Goings On… Going Forward

Traits Worth Emulating

It has been over two years since I turned over the operational running of Tupperware Brands. Throughout my 25+ year run as a CEO, I have continued to study, learn, and apply. Running a company is actually a wonderful learning and development laboratory… especially when you get to collaborate with smart people inside and outside the organization.

With an emphasis on “Insights & Lessons Learned,” I will offer my own takeaways, beginning with a top line on selected Traits. I plan to drill down on each of these in the coming weeks. My hope is that you will let me know your own thoughts on the topics and that you will be inspired and motivated to share with others. A disclaimer – The world and external forces are dynamic and ever changing. Such as they are, I have often said when presenting a strategy or a point of view that “this simply represents my point of view when I ran out of time and had to write something or present it.” So, with this reality in mind… expect my evolving thoughts.


The first job of a leader is to set the tone for “how things are done here.” Lay the firm foundation of an organization on significant ideals that set the tone for the VALUES that are cherished … integrity, honesty, humility, a respect for others, a joyful operating environment and culture of confidence. All this and more — with a warrior’s approach to winning.

Each day I have a 3×5 buck card with the day’s schedule. At the very top of the card, I write a few important notes. The initials “AV” are always the first thing I write. This reminds me that in everything I do during the day, and in every encounter I may have, to attempt to Add Value. Even making a kind comment of appreciation to a breakfast server counts and Adds Value.

Look past any leader moving up in an organization to their direct reports. How many are moving up with them. Mentoring and blazing a path for subordinates demonstrates a fundamental element of leadership — the creation of other leaders.

I am proud that as a CEO I never had a direct report quit and go somewhere else. Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba in Fiddler on the Roof) has a great quote “Do not seek friends seek comrade in arms.” Build a professional and personal bond with those you lead.

You are going to lose at times. There will be bad decisions, bad luck, and even unfairness. Get Over It! These things make us stronger & smarter. They build our resilience reservoir.

For them… one should keep working to repay their helpfulness. For those who “wronged-you”? Go back to “Get Over It.”

This simply means expectation setting and contingency planning. Sure we should plan for a positive outcome but also consider the approach if things do not work out. This means considering allocation of resources on alternate approaches. Exit strategies and trap doors are sometimes critical.

In the Old West of the United States there were horse drawn stagecoaches. Next to the driver there was always a person “riding shotgun”. He was there to provide protection but also to learn the routes and techniques so that one day he could be a driver. Smart leaders look for opportunities to provide leadership training in “real world” situations by having those they are mentoring “ride shotgun” at important sessions and on business trips. Leaving the shotgun seat empty is a wasted opportunity where the leader could “Bring Others with Them”.

No, I am not talking about sometimes-oppressive obligations. Actually, response-ability means to build an experience and skill set where the leader has the “ability to respond” to the expected and unexpected events. It is how the SAS and Navy Seals are trained. Life has expected and unexpected events and, without the ability to respond in a timely and skillful way, one can become a victim. Better always to be a Warrior who anticipated and trained for the unexpected.

Two thoughts here for the leader:
First, people are not computers or jet engines. They need time to renew. The performance zone is when both attitudes and energy are high. However, following that intense energy investment, time in the renewal zone is requisite. Without it, they move to the burnout zone. The comeback from burn out is not always certain. Unencumbered time refreshes.

Second, there is not an endless supply of time. Years ago, I was introduced to the QTR concept — Quality Time Remaining. It has heightened my appreciation to:
– Savor more the activities I do each day
– Cherish relationships
– Elevate the receptiveness to my senses. Look and see more vividly, smell and breath-in my surroundings, taste more delicately, hear more acutely, feel with more receptivity to touch.

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