About Sheriff Paul Penzone
Sheriff Paul Penzone has a combined 30 years of law enforcement and public safety experience. His resume includes a distinguished 21-year career with the Phoenix Police Department (PD), with seven years dedicated to the department’s nationally recognized Silent Witness program, which focuses on solving cold cases and apprehending dangerous fugitives.
After retiring from Phoenix PD, Sheriff Penzone spent time as Vice President with Childhelp, a 60-year-old nonprofit dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse. He also owned and operated a successful private security firm that focused on issues such as school and workplace safety, threat mitigation, internal investigations, and comprehensive security.
Under Sheriff Penzone’s leadership, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is committed to a mission of ethical, effective, and impactful law enforcement and public safety. The Sheriff and his staff are also focused on programs and initiatives to help promote partnerships and trust between our Office and our communities.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office operates in an area nearly the size of Vermont and is the primary or supporting law enforcement agency for a population of more than four million residents. MCSO’s jails process and house all felony and most misdemeanor inmates for the County, with over 100,000 intakes annually.
The Sheriff is a member of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association, the Major Counties Sheriff’s Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Department of Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council. He also serves on the board of the New Life Domestic Violence Center, Childhelp, and Phoenix Symphony.
Sheriff Penzone attended Cortez High School in Phoenix, where his interest in the law began while serving as a volunteer bailiff with a county Justice Court. He went on to study criminal justice at Glendale Community College and Northern Arizona University. The Sheriff is a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute (NEI)
Lesson 1. Authority is privilege, not entitlement. 06:37
Lesson 2. Listen more, talk less. 08:43
Lesson 3. Respect is a gift you give because it reflects your own values and beliefs. 10:45
Lesson 4. Leave people with the feeling they are respected even when you disagree. 14:10
Lesson 5. Humility must be a requirement, not an exception. 17:04
Lesson 6. Servant leadership is the most rewarding form of leadership. 19:03
Lesson 7. Don’t seek admiration, earn trust. 27:33
Lesson 8. Legacies are made in quiet places, when no one is watching, and you sacrifice because it’s who you are. 30:19
Lesson 9. No matter how hard or difficult the day may be, it’s much harder for those affected by the circumstances you’ve been empowered to overcome. 32:21
Lesson 10. Never forget others opened the door for you to walk through. 35:24
Paul Penzone – Leave people with the feeling they are respected
[00:00:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, and welcome to our podcast. 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn where we talk to businesspeople, journalists, ambassadors, artists, sports heroes, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world. In other words, we will be talking to interesting people about their interesting experiences. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee and I’m your host.
I’m originally from the Netherlands happily residing into grand canyon state or Arizona in the United States. I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert. I hope you will enjoy this program. This podcast is sponsored by PDF to professional development forum. You can learn more about PDF at professional development, forum.org.
Our guest today is sheriff Paul Penzone. Sheriff Penzone is responsible for Maricopa county Sheriff’s office MCSO and MCSO is the primary enforcement agency for a population of almost 5 million residents. Their jails process and house, all felony and most, misdemeanour inmates for the county, with over 100,000 intakes annually, that’s quite a number.
The city of Phoenix America’s fifth, largest and fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States is the largest city in Maricopa county. Sheriff Penzone has a combined 30 years of law enforcement and public safety experience, including a distinguished 21-year career with the Phoenix police department.
And with seven years dedicated to the well-known silent witness program, focused on solving cold cases and apprehending dangerous fugitives. You can find further information about sheriff Penzone, including his bio on our website. 10 lessons learned.com with 30 years of law enforcement and public safety experience in a rapidly growing community.
Can you imagine the lessons sheriff Penzone has learned in his life and in his career? Welcome sheriff. Thank you very much for joining us.
[00:02:15] Paul Penzone: I’m honored to be here with you. Thank for the time.
[00:02:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: it’s truly an honor. Uh, you have a tremendous background. you’re dealing with a lot of people that create trouble problems, crimes, misdemeanors.
And at the same time, you try to build the trust with the community in which you serve. So, a simple question, what does it take to be a successful sheriff?
[00:02:37] Paul Penzone: Yeah, I wish I could give you a perfect formula. Maybe I’d write a book and move on to become a novelist. I don’t know that I could tell you what the exact answer is.
I’ll tell you what’s worked for me. And this is really as, when we talk about lessons learned is always, you know, can you beat the person? Can you be the person that you want to work for? So, when I, and I look at my opportunity to be in leadership and be a sheriff, for me to be successful, I think first and foremost, you have to recognize, the privilege that you’ve been given.
And that we should always be guardians of that responsibility. I use that term very strongly because I think oftentimes law enforcement is perceived as warriors. We go out there and we do deal with considerable threats. We deal with bad people and good people on the bad days. But if you don’t recognize your responsibility to guard a community, to be thoughtful in your actions and to make sure that you embrace the idea that you are.
you are not entitled to the privilege. It is assuming you’re on top of the power. It is privileged. And we’ll talk about that. One of my lessons, um, I think if you find that place of being humble and recognizing that you serve others, being a servant leader, then you’ll find your course to make the right decisions are always the best decision available.
