Leave work at work and strive to have work-life balance. Because I worked hard to build a great team, my phone goes on the charger when I get home. I love that. I don’t have to be constantly watching for emails. I have a great team.
As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High-Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Partin.
Bill Partin is President and CEO of Sharonview Federal Credit Union, one of the nation’s top 200 credit unions. In 2013, Partin, 60, joined Sharonview, which is based in Indian Land, South Carolina, in the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area. He has more than 39 years of experience in the financial services industry and a passion for developing leaders, driving results and creating an energizing work culture.
In 2019, Partin was named one of Charlotte Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs. He was also selected to The Business Journals’ 2019 Influencers in Finance national list, which spotlights 100 executives who are having an impact on business being done in communities across the nation.
Prior to Sharonview, Partin, a native of Southern California, was Senior Vice President, Chief Member Services Officer for Partners Federal Credit Union, the Walt Disney Company credit union.
He earned a finance degree from the California State University at Long Beach and his MBA from the University of La Verne. Partin is a Six-Sigma Green Belt and has completed the Leadership at the Peak program at the Center for Creative Leadership. He received his Certified Innovation Executive designation from CUES — via MIT and Stanford University — in 2017 and is a former board member of the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation.
Partin lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife of 38 years, and he is the proud father of two children and the grandfather of four awesome grandchildren.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a middle-class home in Southern California — in a town called Lakewood. Dad was a trailer mechanic, working on the big rigs. Mom did administrative work at several different companies. She would do the books and a lot more. She was kind of a jack of all trades. I have three sisters, all younger than me. I really loved team sports and played youth soccer and basketball through the YMCA.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.
I figured out fairly young, at age 20, that I had a real passion for helping people. That’s my “why.” In 1980, as a drive-up teller, my first job in financial services, I discovered I loved talking to customers about their money. I had a phenomenal trainer who mentored and developed me, and my teller drawer was always balanced, so I got promoted to new account clerk. That got me excited about talking to people about what they were trying to accomplish with their money and their financial goals.
Early on, I also found a love for learning about leadership. That’s the main type of reading I do — books by or about leaders. I’ve always been interested in reading about what made people successful, their secret to success. I learned there is no one right way.
At age 30, I got introduced to author Jim Rohn and his idea of working harder on yourself than you do on your job. Ever since, I’ve always thought, “How do I bring the best version of Bill to work — or home and family — each day? I’m inspired by the fact that we can all continuously improve, and it’s a lifelong goal of mine to always be the best version of Bill I can be.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My wife Kim is my №1 supporter, the president of my fan club, my truth teller. When this opportunity came up to lead Sharonview, a credit union on the opposite coast from where we’d always lived and raised our family, Kim didn’t want me to have any regrets — no “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” she said. She didn’t just support the move, she pushed for it. She’s fantastic. We’ve been married for 38 years, and I’ve known her for 44 years — since we were 16.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
As author Jim Rohn directed, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”
I repeated that very quote to my company three years ago. Here I am the CEO of a top 200 U.S. credit union telling my 300-plus member team to worker harder on themselves than their jobs.
But if you are working to be the best husband, wife, friend, colleague, neighbor — person — then you will be the person other people want to connect with, be with and work with or work for. People will look up to you and look out for you. Trying to be the best version of yourself is super contagious. If we are all trying to continuously improve and be the best, our company and our customers or members benefit, too. We all win.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
We are looking at mergers and acquisitions to get more scale, which allows us to serve more members. But it also starts to expand career tracks for people. When you get bigger and your footprint includes more markets, there’s more room for people to move around — into new roles, new locations, new markets. That’s pretty exciting.
We are awaiting regulatory approval for our purchase of two Bank OZK branches in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Some members of the executive leadership team and I recently went out there to meet those eight team members who will become part of our 312-employee company. They were excited to hear about us and how we do things and our culture. It’s exciting to think about the new career opportunities they might have at Sharonview.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?
First, I go back to what author James Collins said: “First who, then what.” You have to surround yourself with great people, smart people. When you have great people around you and, on your team, it starts to chip away any stress you might feel. I have a great team around me.
Second, leave work at work and strive to have work-life balance. Because I worked hard to build a great team, my phone goes on the charger when I get home. I love that. I don’t have to be constantly watching for emails. I have a great team.
Third, I work really hard at getting the right amount of rest — seven hours of sleep a night — so I am mentally with it and charged for the day ahead. Up until I was 45, five hours of sleep, and I was golden.
Finally, I make working out, exercising and being active a priority. I play racquetball, run and bike. I can start to solve big things after I’ve worked out.
Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?
I try to make sure I am always prepared — that I’ve read up, studied, done the homework and am ready to contribute. That takes down the anxiety level.
I also spend some quiet time each day in prayer. Sometimes it’s a short devotional to get centered.
I exercise and keep active throughout the day to keep the blood flowing and my mind engaged, too. I have a stand-up desk. I park my car far away from the building and take the stairs, so I get my heart and mind pumping on the way to my office.
Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.
I write and I practice. I write out what I’m going to say before going into a big meeting like a board meeting. I shut my door and stand up and practice a presentation or pitch. I ask myself things like: What are the main points I want to make? Where do I want to pause?
When I do this, I am comfortable adjusting on the fly, because there are always adjustments or tweaks to make in real time.
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
I aggressively manage email. I aggressively manage my calendar — thanks to my senior executive assistant, Hailey Douglas.
I answer email when I want to answer email. I turned off notifications. I know me; I’m ADD. I will just say, “Let me respond to that real fast,” which can quickly result in losing the focus and time needed for completing other work.
On my calendar, I have what I call BP time. Bill Partin Time. I can get big things done and land big planes when I have a dedicated 90 to 120 minutes to focus.
We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
I use devotions and prayer to get centered on my way to the office and on my way home, so I am fully present where I am needed and supposed to be. I’m not working in the office everyday now, because of the pandemic, so I do miss that quiet time to let the day roll over me as I head home to Kim and our nine-pound chihuahua.
I also listen to Audible in the car, so I’m always learning and hearing from or about great leaders.
Finally, I love to network. I make time for 1:1 networking with people I’ve worked with over the years and fellow CEOs.
What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
To me it all comes back to having a plan. I have a simplistic 10-tab Excel notebook. And one tab is devoted to “work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Here, I put reminders to exercise, look people in the eye, read The Wall Street Journal or stop drinking soda or popping my knuckles — my wife hates that and is always on me about my knuckles.
This Excel file is like my electronic journal — though I keep a written journal too. It’s important to keep the plan somewhere that you will see it every day.
This is where I also track my book list, my 2020 goals and my individual development plan — yes, CEOs have those too.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’ve got a pretty large pet peeve about litter. I would absolutely love to create a movement in which we encourage people not to litter and to do our part to clean up our litter. When I go out on a walk or run, I always try to pick up one piece of trash. We have to be more mindful of our footprint and take care of the planet. It’s the only world we’ve got.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Peyton Manning. I saw him at Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Summit 2019. He gave a talk and was phenomenal. He just seems super approachable and like a guy you would like to sit down and have a great conversation with.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please find me on LinkedIn, where I often write about leadership, share what I’m reading and discuss how we can all bring our best versions of ourselves to work life and home life.
I’m also writing a book, “The Leadership Bet,” which should be self-published in October or November. The website for my book is www.theleadershipbet.com.