody else I should talk to because that's another way that I can really learn?

20:38 Terry Barber

Thank you for that motto and that example. You speak in the book, "Lead with LUV" about 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, I was really taken back by how much space that you allowed it to unpacking that chapter -- in a business context. Can you give us some little bit of a background about why it is so important to you?

21:08 Ken Blanchard

Well, I really feel that as a leader, love is the answer, what's the question? And one of the things that has really made me relax in life is to realize I'm not here to judge, I'm here to love. And I think there has too many faith-based people and the other people with all kinds of beliefs, just want to sit around and judge and evaluate people. And so many people like weddings. They'll read the 1 Corinthians 13. Everybody goes, "ohs" and "ahs" and all, but they don't think about it. But what it really says is that "love is a very powerful thing but there's a number of aspects of it". And so you might say, "Yeah, I'm a loving person" you know and say "well, are you patient? Are you kind? Are you selfless or argumentative? Do you put people down and criticize them?" So, that's why I spend time for people to kind to look at that and unpack it to say, "Gee, I'm not perfect. I'm not a 10 on all of those" and this will give me some ways to think about how I can get better because I think if we get better in our walk through life to realize that we're here to love not to judge. And I think it was also clear in our book, though the part of loving sometimes is tough love, you see. And that doesn't mean that you're putting people down and all, but you're also telling the truth about what you perceive happening and how you think that could be hindering them or what you're trying to accomplish and so. But you do in a loving way not sort of, "You idiot, how could you be so stupid but I really care about you and I want to help and here's what I'm observing."

23:01 Ken Blanchard

So, love is a multidimensional thing and one that it's a kind of journey for us all to do. It is just interesting a sort of side note, I did a wedding recently. In California, you can do anything and I was pastor for the day. But in talking to these young couple and their daughter, the gal, I knew before she was born. My wife and I had been in India about a year and a half before we had this wonderful 23, 24-year-old guys that guided us around and he told us his parents were back home arranging his marriage and still about 60% to 70% of the marriages in India are arranged. And I said, "You throw around a lot of Americans, what do you think is the difference between American marriage and an Indian in arranged marriage?" He said, "I think one of the differences it seems to me is an Indian arranged marriage, the assumption is that over time you will fall in love with the person you married." He said, "You Americans seemed to fall in love before you get married and then you fall out of love." And I found a wonderful quote and I held the kid's hands and I say -- after they exchange their rings -- and I said, "My hope, my dream, my prayer for you is that years from now you're going to look back at this important day and realize it was the day that you loved each other the least. Happiness is marrying the person you love, but joy is falling in love with the person you married." And I think that's this whole concept of love is just so powerful in all of our relationships.

24:39 Terry Barber

That is an inspiring story. Incredible!

24:42 Tamara O'Neil


24:44 Terry Barber

Ken, my understanding is that you're coming to Atlanta!

24:48 Ken Blanchard

Yes. I'm looking forward to that and you said that you even had a table of that prayer breakfast I'm going to be doing.

24:56 Terry Barber

Yes. So, I would love and clearly the opportunity to see you face-to-face and shake your hand and...

25:03 Ken Blanchard

That would be great and please do come up. I would really, really cherish that.

25:10 Terry Barber

Is there another event though that you would like to call out and providing the kind of information to our listeners?

25:17 Ken Blanchard

Yes. On the 31st of January, I'm doing a session with a wonderful young man by the name of Justin Fatica, who has a youth ministry and he calls it "Hard As Nails." And it's an interesting title, but he's really trying to get these people to realize that they are absolutely loved and they're beautiful people, and that they can learn in life and stop putting themselves down because he thinks one of the problems with kids is they start to get down in themselves and they get down in other people and that makes them violent and all those kinds of things. And we're doing it from 7 to 9 o'clock at the Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Georgia. That's not very far from Atlanta.

26:19 Terry Barber


26:21 Ken Blanchard

It's just going to be a wonderful event and just come on down if you want to hear an inspiring young man and the subject is basically "Love is the answer, what's the question?"

26:34 Terry Barber

Got it.

26:35 Ken Blanchard

And I think it will be an inspiration. Bring your kids. I think we'll really have a great, great evening together.

26:43 Terry Barber

What a fantastic event! Is there a website, the address that we could promote?

26:50 Ken Blanchard

Oh, gee! I don't have...

26:51 Terry Barber

Well, we'll look it up and we will put it on our website. We'll do diligence on our part.

26:54 Ken Blanchard

Okay, that would be great.

26:57 Terry Barber


26:58 Ken Blanchard

I'm still learning technology.

27:02 Terry Barber

Aren't we all. Well, Ken Blanchard, I cannot tell you what a joy it has been spending this time with you. My life is richer because of that and I just hope and I pray that you would continue to do what you do and make an impact into the world, and as I believe that truly because the world is a better place.

27:26 Ken Blanchard

Well, thank you so much and it's great to be with both of you and you take care and keep on inspiring people because I think that we constantly need to be reminded of "that we're born in the image of God and we got great potential to make a difference" and we just need to bring out that potential in ourselves and other people around us.

27:49 Terry Barber

Well, thank you for that encouragement.

27:51 Tamara O'Neil

Thank you, Ken.

27:52 Terry Barber

And have a great day and keep inspiring. Bye, bye!

27:52 Ken Blanchard

Take care of yourself. God bless.

27:56 Terry Barber

You have been listening today to Ken Blanchard on Inspiration at Work and we wish you the very best for the day, and as we close out the day just remember to keep inspiring.