[00:03:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. And I’m glad the 10 lessons will follow because there’s a lot to it. I liked the way you express it, but it takes a lot. I’m sure. I’m sure. Especially also with the numbers and the number of people that you’re dealing with, and in a growing community, is there a lesson perhaps that you have learned in life in your career that if you would be right now, if you would be 30 years old, that you would be able to teach yourself?
[00:04:10] Paul Penzone: Yeah, and it isn’t one of, you know, oftentimes I spew these things. We’ll, we’ll get into it a little bit more detail, but I think as a younger man, younger woman, you always feel like there’s so much time ahead at the head of you to accomplish things that were, I think we should be in a hurry, but we don’t always capitalize on the opportunity to make the most.
So in this position, uh, and the things that I’ve learned now, if I could turn back the clock, it would be exactly that, how do I seize, Carpe Diem, how do you seize the opportunity, seize the moment and make the most out of it, not so much for your own benefit and your own value, your own gratification, but in that moment for others, what could you have done to give more, to be more, you know, to help more so that as you reflect back, once you get older, you know, as a clock ticks off, you didn’t miss out on those chances.
You made them. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about always having the answers. It’s really about having the passion for life. That in each moment you try to make the most of it.
[00:05:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: Is that something that is part of your personality or is it something that you had to learn over time?
[00:05:09] Paul Penzone: No, I believe I learned it over time and, and I, and I believe that being in this position, you know, in the last five years has taught me a lot about it because.
Everything that happens if you take it for granted because you’re in the space and you know that it may occur again, you know, significant opportunities like being on a podcast, it may happen again. I, I think that you can become almost apathetic or lethargic about it because it could have a redundancy to it.
But if you truly look at it for the purity and the value that it has. You know, who gets a chance to do this, who gets a chance to speak to a console, to someone who represents and has come from another country and has all these world experiences and to talk about things that could hopefully. Drive this profession back into a place where it is, um, or dignified, more respected, more appreciated because men and women who are in the profession are inspired by leadership to be the best that they’re capable of being in service of others.
So, um, it’s definitely something that I’ve learned since, since receiving this privilege and having this platform,
[00:06:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: and it appears that you are very comfortable with that.
[00:06:09] Paul Penzone: you don’t know until you get there. So, we will say, is it what you expected when you became sheriff? I don’t think you prepare for this level of, um, authority as well as exposure.
But absolutely every day that I come to work with will say, is it tough being a sheriff? I say, heck I roll it up every morning. And I’m the sheriff that’s such a privilege that if you don’t take advantage and make the most of it for others, then you probably shouldn’t be in a seat. So even in the difficult days, I realize I’m very fortunate.
[00:06:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, I like it.
[00:06:37] Lesson 1: Authority is privilege, not entitlement
[00:06:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, and obviously it’s, sets the stage to discuss your 10 lessons and I’ll start with lesson. Number one, authority is privilege, not entitlement. And you continue by saying value it, respect it and never take it for granted.
[00:06:55] Paul Penzone: Yeah, I think oftentimes we see people in leadership. And they worked so hard to hold on to their job, to that power, that perceived power, that they believe that they own it.
They believe it’s something that makes them special, as opposed to you have the chance to make the authority special on behalf of others. So, I just think that if you recognize and you humble yourself to say, this is really a privilege, it’s not mine to own. You know, I wasn’t born with the name sheriff Paul Penzone.
I was born Paul Penzone, and the day will come when I’ll return to that space without a title. And it shouldn’t change me. Therefore, I shouldn’t change while I’m in this, space, I should recognize the very men and women that I serve are the ones. Even the ones that we arrest are the ones who have empowered us to be the guardians, the caretakers of this great authority in our, in our nation.
You know, we take freedoms for people every day. And if we don’t respect the process to make that decision, and we’re not just in our actions and we shouldn’t have this authority. So therefore, I always try to embrace the ideal that it is a privilege, not an entitlement and respect that every day.
Otherwise, you’re not entitled to keep it. Excuse me. You’re not privileged to keep it.
[00:07:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: And at the same time, as the sheriff, you represent authority, right? People perceive it that way. Whether you say, Hey, I do want to hear the other side. You are the sheriff.
[00:08:05] Paul Penzone: Yeah, no, you have to have the courage to make difficult decisions and you have to have a discernment to recognize that you should never be personal, emotional, political, or partisan in any way or subjective in any way.
It has to be as pure as you’re capable of making it, but in America, yes. If you look at it and you say that you have the position of being an elected official and having law enforcement authority, that’s extremely powerful, pair of, of circumstances and you better be deserving of it. And you better recognize what others expect of you in protecting these powers.
[00:08:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, thank you for that.
[00:08:43] Lesson 2: Listen more, talk less.
[00:08:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number two, listen, more talk less boy. That’s a good one. For me. People deserve to be heard in a similar vein, right. People deserve to be heard, but again, you are the sheriff.
[00:08:57] Paul Penzone: Yeah. And I’ll preface it by telling you this. One of the most important things that I do every day is that when I speak, I am representing an organization, 3,500 members, who come to work every day, going into the jails, going out into the streets, doing, you know, jobs are, can be difficult and dangerous to promote public safety. My role is to make sure that when I speak, I speak on behalf of their sacrifices, not about myself, about the work that they do. So, I’m very measured with my words.
