Bob Weiler of Brimstone Consulting: “Take time off”

Take time off. Taking time off not only gives you, as a leader, time to recharge, but it also demonstrates to the organization that taking time off is important. At the same time, encourage people to take time off. If there is someone who should take time off and who is not, make them take […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Take time off. Taking time off not only gives you, as a leader, time to recharge, but it also demonstrates to the organization that taking time off is important. At the same time, encourage people to take time off. If there is someone who should take time off and who is not, make them take the time.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob Weiler.

Bob Weiler, Managing Founder of Brimstone Consulting, partners with CEOs and their leadership teams on accelerating business results and large-scale change initiatives. Much of his work focuses on advising CEOs and C-suite executives on methods to achieve short- and long-term results, while simultaneously achieving alignment, developing leaders, and energizing the organization.

Before launching Brimstone, Bob served as: President and COO of Grand Circle Travel, an industry leader in direct marketing of travel to mature Americans; Associate Director of the Global Leadership Program, a renowned executive development program at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan; and EVP of Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, the largest Outward Bound School in North America. Working with leadership expert Noel Tichy at General Electric’s Crotonville management training center, Bob designed key modules for developing high-performing teams and individuals.

Bob has competed in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships, the Spartan Peak to Peak 50-mile race, and the Leadville 100 MTB. He has also participated in expeditions in Nepal and the Swiss Alps.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Shortly after taking on the role of Executive Vice President of Hurricane Island Outward Bound, I went to Crotonville, General Electric’s management training center, and knocked on Noel Tichy’s door. Noel was the then-famous change management guru hired by Jack Welch to transform Crotonville into a major engine for change. I invited Noel and his Crotonville teaching staff to Hurricane Island, a small island off Maine’s coast, to participate in a three-day action learning program. Noel initially said no, but I finally convinced him.

When Noel and his team of 24 arrived on the Island, I was off on a business development trip. When I returned, I found that the program had been a disaster, and Noel and his team had left. I immediately went to Crotonville, and I sat outside Noel’s door for close to seven hours. When he finally opened his door, the first thing he said was, “Where do we start?” My answer was, “With an apology.” For the next three years, I worked closely with Noel, Hiro Takeuchi, and the team at Crotonville. This experience was foundational.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

It is important to keep perspective. Many people face hard times that are a matter of life and death. I have not faced times like that in my journey. Moreover, building and leading a business is a privilege. I am blessed. I am tenacious, and I am incredibly fortunate in that I have been able to surround myself with people and with a team who also lean in and are willing to work through challenges.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

My drive comes from the people with whom I surround myself. These are great people that have tenacity, courage, guts, stick-to-it-ness. When you are surrounded by a team with these characteristics, it is easy as a leader to keep moving forward. There will always be ups and downs, bends and turns, but there will also be little wins and sometimes big wins. I also, as a said earlier, I ground myself in perspective — building a business is a privilege.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Today, things are going well. Our team and their families are healthy, and we have great leaders who have partnered with us through these challenging times. When the pandemic hit, we pivoted — quickly. We were delivering all our workshops and sessions virtually in less than one week, and we haven’t stopped yet. We have also expanded into new areas and have brought on several new contracts.

My late brother used to say, “If they said no this time, it doesn’t mean they will say no the next time. So, keep asking.” These words have helped me persevere.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We were in the final stages of negotiating a 1 million dollars contract when the power went out and stayed out. In the dark and unable to use the phone or fax, we could not continue contract negotiations. The prospect thought we flaked and awarded the contract to another company.

Just months before, I had gotten quotes to install a generator because I knew power outages were frequent in the winter in what was at the time, a fairly rural part of Maine. Rather than pay 10,000 dollars for the generator, I decided to take the gamble — and I lost.

That experience taught me that small investments can have huge returns and to always have a back-up plan.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our people. Many of us have worked together for decades and in multiple contexts. We have hiked the wilderness together, traveled around the world together, and spent time everywhere from boardrooms to Bali.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Take time off. Taking time off not only gives you, as a leader, time to recharge, but it also demonstrates to the organization that taking time off is important. At the same time, encourage people to take time off. If there is someone who should take time off and who is not, make them take the time.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

When we begin working with clients, we often start by having people share their Journey Lines — their journey, including pivotal people and events. We use Journey Lines because they help to bring people together and establish trust. They also help people to develop empathy.

I bring up Journey Lines because many people and many events have impacted and shaped my journey and who I am today. In very different ways, three people gave me the confidence, knowledge, and kick necessary for me to leave Grand Circle Corporation and found Brimstone: my wife Wendy, my brother Peter, and Alan Lewis, Founder and Chairman of Grand Circle Corporation.

And, as I said earlier, Noel Tichy has placed a significant role in my journey and in my life.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have raised two beautiful daughters, and I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for 43 years. This is what I am most proud of.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I wish someone had told me how fun it would be. I love what I am doing, and so it doesn’t feel like work. I also wish someone had shared how much I would continue to learn. The September 11, 2001 attacks, the financial crisis, the pandemic — all of these disruptors have forced me to rethink and reimagine my organization.

How much I enjoy working with people in my organization. Whether it is in a boardroom or on a boat, I enjoy our team.

How much I enjoy working with our clients. Our clients have real problems and real businesses with real people, and we have a very effective process that they appreciate and that drives results. This is why we are fortunate enough that clients keep hiring us back and refer us to others.

Finally, I wish someone had told me how fast it would go. You only need to raise children, to know how quickly life goes.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The number of children who are homeless and who do not have enough to eat is staggering. If I could start any movement, it would be to ensure that every child has food and shelter.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow Brimstone on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and via the articles written by Kate Lee and others in our organization.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Bob Weiler of Brimstone Consulting: “Create a vision”

by Charlie Katz

Bob Weiler of Brimstone Consulting: “Encourage your team to take time off to recharge”

by Tyler Gallagher

Bob Weiler of Brimstone Consulting: “

by Fotis Georgiadis
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.