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  • Positive Polarity Podcast

How To Stay Committed And Inspired To Achieve Your Goals

Mervyn has spent over 15 years in the banking and financial industries, eventually opening his own commercial loan brokerage business. Today, he focuses on building high-performing CEO peer advisory groups through the power of Vistage. Two things remain constant with every position he's held—a love for people and passion to see others achieve their goals.

As a Vistage Chair, executive coach, and business developer Mervyn has an innate ability to inspire others to action. He draws from real life experiences and illustrations to entertain and inspire people to fight for their dreams.

What is this Vistage and how do you fit into their plans?

We are is we're a CEO peer advisory group. So, we act our group acts as a private advisory board for our members. So, confidentiality is so key. When we meet our members, they don't feel afraid to bring up just about anything because they know that everything is a hundred percent confidential. What's said at the meeting stays there at the meeting. We don't repeat it. Not even to our spouses, it’s that serious. I use that tactic with the group, we don't share anything outside of the outside of the four walls that we're meeting.

Is accountability into that too as well?

Big time. So that's really one of the things that make things happen in the group is they know that they are going to be accountable to the group. If they bring in an issue or opportunity to the group, and we work through that issue with them, they're accountable to making sure to following up with the group to say, Hey, this is what we did last time we talked about this.

Because for me personally, I'm a part time sales manager for four different companies in addition to the coaching. And that's the biggest number one overwhelming theme throughout. So, are you tough on the people or are they tougher on each other or tougher on themselves? How does that dynamic work in that group?

Yeah, it works actually both ways right now, because we're such a new group, I'm having to kind of be heavy. I mentioned, Hey, you guys are one another's private advisory board, but you hold one another accountable and they're starting to do that. And they're doing that very well. Here's the thing, the one reason why people leave Vistage is because they retire or sell their business, or they're not challenged enough.

You started in the banking business. How in the world do you transfer from banking to entrepreneur?

I'm going to take you back a little further than that to kind of build some context. When I was a little boy and I would sit at dad's feet and my dad was this frustrated entrepreneur. And so, he would tell me about all of the dreams that are the business ideas that he would have. And because the way our family structure was, he wanted my mom to be a stay at home mom, which meant that he had responsibility to be the sole bread winner. And she was not going to have him going off and chasing entrepreneurial dreams and deference to the steady paycheck. That's just kind of how that was, but he would tell me all of his business ideas and what he was doing. Unwittingly was building this entrepreneurship gene within me. So, when I got into the world of banking, it was a great career that entrepreneurial bug kept calling my name. So, I ultimately owned my own commercial loan brokerage.

Again, timing wasn't the greatest, or this is like that as we were reaching the great recession of 2008. And all of a sudden, the bottom just completely dropped out. But that dream never died, never died. I closed that business down and went to work for the Waukesha County business alliances where you and I connected. And that dream never died. Now I had a little bit of autonomy there as I grew and gained trust within the business. But there's nothing like being your own boss.

And if you make it, or if you don't make it, it's all on your shoulders. That's exhilarating. And if you have that within you, then nothing else is going to do nothing else that's going to do. I don't care how great the situation is. It's not going to be sufficient. And that's what it was for me. I love my fellow coworkers and all the members there yet there was something that was calling my name.

For a lot of people, it is a big mindset shift. If you're going to move from being an employee, to being an entrepreneur. How did Vistage kind of end up being the landing point for you in that journey?

So, when my journey with the business Alliance, I've got a great opportunity to be able to kind of live out my passion there. So, as I was working, I became one of the leaders of a CEO round table group that we had. I was able to revamp and write the curriculum.

I wanted to make a greater impact. And so this came into play because a buddy of mine, a really good friend of mine was a chair. And he and I sat down for coffee one day. He asked me some questions about, gosh, what would you do in this situation? And I gave him what I would do. And he said, Oh, we're going to try that. And he did. And he came back. Then we had coffee about three weeks later. He said, Hey, thanks for that advice It worked perfectly. What would you do in this situation?

And he said, you know, you'd be a great chair. And I said no way, man. I'm not doing that. And he goes, no, man, you really, you need to consider this. So, he said, so would you be open? I said, yeah, I'd be open. So, he connected me with the folks at headquarters and we went through this process. Oh my gosh, the process was kind of crazy. I looked back at my archives. It was about a year and a half process for me to finally make that decision. This is what I want to do. I think I'm going to make that leap and why Vistage people can do something like this on their own, but why would you want to?

I could start a group of CEOs. The resources, the knowledge base, the networks that they have 25,000 CEOs in 20 different countries. Where am I going to get that? I'm going to tap into that network and all this knowledge base. There's no way I would want to do this outside of Vistage, because I would be doing my members a disservice because I would not have all of the resources that they would need to be able to tap into.

So, I'm going to throw a curve ball at you because I think we're both high D's and DISC, you know, so we want results. We want to get it done. It's like, boom, boom, boom. So, as you're trying to unpack that with somebody, I know for me, I have to bite my tongue at times because I have to let somebody kind of unpack that on their own. I have to let them discover it on their own. I can convince them a little bit, but they got to discover it on their own. Do you struggle with that piece in your group or are you sitting on your hands at times?

My role as a chair is not to be giving those opinions and not to be giving those subjects. I push it back to the group. And yes, it is hard because I'm a person of information. I'm a guy who looks and has information on stuff. I have answers to things. My job is not to give those answers. My job is to point to the group. What does the group think about that? This is your private advisory board. And it's especially tough in one to one because sometimes they'll want to use me as the person to process the issue or opportunity out with. And I have to back up and say, well, what do you think the group would say?

Where did your passion come for that leadership development?

Well, it really born out of understanding that I didn't know everything that I needed to know and that I had some deficiencies. So, when I had my commercial loan brokerage business, I realized right away that people did things because not because I had authority to tell them to do things. They only did things for me if I inspired them to do so, because they didn't work for me. So, in order to get people from different companies to do things for me, I realized that man, I need to, I need to learn a few things. And so, I started reading some books and that's where it was kind of born.

And how do you build the trust in that group?

I believe the leader sets the tone and as a leader of the group, it's my job to set the tone of being vulnerable. So early on, when we first started meeting, COVID-19 is a horrible thing and I wish it would go away like yesterday. But one of the things that happened with our group is that we bonded so quickly because we started meeting virtually on a weekly basis in March and we haven't stopped. So, I set the tone for being vulnerable. I share stuff good, bad, or ugly in my life personally, professionally. And that gives them permission to be vulnerable as well. And when leaders can be vulnerable, that builds trust so much, just exponentially quicker.

I'm thinking like vulnerability is like one the essential skills that leaders need. What other things do you have you that are just absolutely mandatory for successful leadership that you're feel comfortable sharing with our listeners?

I think empathy is the biggest thing that I see missing in leaders really kind of remembering what it was like to be at that level. Just having empathy, caring about people. I think that's huge. I think that leaders can set themselves apart by being really empathetic and caring about people. Another one is, is being a strategic visionary thinker versus a tactical thinker.

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