When I say that, I don’t mean that I’m, I’m not diplomatic. I’m not scripted, but I am measured because I want to make sure that I’m respectful to them. And although there’s a little bit of a contradiction because I’m speaking so much today, many years ago, why was first promoted to Sergeant first level supervisor?
I was having an interaction with someone in my office. And for some reason I had this epiphany moment in the middle of it that I was not listening, but I was speaking too much. And I wasn’t hearing what they were talking about or what was the concern for them. And whether I agreed, disagreed, whether I was going to be able to accommodate them or not, it did not matter what matters is that they were able to be heard So I actually got a three by five card and I wrote it on there. Listen, more talk less. And I prop the card up on my desk where it faced me and only, I could see it. And the person adjacent to me could not see it. But every time I sat down to have a meeting with someone, I made sure I peeked at that card first and it reminded me of zip my lips and let them do the speaking so they can have their chance to be heard about something that they’re passionate about or emotional about their caring about.
So, they know that they’re.
[00:10:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s a great point and, and truly, uh, I tend to speak too much, but I’ve learned as part of the podcast that it’s up to you as the guests and I better stay quiet.
[00:10:37] Paul Penzone: Well, next time I’ll, I’ll be on that side of it. You’ll be on this side of it. You can do all the talk and I’ll learn more about you.
[00:10:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: Uh, I guess I began to set that up for real. I like it.
[00:10:45] Lesson 3: Respect is a gift you give because it reflects your own values and beliefs
[00:10:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you. Lesson number three. Respect is a gift you give, because it reflects your own values and beliefs, regardless of who you are interacting with and what they may have done. I think you kind of reflected on that already, right?
[00:11:03] Paul Penzone: Yeah. And I’ll take it to its most pure form of if I were to visit the jails as I do frequently and see someone in there and I tell my employees this, because I think it is a very important lesson.
We live in this world now where I think young adults and they hear it too frequently, oftentimes from professional athletes, you know, I want my respect, I want my money. And that’s how you show me respect, or I want this. And that’s how I receive respect. Respect is not something you get. It’s something that you give it’s defining of who you are, what you believe in what your own value system is.
And everywhere you go, you should exude that commitment to self-respect, and respect to others. And if we allow the behavior of another person, as I said on the jail, I go into the jail and I meet with somebody who’s done something atrocious and they’re being provocative and they’re saying things to me that are just disrespectful.
If I stoop to that level and I respond in that way, I have become like them. I’m a reflection of, of their behavior, their attitudes. But if I do my best to rise above it, to show patience and kindness, to still be thoughtful in the manner in which I interact with them two thing occur. One I’m restoring my own value system and protecting it because if I give it away, I’m not going to get it back the same.
It won’t be pristine. So, if I stoop to that level and become unethical or disrespectful, it reflects me, it reflects poorly on me. So first and foremost, I’m protecting the values that I believe in. But secondarily, I may inspire that person to find a way to be more thoughtful, to be more patient, to be more kind in their words, because they don’t feel that sense of threat or disrespect.
So, um, when we deal with bad people in that circumstance, We have to ask ourselves, are we going to behave badly also? Or are we going to rise above it and represent, you know, the badge that we wear and the patch that we wear and all those who came before maybe sacrificed by giving the ultimate sacrifice and losing their lives.
We owe it to them to be our best self.
[00:12:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: But you’re dealing with people that have very poor behavior. Probably or perhaps under the influence of drugs and alcohol, individuals that, are violent, let’s face it, does that still relate? Does that lesson still applies in those circumstances because you have to obviously control those individuals that’s part of the job.
[00:13:09] Paul Penzone: Well, I mean, I would tell you as humans, we have our moments where I could speak these words, but to practice them in every circumstance can be difficult. You know, when you’ve seen atrocities, you see a child harm, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve lost deputies in the line of duty and it’s touched me personally, professionally.
I’m not saying we should be robotic that we’re not real. Yet, I will tell you this. Okay. As you, you stated many times on the sheriff, I carried great responsibility with the authority that I’m given. I don’t have to tell you that I don’t have to bang my chest and say, you don’t know the powers that I have here what I can do. People know that they understand that an individual has been given this authority, therefore it’s theirs to yield appropriately.
so, if necessary, if the law means that I have the, you know, the, the responsibility to carry somebody on a particular way, we do so. But to treat it as though it’s our sword to swing, um, just to let you know how powerful it is, then I find that’s the pathway to becoming more, uh, abusive with your authority and it’s never a healthy thing.
[00:14:10] Lesson 4: Leave people with the feeling they are respected even when you disagree.
[00:14:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Well said, lesson number four, leave people with the feeling they are respecting. Even when you disagree, I, that kind of connects to what you just said. Every interaction may seem redundant and even insignificant, but it is significant to the other person because you represent something greater than self.
[00:14:33] Paul Penzone: May I share a personal story?
[00:14:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: Please?
[00:14:36] Paul Penzone: Sorry. And I love sharing the story. I it’s, you know, many people have heard it from me many times. I had just been elected. I hadn’t been a sheriff for more than maybe a week or two, and I was attending a, a really large event for the first time. So, I’m suddenly in this space, that’s unfamiliar to me, I’m the sheriff, but I don’t realize that you walk into, you know, you’re in a fishbowl everyone’s eyes will be on you, especially when you’ve unseated, you know, a legacy predecessor, like the person whom I defeated.
