260- Being a Servant Leader in Business and Networking Situations - with Paul Griffin III
Paul is the CEO and president of Griffin Living, a company that develops and operates Senior Living communities. Paul's career has been marked with awards, including habitat for humanity's builder of the year, the building industry associations builder of the year, the National Association of homebuilders, and the Pacific Coast builders conference for design. Paul has overseen a wide variety of real estate projects amassing a career total of over $4.5 billion.
Can you share a little bit about what your passion is and how it drives your success?
So for business, I've found through my career that individuals in business approach it in different ways. I think there is a very important aspect of business, which is, what do I really think beyond the pro formas, beyond the budgets, the market studies, and the information that we can get to make a decision about whether we're buying into a company, or in our case investing in a project that's being developed. I think the part of a passion that is really using all of the information through every source that I have into my conscious of my subconscious and saying, “I don't want to make just emotional decisions, but what's the full scope of everything that I know, to this point?” Then I ask how does that match with the pro forma, and the project opportunity that's been put in front of me? I think that if you take our passions and deeper understandings, and you pair them together with the facts that are in front of us, they will help us with the sensitivity analysis. That’s because no business, or venture ever finishes out with exactly the same cost and the same income and the same timing that you expect. There'll be problems that come up in between that you have to solve and there'll be opportunities that present themselves that you need to take advantage of. I think it’s important to pull together the rational part of us, and the emotional part of us to analyze business every day. I think that the passion that I have, is more, an acknowledgment that I like to use all of the information I have and all of the experience I have to in our case, look at development ventures.
Why is it important to be a servant leader in both business and networking situations?
When we think about effective management in business in the 20th century, we had a great understanding of the efficiency of the military model since we had just been through multiple wars. This type of leadership was similar to the military as in the thinking was done at the top and the people at the bottom followed orders. That was the way that American business really was approached all the way through the 1980s. In my mind, people that were born of my era and later who came of age in the 1980s started thinking that there are more opportunities, there are better ways we saw people around us at work, and there are better ways to get them motivated, wherever they are in business. I think that the way that business was approached successfully in companies, you know, we've seen turn on turn around backward from the top-down approach. Now businesses are much better run by starting at the lowest level that you can make the best decision with the most information. Then from the top, working with every level in a company to really understand what the goals and issues are to get a commonality of what we're trying to accomplish in a longer plan and a shorter plan. Then let the person at the lowest level tell us how they would think they can best solve the problems for today which allows them to be more passionate because they’re involved in picking the solution. They also get fulfillment when they solve whatever problems in front of them that day at the level they're at, and they're participating more so businesses are more effective. For instance, in real estate developments, we go into a community and we start talking about this development and in our masterplan community days. There’s a conversation that has to have with the community so we can feel good about where we were taking their community in our development so they would be comfortable, and so we would understand some of their worries and then work with the community so that they trust that we are working on their problems and concerns. It’s also important to know what good can come out of a community and getting to know them and work with them. I think servant leadership is really the core of business because the methodology of running a business is really seeing what other people need, whether it be an employee, a customer, or a constituent.
So can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite stories or experiences that you've had around networking?
When you start to talk about networking, there's always a little bit of social anxiety when you walk in and don't know anybody. I have always found that taking a deep breath and just realizing it's just your mind gearing up to have conversations that are giving you anxiety. Then start to look at people in the room, not as a room full of people, but individuals. Then look at each person and say, I wonder about that person, I wonder what they're doing here, I wonder who they are, I wonder where they’re from, and go over an interview in your head with them. Just start to ask questions because people like to talk about themselves and the anxiety of networking always falls. I think that's the most basic part of social networking that has never changed. With the advent of our internet and electronic networking, which is so much more efficient, and we can enjoy even more networking, but again, the root of it still has to be the same. In the case of business, one of the business networking groups that I've always been involved with is Young Presidents Organization which is a bunch of guys that are presidents of their companies and the idea of YPO is presidents being able to talk to each other, network and understand each other and their issues. What I really learned in my experience with those guys, when showing up with a bunch of other presidents of companies was that when people talk about how great they are, our natural inclination is to put a barrier up. None of us really like that sort of bragging and people come in since it puts us off a bit and we’d rather have a conversation to get to know people. So from YPO, I learned in networking not to put my resume in front of people and instead let them ask or let them say, “Oh, you're in real estate, I know somebody would you like to meet,” and use that as an introduction as opposed to pushing myself in networking situations which I don’t like.
It sounds like you have a pretty extensive network, how do you nurture your network in your community?
I tried just to tell people you know about myself and I'd like to do business with you, but it sounds like bragging, and it is kind of bragging. I wish I could tell you I always did it right, but a smart person looks at this and says, “I didn’t do that very well, that doesn't work,” and they learn from their mistakes. So my advice is to let people learn about you, let people be interested in you, and the results will come out much better. I think it’s important to just understand what kind of social network we’re talking about. Ask questions such as, Is it social? Is it about business? what segment of business? Then you need to appropriately relate to those networks without overburdening people.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Be interested in individual people rather than the specific network that you are involved with. I think we will always find that we're more successful however we're introduced to people in whichever network we are a part of. Look around for where the conversations are happening in each part of your life and then look to join the conversation, those are the networks, and you have to put energy in, in order to even be involved in the conversation. When you're invited into the conversation, then jump into looking at the individuals that we're thinking of and talking to, because they are human beings and you know, they have a history of where they've come in their life, they had parents they know they have spouses, possibly children, grandparents, you know? I have found that I've made much better project progress myself when I approach it that way.
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