And, uh, in, in my blur, in this large room with a lot of people, I happened to turn around and I bumped into this young man. He was all at maybe 17, 18 years. And when I bumped into him almost knocked him over. So, I kind of catch him and dust them off. I said, Hey, my apologies. Are you okay? I said, please forgive me.
I wasn’t paying attention. I hope you’re okay. And I walked away thinking nothing of it. I mean, it’s just basically, I was raised to try to be polite and respectful to people. And a few days later, apparently, he had sat down this charity. I’m trying to imitate it. He, he took a selfie with his phone, with me in the background, standing up completely unaware when he was doing.
And then he posted and he hashtag it to the Sheriff’s office. And it wasn’t a cool that the new sheriff who had bumped into me was kind enough to apologize. And the reason I share that story is I think it reflects exactly what I’m trying to emphasize, which is to me that moment, it’s not that it’s insignificant, although I could argue that it is because I interact with so many people during the course of the day, it is one of many, one of many experience.
But for that young man, it was one experience with one sheriff in one moment that stuck with him that had I been disrespectful. He would’ve thought less, not only of me, but of, of the Sheriff’s office, but by just taking the time to gesture in a kind way, what was insignificant to some extent, to me had a lasting impression on him and then will affect his friends, his family, those that he speaks with when he starts to talk about the Maricopa county Sheriff’s office.
So, I think that if you can always leave people with the sense that they have value that you are respectful to them. And that, that moment is there a moment, um, much like Maya Angelou where she, you know, it’s not what you said or what you did, but it’s how you make people feel that they’ll, that will stay with them.
[00:16:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. it’s powerful. And I must say it doesn’t necessarily in that sense connects to perhaps the perception of law enforcement. And not that I have any doubts about it, but that’s not what perhaps the general public would expect. They would expect a rougher attitude. And I am the sheriff.
I’m going to tell you what to do, which I’m sure you have a way of communicating as well. But that respect.
[00:17:04] Lesson 5: Humility must be a requirement, not an exception
[00:17:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: And actually, if you don’t mind, if I look at lesson number five, humanity must be a requirement. Not an exception. It must be a requirement. That’s pretty powerful.
[00:17:17] Paul Penzone: Yeah. I think the greatest strength comes from humility.
You know, I talked about the authority that I’m given. Arrogance doesn’t make it more powerful. It doesn’t make it more impactful. As you can see, like right here and over here, I’m obviously a man of faith. And I don’t say as a one, faith is better than another. It’s just, I’m passionate about my faith and I believe very strongly.
And I think that when you recognize how, um, you know, in, in the greater space in the world itself, we’re a singular individual in a world of, you know, millions and millions of people. if you don’t recognize. How insignificant as a person, you are really, when it comes to the greater impact of the world, you can impact small spaces and people.
But when we start thinking that we’re more than we are bigger than we are, then I think we do a disservice to just the simplicity of people, of faith that want to serve others to be servant leaders. Um, so by just reminding myself every morning at, Hey, by the grace of God, I am here, you know, health-wise opportunity-wise circumstance wise.
and I’ve been given this opportunity to make the most of it in the best way that I can do that is to show people that kindness is not weakness. Don’t confuse the two. There are times as a sheriff, where I have to exude my strength and confidence and be very matter of fact and succinct about an issue and to ensure that people understand we are going to hold the line when it comes to public safety.
But if that’s all I do every day and beat my chest, the message becomes diluted, and people don’t see the human side of this profession.
[00:18:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. We’re talking today was sheriff Paul Penzone, who is responsible for the Maricopa county Sheriff’s office in the state of Arizona with almost 5 million residents sharing his 10 lessons that he learned in 50 years. That’s our title
[00:19:01] Paul Penzone: so, the tough part for me.
[00:19:03] Lesson 6: Servant leadership is the most rewarding form of leadership
[00:19:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you, lesson number six, it seems to be in the same vein lesson. Number six, servant leadership is the most rewarding form of leadership. by the way I noticed in your background, you’re also involved or was involved, but maybe still with a non-profit organization, child help, uh, dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse.
it was just, an item on your bio, but that relates to perhaps servant leadership as well.
[00:19:32] Paul Penzone: Sure. And I actually, when I retired from the police department, before I became sheriff, I went to work for that organization. I wanted to give back in a different capacity, never expecting I’d circle back to law enforcement.
It was really circumstantial, but, um, after having a very fortunate, blessed career in law enforcement retired, I went to work in the non-profit sector with child help, caring for children of, of use neglect and, and working on prevention programs. And it’s very rewarding. So, when I talk about servant leadership.
Again, I’m the sheriff at a position I never expected. It wasn’t on my bucket list. and to be here is absolute fortune, but when you reach an opportunity such as this, although you may be forward focused on different circumstances, I think you always have to look back and ask yourself, how do I carve this path to create opportunity for the next person?
How do I work with others so that they may thrive? They may succeed because I just think that the more you do for others, the more you can’t take the money with you can’t take the homes when you get it. But as you get later in life, and you look back and you think about lives that you may have inspired or influenced in some way so that they could accomplish things that were there on their heart.
Then I think that your, your heart is full. Your, your soul is full, and your legacy has more value to it. And it’s not because any of those people may even remember your name, but you know, in your heart and you try to make a difference for the right reason. But servant leadership is also about understanding the moments when you have to be very honest and direct when someone has fallen short of their potential or failed in some way to inspire them to be better.
Not necessarily, you know, you don’t want to break them down, you let them know that you’re disappointed for whatever circumstance at the same time. You want them to overcome. You want them to find a path to, to succeed in some way to be, you know, for the benefit of the community, benefit the organization, whatever it may be.
And I think servant leadership is that attitude of I’m going to be strong and direct with you to help you be better and accomplish your potential. But I’m also going to be compassionate and caring to make sure that you understand I’m here as a support system for you.
[00:21:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Now you have, obviously you are, let’s say in charge of a very large organization.
I’m sure you know, individuals have different opinions, different thoughts, different experiences. How are you able to transfer your thoughts, your way of thinking about, for example, servant leadership to others? Because it’s one thing perhaps to say, that’s who I am, and this is how I, basically act, this is how I go through life, but how to transfer that to other people.
[00:21:56] Paul Penzone: Sure. Yeah. And in the Maricopa Sheriff’s offices, 3,500 employees. Uh, and we reach, as you said, a population of nearly 5 million, 9,000 square miles. And I think in every context, in some way, what I say and what I do will have an effect, you know, for the better or for worse. So first and foremost, Uh, actions, as everyone says, actions speak louder than words.
So, I do through things such as video messaging or written communications through monthly publications in the organization in different mediums and formats. I try to communicate timely issues of concern or messages that I want to share with the organization. Yet, if I don’t act in a manner that’s consistent with what I’m saying, and then it’s devalued.
You know, you become hypocritical or, you’re not inspiring people. So, I am a believer that you lead by example and leaders are in every space in place in every capacity. You don’t need a title to be a leader, and you give you a line level person in a space where you’re just because you’re working so hard, and you’re so dedicated to your trade that you inspire others and lead them to be better.
Uh, so I just think that it has to be that balance of share the things that have value that are important to share when they need to be shared, shut your mouth. And when it’s time to let things settle and people take care of their own business. But in your actions every day, be cognizant, be very conscientious that people learn more from what they see of you than what they hear from you.
[00:23:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: And perhaps in the same vein take responsibility for any mistakes that we all make, right?
[00:23:21] Paul Penzone: You are spot on. If you don’t have the courage to stand like this in front of the camera and say, Hey, this is on me. What, occurred should not have we own it? I own it. I’m going to make it better. Here’s how I’m going to make it better so that it doesn’t repeat itself.
So, If you don’t have the courage to stand in front, take the hits, then you shouldn’t be the leader. And that’s another thing that philosophically here all the time, you know, praise in public criticize in private, but when it comes to taking responsibility for the failure as an organization, the elevator goes to the top and that’s this office here.
So, I’m the one who has to genuinely own the responsibility so that the men and women know that I am leading. Um, by embracing the failure so that we can make them better, not just trying to celebrate the high moments for myself.
[00:24:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. It was a very important point, and I don’t want to make it a silly point, but does that mean you’re not interested in becoming a politician?
[00:24:12] Paul Penzone: Uh, I’ve worked really hard to in, you know, people call me that, but I say I’m an elected official, not a politician. And I don’t want to be great. Those who are so-called politicians, this office had a pathway through democratic process to be elected. But I, quite frankly, I hear people say things like, well, that, that particular politician elected, they cross the aisle.
When I talked about humility being, you know, the expectation, not, not something in addition. I find it absurd to think that our political parties have become so divisive, that they’re unwilling to more often than not work together in that crossing the aisle. Why is there an aisle? At the end of the day you know, we’re all human beings. We’re all tied to a particular nation and ethnicity and things of that nature. Those are commonly distinct attributes that we have choosing a political party is, is not a defining attribute. It’s just a philosophical, you know, alignment. And, and, you know, as an example, I am a registered Democrat.
I ran as a Democrat for this office, but I could tell you in certain ways that I’m very conservative in other ways, I’m very liberal, but I look at people, I look at circumstances, I look at challenges and I make a decision solely predicated on what is in front of. Not some other belief system that I have to put in place first before I decide how I feel about someone.
[00:25:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Um,
[00:25:31] Paul Penzone: well, especially in this profession, I mean, Y you know, who wants to, if a deputy pulls you over, should he be asking for your voter registration ID card? No. He’s you guys have your driver’s license, registration and insurance. So, a political affiliation has no place at influencing law enforcement decisions.
[00:25:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: it feels, and that would be. My subtle comment that in the United States, and I’m sure in other countries as well, that it’s almost like you’re forced into taking a position. You just mentioned, you know, I may agree with this issue or, you know, with these people and on another issue with other people.
And that’s almost a concept that is, I don’t want to say outdated, but you don’t see that much. And, You would think, you know, and it’s sort of a Dutch expression at the end of the day, we have to go through the same door. So, you have to find a compromise and show basic respect, to be able to work together and, and get the results that everybody has a benefit in.
[00:26:29] Paul Penzone: Yeah. And that we shouldn’t wait for tragedy to unify us, you know, as a human race, whenever we face a real threat or danger or the tragedy, suddenly we become galvanized. And then as soon as it passes, We go back into our silos. I remember visiting Washington, DC once, and I was in the Capitol on the floor, and they were going to vote for something.
And I had no idea what they were voting for the bill was, but I could look up at the board and tell you exactly what the vote was going to be predicated off of you know, how many Democrats, how many Republicans and where they stood. And, and that’s a disservice, that’s a disservice to people who have elected you.
If you’re so strong to party line that you overlook the needs of the community that you serve. In many ways, it’s this sounds terrible to say, but it’s, I can look, I can go into a prison yard and look at it and be the same way you would see factions of people that stick together solely for survival.
And they, this group, won’t go talk to that group. They’ll you’ll get harmed if you do. So why would elected officials behave in that same capacity when deep in our hearts and our souls, we know better. And we know that there are circumstances where compromise is not only necessary, but it’s beneficial.
[00:27:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think that’s a very important point.
Thank you for that.
[00:27:33] Lesson 7: Don’t seek admiration, earn trust
[00:27:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number seven. It fits in there. Don’t seek admiration earn trust.
[00:27:40] Paul Penzone: Yeah. If you’re so concerned about, being celebrated and figuring out ways to keep your job, instead of doing your job, then you’re probably not right for the job.
Your focus can only be at one place at one time and if it is outward looking in to see how you can make yourself special, you know, with all the current things, I get more likes or get more attention in one space or another. Then I just find it hard to believe that you truly are focused on figuring out how to solve problems that are in front of you.
A lot of people that they want to make sure that their name is on a billboard or that they get some form of recognition to say they did a great job. Some of the most significant things that I’ve done in my career. Um, you know, just seeing someone smile or express gratitude because of closure on it on a circumstance has a far greater value than any recognition award that I’ve ever received.
So that’s just my own personal philosophy and belief, but I don’t need you to remember my name when this is all said and done. I just hope that your perspective on law enforcement has improved because you believe that good men and women are doing this job, which they are. Versus you know, my predecessor.
And he was known worldwide. if I’m not known outside of my own house, I’m okay with it.
[00:28:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Um, trust and integrity. They go together, right?
[00:28:52] Paul Penzone: Yeah. Well, I mean, integrity is, is that you, can’t commitment to value system of who you are when you believe in that. You’re going to be honest; you’re going to be ethical.
And then when it comes to trust, the only way you can really have trust is consistency that people can depend on you and notes expected. And it doesn’t matter where you are on the spectrum with things. And I talk about that. Whether you’re a manager who micromanages or one who just gives complete freedom, your employees just need to understand what to expect of you when you come in every day, so they can be successful.
And that’s where the trust comes in. Can I trust you’re going to be pragmatic and you’re going to make good decisions in the best interest of those that we serve within the mission? You know, can I trust that you’ll put other’s needs in front of your own? Can I trust you? You’re working for our benefit so that when it comes to health care, and it comes to appropriate raises in a safe, healthy work environment that you are committed to do that on our behalf? If my employees trust, not that necessarily, I hate this term, a city, you have our back. If you do something wrong, I’m not going to have your back from the context that you would expect it. If you, if you ask yourself, am I going to be consistent and fair in how we address, violations or bad behaviors by our employees, then trust that I will be consistent.
Uh, same thing in how I prioritize the needs of the organization. Um, but if, if you just want me to be your buddy and tell you how great everything is and to cover up bad things and celebrate you when, when you really haven’t done anything worth celebrating, and I’m probably not your guy. So, I’m pretty vanilla.
I work on trust. I work on consistency, and I work on just fundamental improvement of the organization every day.
[00:30:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: And that’s how you build your legacy.
[00:30:19] Lesson 8: Legacies are made in quiet places, when no one is watching, and you sacrifice because it’s who you are
[00:30:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: Which leads me to lesson number eight, right? Legacies are made in quiet places when no one is watching, and you sacrifice because it’s who you are. And then you continue legacies.
Shouldn’t be the pursuit of self-recognition or reward.
[00:30:36] Paul Penzone: And I can speak on that, but, but I really feel like it does sum it up. You know, most defining moments are the ones. Nobody sees, but when, you know, when no one is watching, you still choose to do the right thing on behalf of others.
[00:30:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: Do you have in your life and your career, a role model, an individual that stands out and say he or she that’s who I want to be, or that’s who I am.
Perhaps. Does someone stand out?
[00:31:04] Paul Penzone: No, I would say it’s more of a tapestry of people on things that I’ve seen. you know, an individual stands up and just does what’s right in the face of, what is difficult. those who dedicate, you know, like a Mother Teresa dedicated for life and dedicated her life to just serving those with the greatest needs, you look at a Martin Luther King and he, and he realized his words had so much passion and so much truth to them.
And if not for the color of his skin, he would not have, faced the difficulties that he had. You know, the list goes on and on and, and there are even, you know, you look at people who you would say have done things badly where I’ve done bad things. There’re lessons to be learned there too, on how to make sure that we’re not repeating those, those types of behaviors.
I will tell you, as I said, I’m a man of faith. I do try to spend as much time as possible in the book in the Bible and learn lessons there. I would tell you, my wife is probably my muse, you know, she’s my, moral compass. She lets me know when I’m off track and she makes sure that if I promise to do something, not just for our family, but more so for the community, that she’ll hold my feet to the fire.
So, get that done. You made a commitment now, go out there and finish what you started. So, I, I will tell you, there are certain, you know, my Lord, my wife and other, close to me that had the greatest influence. But I can look through history and find certain lessons from a lot of different people and be inspired by it.
[00:32:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: Very powerful. Thank you for sharing.
[00:32:21] Lesson 9: No matter how hard or difficult the day may be, it’s much harder for those affected by the circumstances you’ve been empowered to overcome.
[00:32:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number nine, we’re almost at 10. What can I say? Lesson number nine, no matter how hard or difficult the day may be, it is much harder for those effected by the circumstances you’ve been empowered to overcome. To be perfectly honest, Sheriff Penzone. I wasn’t quite clear on the meaning of that, but I look forward to your explanation.
[00:32:44] Paul Penzone: Yeah, it is pretty long-winded. I apologize. So, the first time I ran for office and, you’ve lived here, so you’re familiar with the circumstances my office is involved in and there was a practice of racial profiling and civil rights violations and things of that nature, people of color who were targeted.
And I was running for office. I knew nothing about the process. I was just learning. And quite frankly, I wasn’t, excited about it. I was passionate about the idea of trying to make a difference, but the political process didn’t inspire me, and it was middle of summer. So, it was like 120 degrees out.
And I was meeting with some folks who were going to go, and they were organizers. They’re going to go hang little things on the doors that said vote for Paul, And, and quite frankly, I just, it was hot. I was cranky. I wasn’t at my best self, and I was kind of feeling, and I said like, why are you doing this? And this little lady who happened to be Latina.
And she was probably in her seventies comes up to me and she’s got a stack full of these things in her hands. And she says, can I give you a hug? And I’m like, well, sure you can give me a hug. And I gave her a hug and I really didn’t understand that when the moment. And she just kind of thanked me. She said, thank you for doing this.
And, you know, Because for that lady because of the color of her skin and because of her ethnicity, she was being targeted, she felt abused. She felt that in this nation, that is a free nation, that she was not a free person because of the practices of law enforcement as it stood. And she looked to me and she thought, even though I don’t know this person, he’s going to commit to making it better for me and others like me.
So, when I say that, what I mean is I’m feeling sorry for myself, it gets hot out. And I got to go talk to people about voting for me. This sweet little lady is living in a space where she’s just afraid to walk out of her house. So, what the heck do I have to complain about? And the same thing, like when we talk to a victim, who’s lost a loved one who has been victimized.
You know, when we see someone who, um, you know, has mental health issues and mental illness, And it’s frustrating for us to deal with them, but can you imagine being in their head and their space in that moment on what they’re dealing with? So, I guess I could have summed it up by just saying, stop feeling, sorry for yourself and be a difference maker.
Um, you know, push that rock uphill with a smile on your face, but someone else has a tougher than you.
[00:34:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it’s sometimes perhaps hard to realize until. You observe someone that in this case gets you to gratitude and you say, Hey, it’s hot. I want to get out. Wow. That person then makes an impact, like you said, perhaps for life, right?
I think many people have experiences that, they keep with them. and those are true lessons that you and I experience, and they are very valuable, very valuable. Yeah, I understand what you’re saying.
[00:35:24] Lesson 10: Never forget others opened the door for you to walk through
[00:35:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number 10, never forget others opened the door for you to walk through. Make sure you stay true to your values and convictions on both sides of the door. I, again, I liked that a lot to the sheriff, never forget others opened the door for you to walk through.
[00:35:42] Paul Penzone: It’s like that little lady I spoke about, you know, and every day I’m surrounded by people who created the opportunity for me to become sheriff. And I have to make sure that what they saw in me or believed in me, before I became, sheriff continues to be who I am as a person with all the new experiences that I may have. I think too many people, you know, they, they say power corrupts. I think power reflects magnifies and defines. So, I just want to make sure I leave the same man I entered. When it’s all said and done, and I’m just, you know, mowing the lawn or having a cup of coffee somewhere, and I’m no longer wearing a badge and a gun.
I don’t want to be a guy who suddenly feels this void because I don’t have this privilege. I know who I was before and I know why people believed in me giving me this opportunity and I owe it to them, to make sure that on both sides of it, that the title of sheriff is just a title. It’s not, I’m not, uh, you know, I’m not a Lord, I’m not a king.
I’m not, you know, Royalty. I’m a simple guy. Who’s got a unique job and everybody in this organization has a difficult job to do. I’m not busier than anybody else. If they’re putting the work in, it doesn’t matter whether you work with the library or your teacher, or you’re a doctor, whatever it may be. All of our days are filled with trying to meet the expectations of the demand of our lives.
And if you think yours is more important than somebody else’s, then go find out what it’s like to. Do landscaping for, for a week. It’s tough work.
[00:37:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: I appreciate your humility. And at the same time, I would say to serve in your job, you need competence. It’s not to say, well, I just showed up. And, and well, I became the sheriff.
[00:37:17] Paul Penzone: Uh, yeah, my greatest competence is surrounded myself with a lot of talented, intelligent people who. I’d like to think. I mean, I, hopefully I empower them to just be honest and direct with me so that I have as much information as possible to try to make the right decisions, the best decision available.
So yeah, I mean, intellectual intelligence, things of that nature, and just having a general grasp on common sense and process, um, is all it takes for the foundation and surround yourself with the brightest and most committed people that you can find. And collectively you’ll get that boat rowing in the right direction and weather the storm.
[00:37:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I liked the part where you talk about stay true to those values that you have learned, right. And that perhaps allowed you to walk through that door. I think that’s, very important for many people to, uh, to realize, like you said, it’s not suddenly that they became different individuals. They got there because they got the help from certain individuals or situations, education, perhaps, and it allowed them to take those opportunities.
[00:38:18] Paul Penzone: Yeah. I reflect on the campaign again, a media person asked me, they said, you know, your opponent is going to get dirty. He is going to attack you. He’s going to, he’s going to try to drag you in the mud. What are you going to do? And I said, I’m not going there. And they said to me, well, you know what, if you can’t win, if you don’t fight on those terms.
And I said, it’s not worth winning then, because what I lose, I can’t get back. So, if I can’t win being the person that I am, then I don’t deserve to be in the position that I’m pursuing. Um, so that’s the only advice I would offer to young men and women. Don’t sacrifice something that is true to who you are, because you will not get it back.
No, you can lose everything in life. The pandemic has shown that you lost loved ones. People lose their business with a tough economy. All this can be taken from you. One thing they can’t take from you, your true integrity and your character. And what is unique about you is the thing you should fight hardest to protect because all through life, all your trials and tribulations, that’s what you fall back on to keep your feet underneath you and keep moving forward.
You know, steal a tacky line from a silly movie. It’s not how many times you get knocked down as this. Do you just keep getting back up and in order to get back up, you have to know who you are and what you believe in. Otherwise, you’d get up and go in the wrong directions. So, life’s going to knock you down, hold true to your values and you will always get through those battles.
And you’ll always come out better because of it.
[00:39:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: True wisdom. True wisdom. Thank you.
[00:39:35] Paul Penzone: That’s from a Rocky movie, by the way, we were back there on where to point to it right there it is.
[00:39:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I’ll look it up, but
[00:39:44] Paul Penzone: that’s what the line is from that movie.
[00:39:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: 10 lessons, lot of wisdom. I want to ask you one more question.
Is there perhaps a lesson in life or in your career that you have unlearned that you decided I got to change?
[00:40:01] Paul Penzone: Yeah, I think it goes back to what you spoke about because of the challenges that we face in law enforcement, the dangers, the threats of things of that nature. you can, you can put up the self-defense mechanism, you become calloused, you become cynical, and it works for you.
It really does because of what you deal with going to be able to go home at the end of the night and find a way to disconnect from that. but what I had to learn was, you know, there, before the grace of God go, I in every circumstance, so don’t let go of your humanity. Don’t, don’t sacrifice that to try to become tougher in your mind because you think it’s better for, you always find the beauty in life and the purity and understand.
That, everybody’s walk is a little bit different. So, you have a job, you have a task, but don’t let what you do to find who you are. try to find the beauty in it all.
[00:40:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s very impressive. What you’re sharing here. And I mean that sincerely because, I know about your background, your reputation, so I’m not surprised, but what you’re talking about in your role as sheriff of Maricopa county, To have that kind of personality, insight, care, sensitivity, empathy, integrity.
those are skills that I think we can be very fortunate with. in your case, in charge of law enforcement, it’s. Very human humane. Uh, and I appreciate hearing that. And I want to thank you for sharing your wisdom with our global audience, and I really appreciate it.
[00:41:29] Paul Penzone: No, it’s an honor to be on with you and.
Wherever this has shown. I hope I have the chance to visit there sometime my wife and I do love to travel internationally, and we miss a greatly right now during the difficult times, but there’s so much to learn from so many different cultures and places. And that’s one of the most, uh, exciting passions that we have is, is traveling and getting to visit other cultures and learn from people and enjoy their food and everything.
That’s exciting about each unique place. So, thank you so much for giving the time on this podcast and. Thank you to anybody who’s watching. And I hope that, at this time together gave you a perspective that inside law enforcement, there are good men and women not speaking of myself, but others who really want to do right by, you know, right by our community.
And, and I don’t think that message is always properly portrayed because you only see the worst of us. Like we see the worst of society and that’s not fair. Uh, and we needed a better job.
[00:42:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: Powerful. Thank you. I’ll make some closing comments. You have been listening to the international podcast, 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn sponsored by PDF the Professional Development Forum. PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcast, and parties, and best of all, it’s all for free. For more information. Please visit professional development forum.org. Our guest today is Sheriff Paul Penzone of Maricopa county, a highly successful leader in a very serious as we discussed law enforcement environment, sharing his 10 lessons, it took him 50 years to learn. And to our audience, don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at email@example.com that is podcast. The number 10 followed by lessons. learned.com. Go ahead and subscribe.
So, you don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser podcast. By podcast, lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.